9 Things I’m Not Doing During My Pregnancy After Loss (and that’s Okay)

PALS_LH_9ThingsNotDoing

During my subsequent pregnancies I have often felt like “I should” being doing this or “I should” be feeling that, which I find ironic. I tell other mothers who are pregnant after loss to be kind with themselves. There are no “shoulds” in pregnancy after loss, or as we say in my work, “Don’t ‘should’ on yourself.” Through this, my second pregnancy after loss, I find myself allowing more room to ignore those feelings and “I shoulds” and giving myself permission to do what I need to do during this difficult and challenging time. This permission involves NOT doing some things as well. Here are nine things I’m NOT doing during my pregnancy after loss, and that’s fine by me.

1. Having a baby shower/receiving gifts – Oh, the pain that comes with cleaning out the nursery of your baby who died! It’s one of the worst things you can go through in your life. Taking each item you received from friends and family at your baby shower, who shared in the love and excitement of welcoming home baby, only to have to return cute pink dresses, pack away handmade quilts, and donate diapers. I do not want to have to do that again. This baby can have a “welcome home, baby” party instead–where loved ones can bring gifts if they like. The great thing about a “welcome home, baby” party is that baby will hopefully be there for others to meet and gush over.

2. Prepping the nursery – Honestly, you don’t need anything for a baby’s room in the weeks and months after he or she is born. You just need a safe place for your baby to sleep, which will probably be in your room. All you really need is a few sets of onesies, a blanket or two, and diapers, all of which can be bought by friends and loved ones on the day baby is born if that makes you feel more comfortable.

3. Announcing my pregnancy on social media – Sometimes during life after loss we just want to keep our grief and our new joys and anxieties of a pregnancy and baby who follows to ourselves for as long as possible. Maybe it’s out of fear we might lose this baby too. Maybe it’s because of self-preservation, as we want to savor every moment we get with this baby and not have to share, because we only had such few precious moments with our child who died. Whatever the reason, it’s cool if you wait longer than you did with other pregnancies to share on social media or if you don’t share at all. I know moms who didn’t share until the baby was born, which worked for them.

4. Taking weekly bump pictures – I have never seen one picture of my mother pregnant with me. Not one! And guess what? I think I turned out okay. I took weekly pictures with my first baby, the one who died. It was fun. I enjoyed it. But now it just seems like something else to keep up on during a PAL, and sometimes it’s just hard enough to stay above water with my worries. Letting go of this expectation has helped me reduce that anxiety. But for others it may be a way to celebrate this pregnancy. Either way, do what works for you.

5. Googling – Say it with me, “I will not Google during my Pregnancy After Loss!” Believe it or not, Dr. Google does not have a real medical degree! WebMD, Wiki, and random blog posts in mom forums do not know you, your body, your baby, or the answer to your medical questions. When in doubt or during a state of panic, call your doctor or nurse’s line for reassurance and guidance. Unlike the Internet they will actually be able to provide you with medical advice and appropriate action. It’s also nice to get that human interaction that you might need to calm the nerves versus the cold, harsh, World Wide Web.

6. Getting too excited – When people ask me any questions about my subsequent pregnancy I usually respond in an even tone, with little inflection in my voice, and reply with the same statement for every question, “I’m just taking it one day at a time.” Yes, a part of me is excited AND another part of me is terrified this baby will die too. To stay sane during my day-to-day activities, I usually tell myself my favorite mantra, “In this moment, everything is okay.”

7. Getting too detached – Just like I don’t want to get too excited, I also work hard to not get too detached. The reality is that if this baby died too, I would be devastated and sad. No matter how much I want to psychologically detach, the truth is that the baby is already here, already a part of me and my life. So, I make a concerted effort to let the reality of this baby slip into my conscious mind. I’ll talk to baby here and there, and I’ll take time to notice baby’s movements.

