I sat in my son’s nursery during a 3 a.m. feed—my tired eyes scanning the room, desperate to stay awake. I had the closet light on, leaving the rest of the room dimly lit in an attempt to keep James as sleepy as possible. My eyes fell on the illuminated closet, recalling the many days my husband and I spent nesting—both anxiously terrified and excitedly elated. As the coming of our son drew nearer, the loss of our previous pregnancy grew louder.

In that closet, each blanket washed, each bottle sanitized, each swaddle folded held with it so much hope—both naïve and knowing. Naïve in the idea that we will get to meet our baby and watch him enjoy all of the contents in the closet. Knowing in the fact that sometimes, that naïve hope is the exact hope that devastates you.

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That naïve hope is the hope that creates a full, perfect pregnancy and a perfect happily ever after, all within seconds of seeing two lines on a pregnancy test. The naïve hope keeps you from going down—and staying—in the rabbit hole of what-ifs. It encourages you that this time will be different. This time, you will watch the life grow in black and white pixelated screens as weeks of appointments tick by. This time, the rapid changes in your body will be badges of honor. This time, you will meet your baby alive.

But you need both. Both hopes are equally important. Equally necessary.

James squirmed his sweet newborn squirm and peeked up at me, his blinking blue eyes stopping my heart for the millionth time in just under a month. The naïve hope and the knowing hope: both got us to this point.

Peering back up at the overstuffed closet, this thought was affirmed more and more. I saw the six-month sized Christmas onesies, complete with matching sets for myself and my husband, hanging in the far right side of the closet. The first set of baby Mickey ears tucked neatly behind. The tub filled with feeding supplies for the days to come of solid food introduction. The gradually growing in size row of diapers on the top shelf. The 800 baby wipes.

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All of these gifts brought to us with colorful bows and beaming loved ones’ smiles. These gifts brought the naïve hope. As we rubbed my growing belly during those nine months, these gifts told us our son will be in family photos. He will meet Santa. He will run into Mickey’s arms. He will spit squished avocado at us. His little booty will grow and grow, and all 800 of those baby wipes will be gone in a flash. These naïve hope gifts encouraged us when the rubs on my belly were fearful and uncertain.

This baby will make it. This sweet little boy will make it.

From scanning the closet, my eyes then fell onto my direct surroundings. The plush blanket for post-surgery comfort. The compression socks. The ridiculously fluffy slippers. The oversized sweater draped on the armrest. The heating pad at my back, soothing my changing postpartum body. These gifts brought the knowing hope. These gifts said, “Even if . . .”

Even if the unspeakable happens again. Even if the growing belly stops growing before it should. Even if you lose yet another life . . . You are supported. You are loved. You are lifted up.

My eyes filled with tears as I connected these dots. The naïve hope and the knowing hope: sometimes, we need both.

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In the job interview after a layoff, on the first date after a heartbreak, in the new test results after an uncertain diagnosis, in pregnancy after loss: you need both hopes.

I looked down at my little squirmer as he started to drift off to sleep. The rainbow baby swaddle draped loosely around him with his newly grown into size one diapers peeking out. I listened to his sweet little snore grow and smiled—heart enveloped in intensifying gratitude.

The naïve hope and the knowing hope is what brought us here—pushing through every devastation and crippling worry—to finally watch the fruits of both perfectly hold our hands in our finish line to our rainbow.

A job interview after a layoff, a first date after a heartbreak, new test results after an uncertain diagnosis, a pregnancy after loss: I hope you allow yourself to have both hopes, and I hope you are surrounded by many who do the same. Both hopes will lead you. Both hopes will understand you.

And even if . . . You are supported. You are loved. You are lifted up.

Kelsey Pfleiderer

Kelsey Pfleiderer is a writer from small town Ohio, now residing in the Florida Keys with her husband, rainbow baby boy and feisty orange neighborhood cat. After being diagnosed with a rare spinal tumor in the fall of 2017, she left her career in corporate events to pursue her deepest dream of writing full time. She founded her site, aperture expanding, where she candidly shares her heart on marriage, motherhood, chronic illness and more. She believes that by embracing our scars, both physical and emotional, we can create a roadmap that leads us to the life we were made to lead. She can be found on her Instagram at @kelsey.pfleiderer and her author Facebook page at Kelsey Pfleiderer.