When you lose a baby, there are things that you expect to hurt– and they do. These might include:
- pregnancy announcements from others
- seeing pregnant bellies out and about
- your due date coming and going
- insensitive remarks
- having your regular cycle return
- seeing/hearing newborn babies
- … and more
These events can be truly devastating and difficult to manage. The only “upside”, if you will, is that they’re sort of expected. This isn’t to take away from the pain or to say that you can always predict when, say, a pregnancy announcement will come, but you can be fairly certain that these things will indeed happen at some point and those of us who have been there certainly understand why it hurts.
What you might not be prepared for, however, are some truly unexpected hurts that may well come up after a miscarriage. These are things that you may never, ever have seen coming, but that can cut you off at the knees when they strike. Here are just a few of the ones I’ve experienced:
All you have to do is have that ONE appointment with the obstetrician where they confirm that, yes, indeed, you’re pregnant, and you might find yourself on a formula mailing list. Most women don’t think to ask to be excluded from such things, even if planning to nurse, and, so, the formula marketing people start sending you stuff.
During a healthy, full-term pregnancy, this is mostly just annoying– you can always donate the stuff, after all. Following a miscarriage, however, it is crushing to find these pictures of beautiful newborns and sample cans in the mailbox. The first time I encountered this, I wept for an entire afternoon. I’m not kidding.
So, for the next few months, I let someone else check the mail– namely, my husband. If he found formula? He just removed it and donated it without my having to be involved. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with this– you’re not crazy. It truly hurts.
Being Kept Out of the Loop
This may or may not be the case with you, but I find that one of the things that makes me continually angry is that I both lost a baby and got kicked out of the loop. People who used to keep me of the “short list” of those they shared early pregnancy news with now rush to let me know in the eleventh hour because, “Oh, crud, I don’t want JessieLeigh to find out at this party” or “shoot, I should probably email her before I announce this on Facebook.”
Now, don’t get me wrong– the heads up is nice and I appreciate the gentleness of spirit that that requires. HOWEVER, it positively breaks my heart that, somehow, dear friends now assume that I am too fragile to share their joy and, as a result, flat leave me out. It’s one of the things that I truly struggle with and it’s very hard to communicate to people.
For some people, it might be better not to have to hear the early news. For me, it just feels like another way I’m losing. And it makes me super, super sad.
Places You Last Visited While Pregnant
On a Thursday in February of 2012, I went to the dentist. Quietly, I whispered the news of my pregnancy so they wouldn’t try to X-ray me. My mom was in the waiting room and we hadn’t broken the news to family yet. I was flushed with excitement and they were all giddily and quietly congratulating me on what would be my fourth baby. I made my next appointment and laughed to think about how big and pregnant I’d be for that one!
The very next day, we learned the heartbeat was slowing.
Six months later, I went back in for my cleaning. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I most certainly was NOT big and pregnant and I was a weepy mess about it.
You don’t always think about those sorts of things. You don’t consider the places you visit infrequently like that– how your entire world can change between visits. It can be super hard to go back. It takes a lot of spine to walk back in and a lot of honesty to be real about your feelings.
Other People’s Feelings
Here’s the thing– how you respond to the loss of your baby is highly personal. Some people need to grieve privately. Some people need to more formally grieve and then, in their own way, move on. Others need to talk. We are all individuals and we all mourn in different ways.
I would love to talk more about the baby I lost. Truly. I have so many feelings and thoughts and memories swirling inside of me and I yearn, so very much, to get them out.
People will tell you that should you do what you need to do to heal. And they’re right. I would give you the same advice. However, the problem with that is that you can’t predict how others will feel and react. I’ve found that, every time I try to mention the baby I lost, I get an awkward response from family and most friends. People really aren’t that receptive to hearing about it. Yes, they were super supportive and loving following the immediate loss, but, now that two years have passed? No one wants me to mention it. It makes OTHERS uncomfortable and, because of that, I feel silenced.
I’m not saying you should hold in your feelings for the sake of others– but you might find yourself in a similar situation. It’s hard. Because, to be honest, it hurts a lot to try to share something very personal and have the other party shut you out a bit. But it sometimes happens.
There are no trite answers to give when it comes to baby loss– there’s nothing that will make it easy or make it okay or make it go away. Pain and hurt rear their ugly little heads many, many times– some expected, yes, but, as I shared here, some very unexpected too. It is so important that we acknowledge this.
If you, too, have experienced loss, you may have had your own “unexpected” times when you found yourself hurt and devastating. If you feel led, please feel free to share those experiences here; sometimes it helps a lot just to know we’re not alone.