When Your Retreat Sister is Expecting a Rainbow (Pregnancy After Loss)
Melinda Peterson & Melanie Adams
The group of women you meet at the retreat has become like family to you, and they offer a safe space. As time goes by, some of the women at the retreat go on to have rainbow babies. Please give yourself, as well as your retreat sisters, grace as you all navigate through these waters – watching a retreat sister experience pregnancy after loss. While you may have been on the same plane at the retreat, things have now changed. Your retreat support system seemingly starts to shrink. Here are some ways to support yourself during this shift.
Social media. If seeing pregnancy announcements and updates is triggering for you, it may be wise to ‘unfollow’ certain friends on social media, to avoid seeing triggers in your newsfeed. This way, you can control if/when you see the information. (My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook)
Change in communication. Whether it’s on your end and/or on the part of your pregnant retreat sister, there may be a decrease in communication. It’s okay to let your retreat sister know you need some time. It’s also okay to feel sad if the sister pulls away a bit. (Dealing With Pregnancies and Children as a Still Mother)
Uncomfortable announcement. It is possible you are the last to find out about your retreat sister’s news due to her own fears and anxiety. Statements like, “I was afraid to tell you…” can be isolating. Perhaps say something like, “I can be happy for you, yet sad for me.” This may be a good time to draw some comfort boundaries. (Why Your Pregnancy Announcement Sucks (To Me))
Change in support. Do not feel obligated to support your retreat sister on issues specific to her pregnancy, especially if it’s uncomfortable for you. They should reach out to other pregnancy after loss moms or PAL resources for support specific to pregnancy (Pregnancy After Loss Support).
Mixed feelings. When you find out that a retreat sister is expecting, it is normal to have mixed feelings (e.g., feeling both happy for them and sad for yourself, and/or feeling guilty, jealous, etc). Saying something like, “I am happy for you, yet sad for me” can open lines of communication.
Secondary losses. Just like there were secondary losses when your baby/babies died, there are also secondary losses in pregnancy after loss. Friendships and relationships will change; some will grow and some will fade. Some may return in time.
Support yourself in continuous boundary-setting. Retreat sister’s needs change as their living babies start to grow. Conversations may become living child-focused. Remember you can still be a friend to the retreat sister in her changing life while supporting yourself in what you can handle. If you prefer discussing something else, kindly remind her with a statement like, “I’m not ready for this right now, could we change the subject?”