When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, a lot of emotions came rushing in: fear, happiness, relief, and sadness.
I was fearful of the future, how will I handle two under two? Happy to be filled with life again. Relieved that the symptoms I was experiencing were indeed pregnancy. But sad, because I knew a handful of women trying to conceive, and here I am, pregnant with my second. For some reason, it didn’t feel right for me to be pregnant, knowing others were struggling. How do I be happy but at the same time show empathy for those who need it the most?
When a close friend had a stillbirth, I cried like I lost my own. She was my beacon of hope while I battled the dreaded morning sickness stage. Weeks ahead of me, I looked to her for words of advice and support. When it all suddenly ended, it was like all the lights turned off. I wanted to reach out, hold her, and cry with her. Being miles away, I didn’t know what to do or say. Most importantly, how do I support her?
She encouraged me throughout my pregnancy, and I could only think of how I failed her. I wanted to reach out to her many times and just talk to her, but I was afraid to say something wrong or trigger memories. I thought if I couldn’t think of anything to say, maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all.
Turns out, that was the worst mistake I could have made.
In reality, there is nothing you can do to avoid the elephant in the room. We need to address it. The more you talk about it, the more it emphasizes to them that their baby meant something. When you avoid something difficult to talk about, it makes it seem like you’re abandoning your friends. I fear that’s what I did to them, I failed them.
So when I found out I was pregnant again, she was the first person I thought about. Knowing she’s been trying again for months, how was I going to face her and tell her my good news? Then, I shared my news with someone who I had no knowledge of their recent miscarriage. I immediately regretted telling her. Thinking I triggered something in her, I was actually embraced with nothing short of happiness, love, and support. What made me feel at peace, was knowing she was at peace with her own story. Even though the elephant was present in the room, it was ok because her pain did not take away from my joy.
It made me realize that I should not let my pregnancy be diminished because of how I think others may be affected by it. Their response may surprise you. You can’t control what they feel or say, but you can control how you react.
This is a lesson for all of us, because we may know someone who is struggling with loss, miscarriages, or infertility. It’s a common human response to avoid the conversation (and more often than not, the people) because it’s an uncomfortable situation. Instead, we need to be present in their lives. It’s our job to lift them up, remind them that they’re not alone, and continually tell them they are loved. Acknowledge the elephant in the room, decorate it if you must to match the furniture! We cannot grow living in the past. It takes a village to raise a child, but an army to support a mother or mother-to-be.
As I enter my second trimester, I have a new outlook on how to share my pregnancy while being humble to those struggling. It’s my hope that all women can band together, welcome each other’s elephants, and build each other up. Women supporting women, that’s how we survive.