When you asked me,
“How are you feeling?”
When I was cradling my 7-months pregnant belly, or when I was dealing with hormone wash when I was 10 weeks along.
I didn’t see it as an invitation to vomit all of the musings of grief and trauma that had become tangled in my head.
So I said, “As good as I can be,” hoping someone would ask me to elaborate, though no one ever did.
My pregnancies after loss were treated a lot like my first pregnancy before that baby died. There were the same questions, “Are you excited?” “Do you want a boy or a girl?” “When is your due date?” Although never, ever, did I hear the questions I so desperately needed to be asked.
I understood why. People don’t want to be made uncomfortable.
Loss, trauma, and fear are uncomfortable.
But to my family and friends, I wish you were willing to be more uncomfortable.
I know you didn’t want to bring up how I was coping with my pregnancy after experiencing a devastating loss, because you didn’t want me to remember that heartache when pregnancy is supposed to be a time of bliss.
The truth is, though, I never forgot that my other baby died.
By not asking how I was doing with that, it made me feel like you did.
Family and friends,
The truth is my pregnancies were awful. They were hard, they were messy. I wish I cried on your shoulder instead of my midwife’s or OB’s after all of my feelings and thoughts felt like the temperature raising on a pressure cooker, ready to explode. I never knew that with you, I was allowed to be anything other than happy about the fact that I was carrying another life.
I wish you knew that every time any of you talked to me during that time, half of my head was listening and the other half was staring at the clock, calculating how many minutes it had been since I last felt a movement.
You didn’t know, because I laughed when I was supposed to laugh. I smiled when I was supposed to smile.
Yet I was breaking apart.
You never knew.
You never knew that every time I blamed my frequent bathroom trips on the baby pushing on my bladder, it was really because I felt like I had to check for blood.
When you would rehash your pregnancies with me, trying to relate, I so badly needed to say, “You don’t get it. You can’t get it, because you never lost a baby,” I chose to simper and nod instead.
To my family and friends,
I want you to know that I don’t blame anyone for not knowing how to be what I needed during my pregnancies after loss.
What I need now is for you to understand that I’m still trying to deal with the baggage those pregnancies left me with.
I want you to know that even though my pregnancies after loss ended in two babies to keep, I still need you to be gentle.
Please be gentle with the announcements, the gender reveals, how you talk about pregnancy with me.
Because even though I made it to the other side,
I’ll forever grieve the pregnancies I would have had if I had never had my child die.
When I hear about birth plans, appointments, and baby showers,
I’m taken back to that same place I was in when I was supposed to be expecting a baby, though all I could do was expect another loss.
Please, share the joy with me, but don’t do it at the expense of me not sharing my pain, too.
Family and friends,
I want you to know that my pregnancies after loss were arguably the most treacherous, blurry, and defining times in my life.
It was okay to talk to me about it then,
It’s okay to talk to me about now.