I just heard the exciting news about your pregnancy. Welcome to the motherhood club! The next nine months are sure to be a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion, and nervous anticipation as you navigate the daily joys (and woes) of pregnancy while looking ahead to the wonderful day when you’ll hold your little one in your arms.
There are some things that I feel I should disclose to you now, because I don’t want my words and actions to cause you pain in the weeks to come. First, I want you to know that I truly love you and the little bun currently baking up in your womb. I want nothing more than for your child to enter this world healthy and safe, and for you to experience every bit of pregnancy bliss that life has to offer.
But as you know, I was also pregnant a very short time ago, and my story did not result in the happy ending I had hoped for. I know that I am every pregnant woman’s worst nightmare, a walking reminder that full term babies still die despite our advanced medical technologies and top-rate prenatal care. I am painfully aware that I am the cautionary tale that strikes fear in the hearts of mothers, proving that things can go horribly wrong at the tail end of a perfectly healthy pregnancy.
So if I talk about my pregnancy experiences while we’re together, it isn’t because I’m trying to rain on your parade. It’s because I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl whose name I want to shout from the rooftops — but because she only lived for two days, people generally prefer not to talk about her.
Similarly, if I give you advice about the importance of kick counting and being in tune with your baby’s movements, it isn’t because I’m trying to scare you. It’s because I am acutely aware of how quickly a complication-free pregnancy can turn bad, and I don’t want you or any other mother to experience the hell that I’m going through.
I hope I don’t seem dismissive if you talk to me about “normal” pregnancy topics, such as your birth plan. I also had a birth plan, but it had to go out the window to try and save my daughter’s life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, yet I still have to heal from the pain and scarring of an emergency C-section. It may be difficult for me to fully appreciate why medication-free childbirth is important to you when I would have simply been happy to bring a live baby home from the hospital, but I will try my best.
I also hope you understand why I may not be able to fully share in the joys of your pregnancy. I once thought that I was being petty when I couldn’t force myself to be unabashedly happy for other women’s pregnancies and births, but I now understand that isn’t the case. You have your entire family and numerous friends showering you with their love and excitement right now, and you totally deserve it.
You see, it isn’t that I’m withholding my joy from you out of spite — it’s that I have no joy left in me to give. Asking me to suppress what I’m actually feeling and putting on a facade of happiness would not benefit either of us. It would be the equivalent of me asking you to suspend your joy when you hold your beautiful baby for the first time, and to instead imagine how devastating it would be to find out in that moment that your child is not going to survive. That would be very selfish and unfair of me. I truly hope there will come a time when pregnancy and newborn babies fill my heart with joy again, but for now, they only serve as painful reminders of what I’ve lost.
I am going to do everything I can to be a supportive friend in the coming months. If I say or do anything that hurts you, please let me know, but please also respect that my healing and self-care are important during this time. Please also know that, even though I have no living children, I am still a mother. I want you to talk about your little one with me, but please also invite me to talk about my daughter. She may no longer be here in physical form, but she is just as real and just as important as the sweet baby you’ll soon be bringing into the world.
All my love,
Your Friend and Fellow Mama