Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss: Salina

In late June, I surprised my husband after our housewarming party with a positive pregnancy test. We’d been trying since we got married and were lucky enough to get a house big enough to raise a family in. Dating is not a sure thing, but estimates would have put our pregnancy at 6 weeks when I tested positive. We decided to keep the pregnancy close to the chest until our first ultrasound appointment 3 weeks later.

Like most healthcare appointments, my husband and I were very nervous leading up to the date. We were happy to find an opening at Lankenau, very close to our home and well-renowned for their maternity care. At the first appointment, the doctor was very knowledgeable and reassuring about the pregnancy. He helped us answer several questions about our expectations and we felt like we were in good hands going forward. After some talk, the doctor decided to finish the appointment with the ultrasound. The next few minutes felt like an eternity as they prepared. He searched for a moment and paused; we knew from what we were seeing that something was wrong. The doctor mentioned that what he was seeing looked more like a 5-6 week appointment rather than a 9 week ultrasound. He bluntly diagnosed a “blighted ovum” – the body was preparing for a pregnancy but there was no baby developing.

We went over the dates again with the doctor and he made it very clear that there was zero chance I was pregnant with a viable embryo. I burst into tears—I felt that my body had failed me. The doctor then informed us that I would likely miscarry at some point in the next two weeks and that if that wasn’t the case, he would prescribe misoprostol to induce the miscarriage. Our world shattered and we now prepared for a different reality leaving our first appointment.

After gathering ourselves, we left the hospital and went home to grieve. With the help of friends and family, we picked ourselves up and tried taking steps forward to put the loss behind us. I waited every day for the miscarriage to happen—the anxiety that came with waiting for the inevitable to happen became too much. I decided that I didn’t want to wait for the miscarriage and asked my doctor for the prescription. He obliged and I took the misoprostol. The medication made me ill and I felt like I was in a fever dream nightmare until morning. However, I noticed that rather than the expected heavy bleeding that comes with taking this medication, I bled very little. I reached out to our doctor the next day, and we made an appointment for the following week.

When I arrived to the follow up appointment accompanied by my mother (as my husband couldn’t get off work), the doctor entered the room and began discussing an ovarian cyst (he had confused me with another patient and had no recollection of who I was or why I was there). After being briefed on my case by me, he performed an ultrasound. Staring at the screen, we realized we were looking at a developing 9 week old baby—the doctor fell silent. The air left the room, and the tension was palpable. Why was there a baby now when there wasn’t one 2 weeks prior? How did we have a baby after taking the misoprostol? A million questions ran through all our minds simultaneously as the new reality set in.

The doctor looked at me and my mother, and immediately recommended termination. He then changed his recommendation after some Google research (I wish I was kidding.) and we scheduled an appointment with a specialist. As to be expected, there is very little information about misoprostol exposure this early into a pregnancy let alone any pregnancy. My mom and I left the appointment knowing very little about anything beyond that I was still pregnant and I was 9 weeks along with a seemingly healthy fetus. I called my husband and he was dumbstruck. The doctor had made it very clear in that first appointment – there was zero chance of a baby. Yet here we were, with baby still growing. We were able to see a fetal specialist the next day. He confirmed that our baby was healthy, and that we would continue to monitor for any abnormalities that could be caused by the misoprostol exposure.

If at this point you are wondering wtf happened (as we were), the only explanation that makes any sense is that I tested positive very early on in the pregnancy. For those who are planning on having children, figuring out ovulation cycles is an art that is a combination of both luck and science.  I have always had an irregular period, which made tracking my cycle even more challenging. My doctor never asked me about my period history nor did he seem to realize that could play a factor in the timing of our ultrasound appointment. From talking to the doctor, it seemed that we were actually 2 weeks behind the “timeline” based on the initial at home pregnancy test.

I’m happy to say that we have reached 39 weeks, and I am due next Sunday. I cannot wait to meet my miracle baby. 

