Grief and Pregnancy

grief+and+pregnancy.jpg

When I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did was cry. As much as I wanted them to be tears of joy… they weren’t.

They were sad tears. I was grieving. Grieving the loss of my old life. A life of freedom and independence. A life in which my husband and I had no-one to care for but ourselves. We could travel whenever we wanted (we took a year-long honeymoon traveling the world). We could stay out late and sleep in. We could spend money on drinks, expensive dinners, and clothes. We paid way too much for our tiny one bedroom apartment in Santa Monica, but we didn’t care. We would rather be four blocks from the beach than have space. After all, it was just the two of us...right?

I felt terrible and selfish for feeling sad about losing my independent lifestyle rather than feeling excited and happy about being a mother. I always wanted to have kids, so shouldn’t I be happy? What was wrong with me?

Nothing was wrong with me! I was relieved to find out that many pregnant women feel this way. Not only does their life change in an instant, but they are also experiencing dramatic hormonal changes, significantly affecting them emotionally and physically. Physically! I forgot to mention how I had to grieve the loss of being able to run 10 miles and surf every day! That’s an article in itself!

Although we want to feel happy when we find out we are going to have a baby, it is normal to feel other emotions that might not be as comfortable, like sadness, anxiety, depression, fear, anger… the list goes on.

Grieving does not only refer to a process we go through when someone dies. Grieving is a response to loss, and this loss refers to anyone or anything that we valued.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the 5 stages people go through during the grieving process. Here is how it looked for me:

1) DENIAL

I’m not pregnant! The test has to be a false-positive! (I went back to the store 3 more times and took 9 tests, all said positive)

2) ANGER

F**K! Why didn’t we use birth control?! Why weren’t we more careful?! THIS SUCKS!

3) BARGAINING

Please let this test be a false-positive. I’m not ready to have a baby. We said we were going to start trying in a year. We wanted to take one more year to travel! For the love! I just need one more year!

4) DEPRESSION

I don’t feel like myself. I can’t enjoy anything. Nothing makes me laugh. All I want to do is sleep and cry. I don’t even feel happy at the beach (and I loooooooooove the beach!)

5) ACCEPTANCE

OK! This is really happening. Am I bummed that I can’t travel as much, surf as much and spend as much money on myself? Yes. Am I happy that I get to start a family with the person I love and experience the pure joy and unconditional love of being a mother? Yes! Bring on the pregnancy and parenting books!

Grieving is a healthy process, and it is important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions that come with it. Once we work through these emotions, we can fully enjoy the amazing experience of pregnancy and motherhood. Remember, you are not alone, and if you need support going through this process, we are here to help.

Bridget Benninger