How to Handle the Emotions of a Subsequent Pregnancy
- Written by Sari Edber, lead facilitator of the MISS Foundation support group
With additions from co-facilitators and other bereaved parents of The MISS Foundation
There is a reason why subsequent pregnancies after a loss are called “subsequent”. They follow some of the most devastating, tragic, and life-altering experiences in our lives. With our grief and our new set of eyes as bereaved parents, naturally, our subsequent pregnancies will have new emotions mixed in.
* As with grief, subsequent pregnancies may become very complex…. and, once again, there is no right or wrong way to go through the next phase of this journey.
* There are many juxtapositions that can accompany a subsequent pregnancy
Joy AND sadness
Excitement AND worry
Gratitude AND grief
Being thankful for this new baby AND still wanting our child that died.
Trying to be hopeful that everything will be okay AND being filled with anxiety and fear at every moment that something could go wrong.
Being appreciative for being pregnant again AND thinking about how this new baby and the timing of the subsequent pregnancy “should have never been” if our previous children had been okay.
* Family and friends may be extremely thrilled that you are pregnant again and might assume that you have “moved on” now and might be “back to normal”. They may not understand the underlying complexities of this pregnancy and all that it means in missing our previous child(ren).
* You may experience new emotions upon learning the gender of your subsequent baby – whether the same or different as the baby that died. We logically know and understand that this next baby could never and will never replace the baby that came before… but there is something about gender that connects the two. And, the people we know feel it too. They might say things like, “See, this is the boy/girl that you were meant to have” (if it’s the same gender). Or, “It’s so much better to have a girl first, anyways…” (if you lost a boy previously, and vice versa).
* Statistics… once you’ve had a child die and have become a “statistic”, percentages and numbers tend to lose their significance. It’s ok to be nervous, anxious, and worried. Many people will try to put their discomfort onto you and tell you to focus on this new baby, to stay positive for this new baby, and to be happy about this new baby. They might even try to tell you that your fears will “rub off” on the new baby and make that baby more anxious when he/she arrives. Ignore them. It’s hard, but try. And, just do whatever you can to get through each moment of your subsequent pregnancy as best as you can.
* Grief is a life long journey; and, you are never alone in navigating it. Our group is open for all bereaved parents, no matter where you are on this path.