“Congratulations,” my text said, “Enjoy every moment with your little girl. Love to you all.”

I hit the send button, put my phone down on the table and cried. I think that was the moment I truly realised how much my attidude towards pregnancy and birth has changed since losing Evalyn only four short months ago . . . . .

I no longer get excited by pregnancy announcements. In fact, I hate them. Whenever I see a scan picture flash up on my Facebook newsfeed with the words ‘We are SO happy to announce. . . “, my heart drops. Because I know from experience that there is no ‘safe zone’. Losing Evalyn at 37 weeks into my pregnancy taught me that. I read all of the Congratulations messages that start to appear under that post and my mind instantly thinks about all of the people you will have to inform if it all goes wrong. I wish that I had that confidence, that self belief that just because you’re pregnant means you will get a beautiful baby at the end of those nine months. I see those announcements at 12 weeks and then I worry about you and your baby for the 6 months that follow them.

I know facts about pregnancy that most parents may not. I know that on average, 10-15 babies are stillborn in the UK everyday. I know that one in three stillbirths remain unexplained and that there is a lack of research towards this. There is also a lack of funding that goes towards this research and therefore it is one big, vicious circle. I know that had my daughter’s growth been monitored more closely, maybe, just maybe, she might still be here. . . .

I know what death feels like. When you hold your sweet baby in your arms and feel the warmth of their skin against your own, I remember the ice cold touch of Evalyn’s. I know what it’s like to look down at a perfect little face and desperately try and imprint it in your memory because you don’t have long together. You got to lie in your hospital bed feeling content that your story was just at the beginning. I got to lie in mine knowing it was already at the end. . . .

I don’t like baby showers. I don’t lke celebrating a baby before it’s here. I can’t sit in a room surrounded by cakes and presents and be carefree whilst we all play ‘Guess the baby food.” You may look at your pile of gifts and wonder where on earth you’re going to fit all of your new baby items in your house. I look at your gifts and pray to God you don’t have to take everything back to the shops, because it’s not easy. I’ve been there where I’ve had to ask for a refund on baby items. The shop assistant never asked why, but I think the way she couldn’t look me in the eye was a possible indication that she knew.

Birth announcements are probably the worst one to take. They are the announcements that hit the hardest. And when I read my message from my friend last week who informed me of her daughter’s birth, I can’t pretend that every inch of my being didn’t hurt. Was I happy for her? Of course. That’s something I think people don’t realise about me. I AM happy for you. I would never wish for anyone to go through the loss that we have. A beautiful baby being born into the world is always a blessing.

But it is a reminder for me of everything we have lost. Your birth announcement makes me feel like I’m a contestant on some horrible game show and Life, the host, is saying, ‘And here’s what you could’ve won!!”  I see your Facebook birth announcemt and I have to ‘unfollow’ you. You may be my closest friend, but seeing your photos and all of the comments below are too much to bear. I don’t have those photos of Evalyn. I never got the chance to make a happy announcement. And when I text you back and tell you I am really happy for you, that isn’t a lie. I am happy for you. But my Congratulations is filled with a sadness I never thought I’d ever feel in my lifetime.

I feel guilty. I feel guilty because your happy news is overshadowed by our own grief. You didn’t feel joy announcing to us because we are the couple who lost their baby. That is one of the reasons I couldn’t, and didn’t attend your baby shower. Who wants the mother of a dead baby at a baby shower? I never wanted to make you feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want either of us to be put in a situation where we’d both end up emotional wrecks.

You may feel guilty too because you have the one thing I don’t. But don’t feel that way. It is not your fault that you have been given what we so sadly lost. You have been blessed. Maybe one day I will be blessed again too. You probably sat for a long while and thought about how you would word your text. How do you announce to us? What details do you include? What’s going to make us or break us? Honestly, you could’ve put anything in that text and I still would’ve cried.

Labour stories. Please don’t tell me your labour stories. And please don’t use the line, ‘The pain was unbearble but it was all worth it in the end.” That’s not the way it was for me. I had to prepare myself for that pain already knowing that my baby would not be coming home with us. I cannot listen to your labour story as that is the part of Evalyn’s story I try not visit in my mind too much. You’re right, the pain was worth it . . . for you. The pain will carry on for me well into the months and years that lie ahead . . .

