March 2013 Moms

How to act/what to say

Not sure how many of you have been on either side of this situation (and maybe I should ask on the Loss board), but thought I'd ask in case anyone can offer any advice.

My neighbor at work was 21 weeks pregnant and Thursday went into labor that could not be stopped. Last I heard, she gave birth to her baby girl, but I did not hear what the baby's condition was. I did some research and the chances are not great that she did or will survive. I'm praying quite a bit for the both of them at this time regardless.

What I need advice on is this: when she returns to work, what would be the best thing to do or say? I know I should probably avoid baby/pregnancy talk for awhile, but otherwise, what are some things that would be helpful or at least not hamrful? I was thinking something along the lines of a nice card that says she's in my thoughts and I'm there if she wants to talk (and obviously, just shut up and listen if/when she does want to talk) and then just leave it at that. Does that seem like enough? I know sometimes when you experience a great trauma, the worst thing is for people to constantly be pressing you about it, but I also want her to know that she's in my thoughts.

 
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Re: How to act/what to say

  • Well to be honest Ive never had this happen to me or anyone I know but I have experienced trauma situations, death and those incidents where you just dont know what happened but want to show support or sympathy. From personal experience I find it just enough to give something small. I would think maybe a gift card somewhere for dinner or a small bouqet of flowers and a small line that says.... "thinking of you!".
  • We lost our baby girl in April at 26 weeks. Going back to work was a very anxious time for me. I did not want to have to talk about it unless I initiated the conversation. I would suggest sending her thoughts in an email or a card that she can read on her own time. I personally really hated the head tilt followed by the question "How are you doing?". 

    I asked a co-worker to send an email to the office before I came back as to what happened so people did not have the curiosity and need to ask me about it. SO that helped a lot.

    I hope all the best for your friend/co-worker. You being pregnant could be a trigger for her, too. Just FYI. I had a hard time with babies that were the same age as our angel. 

    DD#1 8/7/2009 TTC#2 BFP 11/10/12 Baby girl born sleeping at 26 weeks
  • I think a card letting her know you're thinking of her and are available if she needs anything is a good idea. I haven't experienced a pregnancy related loss, but cards and emails were the easiest for me to process when my father passed away. I didn't necessarily want to talk to people in person or on the phone or feel obligated to return phone calls. On that note, don't feel offended if she doesn't acknowledge whatever gesture you make right away, or ever for that matter. At some point, you get so many well wishes that the thought of responding can be overwhelming. However, I can tell you that it meant a lot to me that people said or did anything at all, even though I wasn't always up to acknowledging it.
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  • A colleague of mine was expecting a baby about a week after me.  She lost the baby at 20 weeks.  I sent her a short email a few weeks later telling her I know this is a very difficult time, that I am thinking about her and that I am here if she wants to talk.  That was 2 months ago.  She has still not been able to she me in person (too hard for her) but told a mutual colleague that she was very appreciative that I sent an email and have given her the space she needs to do things on her schedule. We have emailed quite a bit about work and some about personal things but I am happy that I let her know I am here for her but let her decide when she was ready to see me.  Everyone is different and your colleague may want something different but I would recommend taking it slow.  Best wishes!
    Due Date: 3/1/13

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  • I lost my son at 20 weeks and after 2 weeks out I was MEGA stressed when I returned. I advised one of my good work friends to tell everyone to not mention it and pretend I was on vacation. So I returned to a lot of welcome back hugs and was told I was missed, but no one said how sorry they were or anything. I was very grateful for that.. There were no pity face or anything so it was a nice change from the crying on my couch.

    I would say welcome back but not mention anything unless she brings it up.

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  • I know that one of my co-workers lost her husband (which is different, but still as painful/traumatic), and she asked a friend to email us and tell us what she needed.  In this case, it was to be told "glad you're back" rather than "how are you?" when she returned to work, and to carry on with things as normal, because she wanted her routine back.

    When we found out about our LO's congenital heart defect, I was a mess.  I took a lesson from her, though, and sent a message around to the staff (I work in a tight-knit Catholic school) explaining what was going on, and asking people for what I needed, which was prayers, not the be asked about it because I was liable to cry every time I thought about it, and not to be told stories about so-and-so's child who had X and everything turned out alright (because those stories were very hard for me to listen to).  My co-workers were very good about respecting my wishes and letting me talk as I was ready.  The nicest thing that people did for me was to send an email saying they were thinking of me and that LO was in their prayers.

    I'd think a note/email expressing the fact that you are thinking of her and ready to listen if she ever needs it would go a long way.  And of course, not waxing prolific about how great it is to be pregnant/how excited you are/etc. when she is around.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks for the responses, ladies. I wanted to be very careful about this, knowing that, like one of you stated, my pregnancy could end up being a trigger for her and I did not want to come off like I was trying to gloat or rub salt in her wounds. It's especially tricky since she was going to be going on her maternity leave around the time I'd be coming back from mine, so I know seeing me come back may be painful for her, especially when I put baby pictures up in my cube. There are also a number of other pregnancies in our area in which the babies will be due around the same time as me, and therefore mamas will be coming back with new pictures and whatnot.

    I think I'll go with the suggestion of not saying anything directly to her, but instead leaving her a nice note saying I'm thinking about her and I'm available if she needs anything, then leaving the ball in her court to acknowledge it (or not acknowledge it) as she sees fit.

    Thanks!
     
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