Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week… what do you do when your friend or family member is pregnant and you’re not excited? How can you be supportive when you are feeling anything but happy? Have your own questions? Email [email protected]
Dear Scary Mommy,
My sister is pregnant and I know I should be excited but I’m just… not. I had a miscarriage two months ago and her pregnancy makes me feel sad and envious. I try to put on a happy face, but talking to her has become so painful that I’ve found myself avoiding her. I love my sister and wish I could feel more excited for her, but I just can’t seem to muster those feelings. I feel like an awful person and a terrible sister. Am I? How do I make myself feel happy for my sister?
First of all, no, you are not a terrible sister or an awful person. You are human. A human with complicated feelings and emotions. What you are feeling is completely normal too.
Second, I’m so very sorry about your recent miscarriage. A miscarriage is a traumatic event with physical and emotional impacts that are not always seen. It may have a lasting impact on you for years to come.
Finally, you aren’t alone. Almost 12 years ago, my sister and I were pregnant at the same time, due within two weeks of each other. I ultimately had a miscarriage; she went on to deliver a healthy baby girl a few months later, while I was struggling with another miscarriage and infertility issues. It took years for me to come to terms with the complicated feelings I had about her pregnancy, and even holding my new niece made me want to cry. But under it all, I loved my sister and my niece immensely. Eventually those difficult and unsavory feelings dissipated. Life moved on, and time does heal most wounds.
For now, I suggest you acknowledge your feelings and give yourself some grace to feel these emotions, as unwelcome and strange as they might be. You might want to consider letting your sister know that you are struggling and the reasons why. She will likely understand, and it could prevent any misunderstandings about why you are having a hard time connecting with her now.
Oftentimes the shame we put on ourselves for unwanted and less-than-desirable feelings is worse than the actual feelings themselves. You may find that just by acknowledging the sadness and envy of your sister’s pregnancy may lighten the heaviness of them.
It may also help to find ways you can be supportive of your sister without triggering your own miscarriage trauma. If there are things that are just too painful, try to avoid them as much as you can. There are many ways to be supportive, after all. If planning a baby shower would be too painful, pass that off to your sister’s BFF. Maybe you can research baby strollers and gift the new baby with a kick ass set of wheels instead. If helping her decorate the nursery makes you feel ragey, make a few freezer meals for their family after the baby arrives. If talking about baby names makes you want to burst into tears, tell your sister you’d prefer to be surprised and ask if you can stick to celeb gossip for a few months.
And, above all, remember that prioritizing your own mental health and well-being is not selfish. If you are really struggling, reach out to your doctor or a therapist. Never hesitate to seek out the support you need during a dark time.
Bottom line: you went through an emotionally distressing, life-changing experience. Your feelings – however unpleasant and unwelcome – are valid and understandable. And don’t worry, they are absolutely no reflection of how much you will love your sister’s baby. Trust me, I have an 11-year-old niece who I love to pieces to prove it.