To those who love a woman pregnant after loss…
I know you’re beyond happy for this beautiful woman in your life. This woman who’s been longing for a baby. This woman who’s carried one in her womb, but never in her arms. This woman whose body has been broken physically, mentally, spiritually. This woman who’s pregnant again after losing a baby, maybe more than one.
You’re sure this is it. This is the pregnancy that’s going to work out. This is the baby she’s going to bring home.
But she’s not. After saying goodbye to another baby she carried in her womb, she’s not sure about anything. She hopes you’re right—that it’s her turn and that this baby is coming home with her. But she’s not one bit sure.
So please understand if she isn’t as excited as you think she should be. Don’t shame her for her feelings of uncertainty or lack of enthusiasm. Instead, be empathetic and validate her. And please understand that her lack of excitement does not mean she isn’t grateful.
I know you’re ready.
Ready to be the doting grandparent. The fun aunt. The friend who passes on only the cutest hand-me-downs and essential baby gear. You’re ready to celebrate. To throw a baby shower. To start planning as if this baby has already been born.
But she’s not. She’s seen it happen before. The celebration. The baby shower. The cute baby clothes hanging in the closet. And then no baby. She knows what it’s like to plan in vain, to plan for a baby who never actually makes it home.
So please understand when she says she doesn’t want a baby shower. When she’s not ready to start planning or filling dresser drawers with baby clothes and the closet with diapers. Please respect her wishes—even if it means you don’t get to participate in the baby shower you imagined having for her.
I know you’re full of optimism. Pregnancy has a way of filling people with it. You’re imagining things going exactly as they’re supposed to. Healthy pregnancy. Uncomplicated labor and delivery. Healthy baby.
But she’s not. She’s knows what it’s like for pregnancy to play out in the exact opposite way from how it’s supposed to. She knows what it’s like for it to go from healthy to unhealthy. From uncomplicated to complicated. From birth to death.
So please understand why she’s not always smiling or why your optimism hasn’t rubbed off on her yet. Be gentle with her emotions. Don’t make empty guarantees, because no matter what you THINK is going to happen, you don’t actually KNOW what is going to happen. Pregnancy after loss is incredibly taxing. She’s hopeful, but she might not seem happy. Please don’t make her feel guilty for that.
I know you love this woman. I know you want her to enjoy this pregnancy.
But you need to know that she might not.
She loves her baby, but she might not love being pregnant
Understand that it’s complicated.
Respect her wishes.
And pour love over her and her baby with empathy and compassion.
P.S. If you or a loved one are pregnant after loss, find empathy and encouragement for that journey in my book, Courageously Expecting.
This post originally appeared on Facebook, published with permission.