Mom Describes What It's Really Like to Give Birth After Suffering Loss

“It is what gives you the remarkable ability to breathe in fear and exhale hope as you push forward into the unknown."
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ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Sep 2018
fall leaves on the ground in the shape of a heart
Photo: Roman Kraft

Vermont-based Rachel Whalen is a writer, teacher and mom. On her Facebook page, An Unexpected Family Outing, she shares insights and stories about how she copes with the loss of her first daughter Dorothy, who was stillborn.

In a recent post, she gets candid on what it was like to give birth to her second daughter, Frances, where the aftermath of loss was like an invisible scar present throughout her pregnancy and labor.

Sharing a picture of herself moments before going into labor, Whalen describes the inner demons she was fighting off in her head.

“I was nearing the final moments of my pregnancy, but I still was not sure what those final moments would look like. I could not bring myself to trust that this baby would be born alive,” she says.

After losing Dorothy, the mom was aware of how quickly things could change. It’s life’s transience which haunted her throughout her pregnancy with Frances.

“In my experience, I could not believe that everything would be OK, because when you have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, you know that everything’s OK—until it isn’t… There is a point when you crossed a line and you can longer regard the world with the innocence of certainty,” she explains. “Losing a pregnancy or a child and facing infertility opens your eyes to the fleeting nature of life. You know how quickly everything can change.”

While the mom was overjoyed and anxious to finally meet her baby, she found it hard to let her guard down and become excited over Frances’ much-anticipated arrival.

“This is why it’s so hard to celebrate when you are pregnant after a loss. It’s not because you’re a pessimist or because you dwell in the negative,” Whalen discusses. “It’s hard to celebrate because you remember how it feels to have your heart break when it was overflowing with love. To feel this is agony and you are worried that your heart cannot withstand the devastation of another loss.”

How parents learn to cope with loss is extraordinary sign of strength, and the mother acknowledges this feat.

“Losing your child has thrown you into a life of uncertainty and your ability to embrace this uncertainty is a beautiful thing. It is what gives you the remarkable ability to breathe in fear and exhale hope as you push forward into the unknown. And that is worth celebrating.”

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