How Soon Is Too Soon?

Losing a child is devastating, whether you have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or loss during birth or sometime afterward; your body and your heart need time to heal...but how long? After the emotional -- and sometimes physical -- trauma of losing a baby, you might wonder where the next step will lead you in your journey toward motherhood. When should you start the journey once more

pregnancy desires

Your body

Dr John Sussman, co-author of Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss (Taylor Publications), says how long a woman should wait to get pregnant again really depends on the nature of the loss. "In general, she will need at least two to three months to be in optimal physical condition, and even longer after a full-term loss," says Sussman, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at New Milford Hospital in New Milford, Connecticut, and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. "She should wait until her periods have resumed, blood counts have normalized and her doctor has given the okay."

If you had an ectopic pregnancy -- in which the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube or otherwise outside of the uterus -- Sussman says you and your caregiver should be extra cautious to make sure as early on as possible that your next pregnancy is in the womb. He adds, "There are generally no major physical problems to contend with after the initial recovery from [a] loss."

Waiting to try again: Time as therapy

Probably the biggest factor in helping you determine when you are ready to try for another baby is your heart and soul: You need time to grieve and to feel emotionally ready.

Not everyone is ready to cope with another pregnancy right away. Twenty-seven year old Chelly Fowler and her husband Doug, Americans stationed with the military in Ramstein, Germany, conceived their first child two weeks after they were married. "Our pregnancy went great until we went in for a routine 17-week ultrasound. The tech found a fluid mass on the back of our baby's neck. She was very concerned and immediately scheduled us to see a perinatologist." Their daughter was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome, a disorder caused by the absence of all or part of a sex chromosome. At a followup ultrasound, Fowler says, "We were told that our angel's heart was no longer beating. Those were the hardest words I had ever heard." Sarah Elisah was stillborn on May 18, 2001. "With Sarah, we definitely needed time to grieve. There were so many whys, what ifs and so forth that at that point, I was totally not ready to try again. The fact that we were told Turner's Syndrome is just a 'fluke' made understanding why this had happened to us so much harder."

After trying to conceive for eight months, 31-year-old Becky Wanamaker and her husband found out they were pregnant in early December of 2001. Before they knew it, this couple from Orlando, Florida, suffered a miscarriage -- on Christmas day. "The loss of my pregnancy has been the worst thing that my husband and I have ever had to deal with as individuals and as a couple," she says. When it came to trying for another baby, Becky recalls, "At first, I did not want to try again at all. We waited about a month and started trying again and then stopped. The wounds are still there, and there are times that I can't hold in my emotions."

As Wanamaker nears her original due date, she feels sad about what will not be. "But I try not to focus on that too much. We are trying again starting this month...I will be starting Clomid next cycle, and hope to be pregnant real soon," she says. "I think that my due date and [the anniversary of] the day I lost the pregnancy will be tough for me, but hopefully they will be milestones in the healing process."

Trying again now: Conception as therapy

Shannon Sarmiento of Stafford, Virginia, was pregnant with twins last November. About eight weeks into her pregnancy, however, she learned of problems, and one twin was severely deformed. "My egg had split around day 14, when it should have split around day four," she says. "There was zero chance of survival for the deformed one, and only about 10 percent with the other. The one would die, and [since] they were both on the same placenta, it would kill its twin." Their geneticist instructed them to terminate immediately, which they did at 13 weeks. Sarmiento says, "I had absolutely no second thoughts when she showed us pictures of what we would have if we tried to carry them."

The couple decided the best thing for them would be another pregnancy as soon as possible. "We decided to try again immediately," says Sarmiento, who is now expecting her fourth child. "I know that it does not help everyone, but it did for me to move on with the future...I knew in my heart that it would be the right decision to move forward."

Since September 2001, Dawn Rubio suffered three consecutive miscarriages, one of them at 13 weeks. Rubio says she also found solace in trying again right away. "I didn't take any time off between my losses, because we knew we definitely wanted more children," says Rubio, who lives in Michigan. "It took me a long time to heal, and there still [aren't] days that I don't think about my angels. I would have to say that every time I found out I was pregnant again, it somehow helped heal me. I just knew I was ready to try again."

Five months after their daughter was stillborn, Fowler and her husband conceived -- and suffered a loss -- again. Their seven-week ultrasound exam showed an amniotic sac but no baby. Unlike after their first loss, however, they did not wait to try again. "After our second loss, we just needed to begin trying again as soon as our doctors okayed it. Trying not to conceive only reminded me that I had empty arms and an aching heart, so yearning for a baby of our own. Therefore, we decided to pray a lot and begin immediately."

The big question

Are you ready to conceive once more? Whether it takes months or years for you to start trying again, let your own heart tell you when it's time. You're the only one who truly knows.

