Being pregnant during the holiday season comes with its own ups and downs. The highlights might include feeling a little freer to indulge in sweets, sharing the news (in a creative way) with family, or having extra time to take off from the normal stresses of life (and a PAL). However, some of these things might feel differently if you are pregnant after a loss. For example, perhaps you are more watchful about what you eat or perhaps telling family feels stressful as you don’t want their thoughts to be, “good, now you can move on.” Maybe the extra down time means more time to have for unstructured worrying with few people that can offer comfort.
Pregnancy during this time of year means warm sweaters and lots of layers. It can be a helpful time if you are trying to hide a baby bump before you feel ready to “go public.” If you are further along, this is a time of year when people might feel the holiday spirit and want to extend it to your growing belly. Having this kind of unwanted touch is hard regardless of whether or not you’ve lost a baby. For those of us that have lost a baby, it can feel even more intrusive, especially if we are trying to distract ourselves from thoughts about this baby’s health. Often times, after a loss, our subsequent pregnancy isn’t something that we might be eager to show off. The perceived scrutiny of it is also hard—as if we weren’t our own worst critics, having feedback from others might be heard as more critical due to our own voices.
It might be helpful to set expectations with your family about what your boundaries are. Perhaps educating them that when you get pregnant again (if you haven’t shared your news yet), it will be another step in your healing, but it won’t erase the pain of the loss. You might set expectations about how much you want to talk about the baby that’s growing—it might be helpful too to share feedback about your comfort around baby gifts at this time. (Some couples want to wait until the baby is born before accepting gifts, so that they don’t have to re-experience the pain of returning the gifts or looking at unused baby items).
Hopefully, the holidays can also be a time of happy distractions. Enjoy some of the unique festivities during this time of year. Give yourself permission to step away from any anxiety that you might be feeling, even if its for a moment or two. Be sure to reach out to those that you can count on for support.