• Mon, Dec 9 - 11:00 am ET

The 5 Stages Of Normal Pregnancy Grief

preggo-sticksPregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks, though anyone who has been through it knows it feels like a lot looooooonger.  That’s partially because due dates are the single biggest lie of pregnancy.  The battle with your due date is a universal struggle that all expecting mothers fight.  While some have morning sickness, some feel great.  Some women watch their nipples darken, others are busy plucking hairs.  But no one escapes the due date dance which starts with that first question on our OB’s form: last menstrual period.

We suddenly give more thought to that question than ever.  Do I count the spotting that started the day before my heavy flow?  Wait, aren’t they really trying to figure out the gestational age of the fetus?  There’s no way I could have conceived two weeks after my last period.  So maybe I should add a week?  And thus begins the pregnancy half-truths, sometimes lies, usually delusional things you totally convince yourself of throughout the five stages of gestation in our minds.

1.  Shock and Amazement: Surreal.

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Whether you’ve been trying for a year or you weren’t at all, the shock of those two blue lines is something your body never forgets. Convention says you don’t share the news with even close family and friends until after the first few tenuous weeks, which only adds to the surrealness of the whole situation. You’re hanging out with friends, fake sipping your beer or telling your mom you have food poisoning or a 24-hour bug.  You are trying to act normal and composed on the outside, yet on the inside you are swirling.  I can’t believe I’m finally pregnant.  I didn’t think it would ever happen.  Or I can’t believe I got pregnant.  How could this have happened?  I wonder if I’ll get sick.  I wonder if I’ll get fat.  I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl.  Did his mother just say she had twin aunts?  Why is this the first time I’m hearing about twins in the family?  Can I handle twins?  All while smiling and wondering if anyone will notice you dumping your drink in the sink.

2.  Shock and Amazement: This Shit’s Real.

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You’ve been to the doctor, and finally exhaled when you saw that little blinking dot of a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen.  The shock and amazement you feel is spilling over like an erupting volcano.  You’ve started to share your news – with your parents, your best friend, your co-workers and the barista at your coffee shop (let’s make it a half-caf).  Your normal clothes almost fit, but they don’t feel good.  Regardless of your appetite, you begin to crave cotton and spandex — but you resist maternity clothes with the force of a vegan being offered a non-soy latte.  You discover a rubber band weaved through the hole and around the button of your jeans buys you an extra week or two before your wardrobe includes the never heard before term “belly panel.”  Or maybe you are on your second pregnancy and you think, “well since I have these already, might as well start wearing them — not that I need them…”

3.  I Can’t Carry This Baby One More Day.

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Every woman has their breaking point in pregnancy.  For some women it is 30 or 32 weeks, while others feel it at 35 or 38 weeks.  For me it was 36 weeks.  I felt like I had been pregnant for a year at least and the thought of at another month or more was more than I could handle.  I mean, I had a complete breakdown.  Hysterically crying, talking nonsense, curled up in the fetal position — creating the bodily yang to the baby’s yin in your uterus.  After you’ve thoroughly convinced your partner that you just CAN.NOT.DO.THIS, you get off the bed, one foot at a time and push through.

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • Ashlea Phenicie

    I doubt I’ll wait to tell my family I’m pregnant. Even if I miscarry, I would want them there to support me.

    • Melissa

      I used to feel this way, until I had miscarriages at 12 and 19 weeks. Even among the most well-intentioned people, the support is not always so…supportive. Some people say the wrong thing, some people disappear because they don’t know what to say, and some people carry on as if your grief isn’t real because the baby wasn’t a “real person”. Not that suffering in silence sounds more appealing, but I’ve been disappointed more than once with the way people have acted around me following my losses. Not that I blame them entirely – miscarriage is still very much a taboo topic in this society and nobody quite knows how to discuss it unless they themselves have been through it.

    • candyvines

      I feel differently. I miscarried at 14 weeks, and we told a decent amount of people since we thought we were in the clear. Even if not everyone said the right thing it was helpful just that people knew I was going through a difficult time. I was so grateful not to have to pretend to be okay. Also, I wish more people felt like they could talk about it – it’s something that so many people experience. I’m sorry for your losses.

    • Rebecca R

      I had similar experiences when I miscarried at 14 and 6 weeks. I don’t blame people for not knowing what to say, but I almost wish they hadn’t said anything at all and let me work through it on my own. I’m currently 10 weeks pregnant and am waiting to announce it until after I see a perinatal specialist.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      I lost two pregnancies in a row at 5 and 7 weeks and only had one really dickish comment, though it was well-meaning. When I got pregnant with Mini Keatres I was so scared I didn’t dare tell a soul (save parents, hubby) and put off going to the doctor for two months after getting the positive. I ended up being almost 16 weeks along instead of 11 like I thought and was still terrified to spread the news. Grief is evil.

