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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Apparently I wasn't excited enough.

I was recently told of a relatives early pregnancy. 7 weeks to be exact. I was sure the news was coming and asked my relative to text because I still have quite a visceral response to pregnancy and babies 2 years out. Blame ptsd. I said congratulations. But I cried for days. I feel guilty I cannot truly look outward. I still naturally turn inward. I sent a message back a few days later because I was told this relative was upset I wasn't happy enough for them. I wanted to say, 7 weeks doesn't equal a baby. I wanted to say, it could happen to you. But I didn't of course. I said I was happy for them and sorry that I still feel pain with the news. That it was my stuff and it just can't go away because the baby is always gone. The relative didn't acknowledge my text. Another relative told me I could act weird about this and ignore my friends, but not my family. Ironically my friends don't hurt the way my family's announcments do. I always need some time to adjust. I am still always shielding myself. Maybe it was wrong to say a single thing at all about myself. But I don't know how to fake it. Maybe I should have tried better. But I wonder if it is also just very unfeeling and rude to not acknowledge my text. It was heartfelt, and I tried to say why I didn't jump for joy like everyone else, and how I hoped there was understanding and I am still very happy for them. Apparently, 2 years out and I am supposed to behave a certain way. Normal.
May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Hi Amy (from another Amy) :)

I think your reaction to a family member's pregnancy announcement (and I too think 7 weeks seems very early!) was completely normal, legit, and honestly, you responding the way you did was as good as it can get. What do people expect!? A happy dance?!

I just received a "group" email a week ago from a pretty distance friend, and it contained one of those cheesy pregnancy announcement pictures. She is 12 weeks pregnant and I know she just started trying in January so must have gotten preggo ridiculously fast. I had a good cry, and when my husband saw what was upsetting me he deleted it and said "meh, f-them" and I agreed.

Honestly, you are not in the wrong and maybe the only people that will ever truly understand how you/we feel about pregnancy announcements (or any baby triggers really) are other baby-loss parents. I am right there with you.
May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I should add. She was infertile for many years and was angry and emotional and triggered by those of us who were having babies but then she had babies too. So I tried to explain, that when a baby dies it doesn't get better the way it gets better with infertility turning to fertility. The "problem" doesn't go away, even after rainbow baby. The baby is still dead. But I think I am seen as uncaring, selfish and unfeeling that I am not healed enough to be congratulatory and excited over an early announcement and future baby. I wonder if I shouldn't have said anything at all and just pretended to be normal and ask the typical questions. I just feel guilty because there was no heartfelt conversation...it was just my awkward, quiet congratulations reaction & then an explanation for said quiet congratulations, that went unacknowledged by her. I just think there is no space for the unthinkable which is what happened to me...so maybe it is actually quite rude for me to even talk about how it's hard. I'm so confused.
May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Hi Amy, I think you absolutely handled that the right way, the only way possible. Nobody truly understands until theyve actually gone through something like this and im sure they would have reacted in the same way but the fact is people dont want to think or imagine what its really like for us, its almost too painful. I too dread the moment of relatives/friends announcing their pregnancy to me and I think I would handle it the same way as you. Its horrible that she didnt acknowledge your text, knowing how painful that was for you, ive experienced that coldness from some people too. I felt so angry after pouring my heart out and got nothing back. But ive come to the conclusion that for some people its just too awkward for them, theyre disconnected and want to go back to their lives and not deal with that. Ive learned to do whats best for me and to only open up to people I trust completely from now on and anyone else who has a problem with my reaction can just deal with it.
May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterB
Oh Amy,

I felt myself cringe and get tense as I read your post. For what it's worth, I think you did and said exactly the appropriate thing. For starters, 7 weeks is early to announce in ANY pregnancy. That's kind of bold in the first place. But as we know, even if she had waited until 12+ weeks, it would still feel bold, knowing how this all can end.

