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your next baby

YOUR NEXT BABY

"The suitcase is waiting, for some time next year.
The suitcase is waiting, with Carter's undershirts
size 3 months and birth announcements

and nightgowns that button down the front.
Yesterday I noticed that one latch had come undone
and it had partially opened up and
the nightgowns were spilling out
The suitcase is waiting, but not very patiently."

from She Was born: She Died
by Marion Cohen

When you've experienced the death of a baby, whether you had a miscarriage or your baby died at birth or shortly after, your next pregnancy and your next baby can bring a lot of mixed feelings and fears. You may feel as if you're on a teeter-totter going between being relieved and happy about this pregnancy and your coming baby, . . . and scared and anxious because you know what can happen.

If this was a planned pregnancy, perhaps you were anxious trying to become pregnant again. You may have watched your calendar with a different kind of hopeful tension as you waited to find out for sure. Having a baby who died can bring a new importance and meaning to this pregnancy. It can also bring a new anxiety.

ANXIOUS . SCARED . WORRIED

Anxiety is a feeling that something is going to happen but you don't know what. In waiting for your next baby, your anxiety is likely to center around being afraid o what you KNOW can happen.

"I wanted to enjoy the months that I didn't feel the baby move because once that happened I knew the hours between movements could seem endless." (Mom in Louisville)

It's OK to live on-day-at-a-time now. Every pregnant couple spends a lot of time thinking about their coming baby. You will probably do your thinking with a more cautious optimism and more intensity than moms and dads who are having a first pregnancy. when you are anxious there are several things you can do.

  • Write down or talk about your feelings. find someone...a friend, a parent's group, a caring person who will listen to your feelings, and let you talk. Keep a journal so you can see how your feelings are growing and changing. And remember...there's no such thing as a dumb question. If it's important enough to worry you, it's important enough to ask. And if you need to do so...keep on asking until you have some kind of answer.
  • Be aware of your body. You've probably already decided that you will do everything you can to take care of yourself and your baby...reading about nutrition and exercise and deciding every day to take good care of both of you. Even if you did this the last time it may take on a new importance now.
"I decided that if anything went wrong now it wasn't because I didn't do everything I could. I was excited as each day went by, but each day I would wonder if this was the day I would lose the baby. They were two exactly opposite feelings." (Mom in Ohio)
  • Take time to relax. When you are anxious it may help to relax, close your eyes and picture yourself with a healthy baby. Get a mental image of your own happiness and of your baby growing up beautifully.

 

  • FEELING DISTANT ... FEELING CLOSE
"I didn't have any exciting new baby feelings. I felt like I was just walking through this pregnancy, getting to the end. Then if everything went OK I would love this live baby. I felt guilty until I learned other couples felt the same." (Mom in Omaha)

You may have some trouble bonding or feeling close to this baby at first. No one likes to be hurt, and it may be scary for you to invest you feelings in another baby after one has died. However, not becoming attached to your baby before it's born can let you miss out on a lot, too. It's even likely that you will have times of feeling detached or distant and at other times feeling very, very close to your child.

"I felt closer to this baby than any baby I had had before. I had a lot of doubts, but one thing I wanted to be sure of was that if something happened to this baby I would feel like I had known it better than the last one."  (Mom in Louisville)

Both of these feelings are normal and OK. There will be other normal and OK feelings after your baby is born.

 

YOUR NEW BABY

The feelings that come after your baby is born can be a mixture of relief, happiness, worry and new kinds of anxieties.

  • You may find yourself very protective of your baby.
  • "I want a guarantee that nothing will happen to him. Every night I
  • whisper in his ear, 'Always know I love you and please, don't
  • forget to breathe." (Mom in Louisville)
  • You may find you buy baby clothes a size or two too large. It's as if you're reminding yourself that you have a growing, living baby.
  • Your new baby may use a crib or play with a toy you bought for the little one who didn't get to come home with you. Then you may experience a confusing mixture of joy and sadness.
  • You may even find yourself surprised at the variety of feelings that surface now and then.
  • "The baby was delivered and it was a boy. That was an immediate
  • disappointment, even though I thought all I wanted was a healthy
  • baby. I wanted another girl. I deserved it. I quickly decided to enjoy
  • his health and worry about his sex later. His birth was the most
  • wonderful experience in my life." (Mom in Louisville)
It can be very easy, whether you're a mother or a father, to let your whole future rest on the birth and health of your baby. Remembering that you are not alone and that there are other people to love and be loved by, can help relieve your anxiety.

"I don't feel our new baby will be a substitute for Justin, he will always be our first baby. I do hope our new baby will ease the pain of our loss and that we can grow together as a family...a good family." (Dad in Louisville)

Your Marriage: Both of you may be anxious and afraid. The death of your baby rocks your foundations and pulls the rugs out from under you. A new pregnancy can be a part of restoring your self-worth and confidence. Now is an important time to share your feelings, to ask for love, hugs and a listen when you need them and to give as best you can when you are asked.

Other Children: If you have other children they are likely to know about your baby who died. Answer their questions just as openly and honestly as you can. Don't over-answer. Let them talk as much as they need to talk.

"When I told Heather we were going to have another baby she said, 'Will we get to keep this one?' I said, 'I hope so.' and we talked a long time." (Mom in Omaha)

MOVING ON

You have memories of your baby who died or the pregnancy you lost and even difficult memories can be precious.

  • You don't love your baby who died less because of your new baby.
  • You recognize that the joy of your new baby is here and now.
  • You know that you, more than many people, see the real value of life and what it means to be parents

reproduced from a publication from the Centering Corporation
PO Box 3367, Omaha NE, 68103-0367


 

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