- There’s no doubt, any holiday can be a nightmare after a miscarriage. First there’s the family, who look at you sympathetically and say stupid things while they cluck over your sister-in-law’s new baby. Then there’s the hype–you should be happy and joyful when you are really miserable. Then there’s your sorrow. You wish, so desperately, that it could have been different.
- Holidays are one of the first things you dream about. Bundled up babies presented to grandparents. Easter egg hunts. Little crayoned cards. And now you’ve lost it all. These occasions may hit you like a brick and drag out all the sorrow you thought you had put behind you. Being pregnant again may not even help.
- Sometimes you can change things up. Go skiing this year instead of spending Christmas with family. Plan a quiet day on the beach while all the other mothers (although remember you are one too) get their Mother’s Day dinners out. Volunteer at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and feel better about your life.
- Other times you have to bear it the best you can. If you must spend a holiday around other pregnant people or new babies, busy yourself with preparations or sequester yourself with a non-threatening and understanding relative. Don’t pretend this is easy or put on faces for other people. Just get through it. Minimize the time with a difficult part of the family by overbooking yourself with other friends or more distant family.
- Best of all, make your baby a part of your holidays. At Christmas, I always search the “Angel Trees” at our church and choose children with our baby’s name to buy gifts for. Many shopping malls have these trees through the Salvation Army. I have a special ornament that we hang on the tree with Casey’s name. And, in Casey’s memory box, there is a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament that I bought especially for him. I wanted him to have it.
- Our most difficult time is actually Easter. Casey died a few days after Easter, and Emily was born two days after the following Easter. We have many rituals to commemorate these events, including planting flowers and taking pictures in my memorial garden. I think the most important thing about the holidays is to be ready for them. It will be hard.
- This is going to be a tough day. You may be facing a roomful of children, or coworkers who will tell you conflicting and sometimes thoughtless things, or a bunch of people who have no clue that anything has happened. All of these situations are difficult. You will feel weepy and overwhelmed. You might hope you can bury yourself in work, only to find yourself distracted and annoyed by how the world is moving on even though your life has shattered. Nothing anyone says will be the right thing. They will either ignore the whole event, making you upset. Or they will pry for details, making you upset. Or they will say silly things, such as “It was for the best,” which will make you upset. Just be prepared for this.Feel free to say, “I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet.” Try to avoid hoping that someone will notice your distress and ask you about it. They aren’t going to be comfortable talking about it, no matter what. Most people don’t want to upset you, and will tiptoe around the whole thing to avoid any sort of emotional outburst. Remember that you need to find the right time and place to surround yourself with those who understand (and this is only those who have been there themselves.) If you really aren’t ready to go back to work, then take a few more days off. Just do the best you can. It’s all anyone can really ask.
Don’t feel obligated to go to baby showers. Don’t bother with excuses, or to explain yourself. Just send a lovely note with a gift certificate to the mall, or a generic store that sells baby items as well, or an online baby store, and say, “Wish I could have made it. Best wishes.” Will some people be upset? If it is your best friend, or your sister-in-law, maybe. But that’s okay. One of the two of you were going to get bent out of shape with this situation, so let it be the one who is about to have a joyful moment and will forget all about it in a few weeks. You will know you are through much of the healing phase if you get an invitation in the mail and actually look forward to going. This will not likely be until you are well into a new pregnancy or already have a healthy baby. That’s okay.
Don’t feel slighted when you aren’t invited. Remember there is sort of a “Damned if I do, and damned if I don’t” situation for the person throwing the shower. If she invites you, you might be upset about being expected to go. If she doesn’t invite you, she risks offending you even though all she wanted was to avoid upsetting you with reminders. When throwing a shower, it is usually best to go ahead and invite women with recent losses, and to include a little handwritten note saying something like, “We’d love to see you there, but even if you can’t make it, we will miss you and understand.” Of course, party planners who are clueless are just going to do one thing or the other, and you will just have to forgive them for not knowing what to do.