Supporting Your Friend Through Pregnancy Loss or Complications
“I never thought it would happen to one of us…”
Over the course of the past year, each and every one of the women in my inner circle found themselves rocked by a loss or complication during their pregnancy.
When you and all of your friends start on the baby making train, there is lots of excitement and anticipation. No one ever even bats an eye at the idea that anything could go wrong. But then it does. And you as the mom to be, experiencing this earth shattering news, have no idea how to process what is happening. Nor do you know how to explain what you are feeling to even those closest to you. On the opposite, your dearest friends, want nothing more than to help make it better but have no idea where to start. When you think of loss or complications during pregnancy many think miscarriage, which undoubtedly is one example. However, there are other scenarios one might not think of. Such as having pregnancy complications that lead to having a premature infant with a long NICU stay. Or the moms who were plugging along with a normal pregnancy and then find that their child has a congenital birth deformity. Or it may be the couple who finally decided that they are going to try for baby, only to find getting pregnant was not as easy as they had thought. Each one of these scenarios takes a physical, emotional and spiritual toll on the woman.
Coping with these scenarios in my own inner circle was new. We were all navigating the new mom, mom to be world together and had never encountered such difficult waters. When I experienced my own pregnancy complications, I never once doubted the love and support coming from my friends. And I wanted to make sure I reciprocated if they ever needed it. So I comprised a small checklist of ideas on how to “be there” for your friend during one of the hardest times in their life.
Don’t Hide Things
I learned this the hard way. I was pregnant with my second baby when one of my best friends suffered a miscarriage. It was her first pregnancy. In my mind I wanted to do everything I could to shield her from any further pain than what she was already experiencing. I had my son just a few weeks after her loss, and so I didn’t want to bombard her with labor play by plays and pictures, so I left her off the group girlfriend texts. She only found out that I had had the baby via others on Facebook, and this had left her very hurt. In retrospect, your best friend should never find out that way, regardless of the circumstance. So open communication is key. I could have sent her a separate text just letting her know I was headed to the hospital.
Let them Vent
In todays world we all know our most essential means for connection is probably texting one another. But when you are experiencing one of the most emotionally draining events of your life you don’t want to have to explain it in a text message. There is something important about getting your group of girlfriends together, shoes off, sweat pants, cuddled up in the living room, face to face talking. This is where you let her cry, be sad, be angry. Her safe place where she can physically feel your love and support in the room.
No grandiose gestures needed, because what they’re experiencing is not a one day and your done kind of thing. It will be something that affects them long term. I had cried on the phone to one of my best friends about how overwhelmed I was in my third trimester worrying about my complications. A few evenings later I came home from work to find beautiful “thinking of you” flowers had been delivered, it made me smile, made me cry (happy tears) and made me feel loved. Also, I was due with my son two weeks before Christmas. I was sick and stressed I wouldn’t get my house decorated for my 2.5 year old. One day while I was at work, my best friend decorated my entire house! I was speechless! Send flowers, a card, make some freezer meals and drop them off, just the little things that mean the most!
I don’t mean Dr. Google your friend’s diagnosis, but you can educate yourself to better understand. And you also have other friends or relatives who may have experienced similar things and could lend some advice. One of my friends worked with another mom who had a baby with a clubfoot ( like my son) and she gave me the link to a Clubfoot Mom FB group, it was a godsend! For my friend who had suffered the miscarriage, I told her about the concept of a “rainbow baby” I had learned about from working in the NICU.
Don’t Forget the Dads
These experiences can be equally as stressing on the dads. They are our friends too. So showing them love and support is important . For me I was so impressed with how much my friend’s husband stepped up to support her I made sure to tell him!