I'm Sorry That I Don't Know How To Be Happy For You

June 21, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life." - Christopher K. Germer 

Three years after Elijah died, pregnancy announcements are still one of the hardest triggers after loss. To think that three years would be a sufficient amount of time to say that I am "okay" with announcements is an understatement. It still hurts. A lot. A whole heck of a lot.

It is one of my worst fears to hear that another family member has gotten pregnant, while I am still hoping and praying that we would have another baby. A baby that we could finally take home. 

So far, three babies in the family have been born since Elijah died. It was like Elijah's death had opened up everyone else's womb and closed mine. It's painful to feel like God has "skipped me," after I have worked so hard at being patient, understanding, forgiving. I just don't want my efforts, the waiting, the suffering, to all go in vain. Please, don't tell me that my pain has no purpose, don't make me go through all of this agony without something to look forward to. Please, don't take my dreams away from me...

A year ago, my husband's cousin had her baby, and before that, her announcement caught me by surprise. She had difficulties conceiving; something I understood very well. Since she had waited a long time, I thought her announcement would be less painful - I know the struggle.

I thought that going to her baby shower would be a piece of cake, that I would be perfectly fine. This was my chance to go to the first baby shower after Elijah died (I did not attend my sister-in-law's baby shower the year before). And then, I became depressed. Her pregnancy had progressed and we still had not fallen pregnant. I had hopes that I would at the very least be in my early stages of pregnancy by the time of her baby shower... She does not know my struggle.

I wrote on a card about how much their baby is a blessing, and my husband had to go on without me. I still have a hard time being around their son. We could have had a little boy like theirs. 

What seems to be more difficult are pregnancy announcements from mothers who have lost just as I have. In the baby loss community, "the goal" seems to be a "rainbow baby," a baby who is born after loss. It's common to want another baby after losing one (or more), it's even more common to want another very soon after experiencing loss (it's also common to not want another for fear of a subsequent loss).

The moment of knowing you are pregnant, you start imagining this new life, you start thinking of what motherhood means, what this child will bring, who this child will be, and what the future entails. When your baby dies, you lose those dreams, those hopes and expectations that has already begun to make an imprint into your growing heart. It's devastating to lose it all, to come home empty handed after weeks and months of carrying that baby.

For me, the thought of having another baby is comforting. Losing my first child made me realize how much I wanted to be a mother, and how traumatizing and agonizing the rest of my life would be if Elijah was our only child. However, Pregnancy After Loss (PAL) is often shared as a fearful and draining experience, while many neglect noting that trying-to-conceive/infertility after loss can be just as challenging, perhaps even more so because it can feel isolating and painful. Infertility is a whole other bag of grief.

Not everyone is fortunate to (quickly) have another baby after loss, or even at all.

One of the things that I am always on alert for on social media is just that: someone announcing that they are expecting their rainbow. I can't handle it, and at times, pretend that I could. I try my best to be happy for them and offer support (because that is what I SHOULD do). But in all honestly, I am struggling with jealousy, frustration, and feeling hurt for myself. I feel selfish, hypocritical. Here I am discussing compassion for loss families and I cannot even offer genuine support to someone who knows my pain.

This was also why I had my original Instagram account "temporarily" deleted, it was too triggering to come across announcement after announcement. Fortunately, Instagram now has a "mute" button. Instead of having to "unfollow," I can put a "pause" to seeing updates on pregnancies after loss and "unmute" when I am ready to face them.

There are a lot of quotes shaming people for feeling jealous:

"Congratulate others for receiving their blessing. Your time will come so no need for the jealousy." 
"Some people just don't know how to be happy for others."
"Supporting another's success won't dampen yours."
"Jealousy is a mental cancer." 

There is depth to feeling jealousy, it doesn't mean that someone wants to feel that way, nor does it define someone.

I'm sorry that I don't know how to be happy for you. I'm trying. Every day. 

With love,
Must Read:
Read Elijah's Story, "From Gender Reveal to a Spontaneous Delivery"

Photo: lennonandbirdie

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