I don't think you deserve to feel guilty over not being excited about this news. How in the world can you be expected to feel excited about it? The relative who criticized your reaction... should just be thanking her lucky stars she can't relate. If she could relate, she would know that you are reacting completely normally, out of heartbreak. I don't think you were rude at all. You were honest. If anyone was rude, I think it was your pregnant relative for not acknowledging your text and your pain. If you have to acknowledge her pregnancy, why can't she acknowledge your pain? If you're expected to be excited for her, why isn't she expected to understand the cruelty of what this news feels like to you? If she's allowed to feel excited for herself, why aren't you allowed to feel sad about your situation?

It goes without saying, but I'm definitely on your side here! I feel a big, overwhelming sense of "screw them" to the folks who expect you to feel better than you do. I'm assuming they do not have dead children, or they would not be able to think such a thought even a tiny bit.

Hugs, Amy.
May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCameron
Thank you... I left out a part, we adopted a baby recently. So she is likely thinking because we did that babies are fun and easy again. That because I smiled more it's easy to hear these things. That because she visited and brought a gift I would respond in the same way to her pregnancy announcement. I get it, on the outside it would look like all is better. But it isn't. And if she were still suffering with infertility she would not be so whole and happy. But her infertility went away. My dead baby didn't. And, I just can't muster up some level of excitement people expect from me because it hurts and I know they can get their support elsewhere. I was disappointed in relative B's response, that I couldnt act upset or quiet unless it was a friend for the sake of hurting family. She asked specifically what it was about pregnancy announcments and babies that was triggering. My heart was racing as I felt pressure and judgement that I'm not over this enough. I don't understand why we can have empathy for how hard infertility is in the outside world but not dead babies. I should have mentioned this adoption before but I was trying to maintain some level of privacy. Basically, I didn't give her the same reaction, excitement and attention she gave me, so I am bad in the eyes of my family.
May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Amy, we are all different. Please don't feel bad or question your natural response. You weren't rude. You will always grieve for your child and that's OK. One child does not replace another. Stay strong, because you are. Xxx
May 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeckie
It seems selfish for your relative to be upset that you weren't excited enough in her eyes. You said "congratulations" what else was she looking for? Did she want a gift, a parade, what? I wouldn't let her or that other family member bother you. I'm sure you are doing the best that you can. I have a couple nieces and a nephew who were born after my loss and I haven't acknowledged their births at all. It's what I need to do to cope. Fortunately I don't have family giving me a hard time about it. I'm so sorry people are treating you this way.
May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMom2htb
Amy,

It is so hard to hear when others get what we want so easily and we have suffered so much. For someone's good news to hurt us is something I couldn't have imagined until my only daughter died, 17 days after birth. I think you reacted the best way you could, which was to say and do nothing at first. I don't think this is rude. I think you were simply protecting yourself. Yes - you are a mother to a living child, but the story did not unfold without trauma, grief, and loss and infertility. Pain on top of pain.

I was told about my sister in laws pregnancy by basically being uninvited on a family vacation " because her condition (pregnancy) might make it a problem for me". I posted about the nasty response email that followed here a few weeks ago. I knew she was trying to conceive and had I been told in a normal way could have handled it better. I told her I was happy for her ( and I am truly happy), but sad for myself - apparently not an adequate response that has caused a riff in the family. For me, it was more the infertility I am struggling with now that causes the negative feelings about myself about others pregnancies than my loss (I am two years out).

When you say your heart was racing, at feeling judged, I understand. When I felt shamed, I cried for weeks and was physically sick to my stomach. To validate your feelings, you were judged, and you don't deserve it. Unless this woman has suffered the death of her baby AND infertility , she should keep her mouth shut, and thank you for your late response. A dear friend is pregnant with twins. She struggled with infertility herself and announced her pregnancy to me carefully, asking me what level of information if anything I am okay with hearing. This meant the world to me and has opened me up to hear more than I thought I could.

Some people just lack any empathy. They can be sympathetic for a while - and then they tire of your grief. They want the old you back and it's just not possible. But I am learning to accept this new me. I hope you know you did the best you could. Your feelings and inability to respond the way your friend thinks you should are totally natural and normal for what you have been through and in no way "bad". If people had to walk one day in our shoes, some would be ashamed for their judgements. I wish you some peace with your family and friend. Sorry you are going through this.
May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim