What It Feels Like To Almost Have A Child After Losing A Child

Two weeks from today, on May 7, around 12:30pm in Los Angeles, we are scheduled to meet our third child, a boy, who if anything like his older sisters, will be long and thick and blue eyed and full of hair.

We have a name picked out for him. We have a few things ready for his arrival; an old car seat, some hand me down articles of clothing, an aqua colored swaddle blanket and a scattering of other necessities, like baby soap and a sealed bottle of whiskey. Barring any unforeseen calamity or early entrance, he will come into the world after spending thirty-eight and a half weeks inside his Mother, the same amount of time his sister spent in utero before dying.

Seventy-five weeks of pregnancy has come down to this.


We are dancing more and more these days. My three year old and I run around the house singing wildly off key to the vibrations of Florence + The Machine, cranking the volume during the “loud parts,” as Stella refers to them, and pumping our fists and spinning in circles and group dancing with Momma, which involves an awkward three person and one belly swaying hug.

We have been doing this sort of tribal dance ever since Margot died. It was always a brief respite from the agonizing grief, a tangible way for us to contrast the sadness surrounding Stella’s life with some joy. But something feels different now. As the song ends and we throw ourselves onto the couch in exhaustion, the sadness that once lingered after the dancing is now replaced with anticipation, the light at the end of another long pregnancy tunnel, the hopeful gift of a son, out of the ashes of his sister.


I have been growing a beard since we entered the third trimester because I don’t know what else to do for my son in utero, because it’s the only outward sign of hope I can think of, because the simple act of not shaving feels like something I have control over. It is thick and black and surprisingly vigorous after two months. And it’s mostly awful looking, something my partner says “doesn’t look bad or good.” But it’s there, growing simultaneously with my son, exuding love and hope every time I pick food out of my mustache or my daughter yanks at it in laughter or I itch it at work or gently pull at it while I’m thinking or reading.


Thirteen months and one day ago, as my partner bled and bled with no clots in sight, we were twenty minutes away from a hysterectomy.

Thirty-six and a half weeks ago we got lucky, damn lucky, that the cells of a tiny egg and a tiny sperm entered into a union that has, up to this point, stayed the course. There is gratefulness in abundance.

Mostly though, there is this inescapable feeling like our lives are hanging in the balance, like we’re standing on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a rugged coastline, waiting to be pulled back or kicked off the ledge.

I don’t know how we could go through this again.

I really, really, don’t know how we could go through this again.  

It’s damn near impossible to keep myself from looking over the cliff, from imagining the free fall should this little boy not make it. The fear, which introduced itself early on in the pregnancy, as if on cue, has successfully set up iron gates around my hopeful heart, holding me in a perpetual state of doubt, my gaze nearly fixed on the rocky coastline below. The emergency run to labor and delivery at thirty weeks didn’t help. Nor have the poor non-stress numbers, the abnormal blood work, or the two dozen times we had to get the doppler out to see if he was still alive. The only relief from the fear and worry is that it’s persistence has become commonplace.

And then there is the hope. Hope that this baby will live, and keep living. Hope that I will hold him in my arms and look into his eyes and tell him that he is my favorite boy in all the world. Hope that I will get to introduce my three year old to her live sibling, to see the two of them together, a dream of such vivid beauty I can hardly even think about it.

Hope that in two weeks time, we will pick up what’s left of ourselves, step back from the cliff, turn around and walk back towards home.


If you have had a subsequent pregnancy, what was your experience like? If you haven’t had a subsequent pregnancy, how does it feel to read about other members of the baby loss community who are pregnant? Is it hopeful? Diffiicult?