To the mother who is pregnant following the loss of a baby,
I would like to take some time to encourage you, brave woman, during what can be a very emotional time.
I know that at any given moment, there is both a pushing and a pulling that is taking place inside your heart – joy and sadness, hope and fear, excitement and anxiety – and that these opposing emotions can feel overwhelming.
No matter what the circumstances were surrounding the loss of your last baby, whether it was an early miscarriage, a stillbirth, or an infant death, I know that much of the joy of pregnancy has been stolen from you and replaced with fear – a fear that can’t be reasoned away until and unless you are holding a healthy baby in your arms. (And possibly not even then.)
I know that your faith may have been shaken and that your whys may not have been answered, and now you don’t know how to hope for the best without fearing the worst. I know that all you want is a healthy baby, and that the closer you get to delivery, your fears and anxiety may be increasing instead of decreasing. You know that there is no “safe” time, and that when all of those blissfully ignorant pregnant women breathe a sigh of relief because they’ve passed 12 weeks, or 24, or 36, you cringe a little on the inside and wish it were only that easy.
I know that baby showers scare you and the thought of purchasing tiny baby clothes and newborn diapers feels terrifying because you might never get to use them. And then they’d just be reminders of what could have been.
I know that you might have a wall around your heart and it may help a little to think of your baby’s arrival in terms of “if” instead of “when” so you don’t get too attached this time. And sometimes that makes you feel like you aren’t bonding with your baby the way other mothers do – the way you think you’re supposed to – and that maybe you’re messing it up.
Dear mother, I just want to reassure you that you are not alone in any of these feelings. Please know that your anxiety is normal, your fears are understandable, and you will not harm your baby by worrying. I wish I could promise you that your pregnancy will be healthy and your baby will be perfect, but what I can tell you is that you are so very strong and courageous. Though it sometimes feels like your emotions are going to tear you apart because they are constantly pulling you in opposite directions, they only come from the intense love and protection you feel for your precious little one. And that means that you are already an amazing mother.
Be gentle with yourself and try to take one day at a time – not to get overwhelmed by the what ifs in the days and weeks that lay ahead, but to treasure each day that your baby is alive and growing inside you, surrounded by your love.
Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,
Eileen Tully is a mother of eight – with four children in heaven and four here on earth. She creates memorial sketches of babies lost to stillbirth and infant death and writes about life after loss at Little Winged Ones.
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