The Comparison of Loss
Do you ever wonder if your loss would have happened earlier if that would have been easier? Or maybe if you could have held on to your pregnancy a little longer you would have been able to spend more precious time with your baby?
Comparison is present in our lives in general and sadly, even in the event of pregnancy loss or stillbirth.
The moment you even think about taking that pregnancy test the dreams start building. Whether it is planned or unplanned, longed for or feared there is something that is wired in us (maternal instinct?) that starts the ball rolling of all the dreams...who they will look like, their first day of school, graduations, wedding...then it switches to what kind of car you will need to fit car seats in and where will the crib be placed? There is no end to the circle of thoughts and dreams that start forming in your mind.
I am on vacation right now in Puerto Rico with my sister (The photo is from our balcony view- check out the incredible rainbow over the ocean) and the subject came up about the two miscarriages she had. Both were around the 8-10 week mark and it made me think of how I felt at that time. I was so sad that she was hurting, worried that she would not be able to (or want to) try for another baby even though it was what she wanted, and thankful that it happened early for her so she didn't have to suffer more with a later loss. What I later learned in my own experience when I lost my twins is there is no "good time" to experience a pregnancy loss. And just because you didn't get as much time with them doesn't mean that they were any less present in your life, less meaningful, or less painful. I told her about this quote I created and she thought I should share it with you.
None of us get to raise our babies.
What difference does it make if our loss occurred early or late or at birth? All scenarios are tragic and while the details vary and there is certainly more that needs to be dealt with in a later pregnancy loss, the mental load is the same. It reminds me of the mommy wars where comparison also rears its ugly head. Breastfeeding or bottle? Working mom or stay home? Comparison is often a way that people make themselves feel better about the choices they make and in the case of a pregnancy loss most well-meaning people are trying to say something to be helpful or make you feel better.
Some of the most hurtful things others said to me came in the form of comparison. Even at my late stage of pregnancy loss, I had someone say "at least you didn't get to know them and get attached" which besides being incredibly insensitive was shocking because I was quite attached in many ways, and the usual "there must have been something wrong with them so it's probably for the best" which is a whole other conversation for another time. It really speaks to our culture of having to have a reason for everything in order to process things and move on. Unfortunately in human nature and biology, there isn't always an explanation. I desperately wanted an answer after my loss of why it happened so I could compartmentalize it in my mind and somehow that would make it all okay. We did have an autopsy and while a few minor things showed in it, it didn't take away the fact that I was leaving the hospital with empty arms.
Since we can't change what other people say or how they react to what we say, much of the work I do with my clients are navigating the feelings that come up when other people (usually people who have not experienced this type of loss) say hurtful things. We deal with the what-ifs and create strategies to handle them when comparison shows up within themselves. It is important that grieving parents work through their grief in a way with someone who is able to guide them in a healthy direction in order to have long-term success. I can help them start to make peace with what happened even if it doesn't make sense. To learn more about me and how I can help visit my website at jennifersenn.com and download a copy of my e-book "10 Questions You Ask Yourself When You Lose Your Baby" here.