8. Packing a hospital bag early – The idea of packing a hospital bag makes me anxious. Thoughts of, “Will I actually use this baby’s take home outfit?” run through my mind. Since I know my scheduled delivery date, I plan on packing the week of, not two months before. Maybe you don’t know when baby will arrive; take measures to pack your bag when you see fit. Really, all you truly need for labor is for you and baby to arrive safely.

9. Caring what other people think – My friends and family would say I have never really been concerned about how others view me. The day my baby died, a switch flipped inside of me. During this grief, I have learned more and more not to give a f@&! about what others think. It’s helped me immensely to let the opinions of others go, and I recommend that you do too during your subsequent pregnancy. The person who knows what’s best for you and baby during this time is you, beautiful mama.

No matter what you decide to do or not to do does not determine the amount of love you carry for the baby you are currently pregnant with or the one who died. Your decisions are your best efforts to take care of you and parent ALL of your children in the best way you know how. Roar on, courageous mamas!

*Photo Source: “35 at the Beach,” Jack Fussell at Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 license

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About the Author:

Lindsey Henke
Lindsey Henke is the founder and Executive Director of Pregnancy After Loss Support, writer, clinical social worker, wife, and most importantly a mother to two beautiful daughters and one sweet-cheeked baby boy. Tragically, her oldest daughter, Nora was stillborn after a healthy full-term pregnancy in December of 2012. Since then, she has turned to writing on her blog, Still Breathing. Lindsey was featured as Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine’s Knocked Up Blogger during her pregnancy with her second daughter, Zoe, who was born healthy and alive in March of 2014. Her writing about life after loss has been featured on Still Standing Magazine, Listen to Your Mother, Scary Mommy, Healthline, Postpartum Progress, and The New York Times. Lindsey can be reached by email.

20 Comments

  1. Chantel January 27, 2016 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Best article I’ve read on pregnancy after loss…
    I feel normal !!!
    Thankyou

  2. AmysMommy January 30, 2016 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    This is exactly me! Feels good to know its not just me. All I care about is bringing home healthy baby. I’ve enlisted a close friend to buy a going home outfit for baby but I told her not to tell me when she does it—just bring it to hospital when that time comes…

  3. Karen February 2, 2016 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Love this. Thank you.

  4. Elliott Counselling February 3, 2016 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Honest and straight to the point.. love it. xx

  5. Lucy February 3, 2016 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Thank-you I’ve been feeling so bad about doing some of these, not letting myself get too excited, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I’ll be ecstatic when the time comes, but at the moment being like this keeps me going.
    You’ve hit the nail on the head here and it’s reassuring 🙂

  6. Amy February 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Exactly what I’m feeling. I’m 10 weeks with my rainbow baby and feeling guilty about not journaling every day with this pregnancy like I did with my first before I miscarried. I waited so long to even start a journal this time because I was terrified of lose this one too. Thank you for making me feel that not being ready to do that is normal.

  7. kelli July 14, 2016 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Seriously best thing I’ve read hit every nail on the head. We lost our son at 25w to the day the day before mothers day and the gamite of emotions is unreal. I think you’ve touched in every though that’s come through my head about trying to have another ad how I will feel espically others opinions. I’ve no clue why they matter so much to me but it’s in Feria ting that that would bother me when I’m the one who will be pregnant I’m the one who will raise this child.

  8. Mandy Peterson September 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    This gave me comfort. Thank you!

  9. Lisa K September 24, 2016 at 3:45 am - Reply

    This was all true for me, except for the weekly pregnancy pictures. I noticed after Sam died how much I cherished those weekly pictures. I still look at them quite often and they make me happy. It was a happy time. It was the time Sam was alive and well and I loved every second of it. I wanted the same with my next baby; no matter the outcome. Sure, sometimes I didn’t feel like taking pictures. But I forced myself, because I always had this feeling that if anything happened to him, this would be all I have of our time together. So I stuck to it. In the end, he was born alive and well. It is interesting to compare both pregnancy pictures though. With Sam, I was glowing. You could tell how happy and excited I was in every weekly shot. With Emery, the light was gone. Pregnancy will never be fun again.

