Loss has a fundamental impact on our lives. It changes the way we act and, often, the way we interact. It impacts our everyday lives. The veil created by any loss will lessen over time. The loss itself may remain forever, but as we develop our ability to cope, it gets easier to get through the days. Perinatal loss isn’t all that different in this sense. Over time we get out of bed, we go to work, we spend time with friends and family, and we enjoy life again. That loss will be with us forever and we learn how to carry it, how to hold it close and how to let it go.
There is nothing more terrifying than becoming pregnant after a loss. Doctors can tell you how different every pregnancy is until they are blue in the face, but the reality is, after losing a pregnancy or baby, it’s not easy to just “relax and enjoy” your pregnancy. It can be even more difficult for our partners as they struggle to manage their own emotions about the subsequent pregnancy and support us through ours (hormones notwithstanding).
In my research for this piece, I found several articles and websites with advice for pregnant women, but there was very little advice for our partners. Once I realized my research was futile I started to speak to friends who had experienced loss and I began to catalog responses.
What do/did you need from your partner in your next pregnancy? What worked? What didn’t?
I think one of the biggest thing we can offer to pregnant women who’ve experienced a loss is patience. A new pregnancy is an exciting thing, it’s also terrifying. There is no amount of articles or statistics that can really offer any comfort.
One of the most challenging struggles for a lot of marriages is communication. Many fears come to light with a pregnancy after a loss. Often, we feel like if we communicate those fears we are making them real when in reality it’s communication that takes their power away. Stepping up and admitting you’re afraid is difficult for a lot of people. By vocalizing your fears, you’ll be able to overcome them and offer support. If you struggle with communication and aren’t sure where to start consider looking for a therapist. It’s amazing how much easier communication can be when there is a third party there to help validate and encourage open and honest communication
3. Give Space
Try not to hover. It’s absolutely reasonable to be nervous with a new pregnancy, especially after experiencing a loss. Even though it may come from a place of love, standing over someone and monitoring their every move will increase stress and put unneeded pressure on the relationship. It’s hard to let go but so many aspects of trying to conceive and pregnancy are already out of our control. Trying to control them will just lead to frustration on both parts.
Listen to mom. Women know their bodies. They know what they need. We certainly don’t always communicate those needs point blank but if you take a moment and simply ask her what she needs she will likely tell you. Some women may not want to talk, some may need to talk. Some might want an hour to themselves, or a bath, or a giant peanut butter cup blizzard. If she isn’t sure what she needs or isn’t in a place to tell you, be patient and take your time.
5. Be Gentle
The most important thing to remember is we’re all human. We make mistakes. We yell when we know we shouldn’t. We get angry, we get irrational, and we take things out in the wrong place and at the wrong time. We need to remember to step back in those moments, to apologize and forgive, and get to the root of things. Sometimes, when we are scared we lash out unreasonably and without realization. It’s important to remember to let go of those moments and communicate through them.
Navigating a pregnancy after a loss will not be easy and it might take some trial and error to find the right way to move through it. A conscious effort and a lot of patience and communication are key to begin to support mom on her new journey.
Photo credit: adapted from Erwss, peace&love | Flickr
What tips do you have for partners supporting a subsequent pregnancy?