First off, let me say that I am happy for you, and eventually my smiles will be genuine. What I am feeling is in no way a reflection of my thoughts or opinion of you as a person or you as a parent.
For me and for many Loss-Mamas, a face to face introduction to your celebration of new life is brutally painful. Time seems to slow down right before the announcement is made. I see your face, and the anticipation in your eyes and I know what’s coming. I know because I have felt it, I have been in your shoes and I know how happy you are to finally tell the people that you love… And I am transported through time to when I found out about my pregnancy, to hearing the heartbeat, to seeing the little gummy-bear, to ultrasound pictures on the fridge, to flutters of life in my belly, to pain, to a silent birth, to leaving the hospital with one less person than we went in with. The hole inside me (that is always there) expands and the words you say muffle.
I become acutely aware of the muscles in my face, the corners of my lips and eyes. I force them to go in the correct direction, I check the pitch of my voice to celebrate with you… And it’s agony.
I need to know how far along you are because I need to know how far you are from viability. You may feel safe announcing now, but my trauma tells me that you’re not. I don’t want to tell you that because this is a happy time and your baby deserves to be surrounded with joy from day one… Just like mine did.
For you a face-to-face announcement makes sense. You feel so overjoyed that you get to share your love with a new life and you get to share that new life with the ones you love! And that makes sense! I want to be that person, I want to show you my genuine joy! And I can’t. My loss has taken that from me. And I feel awful that I can’t be honest with you in this moment.
I will be honestly happy with you. I will celebrate the milestones. I need time first to separate my grief from your joy.
How can you help me to honestly celebrate with you?
Give me time.
Give me space.
I know you want to tell us all at once and have us all share in that immediate joy! And that is a normalcy you and your baby deserve! Maybe shoot me a text ahead of time saying “At the gathering that we have planned, partner and I have an announcement we would like to share. I want you to be a part of it because I love you. I understand that for you and yours that might be hard though.”
I’m a smart cookie, I can read between the lines. And I might respond, I might ask questions… I might not. And depending on how intense my grief is at that moment, I might be at the gathering or I might not. I might ask you to wait until after we make our exit or I might not.
You could decide to tell everyone you love separately, getting them each on a phone call or a video chat so that you can more intimately share the news. When you get down the list to my name, maybe you could opt for a text instead “Hey, partner and I have news that we’d like to share. Are you up for a call?”
Now I have an opportunity to check my grief and decide if I can genuinely celebrate or if I need time to process. I might respond with “I’m pretty busy, a text might be best.” or “I’m not feeling awesome, can you just text me?” Please know that I’m not blowing you off. I am giving space for both my grief and your joy.
I want my face to face celebration with you to be genuine, and with time and the opportunity to process it will be.
I hope and pray that you will never feel how I feel, that you will never experience even a sliver of what I have and I want you to have your joy and not have it diminished by my sadness. And I am sorry that even years later, I still have these wounds just below the surface, and that I might need a bit of extra care.
I love you and I love your baby too.