Family Planning After the Death of a Child

“You’ll know when you’re done.” That’s what people often say when I tell them I’m not sure if I’m finished having children.

I used to be more decisive with the number of kids I wanted to have. I once wanted six. Oh boy, right? Then it was three to four. After Zachary died I was sure I wanted four living children. Now that I am thoroughly enjoying my career, and free hands as Eden is a year-and-a-half old, I wonder if two living children is enough. While my numbers fluxed over the years, in those moments I was always confident. That’s not the case these days.

The trouble with family planning is that there is no magic eight ball to shake and give you the perfect answer.

I find the more I talk it out with girlfriends, the more uncertain I am one way or the other.

finger counting photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned 3 finger counting photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned 4 finger counting photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned 5 finger counting photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned 2

Family planning is especially complicated after the death of a child. There are many issues to consider.

  • Are you still within child bearing years?
  • How are your living children coping with the loss and how would they handle another baby?
  • Are you emotionally ready for another pregnancy knowing it would be stress-filled and guarantee-free?

I am a little petrified to get pregnant again just based on the statistics of miscarriage. In my heart I fret over the loss of another baby, wondering if I could handle it. The stats say that one in every five pregnancies end in miscarriage. The stats are one in four when the pregnancy is so early that some women may not even realize they were pregnant.

Another part of me wonders if I will ever really feel satisfied with the number of children in my arms. Whether I stay with two or give birth to all of the Von Trapp family singers, I may never feel complete in my heart – one of my babies is not with me.

This is a post without answers. I do wonder how other people approach this issue. Please comment below and let’s talk it out. I’m sure that I’m not the only one grappling with this.


  1. Ashley
    Feb 4, 2014

    I know what you mean about deciding when your “done”. After having a miscarriage at 13 weeks and then to go on to have 2 high risk pregnancies which both resulted in preemies it leaves me to wonder do I temp fate again or just be content with the two beautiful healthy children I have. I always wanted 4 kids but maybe that’s just being selfish of me knowing now that I have a uterine malformation that may not have given me any children. Therefore if I do have more babies I am putting them at risk as they will always be preemie. I think I know in my heart the answer is I’m “done” but it’s just a matter of accepting it. The gift of creating life is just such a miracle and it saddens me to think it will never happen again….. I truly am blessed for my 3 miracles I was given.

    • Alexis Marie
      Feb 4, 2014

      Thank you so much for your comment Ashley!
      I’m very sorry for your loss but happy to hear that you have two healthy children.
      You put it exactly right – it feels like tempting fate to keep trying. That’s how I feel too. What is the answer to this? Is it the conscious choice not to live in fear? Jumping in knowing that nothing is guaranteed?
      I can understand though that if you have a medical condition that makes pregnancy risky, you may feel reluctant to try again. Pros and cons, there is a lot to consider…
      Truly pregnancy/birth/new life are such miracles… It’s hard to give up the excitement of those stages. Possibly the transition to caring for older children will prove equally rewarding and full of its own type of miracles. Every time my four year old daughter tells me she loves me without prompting my heart melts. That’s one example. Those are the kind of miracles that get me through the challenging days of parenting.
      There is definitely something to be said for being grateful for what you have, how many children you have. At he same time, if your gut is not settled with a decision, one way or the other, I say trust your gut.

  2. Ashley
    Feb 4, 2014

    Alexis Marie
    Thank you so much for your reply!!!Your blog post could not have come at a more timely time as I wrestle with this decision and your reply was a great way to put other valid points into perspective. So I THANK YOU for this.
    Your blog is phenomenal and touches me deeply. I truly am sorry for your loss and I thank you for what you do to reach out to others

    • Alexis Marie
      Feb 4, 2014

      I’m glad this discussion was timely for you! And THANK YOU for conversing with me about it. I’m still going back and forth but am starting to lean in one direction on the matter.
      I really appreciate your feedback because sometimes I wonder if anyone is even reading… lol
      Hugs & best wishes always!

