Think of something people do everyday. Crossing the street, for example. On the surface, fairly mundane. Some small danger (make sure you look both ways) but generally not any cause for concern.
Now imagine one day you were crossing the street, and you were hit by a bus. No warning, no notice; you were completely unprepared. This is obviously something that’s possible, but not the kind of thing that happens everyday. Not to most people. But now that it’s happened to you, you are wary. You are no longer able to cross the street without fear. Other people do it, and you can see that it’s safe, but for you, you are always going to hold on to that memory. And no matter how much time, and how much therapy, you’re always going to be a little bit afraid. You’re always going to be a bit more aware that something like that can happen to you; to your friend; to anyone in the world at any time, on any random Thursday morning.
Now imagine there’s something you want on the other side of that street, something priceless and beautiful that will bring you much Joy. This thing is unique, created just for you, and it exists only for a limited time.
The first time you tried to cross the street, you were on your way to that Joy. You had anticipated it, gotten your home and family all prepared. But then you got hit by the bus, and it disappeared. That particular piece of Joy is now gone; it will never be available again. And some people, who may not understand, will tell you that Joy is always there, and you just have to cross the street again. But you know better. The Joy you lost is irreplaceable.
And someday, you may try to cross that street again anyway. You aren’t looking for a replacement Joy, but you are ready for an additional Joy to accompany the Pain. And as you take the first steps into that street again, you realize you are terrified. And you are surrounded, again, by people who don’t understand. People who step so blindly around the crosswalk, as if buses never existed.
But you know better. You know the importance of the lines of the crosswalk and staying inside. You know about looking both ways, not just once, but throughout the journey. You know about paying attention when cars honk, or the lights change. You know that buses frequently come up out of nowhere and take us all by surprise.
And some people, even those who know, still don’t understand why you have so much trouble with this journey. “It was a one-time thing,” they say. “The traffic conductor will protect us.” But you see the traffic conductor; you watch him ignoring important signs, and you remember the first time you tried to cross the street, and he told you, “Don’t worry–everything is fine.” And you see him now as he tells other people that buses don’t exist, but you know better. And you know you can’t cross the street based on a lie.
So you take this journey, eyes wide open, and you accept that it is terrifying. And you look both ways, and you take all the precautions, and you maybe trust, but if so, you also verify. And you keep your eye on Joy, and it feels like both the longest and also the shortest journey of your life, and it feels like you alone know that none of it is guaranteed.
This is what it’s like to think of pregnancy after loss. This is what it’s like to hold your child inside, and wonder if this will be the day that he or she will die. It’s a nightmare. It’s terrifying. And if you want living children, it’s part of your life.