October is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and, quite honestly, I am not holding my breath that any commendable awareness campaigns will be hosted in our country.
As shared in a previous reflection, pregnancy loss appears to be an 'unspeakable' taboo topic in South African society.
Irrespective of this deafening silence, through this piece, I endeavour to raise awareness on an issue I struggle with as a woman who suffered a pregnancy loss: The dread of trying again.
ALSO SEE | How long after a miscarriage should I wait to try again?
'Once bitten, twice terrified'
As a newly married woman, a 'not so unspoken' expectation exists to produce the proverbial fruit of marriage: children. Therefore, trying again after experiencing a pregnancy loss is considered to be a no-brainer.
Actually and quite insensitively, the expectation of trying again might result in some people disregarding your grief; some might even be confused by your grief.
'Well-meaning' statements such as "she is still young, she can try again" and "don't worry, you can still have many babies" are common concluding remarks when people learn about one's pregnancy loss.
However, the consideration of conceiving after experiencing a pregnancy loss is a different kind of try again.
This try again is not comparable to re-entering your online bank pin after a failed attempt or baking another banana loaf to replace the one that flopped.
It is a 'once bitten, twice terrified' kind of try again.
It is a kind of try again that is marinated in fear.
Even the word 'try' begets the reality that you might fail.
It is the 'will my psyche recover from losing another child' kind of try again.
You are already awfully aware that should you try again, the likelihood is high that it is going to be 9 months of increased levels of anxiety, uncertainty and rushing to the doctor for what appears to others as 'insignificant' things.
In your head, that 'insignificant thing' could be the difference between life and death…
Because perhaps if you paid attention to every 'insignificant' thing last time, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
ALSO READ | Miscarriage: Your questions answered
Is there a right time?
As debilitating as the thought of 'trying again' can be, I know of successful 'try again' outcomes – women who gave birth to healthy, living babies after experiencing a pregnancy loss.
So is there a 'right' time to try again keeping in mind the ever-ticking biological clock?
I don't think there is a right time – I reckon that everyone who is mulling over whether or not to try again needs certain personal conditions to be in place if they were to try again.
Here are some of my conditions:
1. Wholeheartedly forgive yourself: As a pregnant woman, I felt my job was to protect the life that was inside of me and I couldn't. Even though the autopsy revealed the cause of death, a part of me continues to blame myself.
2. Accept that nothing in life is guaranteed, including a successful pregnancy: Being a control freak and a perfectionist, this is going to be a hard pill to swallow, but losing a child so abruptly has made me realise: You can't control every aspect of life.
3. Get healthy: My 'unsuccessful' pregnancy resulted in weight gain that I would prefer to work off before potentially putting on new pregnancy weight.
4. Do it in your time: Most importantly, I will try again IF I want to.
I wish I could wait until I undoubtedly know that my child won't die again, but that is prayerful thinking.
Losing a child is a heart-shattering and life-changing experience, but I have to accept reality to move on from its hurts.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at email@example.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
Don't miss a story!
For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.