Tips from PAL Moms is a column at PALS Magazine where we ask you, the PAL mom, for feedback about your experience during pregnancy after loss. We ask a question on our Facebook Page and hope that you can help answer it while also benefiting from the answers, all in an effort to relate and learn from fellow moms who “get it.”
I’m looking for some advice from other mamas who are trying to conceive after loss. One of my co-workers just announced her pregnancy, and I’m having some mixed emotions. I know it’s going to be so hard to see her every day. It will be a constant reminder that my baby isn’t here and that we haven’t given her a sibling yet. How did you cope at work when interacting with pregnant co-workers?
Oh, mama, first of all, let me just say how very sorry I am to hear about your daughter. I know your heart hurts and that you miss her tremendously.
As far as your co-worker goes, the best advice I can give you is to be gentle with yourself. Some days are going to be very hard, and others will be easier. Instead of focusing on how to get through the next several months, try to remember to breathe and focus on each day…or break it down in smaller increments if needed.
I remember how hard it was to be around pregnant moms and new moms after my loss. I really did have to remind myself to breathe and get through it one day at a time. After I got pregnant again, it was a little easier, but those feelings of pain never truly go away.
Today, my rainbow baby is almost 18 months old, and even now pregnancy announcements are bittersweet – not because I’m not happy for the expectant parents because I am, especially the ones who’ve had to fight through many odds to make those announcements. It’s bittersweet because it takes me back to a time where I experience what I lost all over again; and once again, I wonder about what could have been. It also makes me afraid for them because once you’ve lost, you know how precious and how fragile life really can be. So you watch other pregnancies progress with bated breath — always hoping for the best outcome.
Does your co-worker know about your daughter? If she does, let her know that while you’re happy for her, that right now you still need a little space. Don’t rush your feelings. Don’t pretend. Do what you need to do to be comfortable and to cope with your work environment. Chances are, even if she doesn’t understand what you’re going through, she’ll be respectful of your feelings. If you don’t know your co-worker well, maybe one of co-workers/friends who knows you both can explain why you seem to have distanced yourself if it does come up in conversation.
Good luck, mama. Be gentle with yourself. Remember to breathe. And take it day by day. ♡
Here are some great TIPS from other PAL moms:
Kristan – “It was really hard, I avoided them as much as I could and was more relaxed when their maternity leave had started…. It got a bit easier when I got pregnant again, but even than seeing ‘happy bumps’ was (and sometimes still is) a harsh reminder of the happy/optimistic pregnancy I will never experience again. Give yourself time and allow yourself to take some distance.”
LeRyan – “Grief focused meditation helped me through it all. But, not completely. I still envy women who are happily naive through their pregnancies and my amazing rainbow is already 1. But, I think the more and more you’re exposed to it, the less jarring it will become.”
Anne – “One day at a time. Get as much support as you can – family and friends, therapy, support groups (I was fortunate to find a pregnant and child loss support group that was extremely helpful). The sting dulls with time but it is always a reminder. All you can do is lovingly work through your grief as best you can. One day at a time.”
Lauren – “The bit I found the hardest was listening to my work colleague complain about being pregnant, I would just switch off or walk away as I couldn’t cope. I didn’t want to flip off at her but it’s so very hard.”
Meagan – “There’s no doubt that it’s brutal to watch others either begin their pregnancy journey or continue on it when your opportunity has vanished. Like others say, be kind to yourself. I think those pregnant are acutely aware of how difficult this would be for someone who has lost. Send this co-worker love, light and good vibes, but protect your heart and mind during this time. You have every right to refrain from being part of their celebrations. One day, you won’t be totally healed from what happened (you’ll never have that), but you can be in a place of peace where you can share in this type of happiness. Good luck to you.”
Heather – “When I had my 3rd loss a co-worker announced she as pregnant with her 3rd baby and that it was an accident. I was pregnant at the same time she was, then we lost it.
I’ll be totally honest I was mad, resentful and I avoided her at all cost for a while. She knew what we had gone through so she kept her distance as well. After a while I slowly realized it was not her fault that I was not pregnant or that we had 3 losses. I slowly, very slowly began happy for her. A very good friend of mine told me (who also had several losses herself) that it was okay to have the feelings that I was having, but not to hold on them to forever.
One day, you’ll see her and you will be happy for her. Give yourself time.”
Kimberly – ” I lost my very first pregnancy, and a friend/co-worker had nearly the same due date as I would’ve had. I didn’t talk about my loss much at work, and while it was difficult for me, I was also happy for her. I saved my sadness for home (or the occasional bathroom break) because what happened certainly wasn’t her fault (and I had no idea if she’d also experienced losses prior to this pregnancy).
I confess it was extremely difficult for me to watch her belly grow as I struggled to cope with the loss and struggled to get pregnant again, and there were tears to my husband and some close friends. All I can say is to do the best you can and to not hurt another mama because you’re hurting. Hang in there and lots of hope and luck to you.
*To read more Tips from PAL Moms about this specific question visit our Facebook Page.
*If you are looking for more perspective about coping while trying to conceive or while others are pregnant around you, please read these PALS Original pieces: Valerie Meek’s How I Cope: “Just Breathe”, How to Cope with Family and Friends having Healthy Babies before Us a guest post by Charnene Zietsman, and Libby Bianchi’s Pregnancy Envy.
*If you have a question that you would like to ask other PAL moms, please message us on our Facebook Page.
*Photo Source: Day 302: My Emotions Run Deep by Kathryn at Flickr, use allowed with Creative Commons 2.0 license.