Relationships and Miscarriage & Baby Loss: the Worry and the Wonder

I know most couples struggle with their relationship after the death of their baby.  It’s such a horrific loss – the death of one’s child.  There’s no way around it.  It is a huge strain on a relationship.  As with any child – living or dead – one’s relationship is not the same after kids come into the picture.  I know.  I’ve been there.  I am there.  And those 2 ½ days that we spent with Acacia, our first born, will always be etched in my memories.

Here’s a quote from my journal, written about 10 months after our daughter died.  I had taken the day off of work.  It was summer.  I went to our local Y to lay out by the pool, swim a little bit and read a book (things that I have always loved to do.  Things that bring peace to my soul – the sun, the water, the warmth).

“Not looking forward to my husband coming home tonight.  Wish I could be all relaxed and happy and shiny for him after a day off.  But I’m not.  I’m breathing.  I’m alive.  I hope that’s enough for him tonight.  I’m tired.  Where’s the pause button?”

The poignancy of this quote hit me as I re-read it today.  People in a relationship often struggle with the idea of getting their “old self” back and returning to “normal” after their baby died, especially women.  I am here to tell you that won’t happen.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  You are forever changed by your baby, just as you would be if that child had lived.  Unfortunately our culture generally treats a dead baby as not really a person.  The thinking goes that because you didn’t lost a “real” person, you didn’t really lose anything, so nothing really changed, and you should still be yourself.  Right?  Wrong.  Any of us who have a child who died knows this isn’t true, yet we long to fit into cultural norms; we long to feel normal ourselves; therefore, we might begin to believe this lie, to internalize it, and wonder what’s wrong with us, rather than question what is wrong with the messages we receive.  And as women, we generally long to please others, our partners included.  So we worry and wonder if and when we’ll ever be okay again.  And along with the loss of our baby, we worry and wonder – will we also lose our partner?  Because we’ve already lost our sense of self.

I experienced the depths of this despair myself.  I felt the colossal impact on my relationship, and there are still ripple effects, and I suspect there always will be.  As a couple, you CAN weather this life change.  It’s not always easy, but it is possible.  If you feel that your relationship is struggling after the death of your baby, please know that you are not alone.  For extra support, you may follow me here on my blog to learn more about babyloss and sign up to receive an update anytime I post something.  I’m also available to schedule a free 30 minute in person or phone consultation to talk about how I can help support you and your partner as you grieve the profound loss of your child.  I can help you to find ways to turn towards each other, to support each other and to continue to grow together, rather than walking this path alone.  Call me at 303.502.4867 or email me at shellykingtherapy@gmail.com to schedule your free consult.

Much love,

Shelly

shattered glass w sun peeking through

Mother’s Day and Babyloss

imageHi. Aye. This tender, tender time of Mother’s Day. The commercials and ads miss so many of us… and I speak to those of us mothers who have lost a baby. Those of us who had other plans for celebrating today with a baby growing, alive and well in our bellies, those of us planning on our first Mother’s Day with our baby in our arms, those of us who had been counting on our family to look much different than it does, and those of us who were once filled with naive hope, joy and love that our path to motherhood would look so different than it is today.

The sheer agony of this time, this day. The pain, the heartache, the loss. It’s real. It sits in our hearts and souls, in the very places we hold our child(ren). This loss is deep, gut wrenching, heart breaking.

So what can we “do”? How do we tolerate this pain? How do we “fix” it? Honestly? We don’t. There is no fixing, or getting over it, or moving on. Instead, we welcome the feelings of dread, of separation, of feeling left out. We let them in so we don’t disown a part of ourself, and our family. We remember our babies however we want to and need to. If you’re crying on Mother’s Day, then you’re crying. If you’re feeling grateful or happy, then you’re grateful and happy. If you need to be alone, be alone. If you need to gather in the company of family and friends, then create this gathering of your community. Do what you need to do. You have my permission (just in case you haven’t given yourself permission yet). Welcome your feelings, experiences and thoughts just as they are. Without a message of shame, guilt, or doubt. (Often easier said than done, I know. I get it.). Welcome them in, feel them in your body, and see what happens. Personally, I have found that when I let my experience unfold as it is, without my judgements of how it *should* be, it moves through me. I feel the feeling, without my story, and it changes. Yet, when I add my stories of doubt, shame, guilt and “supposed-to’s”, then I get stuck. I ruminate. My wheels spin. Over and over and over again. I welcome you to give this a try. Be curios. Be gentle. Be kind.

While we mourn the death of our child(ren), I celebrate you. In all your gritty, messy, wondering how you’ll ever survive this state of mind and being. I welcome you, exactly as you are in this movement. You are an amazing mother. And you’re doing this.

And please know that you don’t have to do this alone. We are not meant to grieve in isolation. We are wired for connection, and need connection. If you live in the area, I am available to schedule sessions to support you on this journey. You may call me at 303.502.4867. If you’re not local, please check out my miscarriage and baby loss page to see some national resources/websites.

much love,

Shelly