Chelly Fowler knew. And after six months of trying, she is expecting again. "We are only four and a half weeks along, so things will be on edge for us until we hopefully get to see this little one's heart just beating away," she says. "We are hopeful that March 11, 2003, will be the most magical moment for us yet." PregnancyAndBaby.com

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Lana December 06, 2012
My husband and i lost our baby Liam, at 27 weeks due to Trisomy 13 (Edward syndrome) 13 November 2012. My heart still bleeds thinking of those words "he will not survive"...those words that slashed me like knives. I felt numb and cried so much the tears felt like acid later. We went through a miscarriage of twins last year 2011 and were told its merely "a fluke" that we had to go through another loss again. I thort the miscarriage was bad...but this.. We so much want to have another baby. We have a 3year old little princess, she is our everything we so blessed to have her. We want to try again...but right now i dont know when since everything is still so "fresh" and evens typing this brings so much memories and pain back. i feel guilty because he suffered so much. The emptiness is the killer! I pray it gets better emotionally. It hurts so much! I know it will be impossible to forget. How do you love and miss a baby, you didnt know, so much? He seemed at peace when he was born. Like he was sleeping peacefully. The only comfort i have is knowing he is painfree and safe in the hand of Jesus.
nike November 29, 2012
i had a perfectly formed healthy baby boy on the 16th of November. his cord was wrapped tightly around his neck. he was 10 days over due. my heart is still empty. i pray that we all get healing for our broken hearts. i want to conceive again as soon as i can.
Kendra November 14, 2012
My husband and I just lost our baby boy Christopher Isaac at 22 weeks. He was developing well, I was healthy, and our 8-year-old daughter was excited about being a big sister. Without warning, I went into preterm labor and our baby was born early. I will never forget his tiny face or the the tiny casket he was buried in. While we are still healing, we are rejoicing in the fact that God is still in control. We do hope to try again in the future, but I don't know when that will be. To those of you who have experienced the same heartbreak, I pray for you that your family will heal each day and remember that all life, regardless of its length, is precious. Peace and blessings.
rhea kitowski November 12, 2012
I lost my beautiful baby girl, Ava Jean, at 36 weeks. The last movement I remember feeling from her was a big stretch and then subsided. The next day when I realized she hadn't moved in awhile I went to the hospital I found out her heartbeat was gone. I can't tell you how awful the feeling was when I realized id lost her. I had already gone through the planning stages and was picturing life with my first baby girl. Picked out all of the cutest little baby clothes with care and was going to have a baby shower the next day. Instead I was induced and had her stillborn on june 9, 2012. She was so be.autiful...no apparent reason for her passing. All I can say is my faith is what's gotten me through. God has his plan for all
lifeand hers just happened to be a lot shorter than id imagined. I like to picture her in Jesus'
arms witing for me to get to her.
Kerry September 30, 2012
My husband and I lost our beautiful little angel girl, Shelby, at 35 weeks on June 5th 2012. I had gone into the doctor on a Friday with concerns regarding decreased fetal movement. My doctor told me I was paranoid and sent me home. On Monday I went back in, as I felt no movement what so ever that morning. It was then that the doctor could not find a heart beat and I was sent for an ultrasound 2 hours later to confirm it. I was then induced and went through 15 hours of labour. She was born at 8:41 am, and I will never forget how beautiful she was with all her dark hair and crimson red lips. I love her so much and just still have trouble believing that life can be so cruel even to beautiful little babies. I am so sorry to everyone that has suffered this kind of loss. It is devastating, traumatizing and it is so difficult to understand why it happened to your baby. There is so much sorrow and it takes much longer to heal than I think most realise. It was four months ago for me and it still feels like moments ago some days. I think that people are right when they say to listen to your heart and soul in regards to trying again. I personally am going to take six months to grieve and get back to work and back into a daily routine. I think that everyone is different and that there is no wrong or right way to go about it. I wish all the best to all of you and may you all be blessed with beautiful healthy babies.
jill September 13, 2012
natalee, I agree but a loss is a loss just some more traumatic then others...in Jan. we lost our son. 36weeks ready to induce and his heart just stopped. Autopsy said no known cause, perfect anatomy and healthy. We had to sign a birth certificate and a death certificate all in one day. We buried our child and now our hearts have a whole. I have 2 daughters and it's heart breaking feeling like someone is missing and knowing that I have 3 kids but only 2 to hold, yet I am very grateful for them. I lost my only son :( and not sure if I am brave enough to try again. blessings to you all.
Natalee July 10, 2012
of course all these people turned right around to try again.....I just lost a perfectly healthy baby at 41 weeks pregnant. No known cause.....I didn't just have a miscarriage, I lost a fully formed child. I believe life begins at conception, but early in pregnancy that life is not fully formed and losing them then is absolutely NOTHING the same as losing a full term baby. I've had 3 miscarriages at different points and you CAN'T imagine what it is even like to lose a full term baby. Your thought process is totally different. You think, maybe we might have another, but the child that died will always be missing in family photos and things like that. You didn't just lose a baby that wasn't formed...hard to explain but the whole thought process is different. You have an actual funeral and a burial and a headstone ...just not the same...
diane perales April 21, 2012
my husband and i lost our son on april 8 2012 . we named him lucas . we were at 20 wks and just two days before we heard a strong heartbeat . three are moments were i feel so empty. remembering his tiny face and hands , we talk about trying again and we will . i have faith that it can be better . i will never forget lucas he will always be a part of our family . anyone out there that has gone through this just have faith and time will heal us all .