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But What If It Works?

This blog is being reposted by the author, Dr. Julie Bindeman. It was originally posted to Pregnancy After Loss Support in November 2017. 

So much of a pregnancy after loss is spent with the all consuming thought: what if it doesn’t work this time too? That thought can linger in the recesses of a person’s mind and grow louder. It tends to crescendo right before a sonogram or a doctor’s appointment, and then fades dramatically once there is confirmation that things are fine. The days, weeks and months of a pregnancy after loss are spent in this pattern.

Sometimes, during a quiet moment when the thought about another bad outcome has lessened, a new thought emerges. One that can also inspire an equal amount of panic in a pregnant person: “What if this works?” Bracing yourself for a bad outcome, the idea that a good one might occur seems almost comical. Of course, it is the hope for the pregnancy that it works. Those who haven’t suffered a loss might be baffled at this kind of thinking—“You had bad luck before—of course it will work!” they might say.

Suddenly, a second cycle begins: what if this doesn’t work and what if it does begin to circle around one another as if dancing. They bring fear and hope, and certainly anxiety. It’s hard to get lost in the thought about what if it works—in the past, when that has happened, and it didn’t work, you felt crushed. You are protecting yourself with the expectation that it might not work, but with the glimmer of hope that it does. Even as the pregnancy progresses, it can take some time to wrap your mind around the idea that ‘this is working’.

Starting to slowly plan for a baby might emerge as your thought process. The cycle might continue, as if a superstitious thought about something good happening might bring on a heartbreaking outcome. Balancing this cycle, allowing yourself to be in the place of good, can be important. Finding that space and balance of each part of the cycle, and perhaps introducing a third part: silence. Now might be a useful time to start a meditation practice or a yoga practice, where silence can be cultivated. Because what if it works?