I never want to be a trigger.
As a therapist for Moms, I recognize that my current pregnancy, journey as a mother including the pain of loss can be a trigger for those challenged in their fertility, those longing to mother or mother more, and for some who know all too well the grief that comes with all of the above.
It's this dance, this struggle that we as perinatal providers face can be a complicated one. We know what's frowned upon in private practice or at work. The question is, How much of my own pain or joy do I share when I am not acting as a therapist or provider? I wonder this when I'm just posting a baby bump pic to that my own social media friends and followers.
What is a trigger???
A trigger is simply a cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist, (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience. An internal trigger comes from within the person. It can be a memory, a physical sensation, or an emotion. An external triggers can come from the environment. They can be a person, place, or a specific situation. (more about triggers)
I must be completely transparent: I recall my own struggle to be happy for pregnant women after just miscarrying in November 2017. That loss rocked my world in a way that could not have ever imagined. I struggled emotionally and physically. I planned and hosted a baby shower while struggling with depression and anxiety related to that loss. I would hear friends complain about the woes of their own pregnancy and would scoff internally. I wish I could experience that. Before the miscarriage, my coworker and I found out we conceived around the same time and secretly celebrated how close our due dates were. I watched her thrive in pregnancy while I was left so torn and upset with my body. Mad at God. She had an uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Later in 2019, I grieved again. I couldn't watch diaper commercials while pregnant with our son diagnosed with Trisomy 13. Due to his prognosis, doctors did not expect him to survive. I cried and prayed that he'd live long enough to even soil a diaper. I was triggered by probing pregnancy questions from coworkers, clients, students, church members, ANYONE who saw our growing baby bump.
After he passed away in 2020, I recall a family member persistently showing me baby shower pictures of a lovely family in their timeline. I was so triggered. There were so many moments like these throughout our years of trying to grow our family. Too many to pen in this time. My hope in sharing a few of these is to simply articulate that I am aware of the trauma and triggers. Because of this awareness and sensitivity, I bear some sense of responsibility for guarding the hearts of all hoping to parent. Realistically though, I can't protect everyone from every triggering moment. Even the ones, unfortunately, brought on by me.
Now, I am in my 36th week of our fifth pregnancy. I recognize how blessed I am to even count this many moments of conception, even with the losses. And Truth is, I still have moments! Part of my continual recovery is leaning on my community of moms, therapists, family and most importantly.... THE LORD.
Even in the hard moments, the jealous moments, the angry moments, the depressing and worrisome moments, God has been there to Comfort.
Whether through a song, a person, a cherished memory or vision of hope... He can walk you through your pain, your questions, and struggle. He's Fit and Mighty to handle your anger and disappointment, even if it's geared towards Him.
Tiffany has years of experience working with families in their reproductive journey whether through maternal mental therapy, breastfeeding education, group counseling and crisis intervention. She is currently the host of Wholly Mamas Podcast and is one of the Volunteer Support Coordinators of Postpartum Support International (PSI) for the State of South Carolina.
She is also a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional, Faculty for PSI Trainings and member of Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color (PMHA-POC).