One of the most difficult things about being an angel mom is the fact that life just continues to move on. You’ve had (probably) one of the most devastating experiences a person could ever have. We’ve lost our babies… little pieces of us that we thought were going to be with us for years and years, are now reduced to memories and memory boxes from the hospital. It feels super unfair and definitely, for me at least, creates a hole in your being that can be worked around but never really filled. Maybe that will change with time as I continue down this path of healing, maybe it won’t. Either way, we have to learn to live with the harsh reality that we wake up everyday without out children. We (read: I) wake up everyday to this harsh reality that we wish was only a bad dream.
Being that “life goes on”, it’s only natural that people keep living their lives and some of those people, end up having babies. Maybe you and said person were pregnant at the same time and talked about play dates and such. Maybe you didn’t know they were pregnant but then you see them and boom, baby bump. Maybe you get an email about a baby shower for so-and-so asking you to contribute and attend. Maybe said person sends you a picture via email or text of their newborn/baby announcement. Maybe you overhear conversations along the lines of “how’s the new baby?” or, “you sleeping ok?”, or “how’s ‘x’ adjusting?” Regardless of what it is, we as angel moms are already hypersensitive to pregnant people and infants so having people in your circle experiencing that feels overwhelming af.
So as an angel mom, I’m going to tell you seven things I have done/have found helpful in navigating these kind of circumstances after you’ve lost your baby(ies):
- Headphones – my music has literally felt like it saved my life recently. Especially once I went back to work. Being able to tune out the world around me allows me to create a bit of a protective bubble from baby talk or even people walking around me with baby bumps. Bey, Bruno, Miguel, Nicki, Kendrick and Wale have SAVED MY LIFE or at least saved me from snapping out on someone else.
- Taking a walk – I have been in the middle of work and literally gotten up from my desk and walked to the bathroom or just anywhere to get away from conversations about babies happening around me. I did this because, let’s be honest, you can’t expect for everyone else to just not talk about things that make them happy. We also can’t expect for others to adjust all the time for us (even though we may want them to). So sometimes you have to do something. We can’t change the behavior of others but we can change our own so, go take a quick walk. We could all benefit from the extra steps per day anyway.
- Blinders – sometimes I pick a focal point or I just stare straight ahead when out and about. Maybe this was true before but it honestly seems like there are babies and pregnant women EVERYWHERE. It adds insult to injury when you realize that you would’ve been one of those pregnant people too but now you’re not. So I will deliberately avoid looking at or in the direction of the pregnant person or baby if I can. I will take the longer route, leave an aisle, look at the floor or invoke my old ballet training for pirouettes and spot.
- The delete button – the delete button can be your best friend. I have deleted baby shower invites quickly and efficiently like a Wonder Woman block. This same thing applies to text messages and emails if you just can’t deal. Unless you’re someone’s best friend or close relative, they usually won’t mind if you skip the shower because they’ll be too preoccupied with pregnant bliss.
- Scroll On or Hide Post – if you’re like me and started “liking” a bunch of maternity pages and baby product pages, your social media feed may be inundated with those kind of posts. Because we eventually want to try again, I struggle with the idea of “unfollowing” some of those pages so I either scroll quickly past the posts or hide posts like it to prevent triggers. I also have just significantly limited my social media access in an effort to avoid posts like that and posts from friends about their children, their pregnancies or their births. Just can’t handle it right now.
- Say no – it’s ok to tell your friends and family that you can’t attend something or that you need a break from certain kinds of texts or emails. I mentioned this in a previously written post but I’ll say it again; be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to rsvp “yes” and then say “no” at the last minute. We got invited to a couple of events since losing our girls and in some cases we tentatively said yes, then changed our mind when we knew it was a no-go, or we flat out said no from the beginning. It is what it is… Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter.
- Communicate – tell people what you need. In of the invite situations mentioned in #6, I told the hosts why we were a tentative “yes”. We lost our babies and celebrating w/ others a different occasion and/or being around small children was just something we may not be able to handle at that point. I haven’t done this yet because at the same time that I think it’s ok to communicate your needs, I also think sometimes you don’t owe anyone any explanations for you taking care of yourself. Having said that, I think it’s cool to say to folx, “listen, I’m not trying to be shady but I just can’t handle certain conversations right now so please understand where I am. No offense meant, just taking care of myself”.
Now, if you’re the people around the angel mom; you’re the coworker, the family member, the friend, here are some tips for you:
- Be mindful of what kind of conversations you have around the person who lost the baby(ies). It’s really just about sensitivity, sympathy and empathy. Imagine if you know that someone recently lost their mother and it’s close to mother’s day. Would you carry loud, open conversations about what people are doing for mother’s day with their mother’s when you know that person is within earshot? Probably not (and if you do, you’re probably kind of a jerk. I’m just saying…). So same thing applies when you know someone experienced perinatal loss. You don’t have loud, open conversations within earshot of said person about the next person’s baby joys. Not saying you can’t or shouldn’t have those conversations, just be sensitive about it.
- If you’re concerned about whether you should include the angel mom in something (an email, an event, a text, etc.), ask them. It doesn’t hurt to say, “hey, I wanted to send out “x”, did you want to be included in that? I didn’t want to just leave you off or trigger anything.” I would bet money that the angel mom would appreciate the ask.
- Think. Just think before you act. As one of my in-laws says, sometimes people are on “automatic”, meaning they are just operating without thinking about consequences or how their actions affect others. Just think before doing or saying something. Think about how it might affect the people around you. You can’t control for everything and of course, you’re not a mind reader so something you don’t expect to trigger someone, may do so. Remember, you can’t control the behaviors of others, but you can control yours. Just be mindful.
So to all those angel mom’s out there, I’m sending you love and strength and support and all the goodness I can to help us all get through this healing process. Do you have something that you’ve found helpful? Did you maybe do something that, on second thought, you realize could’ve handled differently? Did you snap out on somebody because of something that wasn’t helpful? Post your comments below. I’d like to hear from you!