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss: Katie

Some people have described pregnancy after loss as holding your breath for 9 months. To me, holding your breath means you have some kind of control. I feel like it’s better described as gasping for air but not being able to fill your lungs.

My last pregnancy followed a soul-crushing time in which I lived through 6 miscarriages back-to-back, one with complications that traumatized me to the point that I’ll simply never be the same. Through that time, I had so many blood tests that my phlebotomist knew me personally. I had multiple procedures, including a uterine surgery that resected a septum thought to have caused my issue. But even after surgery, I had my sixth loss. I felt so defeated. I had a wonderfully compassionate doctor who had done everything she could possibly do in my situation, and I still couldn’t keep my baby. And I couldn’t stomach the thought of going through any more heartache.

But after finding a beautiful support group of women struggling with similar feelings, I decided to keep going. My desire to have another living child outweighed my exhaustion. And in a few months, that second line appeared… again.

How can so many conflicting emotions exist at one time?

I think for the first 5 minutes of that line appearing, I felt excited. But then I quickly dug a deep hole in the sand and buried my head in it. I didn’t want to call my doctor; I didn’t want to tell my family; I didn’t want to acknowledge what might finally destroy me if I lost this one too. I was paralyzed.

But this is when finding the right support group is so crucial. Because I chatted with my new friends every day. And while they couldn’t do anything about my crippling anxiety, they were there. They were my cheerleaders, giving me a sounding board to process everything, sitting in my feelings with me, and offering advice when I asked for it. No one ever really knows what to say. But showing up and checking in matters.

Given my history, I was a high-risk patient. Not only was I at an increased risk of miscarriage in the first and second trimester, but I was at an increased risk of my own health complications, including uterine rupture. I had more appointments and ultrasounds than most pregnant women. And while many women feel excited seeing their baby on the ultrasound screen, I found it triggering. Every appointment, I prepared myself to hear the same cruel words, “There is no heartbeat.” But this pregnancy continued.

I thought when I saw my beta blood tests come back great, I’d feel better. I didn’t. I thought maybe after my first viability scan at 6 weeks, I’d calm down. Nope. Surely when I made it out of the first trimester, I’d feel safer. I was waiting for a time when I felt comfortable and confident enough to share with family and friends that my daughter was growing well. But even after the 20-week anatomy scan, after the week of viability, after I entered the third trimester and officially became full-term, I never felt the joy you’re supposed to feel.

My entire pregnancy was me expecting to see blood when I went to the bathroom. It was not knowing how to respond to people when they asked how many children I have. It was wearing baggy clothes because not only was I acutely aware of how triggering my bump would be to other women struggling with infertility and loss, I realized that it was triggering for me too – my own bump. Every milestone I made with my daughter was a reminder of the milestones I didn’t get to have with my other babies. It’s hard to describe the guilt of that. My daughter is so loved and wanted, but she could not have existed if my other babies hadn’t died. And I often struggle with mourning them and celebrating her at the same time. And that’s when I realized the feeling that was most overwhelming during this pregnancy was grief.

There is no healthy pregnancy or baby that will ever be able to fully heal a miscarriage. I’m coming to terms with that, and I’ve grown exponentially through processing everything that has happened. I’ve become great at setting boundaries with people and topics, I’ve become more compassionate with those within the loss and infertility community, and I’ve accepted that I’ll never get my innocence back.

Was it worth it to bring my daughter into this world? Absolutely yes.
Am I still broken having done so? Also yes, but I’m working on it.

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss: Megan

Back in July, we thought we’d be bringing home a baby in March. And then in September, We thought we’d be bringing home a baby in June. And then in November, we didn’t dare to think of the end result. We just were thankful everyday that I woke up still pregnant, still with a baby inside of me. 

We are so lucky to say that we are looking forward to bringing home a baby in August as we near the halfway mark of this pregnancy.  

