posted in Pregnancy
Navigating daily life post-pregnancy loss is a struggle. As anyone who has endured the crushingly-painful grief that follows this cruel twist of fate knows, it’s moment-to-moment, and sometimes, second-to-second. You float throughout your day, numb, feeling only small lifts of emotion that remind you of happiness, but most of the time, you keep your head down, and your eyes averted, and just. Get. Through. It.
Simple tasks become almost unbearable, like going into a coffee shop you used to frequent, pre-loss. Because now you are there, but your baby isn’t. It’s surreal, it seems cruel.
These moments will happen all day, every day. It’s your new normal. And you almost get used to feeling on-edge and uneasy. But then, you see her; an acquaintance or friend who was pregnant at the same time as you were. And that is the most painful, awful, most leveling thing I’ve had to endure since my loss.
I could be having a somewhat okay day, because that’s the best it gets right now, and then, I’ll see a mom I used to commiserate about pregnancy with, at the park. My reaction is involuntary; I feel my heart sink, my breath leaves me, I am hot, and frozen in place, overwhelmed with grief and shock. How could this have happened to me? My fears and an aching sadness wash over me anew.
I’ll go home, and cry for an entire day after even just a brief encounter like this. The worst part is that then, I’ll start to berate myself for losing ground on my battle with grief. “I was doing so well,” I’ll tell myself. “Why did I let this bother me?” But as I’ve learned, grief comes in waves. It’s a step forward toward the light, and so many steps back into the darkness.
I’ve also, begrudgingly, finally accepted that I’m going to feel devastated when I see a pregnant woman or a newborn. Those are triggers for me, and I can’t change that right now. I may not always feel like the ground is going to give out beneath my feet when I cross paths with a pregnant acquaintance, or a friend who just had her baby. But for now, that’s where I’m at. My pain is so fresh, and so all-consuming, and these women represent something I so desperately wanted, but didn’t get.
To me, they are living a life I envisioned for myself; that I had every reason to believe I would have. Until I didn’t. Out of nowhere.
My pregnancy ended, traumatically. And now, I feel like I am in someone else’s body, leading someone else’s life. Pregnancy loss is so disorienting, almost like you are left watching everyone keep going inside a snow globe, and you are outside of it, separated from them by a thick and foggy pane of glass. They are still pregnant. They had their babies.
But time stopped for me. Nothing seems real. How are they laughing, and happy? Why don’t they see me?
It’s all too much. And that’s why seeing friends and acquaintances who were pregnant at the same time as me has honestly been one of the biggest obstacles to my healing. Of course, when you are trying to avoid coming into contact with something, it’s all you can see. To me, pregnant women and babies are everywhere, almost as if they’re out to get me, even though, my rational mind tells me that isn’t true.
So, until I feel more comfortable, and the experience is less jarring, I do my best to protect myself and avoid engaging with women who are either pregnant, or just gave birth. I’m taking a break from following certain friends on Facebook, or chatting with them in the preschool pickup line. One day, I’m sure I’ll be able to look at their photos on social media, and not fall apart. I’ll have the ability to get through a casual conversation in the school lobby.
I’m not there yet. And I’m not ashamed of feeling this way! Learning to live with the grief of pregnancy loss is a long journey. With so many twists and turns, and unexpected provocations.
The most important thing right now, is that I take care of myself. Because I can’t possibly be a good mom to my children, or a good wife, or friend if I am unhealthy. How others feel about me avoiding them is hardly more of a concern than my own well-being.
I’m confident that slowly and surely, I’ll get better. Eventually, I’ll even be able to smile at a baby. At some point in the future, I’ll be able to see a pregnant woman and feel excited for her. I’ll be able to whoop with joy when a friend announces her pregnancy. I’ll be able to hold her newborn.
If you have suffered a loss, how do you feel when you see other pregnant women and babies?