Stepping up to the cash register with a box of pregnancy tests in hand felt nothing short of brave.
I was a grown woman. Married. Mothering a toddler.
Purchasing pregnancy tests wasn’t new to me. My husband and I had been trying to conceive. We wanted another baby. And frankly, I was hoping that when I got home and peed on one of the sticks from the box I handed to the cashier, it would give me exactly what I wanted—a positive result.
Other than the cashier wishing me “good luck” upon handing me the receipt, which was a first for me, there was nothing unique about the transaction. Women buy pregnancy tests all the time. They become pregnant all the time. They have babies all the time.
But the whole thing stirred up panic within me.
My heart raced. My hands shook. Although I wanted to be pregnant, the idea of a positive test terrified me. Because I’d already been pregnant three times but had just one child at home.
My previous two pregnancies had ended first with an ectopic pregnancy, then with a stillbirth. What if another pregnancy ended in another loss? I wasn’t sure my heart could take it. I wasn’t sure the decision to try again was the right one. I wasn’t sure the risk was worth it.
Pregnancy was now associated with danger, grief, and death. Becoming pregnant again would be like walking into a battle between life and death, hope and despair. It would take courage to walk into that battle with the potential to lose again.
I knew I’d have to fight to believe that life could come from my body again. Fight to receive the best prenatal care available. Fight to get out of bed each day not knowing if I would go to bed still pregnant.
I’d have to fight for hope because the trauma of my previous two pregnancies followed me. I couldn’t escape the reality that sometimes babies die. That pregnancy doesn’t guarantee a baby. That sometimes grief replaces joy.
When I got home that day, I locked myself in the bathroom, forced my yoga pants down to my ankles, and peed on a test stick. Then waited.
After three minutes I took a deep breath and looked down at the test window. Two pink lines. I was pregnant for the fourth time and could hardly breathe.
I immediately began praying and looking for blood and wondering if my pregnancy would progress far enough to find out if my baby was a boy or a girl.
I was grateful. And terrified. And hopeful. And certain this wouldn’t end well.
As the days and weeks of my pregnancy progressed, not much changed from the early moments of discovering that I was pregnant.
I constantly prayed. I always looked for blood. I often had to remind myself to breathe. I rotated through feelings of fear, excitement, defeat, and hope all day, every day.
I didn’t know how my pregnancy was going to end, but one thing was for sure: trying again was the most courageous thing I’d done.
Yes, pregnancy after loss is an act of courage because after you’ve lost a baby you know pregnancy can break your heart. You know you aren’t guaranteed to bring your baby home. You know every day of pregnancy is going to be incredibly difficult. You know just how fragile the life of your baby is.
It’s what you don’t know—the outcome of your pregnancy—that makes it so courageous. Because it takes courage to choose to love another baby when you aren’t sure you’ll get to keep it.
I was grateful to be pregnant again. Absolutely GRATEFUL. But make no mistake, I didn’t handle my pregnancy after two losses gracefully. Ask anyone who witnessed that period of my life and they will absolutely confirm that I was a mess.
Honestly, cowering in fear and choosing not to try again would have been easier. But I knew if my husband and I decided to stop trying at that point in time, I’d never stop asking myself “what if?” What if we had tried once more?
But moving forward in courage proved to me that anything is possible.
Because even though the weeks were impossibly long and my pregnancy was complicated in a thousand ways, thirty-seven long weeks after I timidly purchased that box of pregnancy tests, I gave birth to a baby boy. Alive and very, very loud.
It could have ended differently, I know.
Of course I’m glad it didn’t. But even if my pregnancy had ended in another loss, I think I’d still be grateful that God gave me the courage to try again. Because another baby to carry? To love? Even if for less time than I’d like?
Well, despite the cruel possibility of more heartache, I can’t think of a better risk to take.
Jenny’s new book, Courageously Expecting: 30 Days of Encouragement for Pregnancy After Loss, is available now wherever books are sold.
Originally published on jennyalbers.com