Pregnancy after Loss AKA Why It’s Scary to Share Joyful News
So, I’m pregnant (see above). Other than a good handful of “loss moms” (mostly on Facebook), healthcare providers (everyone at my ob-gyn’s office, my dentist, my daughter’s therapist), and our immediate families–only about 10 others know (one of which is a friend/coworker who identified my pregnancy at 13 weeks–she pegged my previous 2 pregnancies also). My husband and I had a difficult time telling Astoria about this baby. Let’s just say it didn’t go great. And I waited until 21 weeks to tell my parents(!) and my boss. As I’ve been mulling over why it’s so difficult to share what should be joyous news, I’ve managed to come up with a few reasons.
Edited to add: This one is obvious and is related to the title of Trigger Warning–I’m ashamed that I forgot to write it. After nearly 19 months in the bereaved parent community, I know that pregnancy announcements can be difficult. Heck, I STILL struggle with pregnancy announcements and I’m pregnant. I doubt I will ever attend another baby shower and after Corva died it took me 17 months to hold a baby (and even then they were babies of other loss moms). Quite honestly, if it’s a fellow loss mom who is pregnant I don’t struggle but recently my college roommate announced her 4th pregnancy on social media and I had to unfollow her. I am also more aware and sensitive to those who have encountered the heartbreak of infertility. If you also struggle with pregnancy announcements, I am sorry if this post is difficult for you.
A. It could happen again
While the chances of this baby dying are low, the chances last time were also low. I was considered to be “low risk.” My blood pressure was normal, I didn’t have gestational diabetes, I didn’t use alcohol (while pregnant), drugs, or tobacco. Everything looked good. I had previously delivered a healthy baby at 40 weeks 5 days four years prior without any major complications. There was absolutely no reason to believe that my baby would die in utero. But she did. Research shows that once a woman has experienced stillbirth she is at four times greater risk of having another stillbirth. Fortunately, everything (once again), looks good for this baby and we have providers who are monitoring our progress more dutifully, but I still anxiously hold my breath daily. I don’t hold a lot of weight in statistics or chances as that really didn’t work out well for me last time.
B. Announcing this pregnancy invites conversation that I don’t want to experience
The conversation around most pregnancy revolves around excitement and happiness. I experienced this with my previous two pregnancies. And yes, I am excited and happy to welcome this baby into our family. However I’m also anxious (see point A). People typically ask about due dates (not something I want to share, I’m trying to be as vague as possible), gender (we do know the sex of this baby and have shared with some people but for a handful of reasons it’s a challenging topic), and names (see gender). Over Thanksgiving I managed to answer questions as briefly as possible and move the conversation away from my midsection. When I shared the news with my boss, I did reiterate (numerous times like a nervous lunatic) that we weren’t really sharing the news with many people. She promised to keep quiet (and I believe her completely) but she did ask what I’m going to do as I begin to show (more). I believe that some people will be oblivious, some people will just think I’m getting fat(ter), and others will suspect but have enough tact to not ask. At least this is what I’m hoping for.
C. Some people will assume that this new baby will “heal” our family
Let’s just make something clear right now: I think about Corva (and Astoria and this new little one) every.single.day. I know there are people out there who may think this is morbid or strange or believe I should just “move on” from such a tragedy. To them I ask: Do you think about your children everyday? How could a mother forget her child? I carried her for 40 weeks before she died and I delivered her in the same way I delivered my oldest daughter. Our third child is an addition to our family, not a replacement.
D. Some people lack tact
While most people were supportive after our loss and some continue to remember Corva with our family, other people weren’t/didn’t know how to be “there” for us during our grief. (Two of these people are my own parents which is why I waited so long to share our news with them. This has been a very hurtful scenario for me to navigate). If something DOES happen to this child (see point A), I assume those who failed to support our family the first time would continue in the same manner. Right now, my heart just can’t take that. I want to avoid conversations (see point B) that invite platitudes and hurtful comments, even if unintentional.
And last, but certainly not least…
E. I fear my child will be forgotten
There are going to be people who, upon finding out about this third baby, sigh with relief and think such thoughts as now they can move on. (see point C). And while I will never forget my 2nd daughter, my baby who never took a breath, others will forget and never mention her.
What were the biggest challenges you had in your pregnancy(ies) after your loss?