I have noticed there are quite a lot of parents who have gone through baby loss that are now facing the challenge of having family members and close friends that are having babies around them. The last few times I have tuned into “babylosshour” on twitter the conversation of pregnancies around them crops up. How do you cope with people having babies when you have lost yours?
Pregnancies Before Loss.
When I was pregnant with Dexy I was so happy when people announced their news of expecting. I saw it as an opportunity to bond with people, get excited together and plan future play dates in my head with them. If they were ahead of me I would see what they were going through and when they had their babies it made me a million times more excited for Dexy to come along.
A few months after we fell pregnant with Dexy a close family member announced they were expecting. I was extremely happy and excited as Dexy would have another child to play with when we visited them. At family parties they could entertain each other whilst us mums talk about sleepless nights over wine. I was happy because I was hoping that they would both be cheeky enough to cause mischief and tease people.
When I saw this said family member in December we spoke about the next time we see each other we would both have our babies. We talked about cravings and I even shared my favourite drink to get when I was out (cranberry and lemonade). We talked about how I brought not just newborn clothes but how I have stocked up on basics until 9 months so I could spend my money on fun things for us to do on maternity leave and not have to worry about spending it on everyday clothes. I gave pregnancy tips as I was 4 months ahead and I felt so happy to share this experience with someone in my family.
As I would have had Dexy first and he would have been around 4 months old when she has her baby I could share tips that I have picked up along the way. We could talk at 2 am when we were both feeding and talk about being first time mums. I was just so excited for Dexy to have a playmate.
Pregnancies After Loss.
So how are you meant to feel when you don’t have your baby anymore but they have theirs? It’s really hard! you have every emotion running through you and if I said you were only happy I would be lying.
Baby loss likes to torment you and it affects every aspect of your life. From realising that your past is too painful to remember and your future is nothing special to look forward to. When Dexy died I internally worried about how this would affect her. How would she feel being pregnant and having a baby die in her family. I wondered if she would worry it would happen to her. not only was my world collapsing around me, it was also changing my views on everything.
We both felt terrible but we really couldn’t face seeing her at Dexy’s funeral because it was just too painful as we were exactly the same as her only a few days before. When you lose a baby you don’t just “lose a baby” you lose everything. you lose all the happy memories you had and you lose all the memories you should have made. you lose your baby’s first steps, the first time they sneak out, the day they get married and you lose the fact they are meant to hold your hand when you die. not the other way around. Seeing someone who has that all to look forward to just hurts. The physical pain of losing your child hurts. You get this pain in your chest that just makes you want to scream because it hurts that much. Seeing someone without that as their reality wouldn’t help us at all.
This is key. In order to protect yourself when you lose a baby you have to not think about others. At the end of the day this your loss. You know what you need and you know what you don’t need. At first I found this hard because I didn’t want to offend people around me. I was scared people would hate me for looking after myself. I need to wrap myself up sometimes and it’s easy to forget that it is okay to.
Around a month ago I saw a photo of her baby bump and it hit me really hard. She is around the time I lost Dexy and every day from now on she has her baby for one more day than I had my son. It made me miss being pregnant and not having this grey cloud of baby loss looming over me. I’m never going to be able to have a fearless pregnancy ever again because of Dexy. I’m not meaning that as a bad thing because I am beyond grateful to have had 36 weeks and 5 days with him alive and being a huge part of my life. But it wasn’t enough time.
I will be honest, I am jealous. I know Phil is too. Everything that we had planned for us has gone. We are sat at home with our son in a box on a shelf whilst she is packing her bag ready for her baby’s arrival. It hurts knowing that I should have been the one to give baby tips as I was ahead of her and now when I next have a baby she will be giving me them. It isn’t meant to be like this.
My main way of protecting myself is to kind of block out people’s pregnancies and newborns. Any baby that was born when I was pregnant is fine, it doesn’t affect me. But any baby that is born after Dexy died or has been announced since his death is unbearable. I see pregnancy and babies being born in a completely different light. A bitter light if you want to call it that. I just don’t want to see it.
How am I feeling about the new arrival. I’m dreading it. Not because of what happened to us but because of the birth announcement. I was never able to post about Dexy being born alive and well. I couldn’t even post that I was doing ok because I had a hemorrhage after I gave birth and wasn’t in the best of health. I don’t want to see the announcement because I was never able to post one. It hurts.
My biggest fear is also that everyone will now focus on this baby and forget that Dexy existed. I know that probably isn’t going to happen but would you rather focus on the positive or the negative. Would you rather talk to people about the new baby being alive, well, and just generally good shit. Or would you rather talk about the baby that died? I know what one I would rather talk about if Dexy wasn’t my son.
I can’t quite get my head around the idea of saying congratulations to them because I can’t cope with that. But I hope they know that I really am happy for them. I hope they understand that it’s not me punishing them but just protecting myself and getting strong enough to work everything out.