Those two little lines can evoke a whole range of emotions, and you may find that you feel them all at once- or feel nothing at all- when pregnant again after a previous loss.
Sometimes it seems like our culture only recognizes two distinct responses one may feel when finding out she is pregnant. Either you are elated and joyful, or you are filled with fear and worry about the future. But of course, talk to any pregnant woman long enough and you will soon learn that she has probably felt a bit of each of these and then some. Never is this more true than when someone is pregnant after experiencing a prior loss.
It's okay to feel excited. It's also okay if you don't.
It doesn't matter how much time has past since our years of recurrent miscarriages, or how many healthy live births we have celebrated since the death of our second son. Each time I'm pregnant again I feel both happy and overcome with anxiety. I used to feel guilty about this and tried to fight my feelings (to no avail). Human beings and these lives we lead are incredibly complex; no doubt our emotions will match the depth and variety of our lived experiences. Give yourself permission to feel however you feel. You are allowed to feel sad and miss the baby who died. You are also allowed to be eager to welcome this new little life into your family. Both can coexist.
Sometimes anger pops up too.
This one can be surprising, but it's actually pretty commonly reported by women who have endured infertility and/or loss. Some women are caught off guard when they feel jealous or even resentment when they hear another's pregnancy announcement- even if they are currently pregnant themselves. When this happens it can be helpful to do a few things: 1) recognize what you're feeling and give yourself a moment with it; 2) remind yourself that you don't know what someone else has gone through to become pregnant, as not everyone is open with their journey; 3) remind yourself that another's pregnancy doesn't take away from yours; 4) focus on your pregnancy and your baby, taking time to celebrate each milestone; 5) talk about how you're feeling with your partner, trusted friend, doula, counselor, etc.
Give it time.
You might be ready to start buying things and preparing for baby right away- this can be a fun way to bond with your little one! Or you might feel more comfortable waiting until your pregnancy reaches a particular milestone, such as reaching the start of the second or even third trimester. Don't rush yourself! There are parents who are hesitant to allow themselves to believe they will bring home a baby until the event itself actually occurs, especially if they lost a baby to stillbirth or complications after birth. Connecting with parents with a similar background, or working through things with a grief counselor or therapist can be beneficial.
We are pleased to share our Bereavement Guide, a resource list for parents experiencing loss or pregnancy after loss.