BAM Family

BAM Family

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pregnancy after Loss: Survivor's Guilt

The past six months have been a time of immense growth for me, and very painful growth at times.

I shared very publicly and honestly about my miscarriage and the grieving process that I went through. While some women prefer to grieve privately, I found that writing and sharing my story on my blog and in the support group that I now co-lead has been very healing for me.

I found community in my grief.

I was part of "The Club." Ironically, it is a club that no woman wants to join but the support I have found in women who have also experienced loss has been a source of great strength, encouragement, and hope.

Then I got pregnant again.

In realty, my pregnancy happened very quickly after my miscarriage. At the time, it didn't seem quick. My womb felt achingly empty as the weeks ticked by that I was NOT "12 weeks along;" rather, I was 3…4…5…6…7…weeks post-miscarriage.

My miscarriage was complete at the beginning of February and I found out I was pregnant again on April 14th.

It was a quiet joy, and a confusing time for me.

After telling my family, I nervously shared about my pregnancy with my grief group co-leader and told her that I primarily felt guilty for being pregnant again so soon.

She said, "I think you have Survivor's Guilt."

That odd, complicated guilt of those that have experienced pain but have also experienced a new gift of life, and feel undeserving.

My first thought was: I AM PREGNANT! We were going to have another baby.
Our precious new Little Meng
My second thought was: What about my grief support group? Will I still be accepted…wanted…needed…now that I am…pregnant?

I had my inner fears, but in my heart I knew that I was still a part of this important community.

But this was not just a question that I asked in my mind. For many people, the first question they asked me as soon as I told them I was pregnant was, "So, what about the grief group? Are you still going to do it?"

I must be honest and say that these questions really hurt my feelings. One part of of me understood because I had the same questions, in a way. But the other part of me pushed against this idea that now I was unqualified to lead a grieving mothers group because I now had the joy of being pregnant again.

I have learned that the joy of knowing a new baby grows inside my womb is co-mingled with grieving for the child I lost.

The day I announced my pregnancy was actually a very sad day for me. There were many tears. Somehow, I felt as if Izzy, the baby we lost, could never be, even in my mind, as now my womb was occupied again in the nine months that should have been hers.

Complicated, intense, illogical, yes. But those were my real feelings, even as I thanked family and friends for their congratulations and well-wishes.

It is not easy to be pregnant after loss. A new pregnancy does not replace the baby we lost.

I am doing better, well even. I am thankful every strong pregnancy symptom (even as I run to the bathroom…oh joy!), am beyond impatient to find out if we will be having a little boy or girl, and am eagerly anticipating those flutters and kicks.

But, in quiet ways, I still grieve. I still need support.

And I hope, that even though I am pregnant again, I can still offer support, love, and wisdom to other women who are walking this road.

When I shared about my pregnancy at our meeting last month, the women in my group had nothing but words of encouragement and joy for me. I hope that if and when their time comes to welcome a new life into their wombs that I can also walk this new path with them as they experience this journey of mingled joy and grief.

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