Newborn babies. I don’t feel comfortable around them at the moment. Strangers in the street are easier to cope with because I only see a fleeting moment of their happiness. But my friends? It is hard for me to see you with your newborn. It is hard for me to watch you holding your baby in your arms and there may be times when I just can’t see you that day. It’s not because I don’t love you or I’m not happy for you. It’s just because that day I may be fragile. That day may be one of my ‘dark’ days and I may just need to be alone. . . .

I don’t like it when people moan about the troubles of looking after a baby. And believe me, I KNOW it is hard work. I’ve been there with my son. I struggled with lack of sleep. I struggled with my hormones always bringing me down and wondering when that hard ‘newborn stage’ would pass. I even cried some days when it all just got too much. But all of that stuff to me is now so trivial. I would give anything to be exhausted because my baby kept me up all night instead of my bad dreams. I would give anything to be hormonal with my child rather than hormonal with a heap load of grief dumped on top. I would give anything to have one day of yours. So telling me that you are struggling with your baby when I am having to struggle without mine is always hard to hear. . . .

This is the world that we live in now. The world of the ‘new normal’. And I dont know if or when my attidude to creating life will ever change. I think when life has led you down certain paths it is almost impossible to turn around, head back and start again. Instead, you try and find new paths along the way. And maybe along the way on my own journey, I will discover new ways to cope. New ways to be happy. Maybe I will one day feel joy at other people’s news without the undercurrent of sadness I feel at the moment. . . . .

I am happy for you . . . .

But at the moment, congratulations just seems to be the hardest, and one of the saddest words to say.

 

x

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “The Sad “Congratulations”

  1. You are so not alone in any of this momma. I still have a hard time hearing pregnancy announcements and when babies are born healthy and fine it stings. Like you said, I wouldn’t wish losing a child on anyone, but it would be so nice to have that stolen innocence back. We cannot look at these things or really anything the same anymore. I stayed away from social media for so long and still keep my distance from time to time. I realized it just didn’t help with my grief seeing all the happy faces when I was dying inside. Sending you love ❤ ((hugs))

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    1. So true. It is so hard to explain to people i know sometimes that I am not being rude, I just don’t want to see it all the time. Sometimes it is very easy to feel that you re on the outside of the ‘happiness bubble’ looking in . . . . But happy times WILL come again, I know it. Life is cruel . . . but it can also be kind. xxxx

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  2. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope that you have much better luck the next time if you want a next time. No assumptions here. I lost my first, still born. We knew he had anencephaly and that he wasn’t going to live. My second one I miscarried. But my 3rd and 4th were healthy, thank God. My heart hurts for all that have lost a little one but especially for those that have yet to be blessed with a healthy baby. We all have our struggles. Since losing my mom, I cringe a little inside when people complain about their moms driving them crazy, just like I used to do. Even after my baby losses, when I had my girls, I sometimes complained about how hard it is to be a parent, cause it is. It’s just a different kind of hard. And everyone grieves differently. I didn’t mind hearing about other people’s babies being born but when those I love never mentioned Gabriel on his birthday, it killed me inside. When my friends got weird and wouldn’t talk to me because I wanted him to be remembered, and so I kept on bringing him up, I was so upset. It all changes as time goes on. It’s been 16 years for me. I’m assuming your loss has been recent, I will poke around and read more after this. Be good to yourself. I’m thinking about you and your angel.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we lost Evalyn last November so it is very recent for us. But I decided that I want to talk about Evalyn and share our story. We are very blessed to already have a four year old son who always talks about Evalyn and she is, and always will be very much a part of our family.

      I am sorry to hear of the loss you have had in your life too. But it is also nice to hear of your joy also. When you have lost life, it makes us a little more fragile and it makes it harder to be surrounded by what we don’t have. Not all the time, but sometimes. And you are right, everyone grieves differently. Grief comes in so many shapes and forms and can sometimes circle back around and get you again even on a ‘good’ day. But I have always been an optimistic person and I like to believe that we may hopefully be blessed with a third child in the future. One day, maybe. I like to think that Evalyn will give us the strength we need to get through any outcome.

      xxx

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      1. It sounds like you have a great attitude which help much on those bad days. Grief is pretty crazy, it still sometimes surprises me after 16 years. I think it’s great to share your story it’s very healing for you and those you support. I feel the same way. I built a website back then and belonged to an amazing Yahoo group back when that was a thing. I’m writing about our story, too and it’s kinda being sprinkled in on my blog. Gabriel’s due date is this month so I’ll be posting part 2 of our story. I’ve found that since I’m so open, when things like this happen to other people, my friends come to my now because they know I get it. I love being there for them.

