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  • Writer's pictureMary Thissen

Seasons of infertility: pregnancy after loss

I stood over the test in the bathroom, anxiously awaiting results. Almost instantly, two pink lines appeared. At once, I felt joy and terror rise up within me. A new soul was alive within me, and in the same breath, I was terrified to lose this precious baby. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. I exhaled and called my husband over to look at the results with me. He looked at the test, smiled and hugged me. “You know how they told you it could be twins? It’s twins,” he said confidently. He bent down to kiss my belly. In that moment, I had to let my husband be the confident, excited one because once you’re pregnant after loss, nothing ever feels quite the same.

I had an almost paralyzing fear about being pregnant again. This was something I desperately wanted, yet wanted to run away from. I didn’t know how to live in the juxtaposition of wanting something and not wanting it so badly. Now, I would be lying if I said it didn’t get easier as time went on. Don’t get me wrong, pregnancy in 2020 in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic was not for the faint of heart. But as each milestone came and went, I still had life within me. Oh, and remember my husband’s prediction? I was indeed carrying two babies! “Could this really be the pregnancy that I take home a baby? Maybe even two?” I thought to myself. 

Relationship with God

What had most suffered in my life was my relationship with God and with His Church. After my fourth and last pregnancy loss, I had turned from God for a time. Was it all silliness, this faith I had grown up with? How could God allow this to keep happening? Whatever the reason, I thought the answer was so clear. He didn’t love me. He couldn’t possibly, if He could allow this to keep happening. But I felt Him calling to me in the night. Calling for me to come back to Him. Calling for me to trust Him. Calling for me to walk with Him in this life, scars and all.

There was a local reproductive endocrinologist who put together a (Church-approved!) plan for me to both become pregnant again and sustain pregnancy. While I had wanted to go to a nationally known fertility doctor for testing and treatment that was in line with Church teaching, my insurance denied the request. I was devastated, thinking that only that doctor could help me with what I suspected due to previous health issues. But that door had closed. And I was left sitting with what my local doctor could do for me. I felt a light begin to glow in my soul. And with the coming of the light, I knew that I would always regret not trying the plan with the local doctor. “What if I really could become pregnant and give birth with this plan?” I thought to myself. “I have to try. But I know I have to trust in God if I try.”

Slowly, gradually, I invited God back into the picture. I returned to Mass the weekend before the COVID pandemic closed every single Catholic Church in the country. I knew I couldn’t go through this pregnancy without God. I knew I needed him with every breath of my being. “Master, to whom shall we go? It is you who have the words of everlasting life.” (John 6:68) To whom was I to go, if not the Lord? It was the Lord who had given life and taken it back to Himself. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. Everything was in His hands. 

Unbearable fear

Still, the fear was intense. At every turn, I expected to be disappointed. I was afraid to go to the bathroom because I was convinced I would discover bright red blood. Who on earth would ever be afraid to go to the bathroom? I sighed relief with every bathroom trip that yielded no blood. But, trusting Him was all I had. And I had settled back into my relationship with God enough to know that He would not bring me this far, just to leave me here. At this point, I refused to believe that I would not go home with two healthy babies. I counted the kicks, experienced the nausea, and watched my abdomen expand. Twenty-four weeks. Viability reached, if they came early. Now thirty-two weeks. My doctor explained I would not go past thirty-eight weeks with twins. A c-section was scheduled for the morning of October 22nd. 

The morning of the c-section arrived. The nurses found one heartbeat but couldn’t find another. I gave into fear again that morning and began to wail loudly, as I was convinced one of my babies had died. The nurses worked feverishly to find the heartbeat and attempted to reassure me that finding two heartbeats is difficult and takes some skill. And then, resurrection. The second heartbeat was found and a monitor was placed on the heartbeat. I feared I had let myself be duped (Jeremiah 20:7) and gave into fear because of this. But the Lord restored what was broken inside me and allowed me to once again walk with Him in confidence.

That morning, I became the mother of two souls dwelling on this earth. The Lord had taken away, but He gave in such a lavish way. 

He is good

The lessons of walking with the Lord through what was finally a successful pregnancy stick with me today. I discovered that radical trust and allowing myself to be carried by the Lord was the only way I could live. Fear would have consumed me otherwise. Sometimes it seemed as though fear was all there was.

Dear sister, I have no idea what the Lord has in store for you. Perhaps you will become pregnant and give birth. Perhaps you will never become pregnant but adopt children. Perhaps, as painful as it may seem, the Lord is not calling you to physical motherhood but a spiritual motherhood. Whatever way it may be, the Lord calls forth your feminine genius to accomplish His work in the world. What I do know is that, whatever He calls you to, He is good. He can be trusted. Do not give into the lie of despair. Walk closely with Him and in Him, and He will be your everlasting shelter when life seems to bring only fear.

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