The days and weeks initially after a pregnancy loss are filled with shock, disappointment, anger, sadness, and frustration, and quite frankly I could fill a whole page with the feelings and thoughts that often swirl in your head, and change on an hourly basis. I wrote a lot of my own thoughts and my response to them in my free e-book "10 Questions You Ask Yourself When You Lose Your Baby" and one of the questions that kept showing up for me as the initial period wore off was.."if I am feeling better does that mean I am forgetting about my baby?"
This question often shows up in several other forms too such as "if I have another baby does that mean (or will people think) that I'm trying to replace my baby? Or "if I laugh and smile again does that mean that I don't care about the baby that's gone? While we know for sure that this experience, however it happened, is something we will NEVER forget once the fog begins to clear we are often left with this feeling of "now what? ". You may be returning to work, going on a weekend getaway to get some rest and relaxation, or even just having lunch with a friend and the feeling of laughter feels strange and like something a grieving parent shouldn't be doing.
I struggled to have my two little boys who were at such joyful ages (2 and 5) and trying to be present for them and experience their funny antics during the day as I cried myself to sleep at night. It took so much energy to do the things I needed to do for the house and my kids and husband that as my grief recovery went along I would sometimes stop and panic in disbelief when I remembered the loss of my stillborn twins that I had just gone through. It really felt like a bad dream...you know the kind where you wake up and it feels so real that you can feel it in your heart and stomach? Except it wasn't a dream. I could prove it was true every time I looked down at my c-section scar and leaking breasts. I couldn't imagine ever having an actual happy moment again, so when a smile crossed my lips or a laugh came out of my mouth it was startling, and made me feel guilty.
I knew that I wanted another baby and while I longed of having my arms full again with a thriving, live baby, I questioned what that meant about me as a person that I would so willingly subject myself to the possibility of this scenario happening again. Did that mean that I didn't care about the twins because I was so willing to replace them? I knew rationally that wasn't true because I wanted them more than anything, but it felt like a betrayal of some sort that I am pretty sure only loss parents can understand. It is probably one of the hardest things to discuss with anyone else because this could potentially be on the "crazy" scale but every loss parent I've ever talked to gets it. I also knew that another pregnancy would be incredibly difficult because it's filled with fear and anxiety and I was right.
This feeling of betraying our baby or being disloyal by moving on with our lives and even thinking about discovering joy again is something that takes some time and lots of thought shifts in order to process the hard fact that we can't change the past but we do deserve to have a beautiful future and in fact, it is what our babies would want for us. We can think of things like "my baby would want me to be happy" " I am honoring my baby by allowing their mommy/daddy to use this experience to help others" or "to be a better parent to my siblings". Whatever the situation is and depending on the sticking point, I work with my clients to try to come up with some phrases that feel empowering to them and help them realize that moving on with things in their life doesn't mean that they will (or can) forget the baby they have lost.
Releasing any feelings of guilt, shame, or betrayal following a pregnancy loss or stillbirth is an important part of grief recovery and is a vital part of the process of healing. It can take a long time since it seems to be a feeling that comes up frequently and for a long period of time following the loss, even years later if unresolved.
If you are experiencing these feelings regardless of how long ago your loss occurred and would like to change the narrative that will allow you to live a life full of joy and happiness in a way that honors your baby, coaching may be beneficial for you. And if you are pregnant after a loss or considering having another baby, coaching through it could be essential in keeping yourself calm and positive throughout the experience. Schedule a free support call with me on my calendar link and let's discuss what might be best for your situation. Visit my website at jennifersenn.com to learn more about me and what I offer.