|By: Kerry Bone and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D.|
|Before the birth of your premature baby you
probably enjoyed the company of other pregnant women: comparing belly sizes, pregnancy
symptoms, due dates or nursery themes. But after delivering a baby prematurely, you may be
surprised to experience a whole flurry of intense feelings when you meet up with a
pregnant woman, even ones you knew closely before the birth of your baby.
Instead of feeling linked to them by maternal camaraderie, you may find that you feel detached. Rather than feeling understood, and part of a sorority of mothers, you may feel different -- as if your pregnancy does not exactly "count." You may not feel complete or successful worried that you may never "fit in" with other mothers because your birth story is so out of the ordinary.
At a time when you had imagined sharing details of your final trimester, birth, and early days with your new baby, you may find yourself so flooded with grief, anger and longing that you can barely speak. When you do speak of your experience to others, you may be met with fear blame, and disbelief that this could also happen to them. You may get the impression from them that you must have missed a warning signal or didn't follow guidelines from your doctor, or else this would not have happened. At a time when you most need to find others who understand the losses, fears and hopes that you hold close, you can feel cut off, alone and misunderstood even by those with whom you so recently felt connected.
You may wonder why you don't feel as happy and involved with a friend or relative's pregnancy and birth. You might worry when you are less interested in the details of their deliveries and homecomings or cannot bear to hear of them at all. On the other hand, you might find yourself intensely drawn to other pregnant women -- wanting to take part in the normalcy and the hope, wanting to glimpse into the pregnancy and childbirth you hoped to have. Despite your interest in their stories, you may have mixed feelings about how to talk with them. You want to still be able to relate to other pregnancy experiences, and have others relate to yours, but you are not sure if this is even possible.
Feeling different at this time is common and understandable. There are particular circumstances, which can heighten these feelings of isolation and grief.
"her" due date is close to your original due date, or even earlier
you see her wearing the same maternity clothes that you had purchased to wear during your pregnancy but barely or never wore
you watch her pregnancy progress past the time yours did