Is it mourning?

I saw someone complaining on a loss board recently about non-loss moms talking about mourning their birth experience. Their thinking was even if the experience isn’t what you wanted, healthy living baby = success. And that while you may be sad that you didn’t get the experience you wanted, it can’t be mourning because there isn’t a death.

This is something I have thought about since Noah’s birth and death. Before Noah, I was firmly in the healthy mom, healthy baby is NOT all that matters camp, and would get very upset when people would say that to dismiss my feelings about my birth with Owen. With Owen, I had a really emotionally difficult experience. The NP I saw for gyn care when I wasn’t pregnant diagnosed me 6m PP with PTSD and PPD from my birth experience.

With Owen, I was never in labor, and had an emergency cesarean at 33w5d that probably could have been avoided.  This meant a loss of everything I had expected from birth.  I was never in labor, my birth was terrifying rather than happy, I didn’t get to see or touch him for hours because he was whisked up from the NICU, didn’t get to breastfeed for days, and even then it was very controlled, I had to ask permission, and it was on someone else’s terms.  And for me, it was a loss.  I can never get back that birth experience, or those first 3 weeks of bonding while he was in the NICU.  They are gone, and the loss of that time is something I had to mourn.  So  I feel like I did mourn my birth experience with my Owen, but that mourning was different than mourning Noah. I’m not even sure I can explain how.

I see it the same was as how many in the IF community talk about mourning the innocence of TTC without treatments.  Or people who choose adoption/donor sperm/eggs after IF talk about mourning the loss of a biological child.  Is the mourning the same?  No.  But it is a loss to me.

But I also understand where she was coming from.  Mourning our children is the only way we can parent them.  And so it is painful to see something you consider “less” to be compared.  It’s the same as when someone says “Oh I know just how you feel, I lost a pet/grandparent/friend/etc.”  It’s not the same, and the comparison hurts, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a loss and aren’t mourning that loss.

What do you think? Is it mourning and loss if there is no death?

Related post on Nurturing Hearts Birth Services


8 thoughts on “Is it mourning?

  1. I think it is. A loss is a loss. I think there are degrees as to how much it should affect us and still be healthy, but it is a loss.

    I personally don’t understand the birth experience thing. Pushing a child out of your lady bits is never going to go in the wonderful earth motherly way you’re lied to about. Ever.

    • I don’t think mourning a birth experience is necessarily about not getting the “magical” experience. It’s also about the terror of an emergency cesarean and not being able to hold or see you baby right away. It’s about being strapped down and cut open. Being bullied by medical professions into checks and meds you don’t need. Having them question you ability to mother and choose what is best for you and your child before they are even fully born. Being told that you body is failing you. That it can’t keep you and your baby safe during birth. It’s about being forcibly separated from your baby for minutes or even hours after having them inside you for months.

      Can you tell I still have some trauma from my birth with Owen?

  2. I am very sure that before IF and several years of medicated TTC, I was one of the happy go lucky ladies that wouldn’t understand this side of loss and mourning.

    These days, I believe a loss is a loss to the person who went through the experience and says it is a loss. Death does not need to be involved for there to be loss and mourning. For me personally, I am mourning the most likely outcome that my boy will be an only child. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t really think so.

    As for a perfect birthing experience, mine was pretty close. I didn’t have too much in the way of expectations and I was ready for everything to change if need be. I had hoped for a natural birth (I got it, mostly only because there wasn’t time for pain relief) and for a take home boy (I did get that).

    hugs It is hard not to compare someone else’s pain, loss, grief and mourning to our own. We do it, but everyone is different and views the life and surroundings differently.

  3. I think people try to pull their empathy from their personal experiences. I have never lost a child- but I have lost the innocence of TTC naturally. I know the two aren’t comparable, but I can still manage to draw empathy from what I have experienced. Same when people say they understand because they lost a pet- I think that a lot of times we as humans just don’t really know what to say- and instead of saying “Hey I have no words–” we pull from a past experience. Pain, loss, grieving- it all sucks no matter the loss- and its so hard to come up with the right words to express the sorrow we can feel for one another. Praying for you always! xo

  4. There are always comparisons to be made and loss is no exception. I definitely agree that one can mourn their labor and delivery. I mourned the experience I missed out on in both of my deliveries. I mourned my scary, tragic birth of Michael and Alena. And I also mourn the birth experience I didn’t get with Cooper. His was a healthy, normal delivery, but because of my previous experience I didn’t spend much time relaxing and being in the moment. I was in constant worry and grief remembering how it went the last time and thinking something bad would happen. I didn’t bond with Cooper as much as I wish I would have because of the PTSD and feel I missed out on some crucial moments in the beginning. So yes, I do think it’s a different kind of mourning, but a loss never-the-less.

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