To my friends and loved ones, thank you so much for supporting me during my pregnancy after loss. Now that my baby is here, there are a few things I need you to know.
I might be gone for a while.
Bringing home a new baby is a life-changing and sacred experience. Now, double that with bringing home a baby after your other one dies, and it seems twice as sacred. So, please just give me some time and space to savor these first few days with this new life. I know how precious it is now. Feel free to still stay in touch, send a text or leave a voicemail, better yet drop off a meal (we sure would appreciate it). Just realize I might not respond right away, but don’t worry I’ll get back to you and love you even more for your patience.
I still might have a hard time relating to other moms with living children.
This might seem strange to you now that my baby is here and is thriving, but I still feel different and at times have a hard time connecting with moms who haven’t experienced loss. There just is some disconnect, innocence that I have lost that they seem to have, and sometimes that makes it hard to relate. A good thing to remember is that just because another baby was born, she doesn’t replace the one who died.
I’m still grieving.
You know what, you might think that everything should be better now that I have a living child in my arms, but can I tell you something that is hard to admit? Right now the grief seems even harder. It seemed to resurface and strike with a double punch in the gut this time. Now that the new baby is here I am reminded every day of what I missed with my child who died.
It’s hard to explain, but sometimes I want to think that the baby in my arms is my baby that died. Now I’m not crazy, and I really don’t want that. It’s just confusing at times to hold one baby and miss another. Again it’s hard to explain. If you could please just listen without judgment when I talk about it, that would be great. Don’t worry, I know my dead child is never coming back and that this is a different baby, but it is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that without one there might not be another.
At times I wish I had my other baby.
It’s not that I don’t want this one. Believe me, I have worked as hard as hell to get this baby here healthy and alive. It’s just that I wish my other one wouldn’t have died. What I really want is both. Does that make sense? Just nod your head quietly with empathic eyes, as in yes. I think that is what I need now.
Going back to work was so hard it felt like it intensified my anxiety and grief.
I didn’t want to leave my little one at daycare or with someone else, but the realities of my life are that I need to help make a living for my family. Having to be separated from a child I so longed for is heartbreaking. Right now I need your support in understanding this transition has brought up more fear and grief for me. Help me figure out how to navigate this and maybe just be there to listen. Thanks.
I’m still anxious and fearful.
I’m still really scared. I am having a hard time shaking this anxiety that I carried around for nine months. And, now I know that bad things do happen to good people for no reason, and I’m scared it might happen again. Some of this worry is normal, but if you notice that I start becoming obsessive in my worry thoughts or need to check on baby all the time to the point where I can’t sleep, please remind me that there are professionals out there that can help me determine if this is normal, or if I might be experiencing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder.
I still need support from other moms like me.
I still need my bereaved mom friends. They get me in a way that no one else ever will. I don’t care if they have had subsequent children or pregnancies or not. I still need them because they get it. They understand. Please support me in still connecting with those who have been there. I hope they are there for life.
I still might not go to your baby shower.
It’s still really hard to go to these events. It’s not that I don’t want you to be happy. It’s just that I live with these weird superstitions now about over-celebrating babies before they arrive. Please don’t be offended if I don’t go. I probably will send a gift for you but not baby. I’m just being superstitious, I guess.
I still check and re-check to see if baby is breathing at night.
I don’t do it to the point that I wake the little bundle of joy up or that I can’t sleep at night, but I do still check often to see if baby is breathing. I think I will until this little one graduates and moves out.
I still miss my baby that died.
I still miss everything that could have, should have, and would have been. Those thoughts don’t go away. They are still there. Also, I don’t want to forget her. I want to remember her, and sometimes remembering someone who is gone turns out to be in the form of missing. Missing my baby is okay with me.
I have a hard time trusting or letting anyone else hold my baby.
I think this is normal for most moms after a baby is born. But, after what I have been through, please understand that it makes me nervous to let others hold and touch my baby. So when you come to visit, just please ask nicely to hold the little one, and maybe sit next to me and notice how I am doing with sharing babe.
Perfectly said. Im only 27wks along but ive already been feeling a lot of these. Im already scared of how i will feel when this little lady comes. Lost Taytum full term 5.4.14 this baby due 5.2.14. I try hard to stay positive but when you have gone through a loss you cant help but think about the bad. Especially so close together.
It’s been nearly 9 years since my Cora was stillborn (5-2-06) at 38 weeks gestation. Almost 9 years, and 4 healthy rainbow babies, and I still feel all of this. Especially the bit about still missing my baby. Still.
Brittanie Cannady… It’s been 24 years since I lost my second baby. Three babies since, for a total of 4 healthy boys, and one healthy grandson, but I still miss the one we lost….
Wow. This puts so many things into words I haven’t been able to. We have three amazing sons, but have suffered 4 painful losses. I was SO DONE with trying again…then God surprised us. I’m due in 17 days on Feb 20th. I. Still. PANIC! There is no safe time in pregnancy. I just cannot wait to hold this baby…and will still freak over everything when it is here, but at least I’ll be able to see it. Thank you for writing this!!!!!!!
WOW. It has been 11 years since I lost my firstborn to stillbirth at almost 38 weeks. I am 18 weeks pregnant now with my rainbow, and feeling all of these things. Especially the constant fear and anxiety leading up to each appointment when we will hear the baby’s heartbeat. I became an L&D nurse after my loss, after working 5+ years as a restaurant cook. Now I feel the ignorance that shielded me from fear the first time around has turned into anxiety and fear now that I know too much. I can really relate to all the things said here.-Heidi, Central PA
Reading like this article made me more ok!
