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pregnancy/infant loss cubby

Question of the Month
Close friend (relative, co-worker,etc) is pregnant, and I feel upset. What can I do?

A very close friend of mine just called to tell me that she is pregnant with her second child. I'm really upset. Don't get me wrong; I'm very happy for her and wish her all the best there could be. It's just that it brought up a lot of hurt and "why not me," etc stuff. I really hope I'm not being a bad person, I don't want to be, and I don't want anyone to ever feel the hurt that I have gone through, but I just sometimes wonder why I can't have the good also. I wonder if I will ever be able to have a baby. I love my friend dearly, and hope and pray the best for her, but I can't help how I feel. It's sort of like I'm jealous in a way. I truly don't want to feel selfish, or be this way at all. I'm upset and don't know what to do with all these emotions. What can I do?

Ann DouglasFrom Ann Douglas . . .

It sounds to me like you may be setting the bar a little high for yourself. It's pretty hard to feel totally joyful about a friend's pregnancy when you'd like nothing better than to be pregnant yourself. And, of course, the fact that she already has a living child may make her news even more difficult for you to stomach: it's almost like she's ordering from the dessert menu when you haven't even had a chance to pick out your entree!

Since this person is a very close friend, you may wish to talk to her about how you're feeling, if only to reassure her that you're not angry with her: you're just feeling disappointed because you haven't had equally good fortune on the pregnancy front. If she's a good friend, she will understand and accept your feelings and make an effort to be supportive and kind during the challenging months ahead.

You might also wish to discuss your feelings with other bereaved mothers. If you do, I think you'll find that the emotions you're experiencing are very common: that it's possible to feel happy for your friend, but sad for yourself at the same time.

I hope this helps to reassure you.

Ann Douglas

Marilyn HeavilinMarilyn Heavilin

Oh my, this question certainly aroused some feelings in me. May 6 was our Jimmy's birthday. June 25 will be Jimmy's death date. He lived 7 weeks. He would now be 38 years old. I look at moms who never lost a child. Their kids are 38 plus and now those moms have lots of grandchildren, and I feel a flinch in my soul, feelings perhaps of jealousy, what if, and why not me.

I realize many of you have not experienced the healthy and normal completion of a pregnancy. I did, but I still buried three children. When I had lost 2 full-term babies in eighteen months, the fatal blow came when just a few months later I had to have a complete hysterectomy. I remember friends trying to cheer me up by reminding me that now I wouldn't have to worry about getting pregnant! Years later I have realized that their biggest concern was having an unplanned pregnancy. My biggest concern was never having another pregnancy.

We are strange creatures aren't we? I heard a friend once say "Suffering is having what you don't want or wanting what you don't have." Your responses to the pregnancies of friends are very normal. I think the best advice I can give you is don't fight your feelings and be very honest with your friends about how you feel. When my cousin's first baby died at six months gestation, Brenda shared with me that her closest friend was due soon, and Brenda was afraid of what her reaction might be when she saw that baby. I suggested she tell her friend how she was feeling. And then, I suggested that she and her friend plan a day when Brenda could visit, see the baby, hold it, and cry all she wanted to. That moment actually became a bonding moment for my cousin and her friend.

When my friend, Nancy, gave birth to her first son, she named him Nathan James, after our Nathan who had been killed by a drunk driver at the age of 17. I was so excited that she had named this baby Nathan. I wanted to show her how much it meant to me. I had saved a little clown planter that had been given to me when Nate was born. I had a florist put a new plant in it and I excitedly took my little treasure to Nancy. As I explained the significance of the planter to Nancy, I started bawling and totally fell apart. Was I jealous of her new found joy? A little. Did I wish I were her at that moment? You bet. But Nancy also saw that I wanted to share her joy even though it reminded me of my loss.

What do you do with your emotions? You acknowledge them.

By the way, Nancy's Nathan is now 6' 7", he's 17, and he's a basketball star! I am very proud of him, but I still miss my Nate.

Much love, Marilyn Heavilin

Sherokee IlseSherokee Ilse

There are always more than two sides to every situation, with multiple emotions attached. You are naturally feeling both jealousy (including some self pity) and happiness for your friend. But those feelings may not be in balance. Right now it sounds like your sadness and anguish is playing a larger role in your emotions. There is no reason to feel guilty or bad about this. It happens to most of us. I have definitely been there OFTEN. Every time joy comes to visit someone close to you it reminds you of your lack of joy. Mourning is like that. You have no ill will toward your friend, but it can seem like salt is being rubbed in your wound.

Find a safe way to vent your feelings. They are real, they are understandable and they won't just "go away." Write in a journal, share your concerns in prayer, or find someone to talk with. That person could be your best friend who now has hopeful news (remember, she has no guarantee either that all will go well). Maybe you could find a nice card or baby present (even if you have to ask a relative or friend to buy it and wrap it for you) and bring it to her along with a heartfelt conversation. Test the waters if you need to...is now a good time? Honesty is the best policy, especially when it is accompanied by good timing and heartfelt wishes.

Remember, this is tough work . . . mourning, holding out hope, having no or little hope, and healing from the death of someone we love so much. Look inside yourself and trust your feelings. If they weren't real and didn't need to be there they wouldn't be there. So, go on from here and deal with them openly, if you can. Maybe not with everyone, but at least with someone you can trust - a clergy, counselor, spouse, relative or even that close friend. You can and will survive this one too.

Love and hugs,Sherokee Ilse

StorkNet Member Responses:

From Kristine: I thought it might be helpful to hear from someone in your friends' shoes. I have three children, had one loss, and am now expecting my fourth. My close friend has suffered through two agonizing losses (one while I was pregnant with my third) and now is expecting again, a few weeks later than me--but today she went to the doctor with spotting and I am afraid of what's to come. I ache for her. I have prayed more for her baby than mine, I think. I seems so unfair that she has no healthy children and I have so many. If your friend is caring and sensitive, surely she hurts for you, too. The only advice I would give you is to be honest. I don't mind my friend gently telling me she'd rather talk on the phone instead of seeing me and my round belly. I wouldn't be offended with a reminder that she'd rather not talk about babies. And if there was anything I could do (or not do) to help, I would want to know.

I am so sorry for your loss, and that you've found yourself in such a difficult situation. My prayer for you is that you have a caring, gentle friend who will offer you support on your journey.

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