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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.

ttc | pregnancy | birth after loss > Feeling shame

I am thankfully, cautiously, luckily newly pregnant after losing my full term perfect baby several months ago, after several months of trying. I am overjoyed, but also fearful, and it won't be real until I hold a healthy, living, breathing child. No one knows besides my doctors and my husband. For now, this privacy gives me comfort. It's our little secret, our small, hopeful glimmer. I am wary of other people jumping to conclusions about "when" the baby comes and how this might "erase" the loss of our baby or "heal" us somehow because I feel fiercely that this pregnancy will do none of those things, but it has so far brought some light to what have otherwise been very, very dark days.

I find that I am still completely triggered by other visibly pregnant women, news of friends (non-loss moms or moms who have never struggled with infertility or other reproductive hardships) becoming newly pregnant, and photos of babies born around the time or after our lost son. In spite of me being pregnant! I thought it would go away eventually but it hasn't even lessened. I am ashamed that I still have this horrible negative seething jealousy-- of what? Of the image of their families untouched by sorrow? Of the naivete they still get to hang onto that I will never know again? That they can greet each day without fear and the memory of holding their cold and still but perfect child? Why am I unable to move myself from these negative feelings to just feeling simple happiness for these legitimate friends who I love and care about? My response every time is first an almost disappointment, maybe because I feel like we are being left further and further behind, becoming more and more isolated in our experience? I am the crazy woman who has to literally cross the street if I see a pregnant belly coming towards me. I always have to look away.

It's different when I hear about loss moms or women who have dealt w infertility etc who are pregnant and have healthy babies-- they give me hope. They more than deserve it! But so do my friends whose deck of cards happen to have held more luck-- no one needs to feel this sadness and pain.

Does anyone else still struggle with this, even after becoming pregnant? Even after having your own subsequent living children? Does it last forever? Will I never be able to walk down the street and not shudder when I see a stroller or a pregnant belly or receive the cards of friends displaying their full families?

So angry at myself for not being able to be the friend I want to be. Looking for possible ways to train this negative emotion out of me or reframe it somehow.
August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStill on the DL
I'm 26.5 weeks along and I can relate to your feelings. As for how my friends and family have treated me and this pregnancy, I've been pleasantly surprised. I think they are scared and nervous for me so typically no one talks about it aside from the occasional "how's it going?" I had the same fears that I'd been dealing with all sorts of naive comments but I've been very pleased so far. I'm now nearing the obviously pregnant phase of pregnancy. I don't look so pregnant that its obvious to strangers; I'm more in the maybe she just has a poochy belly/carries weight in her midsection phase. So fortunately I have yet to have to endure pregnancy chit chat with people who don't know my story. I'm actually going to try to avoid being out in public the last few weeks of pregnancy so I don't have to deal with this so much.

As for jealousy I find that it's only slightly better than when I wasn't pregnant. I used to get a PTSD flight-or-flight type reaction when I'd see pregnant people or babies. Now I feel slightly softened toward pregnant people because reminding myself that I'm pregnant too helps a little bit. With strangers I try to remind myself that I don't know their backstory nor do I know their outcome either. Babies are still hard though, especially those of friends and family who I know have not had to endure such hardship to grow their families. Stranger babies still trigger me. The way I like to explain it is that it feels like I have a ticking time bomb in my uterus and I don't know if it is going to explode. Since my son was stillborn at full term, I won't get to feel like I'm going to get to hold a living baby until I'm actually holding a living baby. So, I still avoid babies, still am triggered by them and I hope to soon hold my own live baby in my arms. My arms have been aching and empty for so long. I'm hopeful that having my own live baby in my arms will soften the anxiety I feel around the babies of others.

I wish you all the best.
August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMom2htb
I think we all struggle with this, and I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of. These visual reminders make us think about all that we've lost and how unfair it is. For me, this is all part of the scary challenge of living with something that will never be "fixed". I don't think I'll ever look at a pregnant woman or a newborn in the same way as I did before losing my daughter. Every month it changes for me (it's not the same gut punch that it used to be and I don't have to cross the street any more, but I'm not exactly ready to go to anyone's baby shower any time soon), but it's never going to be the same as it was. I remember my great aunt telling me she still gets a bit misty-eyed sometimes when she sees an older couple together at the supermarket. Her husband died 40 years ago. We're never magically "fixed" after losing someone we love.

Hopefully I'll work out how to be with other newborns and parents when/if my baby arrives safely. I just keep telling myself that six months ago I couldn't have imagined how I would be able to do the things I'm doing now, and in another six months time I will have worked out how to do a whole lot more things. Maybe one day I'll be able to go to a baby shower (actually, I always hated them anyway...). I think we'll get there if we just let ourselves take the time.
August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterK West
I'm two years from my loss. One rainbow baby's here safely and I'm cautiously expecting another. I still cannot feel pure happiness for friends or family who I know haven't struggled. Not sure that I'll ever be able to. I'm thinking not. I don't feel overly guilty about it. I think it's a normal response to one of life's most devastating events.
August 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew's Mom
It does get better.

I lost my first pregnancy at 22wks. A coworker was due at approximately the same time my baby was due. Her pregnancy is one of several reasons that I changed jobs after my loss. She ended up having her baby the day Ruby was due. I unfollowed her on Facebook for over a year. I socialize with her occasionally now but I have never met her daughter (who is 2.5) and I don't plan to anytime soon. Until my son was born, I couldn't stand to talk with other pregnant women, which was hard because one of my close friends actually told me that she was pregnant the day before Ruby's due date. Her timing was awful. I was furious at her nerve for telling me (at 5 weeks) how sick she felt and how miserable she was. She could have waited, she could have told someone else, she could have chosen to celebrate the pregnancy rather than whine about it.

After my son was born alive, I began feeling a little more positively towards other pregnant women. Except I still get really angry when they bitch about being pregnant (which is not to say I never do, but I do to my husband...not strangers or even usually friends). And I get angry when they say things about "when" the baby is born instead of "if" the baby is born. My irritability towards pregnant women has also increased since I had an early loss this February. I am pregnant again (12 wks) and I have a friend who is a few weeks behind me. She told me she had a "scare" the other day, which meant that she had some spotting. She almost seemed excited to tell me...like it was an interesting story. I found myself thinking 1) I bleed on an off during all of my pregnancies (including my current one). I have had subchorionic hematomas during each of them. This is not exciting. It is scary and shitty. 2) At least she recognizes that pregnancies aren't all perfect and smooth and things can go wrong. 3) You know my history. Tell someone else. But what did I say out loud? "I'm sorry. That sounds scary."

All this to say, you aren't alone. And I don't think you are in the wrong at all for feeling this way. You get to be angry. Your baby died. It's fucking infuriating!
August 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRuby's Mom