When a woman experiences pregnancy after losing a baby, one of the first questions that comes to mind is when to announce this pregnancy.
One our site community member wrote:
“I, on the other hand, do not want to announce AT ALL during the pregnancy. Obviously that's not going to work, at some point I'll be showing and people will notice, but if I could get away with not saying anything to anyone until after I've delivered and baby is here safe and sound and ready to go home, I would do that.”
This question is little-discussed in the general pregnancy community because it's a very complicated thing. When I became pregnant again following the stillbirth of my son, I had the strong impulse to tell as few people as I could. The thought of “untelling” once more felt nothing less than traumatic.
Also, it felt jinxy. There was that. I wanted nothing more than to hide.
This is a common response to pregnancy after loss.
Here are 5 ways to handle a pregnancy after loss when you don’t want to tell folks -- but you do want this baby with every fiber of your being.
- Find one or two people in whom to confide. Note that while your partner may necessarily be brought into the loop, he or she may be so close to the pregnancy and so full of love for you that their objectivity may be impacted. They may feel similarly to you. See whether you can find a friend who will hold and guard your secret -- a gleaming hope for a good outcome.
- Take solace in the internet. We are all told that the worst thing you can do in any medical situation is to hit the internet. This is largely true. In the case of pregnancy after loss, however, there are some outstanding moderated closed groups. Consider taking a look at Pregnancy After Loss Support -- a group I personally recommend for the knowledge and compassion it provides to women who are pregnant or parenting following loss. They run excellent closed (and specialized) groups online.
- Give yourself permission to keep your secret. If you don’t want to talk about your pregnancy, don’t talk about it. Only you know what makes you comfortable and you are entitled to guard your own truth and experience.
- Treat yourself. If you are hesitant to seek external support, make sure to give yourself little gifts along the way. Succumb to cravings (spicy food, bring it.) Take a steamy shower and moisturize with lotions safe for use in pregnancy you might not ordinarily buy.
- Communicate with your doctor. In a pregnancy that follows loss, a dialogue with your healthcare provider is especially important. Ask questions. If you want an extra sonogram or two, ask and consider the risks and benefits. If you feel as though your anxiety is spiking, ask for a recommendation for a therapist who is trained in perinatal support. What you're feeling is normal.
While my loss occurred late, women experience high levels of stress and depression following losses that occur at any gestational stage. The impulse to keep your secret may be attached to your continued mourning. In a sense, every wanted pregnancy represents a unique chance to add to a familial universe. In this sense, every such loss is a blow. It is the creation of a black hole. Do what you must to soothe yourself.
Photographs courtesy of I-stock. Used with permission.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.