    • SA

      It isn’t as much as wanting them there for support as it is having to go back and have a 2nd conversation. I had only told one person about my 1st pregnancy (a friend who had happened to guess something was up in an unrelated email I sent). When I miscarried a very short time later, I HATED having to go back and say “well, I’m not”. It was MUCH easier to tell a few selected people later that I had been pregnant and miscarried once I had come to terms with the situation. So people can still be there for you, just more on your terms. But everyone is different, it was just what worked best for me.

      Of course we ended up telling more people than we wanted to at 10 weeks with the 2nd pregnancy – being pregnant at a drinking even was a true tell and everyone was watching my drinking hand all night!

  • Kara

    I just found out I am pregnant with #4 after trying for a year. I am so excited and have told everyone (except Facebook) already. I agree with Ashlea, if something thing happens I would need their support. Oh and I’m already in maternity clothes, not because I need to I’m just SO bloated!

  • dcford

    i’m smack dab in the middle of phase 3. i’m 37 weeks and TOTALLY OVER THIS. this is my second baby and my son was born at 35 weeks, perfectly healthy and with no complications. i’ve just never been this pregnant before! I’m huge, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m scaring everyone around me with my about-to-pop appearance (which, yall, you don’t have to say it EVERY time i see you, jeez). see? and i have an attitude! lol.

  • Amber Starr

    I told everyone as soon as I found out (around 6 & 1/2 weeks). I know that it was early and my chances of miscarrying were high, but after being told that I was (pretty much) infertile, I HAD to share the news with my family at least.

  • JD

    My third is two months now. I was looking at photos last night from the very end of my pregnancy…that huge stomach I thought was so awful was so cute! And made everything else (except my boobs!) look so small! I guess stage 6 when you are done procreating is “I can’t believe I’ll never experience that again!”

  • Melissa

    I’m stuck somewhere between #3 and #4 right now, wanting to buy myself some more time to get just one more thing done (especially with the holidays approaching), but so over the prodromal labor that comes on every couple of days like clockwork (Seriously, contractions 3-5 minutes apart lasting 45-60 seconds for 3 hours and then they just stop? Not cool, uterus.).

  • NicknamesAreDull

    My husband has a lot of medical textbooks. So, there are always the worst case scenarios in the textbooks (I’m assuming doctors are a freaky group of people). I stupidly looked through some of his books when I was about to deliver.

    biggest. mistake. ever.

  • Andrea

    I skipped #4, but yeah all those are spot on.

  • Emme

    I’m in that middle stage of feeling like I could do this forever, and hence I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Oh, I know it’s coming.

    I waited until 13 weeks to tell people. If you miscarry, you can still choose tell whomever you like and have them support you regardless of whether they knew you were pregnant.

  • Bethany Ramos

    I was in phase #3 for most of my second pregnancy. ;) As soon as I was showing, I was like, GODDAMMIT, let’s do this!!!! I am not a very patient person….

  • AnotherMel

    I’m pregnant with twins and am somewhere between 3 and 4. It’s too early to deliver and I really, really want the babies to wait until at least the new year (which would still be early since I’m due in February) but I don’t love being pregnant – I don’t even like it much. I had been really hoping that this time it would be low risk and easier – but apparently I don’t do low risk pregnancies. :( At the same time, I’m a little scared about how the heck I’m going to handle twins and I’m really hoping they are both healthy.

  • JussyLee

    My due date is January 5th (first kid). I am going through #4 hardcore. Having all the Christmas prep nonsense on top of everything is seriously exascerbating my angst.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    I was in shock and denial through, quite literally, almost all of my pregnancy. Losing two in a row does that to you. I spent the last 4 weeks wishing she would come and when my due date came and went I was beyond DONE! So glad she’s here and I’m past all this.

  • Véronique Houde

    I’m at the grieving stage where it’s 10.45 at night, I’m at work, and I don’t have macdonalds right at this moment.

  • Harriet Meadow

    #4 made me laugh so hard. From the first day we found out I was pregnant, both my husband and I were sooooooooo impatient and sooooooo excited, and neither of us wanted to wait at all! Then when my water broke on my due date I was like, “Oh shit, I’m having a baby! Oh my god I’m not ready!”

  • Danielle Hodgson

    So true. My coffee guy totally knew before my mother!