  10. Angel Avelyn Emelias mom September 28, 2016 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    It’s so very helpful to have someone else’s advice who has so tragically been in a very similar situation. Thank you for this post.

    • Sabrina October 18, 2016 at 11:40 am - Reply

      Couldn’t have said it better.

  11. Makara October 28, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Exactly i lost my first daughter she died during labour i hve had another daughter and son i also experienced a miscarriage this year im now pregnant with baby number five im petrified ppl say get excited do this do that i hve never had a baby shower ever i dont think i could if there is one thing i hve learnt is nothing can be garanteed

  12. Mrs J December 20, 2016 at 2:36 am - Reply

    Thank you soo much, great article helps me feel more at ease

  13. Maggie May 29, 2017 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    I totally agree, with both rainbow pregnancies I never was to excited, never took pics, nurseries were not done and I had no baby showers/gifts. To me it was almost like a coping mechanism but losing my daightet at 38 weeks.

  14. Sara July 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Every single day is a flexing of my faith muscle after suffering a miscarriage on Christmas Eve last year. I am currently 17 weeks and go for my 2nd ultrasound next Wednesday. I have gone to purchase a fetal doppler almost every day and fear stops me because in some twisted way it’s easier to fret than to know all is well in there. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had a pregnancy so I’ve forgotten what’s normal and what’s not. I’m the first on both sides of my family to miscarry so it was all so foreign and extremely isolating. I have two girls and when people find out I’m expecting (because I’m starting to show a tiny bit) the first thing out of their mouth is “Oh I bet you want a boy!” I want to scream, “I want a healthy baby!” The hardest part of this pregnancy is the hope and expectation from my two older children. They want a sibling so badly and ask questions daily. I made the mistake yesterday thru tears of answering a question about my next ultrasound with, “You understand there could not be a heartbeat right? Or the baby could pass away at any point..there is no guarantee.” Their faces fell and I felt like a monster. I am not only protecting my heart but theirs as well and I don’t know how to do this right. I don’t wear my miscarriage on my sleeve so as people respond to my pregnancy with joy and expectation, I feel instant guilt because I feel more fear than hope. This article is spot on, and I am encouraged that although I don’t have anyone walking beside me thru this that understands, I know there are women out there that have and are walking thru this nightmare.

  15. Anna December 23, 2017 at 5:24 am - Reply

    Thank you! That’s actually what I did during my first pregnancy after my first baby died during the 39th week. But as I did that, I kept feeling guilty.
    Now that I’m pregnant again I feel more free to do just what I feel without caring to much about all the “I should” that pops up in my mind.

  16. Bren December 28, 2017 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I feel the exact opposite. I didn’t do any of these things before but now after our loss it seems so much more important to do it. I wish every mom reading this healing in their own way.

  17. Kimberly August 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    I gave birth to my second child 16 years ago, but she died at 3 months old due to a rare syndrome. Ahe had never left the hospital. At the time my son was 15 months old and he’s us graduated now and flew the nest.
    Year after year the sore heart and lump in my throat remains. Pregnancy announcements , visiting friends with babies, baby showers, saying congrats and smiling, have been hard to say the least.
    We are now tryimg for baby #3. This post has been comforting and needed. It’s needed to be reassured that it’s ok to feel these things and it’s almost like permission to help yourself cope the healthiest way for YOU.
    It’s been 6 months of trying to conceive. I’m hopeful and hurting at the same time, and not many understand how this conflict of emotions happens at the same time, except someone who has lost.
    Thank you for putting some feelings into words that I was not able to on my own.

  18. Sharon August 17, 2018 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Beautifully written, you nailed my experience as well!

    Thank you!

  19. Srs September 1, 2018 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you thank you! Ugh! Tears just flowing. Pregnant with what I feel is my sweet rainbow baby! I love you Matra and will be using it from here on out.

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