March was the month I first expected I would be becoming a mom, and it also happens to be Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month. To everyone pregnant after loss, I am sending you so much love and strength. I know how quickly emotions can go from hope to fear to anxiety to happiness and back again. I know the only thing scarier than trying again is never becoming a mom. So you choose to try. To those still struggling with infertility or recurrent losses I am so sorry and I hope you get your miracle soon.

To this little one, I cannot wait to be your mom. Through all of the ups and downs of the last year, I find peace in knowing I was supposed to meet this particular little baby. You are already incredible. See you in August.  

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss: Brooke

My husband and I were ecstatic when we found out that we were expecting our second child in July of 2021. We were excited to be expanding our family and for our older son to have a sibling. Just a few months later, we lost our precious baby girl at 17 weeks gestation. We deeply mourned the loss of our baby, Jedah, and talked about how our desire for more children hadn’t changed.

Just 3 months later we found out we were pregnant again. I was flooded with fear and worry immediately. Would this pregnancy be like the last? I felt like every doctors appointment would be the one where we would be told that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. I felt a panic every time I laid on the table to hear our baby’s heartbeat. But, time and time again, we heard that strong thump thump of a heart beat and saw our baby’s perfectly formed body. I began to feel God’s overwhelming peace and comfort. I reminded myself over and over that this is a different baby, this is a different pregnancy. I now hold our sweet 4 month old son in my arms.

We will always miss our baby girl and continue to honor her through our lives everyday. Our rainbow baby, Jensen, is a perfect addition to our family. I am gently reminded how precious life is every time I see him smile or pass a new milestone. A rainbow baby is not a replacement, but a miraculous addition.

Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy After Loss: Kristin

Pregnancy after loss for me was the hardest thing to go through.  It is a mix of happy, sad, fear and a lot of anxiety.   Not to mention how people magically think pregnancy after loss is the cure all for your previous loss.   I don’t think anyone can understands this mindset unless you have been through it. 

I have had multiple losses at different stages, including chemical, missed miscarriages and a second trimester loss. From the first pregnancy test to delivery, during PAL, there is no safe anything anymore. No safe space, no safe time frame, no safe ultrasound, no safe bathroom wipe, no safe cramping, no safe doctor appointment.  You are constantly waiting for the bad news to hit. You are waiting for your body to fail again. Those feelings do not stop. They are a constant battle in your mind.    

Luckily my doctor read, understood my chart and losses, especially my second trimester loss from the first appointment. They took the time to talk to me about my losses and how they can help get through PAL.   They brought up triggers that would happen before I even mentioned it. They set up ultrasound every other week up to my loss week to set my mind at ease.  They also had me do cervical length checks up to 30 weeks.  During one of those length checks, they discovered I was having contractions and was put on pelvic rest. 

It’s true – PAL is holding your breath for nine months but PAL is also so much more that no one sees.  
Happy – yes, you can have happiness and joy during this time.  You can enjoy the milestones of this pregnancy. 
Sad – yes, you can be sad because this baby is missing a sibling, you missed these moments with your baby that passed, you missed the milestones. 
Fear – yes, it was fearful.  Every time you go to the bathroom and look at the toilet paper, searching for pink or red on it.   You almost want to hold it and not go to the bathroom because you are so fearful of what you will find.  Fear – this pregnancy won’t last.  Fear – when is the bad news coming.  Fear – to buy anything during this pregnancy because you might not use it.  Fear – since this pregnancy might not last – you wait and decorate when the baby comes home.  Fear to announce a pregnancy that you might have to take back.
Anxiety – yes, especially during ultrasounds and dopplers.  You hold your breath waiting for the tech to not find a heartbeat or lack of movement. 
Anger – yes, especially towards the ones who feel this pregnancy cancels all the pain and love you have for your baby who passed.  How magically this fixes and heals everything.  All those times they told you “everything happens for a reason” or “it wasn’t the right baby” or “something just wasn’t right with this baby and your body knew it what it had to do”  PAL is supposed to erase all of that. 
Hard – its down right hard and draining with all these emotions going on 24/7.

