Being pregnant after losing a baby during a previous pregnancy is scary and hard. Sometimes it's even harder because you don't know how to tell your partner what you need, maybe because you don't even know what you need yourself.
Having been through two pregnancies after my first born's stillbirth, looking back now on those pregnancies I wish I was able to put my thoughts into words so my partner could understand what worries were really running through my mind during those anxious nine-months.
Here is what I needed my partner to know during our pregnancy that followed a loss:
1. I’m scared, like really, really scared. I know now that things can go wrong and not every pregnancy has a happy ending. I really, really, really don’t want lightning to strike twice, but I’m afraid it will.
2. I need your support now more than ever. You’re the only one who has been through this with me. So you’re the only one who gets it like I do and because of that I need your support more than anyone else’s.
3. I’m confused because I’m happy and joyful while full of grief and sadness all at the same time on top of fluctuating hormones, yes I’m a mess and I need you to say that’s okay.
4. PAL is hard. I have PTSD and anxiety, some days I get depressed and everyday I’m pregnant I’m reliving my trauma on top of having the normal pregnancy stresses. Some say the closer I get to D – day (delivery that is), I’ll feel better. Some say it gets worse, but I want you to know that there is no easy day for me right now.
5. I still miss the baby we lost. This one doesn’t replace him/her. It actually makes all of this more difficult and painful.
6. I sometimes have trouble bonding with baby. I’m scared to attach to him or her because I don’t want my heart to get broken again. I sometimes catch myself creating a suit of armor around my heart as a way of protecting me from the pain that comes from loving and losing. I want you to know I don’t want to be this way, it just happens from time to time as I try to protect myself from the fear of future heartache.
7. I’m afraid I won’t love this baby as much as our other one. I love our other child so much. My heartaches for him/her every day and because I yearn for our baby that is deceased with so much love I worry that there won’t be enough love in my heart for our next one.
8. Sometimes I don’t want to have sex as I worry that it might hurt the baby even though the doctor has reassured us this is not true.
9. I don’t know how to handle this. I just don’t. Pregnancy may not be new to me, but pregnancy after loss is. And it’s just as new to me as much as it is to you. There is no road map, no right or wrong way to handle this balance of grief and joy. There is just messiness and beauty all smashed together during these nine months and I don’t have the answers.
10. Please be patient with me as I’m emotionally fragile, more fragile than I’ve ever been. I’m super sensitive because my world was turned upside down when our baby died and our hopes and dreams died along with our child. My strength is all used up by the end of the day and my emotions are the hardest thing to keep in check. I hope you understand.
11. I have a hard time trusting my body as I feel like it has failed me before and I don’t know how to believe in it now. I don’t know how to trust my body or life. Life seems more unpredictable and fragile now and that scares me as I venture into carrying a new life inside of me again.
12. I’m hopeful and grateful. I’m hopeful that this baby is born ALIVE and healthy and lives a long beautiful life. I’m also grateful that we were able to get pregnant again as I know many in our situation can’t and I’m grateful for our baby that died. I know life is hard without him/her but I’m glad he/she was here for a little while.
13. I just want pregnancy to be over with AND for it to be frozen in this moment forever all at the same time. I want life, our baby’s life, to be a sure thing, guaranteed. I’m not trying to wish away this pregnancy. I just want to hold my breathing baby in my arms so I can be reassured everything will be okay this time.
14. I want so badly to bring this baby safely into the world for you, for me, for our baby that died, for our healing, for us and there is a lot of pressure on me because I want it so bad. I don’t want to feel like I let you down again even though I know I never did.
15. I love you and I need you to love me and this baby unconditionally. Because that is the only way I believe we will get through these nine months, by holding onto each other in hopes of someday soon holding onto our breathing baby.
16. I know if I had to I could do this without you, but I don’t want to. Pregnancy after loss is hard, but it’s easier to get through each day with you by my side.