Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week - Pregnancy and Grief

This week is maternal mental health awareness week and as someone who follows a lot of other mamas, it has been at the forefront of my social media. Though the main focus seems to be around things like postpartum depression and anxiety related directly to motherhood, it has still brought up a lot of emotions in me related to grief and how motherhood has affected my grief journey.

Typically when you hear about pregnancy and loss together, it is usually about miscarriage. As I've searched the web for content to help me through this time in my life it's been really difficult to find things that fit my situation, so I hope this post can maybe help someone like me, who is grieving the loss of a loved one while pregnant.

I wrote a bit about how I've felt throughout this entire pregnancy recently (post here), in regards to loosing my dad, the difficulties of this pregnancy in general, and all that has happened to the world in the last few months due to covid-19. Lately, as I approach the end of this pregnancy, I've had some new feelings that I wanted to share along with the message that however you're handling your grief - it's okay. There is no "right" way to grieve, and there is certainly no way to know how you're going to handle the mix of emotions that come with grieving on top of pregnancy hormones.

The last two weeks have been really hard physically, but really good emotionally/mentally for me. Once I hit 36 weeks (when my first unexpectedly was born) I felt a big relief because I felt like I had finally made it to a safe point in my pregnancy. I have been worried this entire time that this baby would come even earlier than my first, which would obviously be really scary and not good.

So since hitting 36 weeks I've finally been able to let myself feel the excitement of pregnancy. My mind feels so light for the first time in months and I feel so genuinely excited to meet my baby and even about experiencing labor and delivery again. The thought of bringing baby home to meet her big sister brings tears to my eyes - in a good way.

I'm also acutely aware as I enter the final weeks (or perhaps days) of pregnancy that my time with Avery as my sole focus is limited. Our days are going to look so different, so soon, and I just want to soak up every second with her. I don't want to be "sad mommy" for her during this time. I want to spend every second reminding her that she's my big girl and she'll always be my baby.

Unfortunately at the same time I am also faced with the reality that my dad isn't here for this. Having to face the fact that he will not meet my child is really freaking hard. So hard in fact that I've found myself blocking out the thought. Every picture, song, quote, or mention of him that usually brings me to tears, hasn't. It's like my brain is finally happy and it refuses to go down that rabbit hole.

The other night I was looking back at pictures and my mind was stuck on repeat - "he's really gone". It's like I'm back to the denial stage of the grieving process. I can't seem to accept the fact that he is not here anymore. That thought usually has me in a puddle in an instant. But lately - no waterworks. It's so strange to me.

Which brings on the next emotion - guilt. Why can't I cry right now (other than when my husband offers me the wrong type of chips when I ask for a snack)? Why am I squashing these feelings instead of getting through them? Is this what it's like moving forward? I can be happy but only alongside the feeling that I shouldn't be?

No one has the answers to these questions. So again I tell you and myself - there is no right way to grieve. This SHOULD be a happy time in my life. I'm expecting a baby girl who has been growing inside me through the most horrific times of my life! My light at the end of this very dark tunnel is getting brighter. My "rainbow baby" of sorts is almost here. It is OKAY to feel pure joy about this without the rain cloud of grief over my head.

In fact, my dad is probably dancing in Heaven right now seeing me genuinely happy again. I know he wants me to remember this time as good and light.

If this all makes no sense to you, that is okay, it likely means you haven't had to experience a loss yet. I didn't get it either until I had to face it head on. And if you feel exactly what I'm talking about, then know you're not alone.

Love you daddy, I know you're by my side daily whispering "everything's going to be alright".

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