Coping With Loss

Pregnancy Loss: A Holiday Survival Guide

Funny story.

I started to write this post in my head weeks ago. Not only had I recently experienced a holiday season after pregnancy loss, but I had actually had a miscarriage during the holidays. Who better to write about surviving the holidays after loss than someone like me?

Well, if you ask my imposter syndrome, it’ll say “not me.”

I started to doubt myself. How are you supposed to write about surviving the holidays after loss when the only way to do that is to fight tooth and nail through every moment, every event, every memory to not think about the person (or people) that you just want here?

Christmas is literally centered around children. The hope, the wonder, the anticipation. The true meaning of Christmas is centered around a baby. Christmas is essentially a holiday for children, made possible by mothers. To not think of the baby you lost is near impossible.

This is why this is a survival guide.

Sometimes you don’t cherish every moment during the holidays. You don’t lean in to being “merry and bright.” You don’t watch every movie, or receive every present on your list. Sometimes you just are present. And that’s okay.

Sometimes surviving the holidays after pregnancy loss is just that; surviving.

So if that was enough, no need to go on, dear reader. But if you could use a few more suggestions for your back pocket, this survival guide is my gift to you.


When your family doesn’t acknowledge your loss:


If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it 5,000 times:

You cannot, and will not, remind a bereaved parent of their loss.

They’re well aware. Avoiding bringing up the baby’s name, absence or sheer existence deepens the misconception that pregnancy loss should be kept silent. But I don’t need to tell you that, do I?

  • talk to your family in advance: I’m a big boundary-setting girl. Send a text ahead of time; “hey, I know everyone might feel uncomfortable talking about Jack, but I’m having a hard time without him and it helps me to talk about him. Please feel free to check in at dinner tomorrow.” They might need your lead on this one.
  • set the stage: speaking of, you might have to be the one to spearhead this conversation. Being open and truthful when people ask you how you are can give them the signal that they need to step in or even be more present.
  • give them grace: I know, not what you want to hear. If you’re close, remind yourself that they’re most likely grieving too. They might be too involved in that or simply don’t know what to say to you. I have another post on that here (maybe send it in the text in advance??).

When you see “happy families” on social media:

The quotes are there for a reason.

What you see on social is a highlight reel.

What you don’t see in McKayleigh’s “perfect” family photo is the bribery, screaming and wardrobe malfunctions between her 3 cherubic-looking children and a handful of “tiffs” (because they don’t fight, reader! They’re just so solid! He is her rock!!! I digress) with her husband in the middle of it all. Somewhere in this mass chaos, the photographer got everyone to look in the same general direction, and boom – you have a Christmas card. (Also, photoshop helps.)


Recently, a co-worker I just met told me she was pregnant with baby number 3. Since she was so lax about sharing her 4 week old pregnancy with a borderline stranger, I quickly assumed she had the luxury of going through both of her prior pregnancies without worry.

“It’s so unfair,” I said to a friend later as I scrolled my co-worker’s Facebook, “some people just get to get pregnant and know they’ll get a baby out of it. I seriously wonder what that feels like.”

I came to find out that this co-worker indeed was not only worried about this pregnancy (honestly shameful I ever assumed otherwise – everyone worries about their pregnancies), but also had suffered a miscarriage at 7 weeks with her first. I found all of this out because she started spotting at work and confided in me.

Excuse me while I eat my words.

All this to say, if you think you know what someone is going through, you don’t. These families you see online have stories behind them you would never expect.

So when you see that Christmas card with the 3 babies and that rock-solid hubby, who knows? They might be trying for another baby, going through IVF, or reeling from a loss…just like you.

When you feel guilty celebrating the holiday without them:

I want you to think about the sweet baby you’re missing. Maybe there’s one. Maybe there’s few all hanging out together.

Now, think of these babies and how they only knew your body as their home on earth. How they were comforted by your voice and your touch because that’s all they ever knew.

Think of how much they love you just because of what I said above. (Because it’s true, mama! They’re your babies!)

Now, imagine your baby watching you refuse to enjoy these moments of happiness, especially during this time of year. You are allowed to miss them, this is 100% true.

But to stifle your own joy because you think you “shouldn’t” feel happy is an unnecessary expectation to put on yourself. Your babies love you. They want you to find joy again.

Remember them AND put up the decorations.

Remember them AND go to the holiday party.

Remember them AND get together with family. Odds are they’ll want to be remembering them too.

When you just want them here:

Cry, scream, punch pillows, throw the eggnog (jk, be careful), whatever you need. Then take a breath and find a way to make it feel like they’re here:

  • hang an ornament or a stocking in their honor: This is a great way for families to include angel babies in their traditions. I have an ornament with Anthony’s ultrasound picture and a wooden ornament with his name on it close to each other on the tree. Sometimes I’ll hold my daughter and show her the picture as we pass the tree and say hi to her brother.
  • do some good: donate to a charity in their name, do random acts of kindness, go out of your way to compliment someone; whatever it may be, spreading kindness when you feel hurt can turn your day around and hopefully turn someone else’s day around too.
  • talk to them: sounds creepy, but I promise it’s worth a shot. I talk to Anthony when I’m in the car sometimes. I fill him in on what’s going on and how much I miss him. It hurts and I usually end up crying, but I realize in the end it’s because I needed it somehow. A moment of connection with your baby and the opportunity for a little peace.

