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Losing a baby at 20-24 weeks of pregnancy

​Deciding whether to try for another baby

Filling the void

Some parents wanted to try for another baby very quickly. They talked about needing to fill the “void” in their lives. Becoming pregnant again offered parents hope and something to focus on. Carly described her need to become pregnant as an obsession “I was like a crazy person”. Some parents started trying for another baby straightaway. Others waited a few weeks in case the results of the post mortem or other investigations might help prevent another loss.
 

Lindsay felt she needed to get pregnant to fill the void in her life.

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Age at interview: 35
Sex: Female
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Like trying for this baby, you know - it was almost like I needed to get pregnant again, in order for the void to be filled, or - like that's how it felt in the hospital. I was almost like in my craziness, bit like 'just get me pregnant again, now - quick, like just do it now' [laugh]. And then like we did [wait] for the twelve week appointment with the consultant, but then it was almost like my life - I don't think I'll ever move on from Henry, but the circumstances of my life can move on. So when you're trying to get pregnant having had a loss, it's like 'yeah, I have [my son] - oh, and then I lost Henry'. You know, and that's kind of where life is. You're kind of stuck in this state of acute grief and loss, and. Like your world is just - there's no flooring to it, you're in freefall. And I felt like I had to have another stage to my life. I couldn't stay there. For me, that wasn't - that wasn't going to sit well [laugh].

Mentally, or any kind of way. And so therefore I needed to get pregnant again, so that there could be some kind of hope at the end of this story. And so that yeah, the focus of my life could shift slightly, even if my grief doesn't. If that makes sense. 
 

Vikki Z had an overwhelming desire to have another baby and wanted to know what plans needed to be put in place.

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Age at interview: 38
Sex: Female
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And obviously Christmas is a happy time of year, isn't it. And everyone was busy, and getting excited, and all the rest of it. And I was doing all the things that I should be doing, but didn't feel like doing any of them. And, and I just felt terribly, terribly sad. And just - yeah, just missing - I just felt a total - a total emptiness. And it was - I wanted her. I wanted her. But I knew I couldn't have her. So immediately, as soon as she was born, the desire to have another baby was just overwhelming. It was just - It was the only thing that I could - that, that I could think about. I was obsessed with having another baby. It was just like I needed to be pregnant again. 

And that's why I sort of - almost on a mission. Right I need to know, I need to know what was wrong, so I can put that right, so that we can have another baby. So that you know, we just - it was just - yeah. I just needed to know. And I'm a very practical person, and I need a plan of action all the time. So that was my plan of action. And so that's what - that's what we did, really. 
Mixed feelings about trying again after losing a baby

For many parents we spoke to, deciding whether or not to have another baby was not a straightforward decision. In common with parents whose babies are stillborn later in pregnancy many had mixed and complicated feelings about becoming pregnant again. Joelle and Adam really wanted to try again but the fear of reliving the experience and losing another baby was terrifying to them. Asun and David felt they could not go bear to go through the same experience again and wanted to focus on time with their older son.

Alison found that “the combination of really wanting a child but also worrying that you had disrespected the child that you'd lost, was quite complicated.” Kirsty felt that she got pregnant again so quickly that she hadn’t had time to grieve properly. Some parents had experienced fertility problems and so becoming pregnant meant returning to the fertility clinic and starting treatment all over again.
 

Becoming pregnant again scared Sam because of the risk of losing another baby and she didn’t want to feel like she was replacing her son.

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Age at interview: 26
Sex: Female
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Yeah. And it scares the life out of me [laugh]. I've thought about it a few times. My, my ex wanted to have a baby straight away. And I definitely didn't. I - For me, that was too much like replacing him. Now, it's entirely different, just in the fact that I don't - I don't ever want to experience that again, because for me - I never say never. Because hopefully one day I will change my mind. But right now, I still feel very much like that's the only thing I've ever experienced with Alfie, and I don't want to take that away. Not yet. So, so yeah. I think as it stands at the moment, no - it's not something that I'd ever, that I really want to think about. It's too scary [laugh]. Too scary.

