Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only. In the end, one has to discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable - open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead
When I told people I was pregnant again, someone called me courageous. Courageous. I remember thanking her but thinking "courage will only get me so far." I suppose courage really is the first step. It took courage to decide to try for another baby, but courage isn't enough. As the days pass and Nathaniel's arrival draws nearer, I struggle with what I know now: life's last breath in your arms, death of a newborn, profound grief.
Immediately after Isaac's birth and death, I knew I wanted another child, but that certainty waned as the grief grew. The first days afterwards aren't the worst. You might think they are, but as the days pass, your brain begins to comprehend the magnitude of what's happened. And you're hit again and again and again with the pain. I considered the possibility of never having another child because of the pain. I couldn't imagine being pregnant again and facing life's harshest reality. That burden would surely be too big to bear. At times I still think I'm crazy. Crazy to be pregnant again and know life has no guarantees—that living through a tragedy doesn't stop tragedy from finding us again. And yet here we are 7 weeks away from Nathaniel's due date.
I suppose all this is why I'm so drawn to Lindbergh's words. I had my shield up for some time and now I'm vulnerable and hideously open to the possibility of more suffering. But I'm ready. More ready than I thought I would be. Whatever the outcome and as much as I want a perfectly healthy child, I'm ready.