No one tells you about the triggers like your baby’s birthday, due date, death date while PAL. Nothing prepares you for the “is this your first?” or “how many kids do you have?” All still triggering for me. No one talks about the emotions you partner feels during PAL. 

All of these things, no one tells you about in PAL. PAL is not easy even though the world tries to paint this picture that this is all sunshine and rainbows. My story is helping change that and give the world a real life view of what nine months of PAL is really like. 

Pregnancy After Loss, Uncategorized

Pregnancy After Loss: Vitoria

I didn’t know if I would ever be ready to talk about it.

I don’t think people talk about this enough, it’s such a lonely pain and I wish I knew more about it before it actually happened to me, like it happens to so many other women.

A loss so painful that it left me speechless.

It’s very difficult to lose something you didn’t have, to lose a dream that had just begun, that you were going to hold your baby in your arms, smell it, put it to sleep, wake up tired at dawn, being hard or not, in 9 months I would have had the chance to feel the strength of being a mother and celebrate it for the rest of my life.

Nobody prepares us for this loss, there is no book, video or advice that prepares you to go through one of the most difficult moments of your life.

It’s not easy to share this pain, and it’s more common than you might think, 1 in 4 women go through what I’m going through. And how should I feel? What can I do with the guilt? Was this my fault? Even knowing I didn’t do anything wrong, that it was completely out of my control, how do I deal with the emptiness of a little piece of life that was taken from me?

I don’t have answers, I still can’t understand why, but I know that everything happens for a reason, our pain makes us stronger.
And the fear of trying again, the fear of allowing myself to hope, I don’t know if it will pass, but I hope I can give myself the chance to feel the joy of being a mother, once again.

Then this year started and people always say there’s always a rainbow after the storm, and as I write this I can feel my rainbow baby growing inside me. The anxiety wants to win, the doubts crippling in, but I will remain strong for me and for my little peanut!

It’s not an easy journey to be going through pregnancy again, without knowing the outcome, with all the fears of what can happen.

But I do believe, and I do have hope.

We will grow together and I am a mother, once again.

Pregnancy After Loss

Life After Pregnancy Loss: Jessica

Jessica shared the story of the loss of her daughter Emily back in August. Here, she details what life has been like after her miscarriage.

Once we got the miscarriage diagnosis , I learned life doesn’t stop moving – even for the death of your sweet baby. I still went to work and told coworkers (who had no idea I was pregnant- let alone had a miscarriage). There were moments of sadness to be sure but life keep going so you wipe away the tears and tackle the next project on the list.

We visited my sister in Atlanta in March shortly after, which was healing. Once of her roommates was pregnant and the room that my husband and I stayed In had all the baby stuff. It didn’t bother me as much as everyone thought it did because I was literally 8 weeks pregnant when I had my miscarriage – we hadn’t bought anything so that was just interesting to see people trying to care for me in that way.

Mother’s Day was hard. We skipped our normal family gathering, skipped church, grabbed coffee and walked a park on a very cold Mother’s Day. It looked like winter was dying but spring hasn’t made her appearance yet (Minnesota weather). It was kind of beautiful to see nature hadn’t turned quite yet and I didn’t need to be fully healed in that moment either.

The summer went along as normal and then September hit.

As soon as September came, my anxiety came back online because I was supposed to give birth this month. Instead, my body had no baby in it.

My husband and I started trying again in the summer. I had been tracking my cycle which hadn’t been consistent since the miscarriage. Suddenly, I was late – I got up the morning my period should have began and no blood to be found. I grabbed a pregnancy test from under the sink and said “I’ll take one and hopefully it negative so I can get on my with my day.”
I took it and saw that it was positive. After freaking out for a couple minutes in the bathroom I quickly told my husband the news. We prayed immediately and made a plan.