  3. Malyrah
    Feb 4, 2014

    I always wanted 4. Until…

    I worried for years that I would not be able to have children. I was super careful when I started to have sex and worried every month that I would get pregnant. My partner (now husband) and I would take two forms of birth control and still we were scared of a pregnancy before we were ready for one. We got married young, I was 22 and he was 24. We started trying right away, but the nagging instinct was there.
    After a year of trying we went to our doctors and in 4 months had been referred to fertility specialists. We found out that my husband would likely never father a child and I had pcos making a natural pregnancy from me almost impossible (very severe pcos). We debated everything for two years and decided we wanted children so much that we were willing to go to fertility treatments to have one, or more, but one. Four rounds and nothing, we started to give up. And we got pregnant. A miracle, we were so excited, so happy.
    We had a perfect pregnancy, we were blessed. I even got to see the baby at 5 weeks, so amazing. She was born, two weeks overdue, in 2009. And one of our first thoughts were, “another, please another’. We breast fed, and revisited the fertility clinic to make sure we could start more treatments as early as possible, we didn’t want much difference in age between the children. We started fertility treatments when our daughter was 9 months old. We completed 7 round and almost 16 months later we had to come to the stage in our lives where we would say, “we got one, no matter what happened, we have been blessed with this experience’.
    I love children, I love babies, more than anything. I would love to have had another, but we have one, and now that she’s almost 5, I am so happy that we have her, but I could not even consider starting over again, the feedings and the anxiety over everything.
    I know what its like to have people say, you need to have more. I know what its like to have the feeling of wanting more.
    And now I know what its like to have the feeling of having just enough, of being able to have one. No matter what happens, I have had this experience, and I am blessed. This is where my life has brought me and this is my life.
    Someday it will be clear what your road is Alexis. Trust your heart, its such a beautiful part of you!

    • Alexis Marie
      Feb 4, 2014

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Malyrah. Truly, I cried reading your message because it must have been very difficult at times – and yet you sound so positive.
      It is hard when we want something so much, you another child and me my son not to die, and yet we are powerless to change these events. My heart still aches in this helplessness, the yearning to do something, change sometime.
      Thank you so much for offering such a beautiful and wise perspective. Our culture has a ‘more,more, more’ attitude with so many things but I believe it takes a strong and reflective person to slow down, survey what you have and say “it is enough.”
      Thank you…

  4. Kyrie
    Mar 29, 2014

    I have wondered this same question! Seems like everyone else has an opinion to “share” with us about our family size.
    Our older kids were 9 and 15 when we found out we were expecting. We had tried to conceive a year and a half earlier, but with health concerns, we stopped trying. At 19 weeks we found out our baby had a complex heart defect. Being assured that it was not a fatal diagnosis, we were ready to love and care for our third child.
    Our baby boy was born last February, at 38 wks. His condition was worse than what was found prenatally. The doctors couldn’t save our sweet baby. How could this happen?? We were ready to love and care for our baby, we were never ready to lose him.
    He died at six weeks old, in the hospital, in our arms.
    At first, we sobbed and I calculated that if we could conceive right away, our next, fourth baby would be able to eat the breastmilk stored in the deep freezer. It didn’t make sense, and for my physical health and our emotional health, the doctors recommended that we wait a year.
    Now we’re both a year older and that brings a whole new round of “risks”.
    I often wonder if we are “supposed to” have another baby.
    We want another baby in our arms again ..
    But the fear of possibly suffering the devastation of losing a baby again is paralyzing.
    Maybe we’re supposed to have two children on earth .. I just don’t know.

    • Alexis Marie
      Apr 3, 2014

      Hi Kyrle,
      Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your experience with such vulnerability. My heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you a big hug. It’s so frustrating when you lose your child and you are powerless to do anything. Six weeks old… I am literally shaking my head in sadness for you.
      What did you name your baby?
      I too am still struggling with the family planning… And you are right, everyone else is ever too eager to offer their opinion. Sometimes this opinion is helpful but often not. The tough part about our kind of family planning is that there are no right answers, no mathematical calculations to figure out the risks… It’s a heart decision, a choice of the heart. And its a big one.
      I truly hope that you and your husband have some breakthrough/clarity on the next steps for your family. And if you have an epiphany that helps you make the decision, please let me know! It’s always great to help each other.

