Tips from PAL Moms is a column at PALS Magazine where we ask you, the PAL mom, for feedback about your experience during pregnancy after loss. We ask a question on our Facebook Page and hope that you can help answer it while also benefiting from the answers, all in an effort to relate and learn from fellow moms who “get it”.
Question: I’m thrilled to be pregnant again. However, I can’t help but feel a bit detached to this pregnancy after losing my baby. Is this normal? How do you bond with your baby during a PAL pregnancy?
This is a question that gets asked a lot, especially in our private groups and via our Facebook inbox. In fact, I remember feeling this way myself from the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test. I was terrified that this baby might not make it too, and there was a tiny voice in the back of my head that kept whispering “Don’t get too attached. You might not get to keep this one either.”
To the PAL mom struggling to bond with her child: Detachment is an absolutely normal response! You ARE normal, mama! What you’re feeling is normal, especially after the death of a child. Regardless of how or when we lose our children, we develop ways to cope. Detachment is one of those ways, because we think it will hurt less if the worst happens. It’s our brains trying to protect our hearts. For me, I developed a routine to bond with my baby. I took five minutes at bedtime to hold my bump and talk to my baby. Sometimes it was a reading a book, sometimes it was singing a song, and sometimes it was saying a prayer or a mantra of positive words and love.
Here are some great TIPS from other PAL moms:
Adrienne – “I felt the same way!!! It took me till about 30 weeks to really allow myself to feel like I was pregnant and that possibly I would bring home my son! I delivered our baby 3 weeks ago! My advice is try to enjoy the pregnancy. My biggest regret is that I walked around scared and in denial. The last 7 weeks I carried him I enjoyed it! I wish I allowed myself to do it sooner!! He is currently sleeping on my chest, and I am so thankful he is here!!”
Danielle – “I’m just over 16 weeks today. I’m still struggling with connecting with baby. I know that in time I will connect with this baby, but it is still unreal to be pregnant with a healthy baby. I get scared and often wonder if the next time I go to the doctor, they’re going to find something wrong. Well, today I had another ultrasound, and baby is alive! Heart is beating, and baby is moving. Those are the best of moments, and the ones that help me bring down my wall. Make sure to ask your doctor for as many ultrasounds as possible. Once a month might be enough. Seeing baby and being reassured everything is okay is a huge key.”
Lauren – “I am about to enter the third trimester, and some days I am more excited than others. I would have to say it’s normal to be detached, at least I hope so since I am most days. I love this child, but it is hard to bond completely when you fear the death of another child. I also bought a home doppler and use it daily. Mostly, try to find a small thing to get excited about each day and celebrate being pregnant. Also don’t be hard on yourself if you are detached.”
Emily – “I was detached until a couple days after she was born. My cousin gave me some good advice to not stress about not feeling bonded with your baby while pregnant, there is no possible way you will not be bonded with them after you see them when they are born. So try not to stress about it, PAL is hard enough without you putting extra pressure on yourself!”
Krista – “I am 25 weeks pregnant with my rainbow baby. I absolutely love that I feel movement often, but I’m kinda in denial that I am actually pregnant. Except for my clothes aren’t fitting now. I think it’s a coping mechanism I am using to not be in constant anxiety about losing this baby. Even though I am past my point of loss, it doesn’t seem possible to bring home a baby in 3 months. I don’t talk about my pregnancy to friends. Just my husband and my support group and when my living children talk about this baby.(I try to stay positive for my kids about this pregnancy) but that being said, I don’t worry about connecting to him after he is born. Don’t be hard on yourself. This PAL is hard!”
Sarah – “I felt detached throughout my pregnancy & know many friends who also felt this way. I think it’s a natural coping mechanic after having endured tragic loss already. I didn’t feel a strong connection until I gave birth & knew my baby was healthy.”
Amy – “I think it’s normal to feel…different. I love my sweet rainbow baby and her sweet kicks at 22 weeks, but I preface talk of her arrival with ‘hopefully.’ I don’t know that the reality I’m having another baby will set in until I’m holding her and she’s breathing and crying.”
Serena – “I have felt completely detached until yesterday, our first scan. I think it is a self protection thing, even though we lost our child through a tragic accident, not pregnancy loss. I fear feeling that loss of a child grief again,under any circumstances.”
Lauren – “My son just turned 3 months old. I have had a very hard time recovering from a very difficult pregnancy and birth after 7 miscarriages. I guess in my head I never fully believe it was real. I have no advice, but you are not alone. I feel that I never connected with him before birth like I should have.”
Amanda – “Normal! Very normal. We had lots of ultrasounds, which helped. We found out gender and picked a name. We gave him a cute nickname before we knew gender. I tried to do little fun things – like update a baby registry, make a book wishlist, and pick out paint for the nursery. I blogged about my PAL. It all helped.
But I don’t think I really bonded until sometime after he was born. And that’s okay. I think it’s normal – it’s how we try to protect ourselves from being hurt. If you struggle bonding once baby is here, try seeking out some counseling.”
*To read more Tips from PAL Moms about this specific question visit our Facebook Page.
* If you are looking for more ways to bond with your baby during a PAL pregnancy, please read Rainbow Connection: 10 Things I’ve Done to Bond During PAL.
If you have a question that you would like to ask other PAL moms, please message us on our Facebook Page.