How to Help Calm Fear in a Post-Miscarriage Pregnancy
In a post-miscarriage pregnancy, it can be difficult not to feel fearful. I know from experience. Here are three things that helped me calm fear during mine.
The hot water from the shower ran down my face, mingling with my tears.
“Lord,” I whispered, “This baby is yours, not mine. I trust You no matter what. But if I could, I’d really like to keep her.”
The fear I felt wasn’t merely first trimester jitters. No, this was my fifth time being pregnant. Yet, it was my first post-miscarriage pregnancy.
Four months earlier, the tragic news of our fourth child’s death had come at my ten-week OB appointment. I’d woken up that fateful Wednesday to the thought, Today your life is going to change. Two hours later, it did.
A Doppler failed to detect a heartbeat; an ultrasound revealed a body much smaller than my due date required. The doctor estimated that our baby had stopped growing at five weeks gestation.
For five weeks – thirty-five days – I was unaware that I was a walking tomb. I avoided caffeine, exercised with care, and jotted down lists of potential baby names, not knowing our little one’s tiny body had ceased to grow within mine.
Why I Struggled with Fear in Post-Miscarriage Pregnancy
The miscarriage changed me. Part of that change was that it deeply altered how I now carried this new life.
The mix of nervousness and excitement I’d felt with previous pregnancies was suddenly overshadowed by a fear that haunted me. It was fueled by the reality that even though my body carried this tiny life, I wasn’t ultimately in control of her fate. I could lose her at any time. My history had demonstrated that.
What made it more difficult is that I hadn’t expected to feel this way. No one had warned me that post-miscarriage pregnancy would be vastly different from pregnancy before a miscarriage. But I quickly learned that it was.
3 Ways to Help Calm Fear in a Post-Miscarriage Pregnancy
In one of my favorite works on loss, A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis writes, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” For those of us who’ve lost babies and find ourselves pregnant again, it can be hard not to let that fear that stems from our grief overshadow the joy of a new life.
Yet, I’ve found that there are three things that can help calm fear in a post-miscarriage pregnancy. It’s my hope that they’ll be helpful to you too.
1. I Memorized and Meditated on God’s Word
It’s true that I wasn’t in control of this new pregnancy – or any of my pregnancies, for that matter. While I could exercise, try to eat well (you know, when I wasn’t craving Chunky Monkey ice cream or, yes, Big Macs), and generally take care of myself, that didn’t guarantee that all would go well. The difficult truth was, it didn’t mean I wouldn’t suffer another miscarriage.
Memorizing and meditating on Scripture also wasn’t a formula for a healthy baby. But it was a guarantee for something else.
You see, God’s Word was relevant to my life no matter how my pregnancy turned out. It was a guaranteed way to further my understanding of God’s character and, in the process replace feelings of fear with deeply-rooted trust in a Savior who loved this baby even more than I did.
You can do the same. I encourage you to read, write down in a journal, memorize, and meditate on Scriptures such as Psalm 34, Psalm 91, and 2 Timothy 1:7. Not only will this help calm your fear, it’ll build your faith.
2. I Held on to What God Spoke to My Heart
After I waded through an intense period of grief following my miscarriage, I felt led to fast and pray over the possibility of a future baby. Not a baby to replace the one we’d lost – because he or she was irreplaceable – but an additional child that we’d be able to have and hold this side of heaven.
These fasts were faith-building for me. During one of them, before we’d even conceived our fifth child, I had a strong sense that I would get pregnant again and that this baby would be a girl.
I’d never been one of those moms who could just “feel” what her baby’s gender would be. But somehow I knew this one would be a little girl we should name Dorothy Jane. Dorothy meaning “gift of God” and Jane meaning “Jehovah has been gracious.” Almost five years later, Dorothy is a joy-filled, talkative, social preschooler.
In those moments when fear would hit, I’d remind myself of the words I felt God whisper to me before Dorothy’s conception. Words of life and of naming. And I’d hold on to the truth that, as the writers of Hebrews notes, “He who promised is faithful” (10:23).
What about you? As you’ve prayed over this baby you’re carrying, has God whispered anything to your heart? If so, remind yourself of what He’s spoken to you. (Just be careful to first weigh anything you sense against the truth of Scripture. God won’t place anything on our hearts that contradicts His Word.)
3. I Spoke My Fears Out Loud to a Trusted Friend
A few weeks before our miscarriage, I shared with a close friend that I was worried something wasn’t right with my pregnancy. Physically I wasn’t experiencing the normal first-trimester symptoms I’d felt with my previous three pregnancies.
Instead of telling me what I wanted to hear, she said, “Well, imagine the worst-case scenario. If something is wrong, will you still have God and will He still be faithful?” Her words didn’t necessarily remove my fear, but they helped to adjust my focus.
Sharing my fears with my friend was a big deal for me. You see, I used to worry that if I spoke a fear out loud, that I was “calling” it into being. So I’d internalize my deepest fears, rather than share them.
This conversation helped change that. I came to realize that not only was this belief superstitious, but it brought with it an unnecessary burden. As Christians, we are called to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), which means it’s okay – and even good – for me to confide in a trusted friend about my fears. I’m not inviting them to come true by verbalizing them. So with this new pregnancy, I shared my fears with my husband Ted and with trusted friends.
Sharing your fears with others helps lighten the burden of them. When we carefully confide in our husband and in trusted friends, we’re inviting them to speak truth to us, to pray for us, and to walk alongside us in our struggles. And, I’ve found, once I confess something to someone else, its hold isn’t as strong.
Less Fear, More Trust in a Post-Miscarriage Pregnancy
That day in the shower was one of many times I prayed, “This baby is yours, not mine. I trust You no matter what.” And, as hard as it was, each time I uttered those words my trust came with a little less fear.