If you notice friends or relatives using emotional cushioning, experts recommend respecting their approach. While it can be tempting to offer reassurance (“I’m sure everything will be fine!”) or point out silver linings (“At least you know you can get pregnant!”), these phrases can backfire.
“I always felt like I could see this big cliff right next to us that everyone else I knew couldn’t see,” said Freund, of Portland, Ore. “It was right there, and we could all fall off at any moment. But everyone else was pretending like it wasn’t real.”
Instead, Dr. Markin suggested saying something like, “I know you’ve been through a lot. How are you feeling about everything? How are you doing? Is there anything that I can do? Anything that you need? I’m here to listen if you ever want to talk.”
Sometimes, what we need is support for emotional cushioning. Alishia Anderson, of Harbor City, Calif., whom I also met through Pregnancy After Loss Support, had been planning on having a baby shower for her first son, who was stillborn at 28 weeks. “For my next baby, I just was like, I don’t even want to jinx it or chance it,” said Anderson. Instead, she waited until after her second son was born to celebrate.
If you use emotional cushioning, there is nothing wrong with you. You are understandably stressed, and you are coping the way most people do in your shoes. Support can help dampen stress, but it won’t make it go away.
You can take heart that emotional cushioning is fully compatible with a healthy pregnancy. All of the women I talked to used emotional cushioning in their pregnancies after loss, and they all brought their babies home.
I’m beginning to think that I might, too. The day of my ultrasound, as I was lying on crinkled paper on the table, waiting to hear bad news, my husband and I heard something else: Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh — our baby’s heartbeat.
Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer based in Minnesota and holds a master’s degree in psychology.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Worst2021-01-14 16:25:00