My friend, my heart hurts for you today. I know the dark place you are in right now. I have been there. I realize it is hard to believe that I was there, looking from where you are. You see my face smiling on my Facebook page, and my pictures of my beautiful family with two healthy, adorable kids. You probably have even heard me complain about those two kids, my perceived loss of freedom, the day-to -day challenges of parenting and motherhood. I vowed to never forget what that dark place was like, and I haven’t. I see you.
I know what it is like to lose something so precious to you, something that was literally a part of you. It is a unique sort of grief. When you lose a parent, a grandparent, a friend, a son or daughter, there are rituals. Family and friends gather round, and your pain is acknowledged and shared by others. Memories are shared, casseroles are delivered. There are hugs and tears and funerals and, much of the time, closure. People expect you to hurt, and they usually give you the space to do so.
But when you lose your pregnancy, your unborn baby, this child you longed for and loved from the moment the one pink line turned into two, it’s different. You feel ashamed. You feel like a failure, like your body couldn’t do this thing it was supposed to do. You were barely a mother, and you already failed. You get the message from the people around you that you’re not allowed to grieve, or at least, not for very long.
“There will be others…”
“Maybe it was for the best…”
“Sometimes that is nature’s way…”
“You can try again….”
And while you know that all these things are said with good intentions, it all makes you feel worse.
So right here, right now, I am going to tell you what I really needed to hear when I was in the throes of infertility and pregnancy loss, which for us lasted years. I wish I knew you better so I could tell you in person, and just sit beside you while you cry, if that is what you need.
This hurts, so much. It is not what you expected, is it? You spent a lot of time and effort when you were younger trying not to get pregnant, or worrying that you would get pregnant at the wrong time. You wonder if maybe you missed your window of opportunity. That is a valid fear. You can feel that, just don’t blame yourself, because you didn’t know it would be so difficult. How could you?
You might feel angry at your husband. Sometimes he is the easiest person to be angry at, because he is so close. He doesn’t know what to do either. It is in his nature to be strong for you, to try to fix things that are broken. He sees that you are broken, and he feels helpless. He is hurting too, in his own way. I know it’s hard to see that sometimes.
I know you feel alone. Everywhere you look there are pregnant bellies and strollers. There seems to be even more now than ever before, for some reason. Everyone seems to be able to achieve this developmental milestone in their life, and you feel stuck in a monthly cycle of hope and despair, hope and despair, and repeat. You may even be running out of friends to hang out with, because they all have babies now. Listen, it is ok if you don’t go to the baby showers. Your true friends will understand. Send a gift card. Do not, under any circumstances, go shopping at the baby store. Be gentle with yourself about this, trust me.
You are going to flip-flop between wanting to be authentic with people about the pain you are experiencing, and wanting to keep everything to yourself so you don’t have to hear any more platitudes. You will go back and forth, depending on how raw everything feels on a particular day. Just show up as you are. That is the best you can do right now. Try not to be too worried about handling your pain gracefully or counting your blessings. Do not bother to engage in any mind-game that begins with the phrases, “it could be worse…”, or “at least you don’t…..”.
Above all, I want you to know that your grief is real. Your loss is real. I see that and acknowledge that. You lost something precious to you, and I am so sorry for your loss. Lots of people don’t understand it, because losing an unborn baby, losing a pregnancy, is not so tangible for the people around you. It makes people uncomfortable, that you would grieve so hard and long and deep over something they couldn’t even see. They don’t understand that the grief goes on and on, like a death you have to keep dying every single month. And at the same time you grieve the loss of that picture you have in your head of how you thought it would be.
It is brutal, it hurts, and it is completely unfair. No one can say anything to make it ok, least of all me. All I can tell you is, you’re not alone in your dark place.