I called the doctor on my lunch break and begged them to check my levels to confirm the pregnancy. They agreed to do one test on Friday and one test on Monday (in order to be pregnant your levels needed to double between the two dates) the Friday test didn’t scare me – Monday did. If it rose I was pregnant – if it dropped or stayed the same, something was wrong. This is what ultimately determined my miscarriage. To say that weekend I was scared was understatement. I was freaked out and literally had no control over it. I went in Monday, got the blood work and went on my day.

My results on Friday were 350. In order to be pregnant, I needed at least 700. Monday results were 1300. When I got the email I was driving and called my husband. We knew then this pregnancy would be different. We wouldn’t wait the 12 weeks to tell people – we wanted the support early – the support that got us through the miscarriage back in February.

We told close friends and family, it felt there was an army now actively praying for this little one.

We made it past some scary milestones, past the 6 week mark when we lost our precious Emily back in February.

We made it past the first ultrasound sound at 9 weeks where we saw the body and heartbeat where I cried because it suddenly was real. There was a baby in me.

We made it to 12 weeks, into second trimester for the first time.

We made it to 20 weeks, we found out is it a girl (just like we wanted) and she let us knows she is alive by moving and refusing to let me sleep.

We just made it to 24 weeks. If you are in the baby loss community, you know this is viability week. Our little girl could survive on the outside (though I would really prefer if you stayed inside. Also I literally have nothing for you – please stay put baby girl – just until May).

Pregnancy after loss makes me sad that I should have a child here already. But then there are moments with this new little one that remind me that I’m blessed. I blessed to carry a child, to be her home and her safe spot for now. I’m glad that’s what I was for my pregnancy and I’m super glad that’s what I am for this new little one. I pray for everyone who lives with pregnancy loss because it something I don’t wish on anyone.

To my new little one that is moving and making it very hard to sleep – thank you. Thank you for your strong heartbeat, all your movements, all the times you have made me throw up. Thank you for being an awesome gift from your big sister. I can’t wait until May to meet you face to face and tell you all about your big sister in Heaven.

Pregnancy After Loss

The “Rainbow Baby” Connection

CW: mention of living children, birth, pregnancy after loss

I love a rainbow baby.

I mean this literally and generally. I am lucky enough to have a rainbow baby to love and adore.

Rainbow babies fill me with joy. They carry so much hope and have so much love in their corner. Their existence is a testament to the literal blood, sweat, and tears it takes to conceive a child.

But what if you don’t get a rainbow baby?

What if that term frustrates you?

What if the thought once gave you hope but now it’s fleeting?

What if you don’t get to find out “what’s on the other side?”

What is a “rainbow baby?”

A rainbow baby is a term used to describe a baby or a pregnancy that comes after pregnancy or neonatal loss. It is often used as a symbol of hope, just as rainbows can come after rain, like healing after a hardship.

Some people are not a fan of this term. It often gets branded as a misnomer… “why would the baby that you lost be a storm?!” Calm down, Karen. He’s not. And no one thinks that he is.

The “storm” loss parents are referring to is the turmoil, pain and heartbreak that happens after a loss. A baby is a symbol of joy, of new life, no matter how they came to be. Even parents that have experienced loss after a surprise or unplanned pregnancy or had to terminate for medical reasons still experience grief from their loss. The devastation of pregnancy or infant loss is a dark and isolating event, similar to a storm. Alternatively, a rainbow is a symbol of hope, a promise of good to come.

I love the term “rainbow baby” and use it frequently. My daughter will know what it means as a reminder of how wanted she is and how hard we fought for her to get here.

But what happens when you fight and beg and plead and bleed and fight some more and the rainbow doesn’t appear? What if the storm continues and the sky refuses to clear?

“Who said that every wish would be heard and answered when we wished on a morning star?”

This is my problem with the term “rainbow baby:” a rainbow is not guaranteed.

Pregnancy after loss is a part of some people’s stories, but not all. Telling someone it will be “their turn soon” may sound right in the moment and feel secure, but what the loss parent won’t tell you is they wonder every day when “soon” will be. When will this storm pass?

