When I Read Complaints About Pregnancy on Facebook After Losing My Child
Four years ago I was mourning the loss of our first child, Robby. He was born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation, and only survived for two hours. Once I was cleared to try to get pregnant again, we did. For me, being pregnant after a loss was something that is difficult to describe. I was so happy, yet at the same time, I was so scared that something bad was going to happen. I was afraid that each night when I went to bed that it would be the last time I went to bed pregnant. At the time that I was pregnant for the second time, with our daughter Ellie, I was friends on Facebook with several other pregnant women/friends. I found myself becoming irrationally upset with some of the things that these pregnant women would post on their Facebook page about their pregnancies.
The one that finally made me “snap” was a status that talked about how at 32 weeks she wanted her baby to come out right now. She was uncomfortable and it was the worst thing ever. I was frustrated that this woman was wishing a premature birth and a premature baby. I had just a few months prior held my son in my arms while he died because his lungs were underdeveloped. I was so frustrated that I responded to her Facebook post with a short comment talking about how important those last few weeks of pregnancy are for lung development.
Well, that obviously made her as angry at me as I was at her, so she responded back with an answer I will never forget.
She told me I would have no idea what it was like because I had never been that pregnant. She continued on to say that it is unbearable when you are unable to even drink water without having heartburn, and that I would just have no idea how terrible that is because I had never been that pregnant before.
Wow. I sat at the computer and thought, “Did she really just say that to me?” And then, of course, I cried.
I was really upset for a long time. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just could not understand how someone who knew I had lost my son just months ago could imply that her heartburn was worse than anything I had ever felt, and ultimately, worse than burying my baby. How could she throw in my face that I would not understand her pain because I had only ever been 23 weeks pregnant?
Four years later, I can say that I eventually realized she could not possibly even imagine what it is like to be in my shoes, and I am glad. Instead of being upset with her, I am so happy for her that the biggest problem she had in her full term pregnancy was that she had terrible heartburn and was uncomfortable. I am so happy she does not wear my shoes.
I can’t say if she said what she said to be hurtful to me, because the truth is she was just a distant friend I knew through some other people on Facebook. I can also say I have not had any further contact with her since then.
I can say this: I learned a valuable lesson that day.
People are going to complain about pregnancy. People are going to complain about newborns. People are going to complain about their children. That does not mean they are not grateful for their children, babies or pregnancy.
I am currently pregnant again, with Alice Ruth, my second child after losing our Robby. I will admit that I am still a very “Sensitive Sally” about a lot of complaints women have during pregnancy. However, now, I just simply hide them from my newsfeed. Of course I have received judgement for doing that, but I have learned not to care what other people think. I am doing what I need to do to get through this pregnancy with as little anxiety as possible.
I can say that I have hit the point in my pregnancy where I am unable to drink water without having heartburn, and you know what? I am thankful. I can honestly say I am thankful because I would take this heartburn over the heartbreak of burying a baby any day. Does that discount the discomfort she felt at the time? No, it certainly does not. It just means that we are different people with different perspectives.
So, if you are pregnant after a loss, you do what you need to do.
Maybe you are pregnant after a loss and you enjoy being able to complain about the small things like heartburn. If that is you, then good! Do it!
Maybe you are pregnant after a loss and it brings you sadness to see others complain about something like heartburn. If that is you, then it is OK! Find a way to either tell those people (preferably privately) about how sensitive you are, hide them from your newsfeed, or block it out! Do whatever you have to do to protect your heart.
Maybe you are still desperately wishing to hold a baby in your arms and it pains you to see women complaining about aspects of motherhood you only dream of being able to experience. If that is you, then know your feelings are real and they are valid.
If it hurts you to see others complain, I would encourage you to protect your heart. That is one of the greatest lesson I have learned. People might not understand, but at the end of the day, protect your heart. You are the only person living your unique experience, so you are the only person who can know what will be best for you at any given time. You do what you need to do.