October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Because October is “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month”, I wanted to take a brief opportunity to talk about this very important issue because it affects so many women, and couples. Truly, it impacts both partners equally and is such an emotionally challenging time.
If you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss or are having a difficult time conceiving, you are thrust into a grieving process that no one is ever prepared to be on. So please understand that the emotions you are experiencing may look similar to the grieving process if you lost a parent, sibling, friend or older child. Denial, guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, bitterness, withdrawal, envy and bargaining are all things you may be feeling, one after the other or all at once. While handouts and websites list the stages of grieving in order (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), the actually grieving process is anything but. You may be in denial one day, bargaining the next and the day after you are in depression, bitterness and anxiety.
Certain events may set you back, such as attending a baby shower or family gathering where the question of “When are you going to start a family” or “When will you have another” is inevitable. You may need to limit your attendance at such events if you are not up to attending or attend for a brief time and have an exit strategy mapped out ahead of time. Some find social media, and Facebook in particular, to trigger their grief in profound ways and that they need to limit their exposure to social media for a period of time.
Your partner may also be having just as hard of a time as you and may not know exactly what to say or how to support you or may be unable to support you fully because of their own grief. It is important that you take the time to grieve your loss and potentially grieve the loss of what you expected your pregnancy to look or feel like. For some, they found out after a pregnancy loss that they will not be able to conceive as they originally thought and while they may still have other options such as IUI or IVF, it is not how they thought their journey to growing their family would begin.
This time can feel overwhelming and lonely. Lonely because most do not openly share with others when they experience a pregnancy loss. Choosing who to “let in” and support you is also a decision you will have to make. It has been my experience that more people have experienced this than talk about it. After all, few people go to social media to share their experience with a pregnancy loss like they do to share the expected birth of a child (although I have seen it done and they received much support from their friends in a very pubic forum). I am not advocating that everyone develops a Facebook post to share their loss, but I am advocating that it is helpful to find a way to talk with someone else about what you have experienced. Talking with someone you trust and being heard, held and acknowledged can go a long way to helping you move through your grief. And that is possibly the hardest part about grief.
Feeling in need of a little more self-care as you journey through infertility or cope with the loss of a pregnancy or infant? To learn more about how counseling can help, please click here.
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COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!