So whether you’re facing your first holiday season without your baby or your 30th, be sure to take care of yourself and give yourself space to grieve. Step out if you need to during events and know that some days will be harder than others. And if all you’re doing is surviving the last week of December, trust me when I say you are not alone.

Merry Christmas, mama.

Coping With Loss

Trying to Conceive: A Holiday Survival Guide

You’re sitting at your family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Your red sweater covers your flat belly as you sip on a festive cocktail. Your nieces and nephews run past in their little tights and dress pants, laughing and fighting over one of their newest toys. You smile at their joy.

Enter your nosy aunt.

“So when are you going to have one of those? You’re not getting any younger, you know!”

Your stomach drops.

It’s inevitable. It’s well-meaning. But it hurts nonetheless.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that you would love for your red sweater to be sporting a baby bump, but you took a test this morning and it was negative. Again.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that even though cocktails and the holidays go together like…well…cocktails and the holidays, you would give anything for the cocktail to be a ginger ale to pair with morning sickness.

What your aunt doesn’t know is that you smiled at your nieces and nephews because you can’t wait for your own baby to join the cousin crew and share the holidays with them.

The holiday season brings so much to those trying to conceive (TTC)*. When you’re waiting for a baby, your feelings may not match the “joy” the commercials, TV specials and light displays are trying to promote.

And that’s okay.

How to survive the holidays when you’re TTC:

When people ask when you’re having a baby/having more kids:

  • if you’re feeling honest: “we’re actually trying and could use your support. Here’s how you can help…”
  • if you want to give minimal information: “great question! We’ll have to see. This is hard for me to talk about and I’m not sure I feel comfortable sharing more at this time. I’ll let you know if/when I do.”
  • if you’re feeling sassy and never want them to ask again: “thanks for asking, Karen. I just took a negative test this morning and this will make the 5th one I’ve taken so who the f*%& knows!”
    NOTE: this one isn’t recommended, but will definitely add some dramatic flair to your yuletide evening.

When you’re exhausted from the parties, gift-buying, gift-wrapping, social interactions, school parties for living children and you somehow still need to find time to do the whole “trying to conceive” part:

  • talk to your partner: set boundaries for yourself if you feel it’s all too much.
  • share the load: give your partner a list of holiday chores to take on so that you have more time to focus on your time together. Maybe he is in charge of gifts for his family or maybe he preps the Christmas cookie dough this year. Being specific can go a long way.
  • go on a date: “what?! Who has time for dates, lady?! You literally just listed everything going on and then some!”
    Right. Sounds like you deserve a date more than anyone, no?
    Drive around with hot chocolate and look at lights. Get the good movie theater popcorn and watch a movie. Go out to dinner if possible. Hold hands. Whatever! Scheduling time together and prioritizing time together makes it easier to think about baby dancing together.
  • take this month off: let me explain.
    If it makes you more anxious to temporarily take time off of TTC or treatments, don’t do it. Doing what makes you feel the most comfortable is what will work best for you, your relationship and your family, period.
    This is simply for anyone who hasn’t been told that it’s okay to take a break if it’s too much:
    It’s okay to take a break if it’s too much!

When you thought you’d be pregnant by now:

I know. It hurts.

For some reason, Christmas and the holidays carry so much. Nostalgia, hope, and as I grow older, even prior to my miscarriage, I noticed another guest that showed up:


The holidays of your childhood get further and further away every year. People come and go and traditions change. This is heartbreaking and difficult and can show up in many different ways. Maybe you’re grieving the family dynamic you wish you had or the fact that you have to go to four Christmases because of step-families. Maybe the holidays haven’t felt the same since your grandmother got sick a few years ago, or maybe it hasn’t felt the same since you were 12.

Whatever it may be, grief already has a seat at Christmas dinner. However, you control how much or how little they get to speak up.

If you are sad because all you want is a baby for Christmas, that’s okay.

If you are hopeful because a new year is starting and it’s a clean slate, that’s okay.

If you are mourning the fact that you thought this would be “your year” for a baby, that’s okay.

Acknowledge all your feelings and hold space for them.

Make a plan to step out if something triggers you. Tell your partner in advance that you might need to take 5 minutes on the porch to breathe or skip the work party all-together.

Then, picture that bump in your red sweater, the ginger ale in hand or the sight of your little baby chasing after their cousins in years to come. And remind yourself that you are already a fantastic parent, even if you are still “in waiting.”

You can also picture yourself telling your nosy aunt to take a hike, if that makes you feel better.

May the holidays land gently for you as you wait for that “big, fat positive” under the tree.

*While TTC itself isn’t necessarily directly affiliated with pregnancy loss, I like to keep in mind the grief and waiting associated with TTC and infertility treatments. I will be sharing another post soon on navigating the holidays after loss.