My firstborn was stillbirth last August 2019 and now currently, 22 weeks pregnant. And yes, I agree with the fact that this baby can’t be a substitute of my loss. It will never be! Fear is everywhere and overthinking almost strikes no matter how much you remind yourself not to (only bereaved mommies can understand this, so those who are not, just please comfort us and be careful with your words not to add the same feeling again). Other people feel that you are now ok since you are pregnant but none they know, you struggle to face daily yet praying for God’s strength to be poured out. He is the true source of strength!
To all people out there, please be careful with your words when commenting with our experience.
Hearing words like, “only if you did this” during your first pregnancy make me more bad about myself and it will never help. I tell you, no mother will ever want to lose one. Better say, “I am one of your prayers warriors”-and do, because we really need that!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and fears. I have had 4 children, my first two were sons and I lost them to SIDS at 27 days and 2 1/2 months. I have two daughters still and a granddaughter but I haven’t gone a day in over 20 years not thinking of them and missing them. I still do the “what if’s”. I still feel grief, guilt that I should have done something different, and a hole in my heart. You NEVER get over it, but you do learn to cope and keep living.
You pinpointed a whole lot of issues that really need to be said. Teaching people who cannot possibly understand but want to. I might add something about forgetting to call the baby that died by name. People tend to start referring to “the baby”. Pet peeve is when I was congratulated for ” finally moving on.” As if giving birth to live children was something I had control over. I also want to share that a lot of these same things apply to loss of older children too. I lost a teenager recently and people say things like “at least you have other kids.” People just cannot fully comprehend the loss of a dream no matter the age.
Oh, gosh. I’m in tears reading this. I’m still only 8 weeks out from the birth of my rainbow baby and I can’t believe how every single one of these resonates with me. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I never even thought that this postpartum would be different than my other (pre-loss) babies. Thanks for posting this as I probably wouldn’t have put two and two together due to the mental fog and lack of adequate sleep. Sending this on to my hubby. I know he’s going through the same thing. Thank you!
It’s okay..it’s okay….it’s okay
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Reading this has been so helpful to me! Not only to give words to what I haven’t been able to explain, even to myself, but also for helping me realize there are others out there who have been in a similar situation that feel the same way I do! That I’m not crazy or being selfish!
Thank you SO much for this. Truly hit home. We lost our daughter in Jan 2012 after major complications from 3 congenital heart defects. I gave birth to our rainbow, her brother, the summer of that same year. I try to take people’s comments with a grain if salt, as I know the death of a child is difficult to grasp and confront, but some comments just sting. One comment that sticks out in my mind is, upon hearing about our happy healthy son, an aquaintence replied, “See! Everything worked out”. Actually, no. No it didn’t… It is also hard trying to explain why it took me so long to leave my son with anyone, and why I still can’t leave him for more than 4 hour stretches, even 2 1/2 years later. People take it so personally, especially family. I don’t expect them to fully understand, but a little empathy and understanding that we’re still grieving goes such a long way. Not being able to have eyes on my child for long stretches is literally panic inducing.
I’m now 28 weeks with baby #3. My anxiety has been through the roof, as it was with my previous pregnancy. I thankfully have an arsenal of great friends and loved ones who check in from time to time, but aren’t overbearing and follow our lead when it comes to our grief and talking about our daughter. I still get amazed how some people, some family in particular, shut down and turn away when we talk about our daughter. The other extreme is those who make it about themselves. We’ve learned to minimize discussion with those people (and even limit contact, unfortunately), and instead lean on those who continue to support us unconditionally.
Thank you again for this excellent post. <3
I am a labor and delivery nurse getting my Master’s in nursing education. I am focusing this entire year on the grief felt post-loss and especially in a subsequent pregnancy. I have a personal reason for my focus, I experienced a loss after 3 healthy babies and sort of lost myself in my grief for 10 months. People said things like, “at least you have your other 3, you can try again you are still young, now you have an angel”. I think they are trying to be helpful but you just can’t help but be sad when you lose your baby and all of the hopes and dreams that you had for him/her. I was a TOTAL wreck in the pregnancy I had after my loss, and I now have 4 beautiful children here with me but my husband and I still miss the one we lost. I am hoping in this master’s program to continue to research these feelings that these moms and dads are experiencing and to somehow bring this issue to light in the medical community so we have more support for families experiencing this silent grief.
I am a grandparent of precious angel babies ( and have eight living grandchildren) I too wonder what might have been,…. The most anxiety I have ever had in my life was watching my daughter and daughter in law during their pregnancy after loss. It was so hard at times I just wanted to run the other way…I was so fearful and found it difficult to express any feelings or worries…I lived in a state of numbness…
All these feelings I have been through with the loss of my first born, I have four beautiful children now and 8 Grandchildren I feel truly blessed but my heart still yearns for the baby I lost and his Birthday is still very hard to accept, you still vividly remember that day…49yrs ago…so much loved and never forgotton…
God bless you all.
Thank you so much for posting this. The way you describe everything is exactly how I feel. I have a 2 year old son and on July 31st my daughter at 8 months old died of SIDS. I had to have a tubal ligation reversal which was difficult. I am now 11 weeks pregnant and your thoughts have helped me so much. I’m already paranoid with my 2 year old but now with my baby in my belly I’m very cautious. I always pray to God that my babies are protected by him and his angels. Thank you again for sharing, it really prepares me and makes me feel some what normal. God bless!
All of this and so much more! My son will be 3 months old on the 22nd and I definitely have a hard time letting go. I know I seem overprotective but with COVID right now, just let me worry. I’m entitled to and unless someone else knows the same pain of losing a first born, please don’t push me. I definitely have a mama bear spirit in me.