A rainbow is not a symbol of how hard someone fought for their pregnancy. It’s easy to think “since she has a rainbow baby, she did something right. Since I don’t, I did something wrong.” If you’ve ever tried to conceive a child you know that it’s not all that simple. You know how the stars, the universe, prayers, chakras, WHATEVER have to align in order to see those two pink lines.

A rainbow pregnancy does not equal success. Maybe you decide to take a much needed break in your journey. Maybe you decided to adopt or foster. Maybe you had the courage to keep going, even when you thought you couldn’t. Your “rainbow” can be whatever good comes after a loss.

“Rainbows are visions, but only illusions…”

On the same token, rainbow babies do not replace the babies that have been lost. While it is truly an exciting moment when a pregnancy after loss can be announced or a baby is born healthy after a loss, the babies that came before still exist to those parents.

Many feel like there is a timeline for grief, often convinced that there are “stages” you must go through. Once you have gone through the stages, you’re cured!

Grief isn’t a disease. There isn’t a cure. It’s something that lives in your soul, some days taking up the most space it possibly can, growing so strong and so overpowering, you feel like you might explode from the pain.

And some days, grief is simply a resident. Sitting quietly on a bench, holding the hand of its strong and more powerful friend; hope.

A rainbow baby does not replace the babies that have been lost, it is just another baby we’ll love and honor and protect as long as we live.

“What’s so amazing that keeps us star gazing and what do we think we might see?”

For some families, pregnancy after loss becomes a part of their story.

Right after my miscarriage I thought, “if I could just get pregnant again, I would feel better!”


Pregnancy after loss is a loss of innocence. You know everything that can go wrong. How it feels, what to look for, what is a “bad” sign, what is a “good” sign. And so many of these “bad” signs can also be just very normal things; cramps, bleeding, abdominal pain.

I’ve heard this said many times; pregnancy after loss is like holding your breath for nine months. During that time, it is a constant battle of what we “think we might see” once we hit each milestone:

“Once I hear the heartbeat, I’ll feel better.”

“Once I make it out of the first trimester, I’ll feel better.”

“Once I can feel kicks, I’ll feel better.”

“Once I get to the anatomy scan, I’ll feel better.”

“Once I make it to the third trimester, I’ll feel better.”

“Once I make it to labor and delivery, I’ll feel better.”

And the truth is, you may not “feel better” until that baby is crying in your arms.

There was a time at the end of my pregnancy with my daughter where I truly wondered if I would be taking a baby home from the hospital. Nothing was wrong, my miscarriage just taught me that nothing is guaranteed. I would start conversations with “God willing I bring this baby home…” or “assuming all goes well…” I thought about how many mothers go into the hospital in labor and come home with an empty car seat. This “rainbow” business is knowing that while hope is present, sometimes it’s all we have to pull us through these terrifying possibilities. Even though I was lucky enough to experience a rainbow pregnancy and have a healthy “rainbow baby,” it didn’t feel all that “rainbow-y” in the moment.

While rainbows are bright and colorful, a rainbow pregnancy can still be clouded with fear.

While rainbows are cloaked in sunshine, a rainbow baby can (and will) have dark and difficult days.

Just because you see a rainbow, doesn’t mean the darkness still can’t creep in from time to time.

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows?”

Someone on my Instagram shared that the term “rainbow baby” felt like “a club [they] really didn’t want to join.” I hear ya. I would like to unsubscribe as well.

Some people just hate the term. And that’s okay.

It’s not a perfect label. It is not all-encompassing and truly, it is hard to reduce the pain, suffering and love you feel if you have lost a child to one word.

Maybe you prefer “miracle baby” instead.

Maybe it feels cheesy to you.

Maybe it feels overused.

Maybe you’re “rainbow-phobic.” (Is this a thing?)

No matter how you choose to label your pregnancy or baby after a loss, that “club” (the lovers, the dreamers, and me) is always here to support you and cheer you on.

Song lyrics by Jim Henson, “The Rainbow Connection.”