To the woman who is pregnant after a loss,
I see you.
I know this should be such an exciting time in your life, but you have been cheated of being able to feel that way again. It is so unfair.
I see you trying so hard to not get ahead of yourself after you receive that positive test result. You want to feel happiness and excitement, but you force yourself to be cautious just in case. I know you are trying to protect your heart.
I recognize that you are over-analyzing every cramp, pull, and tug you feel. You have lost the ability to decipher what is normal.
Everything feels wrong.
I see you going about your day, going through the motions, putting on a brave face while suffering through constant anxiety and worry. I know this is leaving you exhausted and depleted.
I know that every time you go to the bathroom you panic a little at what you might see. Your mind is being cruel and won’t stop questioning if today is going to be the day your world crumbles on you again.
I feel your pain as you watch your pregnant friends sail excitedly through their first trimester and beyond, unafraid that something could go wrong. I know it hurts to see this—you were once that woman too. After going through the heart-wrenching grief you experienced, you know you can never be that woman again.
You grieve the loss of that woman.
I am with you as you attend your ultrasound appointments, absolutely terrified about what the imaging is going to reveal. I mourn with you the loss of being able to feel joy in these moments. What was once such an exciting experience is now such a painful one.
I see you continuously wondering what you did wrong, if there was something you could have done to prevent your loss. Let me promise you this—it was not your fault. Release yourself from the spiral of self-blame and let go of the what-ifs. As much as I know you crave a reason or an answer, there is freedom in recognizing that we often can’t find one.
In the same vein, I know you are over-analyzing your every movement with this pregnancy. What you eat and drink, how you move your body, the products you use, how you exercise, what you are breathing in . . . the list could go on and on. It feels like there are so many variables and you want to be able to control them all.
It is an impossible task.
I understand that even once the dreaded first trimester is over, there is no breathing a sigh of relief. I know the fear and anxiety will continue until that baby is in your arms. The worry plagues you, and it is such a heavy weight to carry.
I know that every so often, the walls you have built around you begin to recede, and that terrifies you. As quickly as it happens, you panic and throw the walls back up. It is self-preservation—you don’t ever want to fall from such a high place and have your heart shatter into a million pieces again.
I see you continuing to grieve the loss of your previous pregnancy, and I understand how challenging it is to feel joy about a new pregnancy because of this. As you battle and wrestle with these emotions, I know feelings such as guilt and shame can arise. Grieve your baby (or babies) for as long as you need to. Know that the pain will lessen with time, but it will never go away. Give yourself permission to feel joy for the new pregnancy without any guilt attached to it. Your angel(s) will always be with you, and they know how much you love them. Allow yourself to feel joy without shame.
Mama, this is hard.
I have been there. Although nothing can take the fear, pain, and worry away, know you are not alone.
Allow yourself to feel cheated and angry at the loss of the experience you deserve—a pregnancy full of hope, joy, and excitement over every milestone. I am sorry that has been taken away from you.
Know that it is OK to feel the way you are feeling, no matter what that may look like.
Take each day at your own pace. Talk to other women who have been through a loss. Connecting with other women who had been in my shoes helped me get through my darkest days.
Most of all, be kind to yourself.
Know you are a warrior. Whether you have been through one loss or multiple, you have experienced the type of life-shattering grief that ultimately changes you. Let yourself cry and feel all of the feels. Give yourself permission to feel happiness and excitement when these feelings do arise. Find time for self-care as often as you can.
And know that I see you—the strong, resilient, powerful mother that you are. You have got this, and you are never alone on this journey.