When you lose a pregnancy or an infant, you experience a horrible sort of grief. It’s a grief that often brings up a lot of thoughts that perpetuate self-hate and relentless guilt. I know, because that's what I thought after I lost my own daughter five years ago. I know that in the depths of my grief, in the months just after her passing, I had a number of thoughts that were incredibly problematic. I placed the blame on my shoulders, when I shouldn't have. I’m not alone, either. In fact, many of the thoughts moms have after pregnancy and infant loss tend to focus on what the mom did or didn't do, in an attempt to make sense of a senseless situation. I think it's important to recognize that while these thoughts reflective of our emotions and our pain, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily true.
After my daughter passed away due to prematurity, I frequently felt as though the entire world knew I was to blame for her death. I felt like I was undeserving of having been her mother. I believed that, should I ever try for another baby, I would inevitably kill them, too. I felt embarrassment as well, as though losing a baby is something to feel shame over. But these thoughts did not help me in any way. They only served to make me feel worse. Moreover, they simply weren’t true. Years later, I know I am not to blame. I know my daughter's death had nothing to do with whether or not I “deserved” to be a mother. I now know that no one in the world was blaming me for anything, and that there was no reason to feel shame. I wasn’t a “failure” as a mom. Loss is just something that happens, so much so that one in four pregnancies will end in a miscarriage or loss. I have worked hard to push those thoughts aside and far from my psyche, because I know all they did was keep me in the thick of my grief longer. And while my pain will always be there, there is no real reason for me to suffer endlessly for the rest of my life.
I spoke with a few other moms who also lost babies, and they shared with me the difficult thoughts they had when they were deep in their pain. They shared it because, like me, they want others out there to know that they are not alone, and that those thoughts, awful as they may be, are fairly common. More than that, we want other to know that it’s OK to push those thoughts away. It’s OK to grieve, but we must also learn to slowly heal and stop blaming ourselves.