Last year I wrote about saying no to invitations and events that hurt to attend. When your baby has died, certain events can be huge triggers for grief. That’s why I probably won’t be at your next baby shower, or child’s birthday party, or other kid-focused get-together.
Kid-focused events can be triggers for pregnancy loss grief.
I’ve gone to some. I’ve skipped others. I’ve tried. I really have. And it hurt. A lot.
I don’t like being the person at the party who is crying (or swallowing frantically trying to keep the tears in). It’s not fun to spend a celebration muffling your sobs in the guest bathroom. I also don’t like being the person who is lying that I’m happy and having a good time, who is plastering a fake smile on my face while every other parent at the party holds their beautiful, living children in their arms.
I don’t feel like I fit at these family-friendly events. I’m a mother…and yet I’m not. When there are babies and toddlers all around the room, my heart hurts. When there’s only one, I can usually be okay. I can grasp onto the joy and celebrate their cuteness. But as soon as there are more kids and more parents, more people who I should be able to commiserate with about parenthood, I start to feel my otherness. It starts with my empty arms, and then the pain and the grief balloon.
That’s the reality of being a pregnancy loss mother who has no living children.
I’m happy for people who have added a new baby to their family. But seeing your joy makes my pain that much more apparent. Your arms are full. Mine are still empty.
So, I say no and I don’t attend.
If we know I probably won’t come, why do I still want an invite?
Because that otherness, that feeling like I don’t belong, so easily transforms into feeling unwanted. Being the only one in a group with empty arms is a lonely place to be. Feeling like you don’t fit in, is a lonely place to be. I know that I can be a handful with my tears so close all the time, with my grief over my dead babies almost always at the forefront of my mind. But feeling wanted goes a long way in keeping me from drowning in it.
An invitation to your child’s celebration with a kind note that lets me know you understand if I can’t attend is like a gentle hug.
It says, I love you and care for you and want you to be a part of my life and my child’s life, but I understand if that’s too hard for you right now.
Every baby is a miracle and I look forward to the day when I can, enthusiastically and without sad tears, attend celebrations filled with your children. But until then, please remind me that I’m wanted, even if my arms are empty.
I probably won’t come, but please invite me anyway.