Scary that, the same -

The same would happen. Although the doctors think that it was a sporadic case. I still - I don't - I don't trust it. I can't. I just can't risk it. And, and also for selfish reasons. The fact that - I don't want to, I don't want to worry for nine months that something's going to go wrong. And also, once - once you meet people that - I mean, now I'll go to a local Sands - Well, it's not local any more, but. To the [local] Sands group. Because I started going there when I still lived in [town]. And you meet people that have got totally different experiences to you.
Many parents we spoke to did go on to have another baby. However, some had lost more than one baby or experienced recurrent miscarriages. These parents were very keen on having investigations and treatment to prevent another loss. Some parents were pleased with the care and advice they received and were reassured that they would be well cared for in a future pregnancy. But others felt frustrated and upset that there was no clear plan in place which made planning a future pregnancy hard (for more see ‘Deciding whether to have a post mortem’).
 

Vikki Z was offered a plan for her next pregnancy after attending the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

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Age at interview: 38
Sex: Female
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We were - Oh, we were able to - So we were able to see the recurrent - went to the recurrent miscarriage clinic.

That's what they sent us to, because I'd had previous miscarriages, and this one was a late miscarriage. They said, "Yeah, you know, you can go there, if you do want another baby." So we went there at the same time as getting the post-mortem report. And what they actually were suggesting is that - and they'd done all blood tests and everything. They were saying that she was perfectly healthy, and that she was fine. And what they would suggest for my next pregnancy is to - that there were no reason why I shouldn't get pregnant again, and what they were suggesting was that I should take aspirin, and that I should have - maybe think about the blood thinning injections. And, but they didn't say for certain, that. And they said that I would get regular scans. And you know, that everything should be fine. But I was annoyed, because in my head - I was really cross - if I'd have taken aspirin, I'd have taken blood-thinning injections, would this have happened? Because they're saying that, you know, this baby's perfectly healthy, there's no - nothing wrong with her whatsoever, other than this placenta has got clots in, and wasn't working properly.

So, yeah. But at least that meant that there was no reason why we couldn't have another baby, I suppose. So - so yeah, we did start, start trying as soon as possible, really.
Coming to terms with not having another baby

While some parents did not want to try for another child, as they felt their family was complete (e.g. Michelle), other parents described coming to terms with the prospect of not having another child. Emily and Mike discussed the strain it put on them and “that although we want a baby, I don't want one at the detriment of our marriage”.
 

Sharon explored adoption and surrogacy after the loss of their third child.

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Age at interview: 45
Sex: Female
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And then we looked at surrogacy. And we got a surrogate. And then she didn't get pregnant. She went for IVF, she didn't get pregnant. [my husband] took that badly. For me, it was what I needed, to shut the door. The very next day that she told me that she wasn't pregnant, I moved on with my career. And I said, "I'm going to go and do something else." So I moved on. Shut the door. And I rarely - it doesn't interfere with my daily life now. I don't regret having the boys, because I think what every parent wants is for a child never to suffer. And I just think those boys could have suffered. So they never did. [my husband] still struggles. He struggles at their birthday, he struggles at Christmas. I don't, now. I used to not - It affected my relationship with friends who had children, I couldn't go near them. Friends didn't tell me they were pregnant. I shut myself off from a lot of situations. I just couldn't stand it. And I had some students in my class that were pregnant, and I couldn't stand it. But then I look now, and I have bottled - put it all together as an experience. But [my husband] - So if somebody says to me, "Have you got children?" I say "No." If somebody says that to [my husband], he stops. And, and then he says no. But he, he - he used to get upset and say to me, "I am a parent, I'm just not a practising one." And he felt that by saying no, it was denying his children. So he really struggled. And he has really, really struggled with it. But we've both come to terms with it.
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