1. “Is this your first?” You don’t know what their past pregnancy history is and in the case of the loss mom the answer is no. There could have been multiple miscarriages, stillbirths, abortions, terminations for medical reasons, and yes, even children that have died. Just don’t ask this question.
2. “How many kids do you already have?” Again, don’t ask this. From a pregnancy loss mom, this question is mind boggling and painful to answer to someone who doesn’t know you well it could really be challenging to answer for the mom expecting again after a loss. Here’s what happens in her mind, “Do I say one? But then I have to tell this stranger that my first child died. That might get awkward. Or do I none? But then I would be dishonoring my child’s memory by not mentioning her. I really wish they wouldn’t have asked.”
3. “Do you want a girl or a boy?” A healthy, living breathing child is all I really want. Besides, this gets complicated (just like everything does when it comes to pregnancy after loss). For instance if I lost a girl, I might want another girl to help fill all of my dreams I had while expecting a girl or the thought of having another girl might make me grief stricken and fill with panic and then maybe I would want a boy. Or if I lost a boy maybe I don’t want another boy because I don’t want to even ponder the idea that another boy could come into my life and I might lose him too. Like I said, it’s a complicated question.
4. “Are you excited?” Yes. I’m excited, and scared, and terrified, and fearful, and confused. My whole life is about to change (hopefully for the better) but it is okay if I’m not always excited. It’s a lot to process and sometimes to be honest, I’m just terrified that this child might die to and honestly I’m just trying to make it through each millisecond of each minute, of each hour, of each day.
5. “Stay positive, it will all work out.” Again, I know I should stay positive, but pregnancy is hard and I can feel how I want and I can tell you from personal experience, sometimes things don’t “all work out.”
6. “You’re out of the danger zone.” Meaning you have made it through the first trimester. All of pregnancy is scary especially now when you know what can go wrong. You have heard all the stories now that you are part of the loss community and there is no “safe zone.” There are so many milestones, steps, and places to get to. It all seems scary and like a “danger zone.”
7. “Maybe you’ll have better luck this time.” Losses don’t happen to people because some people are ‘luckier’ than others. This is just rude. Please don’t say it. Also, if your friends spouse died and got engaged again you wouldn’t say, “Maybe you’ll have better luck this time.” Yeah, sounds absurd right.
8. “You’re getting a perfect replacement.” Ouch! No child can replace the one that died. I really don’t have more words to say to this because it’s just so wrong to say.
9. “Well, you know there was probably something wrong with your last baby. This one will be different.” You don’t know if there was something wrong or not. Unfortunately, the truth is that healthy babies die too. Oh, and even if something was wrong with my child, it doesn’t make losing them easier.
10. “Are you doing anything differently this time?” Which implies that my baby’s death was somehow my fault? Again, don’t say this. The death of my baby wasn’t my fault. We don’t need any added mommy guilt during a stressful time like PAL.
11. “Are you excited to become a mom?” I’m already a mom! Did you forget? Also, another version of this question not to say, “Now you’ll be a real mom.” (Cringe) These words hurt.
To read Lindsey Henke’s companion piece to this article, see 12 Things to Say to the Mom Pregnant after a Loss.