“I’m pregnant!” she said.
And it was like a sharp knife was being stabbed into my heart. I felt winded and shocked; it physically hurt. For me, everything changed in that instant.
We were curled up in cosy arm chairs, the lights were dim, and the four of us had just enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal together. This had been a lovely evening, of the kind we’d been having regularly every month for several years.
At this point I’d had a number of miscarriages, and no baby. And I don’t think we even knew that our good friends were trying.
And upon hearing the news that she was pregnant, an instantaneous wave of powerful and upsetting thoughts and feelings crashed over me, and I felt deeply ashamed.
My first thought was “Oh no!”
…closely followed by “She might lose it.”
There was lots of “it’s not fair” and “it should have been me” in there too.
And physically I felt nauseous and winded; my heart was screaming; and I really wanted to cry.
But I managed to hold myself together, and to hide my immediate reactions, and to congratulate them both, and I don’t think anybody but me knew what I was feeling.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, or more than one, you might be able to relate to some of this. Discovering that someone close to us is pregnant can come as a real shock, and can trigger some strong and unpleasant emotions. And I know that many women can feel really guilty and bad about this, as I did, and can beat themselves up about it.
In these circumstances, there are several things it can be helpful to remember.
1. Try not to judge yourself
We have no control over these initial responses. They’re spontaneous and emotional, and we can’t prevent them. It’s not kind to blame yourself and judge yourself harshly, just because you feel something you can’t control or predict. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
2. It doesn’t mean you’re not happy for them
It’s possible to have lots of conflicting emotions and thoughts all going on at once. We naturally want the people we care about to be happy, and of course we want their pregnancies to turn into healthy babies.
And the fact that we may not actually feel happy at this point, that they’re pregnant, does not in any way ‘cancel out’ or invalidate our good wishes for their future.
3. Your reactions are an expression of your pain
If we hadn’t lost a baby ourselves, we wouldn’t be feeling these conflicting emotions. We would just feel happy for them.
But because we’ve been through so much pain and distress ourselves, our reactions have become more complicated. Experiencing feelings of longing, jealousy, anger or grief are very natural and understandable, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for that. It’s OK to allow those feelings to be there. It’s all part of being human.
4. Take kind and gentle care of yourself
If you need to excuse yourself and go to the bathroom to have a little cry, that’s really alright. (That’s something I’ve done on a number of occasions!)
And if you need to spend less time in that person’s company, now that they’re pregnant, that’s OK too (even if you think perhaps it’s not.) They may or may not understand. But chances are, because you care about each other, they’d agree that you shielding yourself from feeling too much pain is a reasonable thing to do, and they’d be pleased that you’re taking care of yourself.
In my own case, we continued to meet regularly with our friends, as their pregnancy progressed. I found that once the initial shock had passed, and with the support of powerful self-help tools EFT “tapping” and TAT, I eventually did feel genuinely happy for them, and it all got easier with time.
Losing a baby is a very painful thing to experience, and it can continue to have a knock-on effect for months and years afterwards. Any time that you find yourself feeling a mix of emotions, remember that it’s OK. Don’t judge yourself harshly for it. Give yourself the time and space that you need. And treat yourself kindly and gently.
I’m wishing you all the very best. With lots of love,
~ Rosalind xxx