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      2. I think that writing about Evalyn has been like a therapy for me too. I have always kept a journal my whole life and have always written about my highs and lows. And I think sometimes it is nice for others to know that they are not alone – I especially felt less alone once I started to read other blogs and talk to other people. Everything is a step at a time process no matter what the grief relates to. Little steps and lots of deep breaths 🙂 xx

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  3. You are not alone in this. Believe me, I can feel you from deep within.. I also feel the same way all the time. It’s been three months since I lost my child at the early stage of pregnancy because of ectopic, and it’s difficult to see other people posting about pregnancies or even their photos with their bumps. It stings. I love kids so much, but right at this moment it breaks my heart to look at them as well. Because I am wishing that I’ll get to see mine. My boyfriend got other woman pregnant and their child is 2 months ahead of our baby, but his child with that woman is now 5 months while mine’s gone.. I hate seeing news about her not because I hate the fact that she’ll have a baby with my boyfriend, but the fact that why she has a healthy baby along the way while mine died? I have lots of friends who announced their pregnancies and their all okay and fine.. I thought I’m rude for feeling this way, but I guess learning this from you just wakes up the mother side on me.. It’s just difficult to lose our child and it’s way more difficult to look at other people happy while carrying their child, and me only wishing to have my baby back. I’ll include you to my prayers too. Not now, but in the right time we will overcome this trial.. Stay strong.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear your story and your loss. It is the hardest of things to try and live through. We live in a world now where we just see things differently as we know of the worst possible outcome. I think that even in the future if we are blessed again, it will always be hard when these ‘reminder moments’ come into our lives as we will always think of our babies. I keep telling myself that the waves of grief may , in time, move further apart, but the love we carry and hold for our babies will stay strong forever. . . . . . I am always hear to listen. Stay strong. Breathe. xxx

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  4. This says much more articulately than I could have how I feel about baby announcements. My best friend is pregnant at the moment and I skipped her baby shower- I felt horrible but they played games putting nappies on dolls and things, I just couldn’t face it only weeks after we lost our little girl. Pictures of my own baby shower feel me with heartache- I look SOOOOOO happy. Today an old uni friend posted there 20 week scan- I wanted to reply and talk about kicks and being so careful and not being afraid to go to the hospital everyday. But i didn’t- I cant make everyone paranoid because I am. Im so sad that we are all experiencing this, and i’m. sorry that I find comfort in reading your post. Because why it is so nice to know i’m not alone in this, in so many ways I wish was. Thank you for blogging about your story, and I send strength and love your way.

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    1. It is the hardest thing to watch others happiness when your own heart is breaking. You are definitely not alone! I’ve tried to be as honest as I can with the people I love because I want them to know that I am happy for them, it just hurts all at the same time. I’ve spoken to friends and explained that some days it will be harder to see them than others. Sometimes I may seem a bit distant but that’s ok. I’m just adjusting to my new normal. We all are. And we should never have to apologise for the way we feel. xxx

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  5. This. Last week a friend called to tell me she is expecting her second baby. It was the first pregnancy announcement I’ve gotten since my loss. I think I’m happy for her but I can’t tell which makes me feel guilty. When her baby is born later this year., I know I’ll be thinking about my baby and what she isn’t.

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    1. I think it’s completely normal to feel every single emotion when people announce around us. I do feel happy for friends, but there is a really huge part of me that asks. “why not me? why aren’t I allowed my baby but other people can have theirs?”

      I’ve learnt to tell myself not to feel guilty for feeling this way. It is completely normal and I would be more worried if we didn’t feel it. It sometimes feels like life is constantly finding ways to remind us of everything we have lost and I think pregnancy and birth announcements are the hardest reminder to take. And it will be hard when her baby comes along and it will remind you of your own. But never feel guilty for your own emotions and feelings whilst grieving. It may not feel like it but they are normal and I think you’d find it very hard to find another loss parent who hasn’t felt the same thing more than once. Big hugs. xx

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