What I Didn't Know About Pregnancy After Loss: Guest Post by Natalie Brenner

I feel so grateful to introduce you all to my friend Natalie from Natalie Brenner Writes. Natalie has quite the story of loss and redemption, one I have looked to continually for hope throughout our journey with miscarriage and pregnancy after loss. Some of you probably remember that post I wrote about not writing about pregnancy on this blog. Well, I'm setting that conviction aside because miscarriage and pregnancy after loss just aren't talked about enough and while I don't plan to continue writing about these topics for much longer, I'm so happy that I can bring another perspective to the issue via Natalie's heart. I know you'll love her.

Natalie is a full time Work At Home Mom. She writes for various publications and is building her photography business all the while caring for and tending to her babies. She is a wife to Loren + a mom by love [adoption] + blood [biology] to two boys not quite 5 months apart and couldn't feel more undeserved of the story she is living. They live in Portland, Oregon and are continually uncovering the scandalous grace of Him in the chaos.

When I saw the clumps of blood so red and the cramping and contracting started months before it should have, my heart fell into the toilet right with my baby.

The early days of that first loss were a tunnel of darkness, consumed by grief and a loneliness I wasn't expecting. I didn't spend much time reading about pregnancy after loss as much as I did reading about loss and miscarriage. I didn't know the vast emotions to come if I were able to conceive again.

The moment that second line revealed itself positive on my pregnancy test just seven months later, I heard a distant voice saying, "No, no, no, no, it can't be." As I realized that voice was mine I blacked out and collapsed on the bathroom floor.

What I didn't know about pregnancy after loss was how gripping seeing that positive test would be. It felt like a giant hand had grabbed ahold of my torso, like a little girl grabbing a barbie, and squeezed all the air right out of me.

I didn't know that I would be consumed by fear or anxiety, that I would walk through the days constantly wondering if I would have to say goodbye to this baby too. I expected to be just as gleeful, just as hopeful, just as ignorantly confident and excited. I expected to jump into every pregnancy with joy, cherishing all of the moments.

I didn't know that I would feel guilty. Guilty for being pregnant when so many others weren't able to be. Guilty for celebrating a life after recently losing one. Guilty for being afraid and fearful instead of purely excited. The guilt laid itself thick into my daily life, covering me like butter on bread, everywhere I went. I didn't know whether to celebrate and share the news of our newly-discovered-baby or to withhold it; I didn't want to perpetuate someone else's ache and pain of desiring pregnancy.

I didn't know that people didn't like talking about your loss, after you became pregnant again. I wasn't ready to stop acknowledging the baby we lost, just because I was pregnant again, and yet I was perpetually feeling the need to quiet the need to talk about him.

We were adopting domestically as well, and I didn't know that our pregnancy after loss would incite so much worry about not being chosen by a birth mama. I was constantly worried no birth mama would choose us, choose a pregnant couple. I felt guilty for how badly I wanted to be chosen and fast, before our biological baby arrived.

I didn't know it was okay to feel MANY emotions, that it was okay to give myself permission to just be.

I remember vividly the day the gripping emotions of fear, guilt, and worry shed themselves. It was January 6th and it was my 20 week mark. It was Wednesday and it was freeing. Up until that day, that point where I breathed air so fresh, I was bogged down battling whether or not to allow my heart to fully celebrate and hope.

I think it takes us time to get to new spaces, spaces of healing and through the stages of grief. Loss is unquantifiable. Grief is unquantifiable. And because of this, He walks with us each on our journey as our stories are being written. I believe that He was sitting with me right there in all of the emotions, wiping the tears that fell so frequently, as I battled whether or not to fear or hope. I believe He used His presence as salve to my soul during my pregnancy after loss and day by day, I was able to hope a little more.

Something beautiful that I don't want to ignore is that my first son, joined by adoption, was born January 6. I did not know at the time that he was our son; as my heart left the tunnel of gripping-guilt and fear of losing our womb-baby, our other son was waiting for us. You never quite know how beautiful your story will be until it unfolds and you can look back.

Here I am today, with two miracles, not quite 5 months apart.

And friend, if you are walking in your own tunnel of loss or feeling gripped by guilt during pregnancy after loss, I want to give you permission to be where you're at. Be tender and be gentle with yourself. I am confident you will make your way into the freedom-joy that is available, in due time.

I am so grateful that Natalie could be here to share a bit of her story with you all. Be sure to check out my guest post, which goes along nicely with this one, HERE

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