      • Kyrie
        Apr 24, 2014

        Thank you so much for asking! Our baby boy was named Joshua.
        I think the choice has been made, for us .. (shhh!) My husband swears he thinks Baby Joshua has told him it’s okay for us to conceive .. and expect by the end of this year. <3 I'm so scared, though, now that I know the fear of the big ultrasound revealing a complication .. also, I now know that it doesn't always just "work out" for your baby to come home ..

        • Alexis Marie
          Apr 25, 2014

          Joshua is a beautiful name.
          Congrats on your exciting news! I’m so happy for you! If you want, keep me posted with everything – I’d love to celebrate with you.

  5. Tiffany
    May 5, 2014

    What a lovely space you are creating here on your website for grieving, sharing and celebrating even the very short lives of our sweet little loves. Thank you. I very much share in your inner conflict around knowing when your family is complete. After loosing our first baby to a miscarriage half way through pregnancy we were blessed with 3 more children…in most ways it seems our family is right for us just as it is, but yet it somehow doesn’t feel complete, I still desire to have another child but I wonder if I may never feel that certainty and contentment about being “done”. My heart and arms long for another baby, but maybe it’s just the desire to have and hold MY baby. I don’t know how to tell……Choosing to BE done when you don’t FEEL done is painful!

    • Alexis Marie
      May 5, 2014

      Oh my goodness! You hit the nail on the head! It is such a conflicting feeling, impossible to figure out it would seem. I am starting to settle on an answer for myself and have only come to it through looking at the big picture and examining my desires.
      How are you trying to figure it out?
      Thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Unsure
    Apr 11, 2015

    hmmmm… It really is hard. I’ve always wanted 4. We found out our first baby would not live early on, Jonathan passed at 38 and was induced still born. We went on to have a beautiful boy, then a precious girl. We decided after much debate (honey only wanted 2 now) to have another. It was my most perfect pregnancy yet. But at 38 weeks, just 9 days before she was due I was no longer feeling her move. Isabelle was still born. Oh did I want another. Now I wonder if we temped fate. I miscarried our last baby at 11 weeks (tho we found out at the 10 week dating ultrasound that baby was smaller than 6 weeks, so likely passed then). I so desperately still want another baby, but part of me wants to give up, I feel I’m on the loosing end. My living children have 3 siblings in heaven, do I risk adding to that number?

    • Alexis Marie Chute
      Apr 14, 2015

      I understand your feelings. I have them too. It is so incredibly scary to “tempt fate” as you put it. Please know your feelings on this are totally normal and that you are not alone. Personally, I don’t know what the right answer is in your case, or mine for that matter. Some say, “things happen for a reason,” while others believe in randomness and downright bad luck. Many days I feel like I should be happy for what I have and not risk trying again, but then there is the other part of me which believes that acting in hope and love are stronger than any superstitions.
      My advice: if you feel nervous, wait on having another child. If you don’t have to rush into the decision because of other circumstances, sleep on it. Sleep on it for as long as you need. If, on the other hand, you are confident you want another child, or don’t, and you are healthy and in the right place in life, then you should follow your heart. Do what is best for you.
      There are many things in life that cannot be decided in fear. Listen to your inner voice. Is the risk worth it? Only you and your family can decide. This is such a hard question, but I speculate that deep down inside you likely do know what you want to do.
      I am trying to learn to listen to my deep inner voice as well. Living authentically is challenging, especially for people-pleasers, but being true to your own wants and needs is the best gift you can bestow on yourself. Its the gift of freedom, happiness and fulfillment.
      I truly wish you all the peace your heart can hold, all the wisdom to make the right choices for you, and all the happiness in the world.
      All the best!
      And keep in touch,
      Alexis Marie

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