I have referenced before how I had wonderful dreams of surprising my husband with some sort of cute way to say “I’m pregnant” but instead came back from a doctor’s appointment saying the words “I’m pregnant” followed by “They can’t find a heartbeat”. This has been some of the hardest words I have ever had to say and sadly I’ve had to say them on multiple occasions.
When you learn you are pregnant, your world immediately changes. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was expected/wanted/prayed for/unplanned/medically assisted….whatever, knowing that potentially in nine months there will be a little being with half your DNA is SHOCKING NEWS. So shocking that some people will cry or yell or go into shock or even act like nothing big is happening for days or months. But in your mind a million things flash through your brain and it consumes a lot of your thoughts.
Now, here is the kicker….read what I wrote again “knowing that POTENTIALLY in nine months there will be a little being”. You see the statistics are varied but most will say that around 20-25% of women miscarry. Basically that is you going out to dinner with 3 friends…and one of you just experience a miscarriage. Yes, one in 4 (or 5) women experience miscarriage…but we don’t talk about it and this is what is sad to me.
So here on October 15, I want to talk about it….why today? Today is “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day” in the US, Canada and many other nations around the world. This is such an impactful event in so many people’s lives, that there is a day to support the people who have suffered this kind of loss and remember those babies who we never got to meet. I see this is beyond an epidemic or a curse, this needs to be dinner table conversation between friends, partners, family, sisters, mothers and daughters.
My personal experience is with miscarriage. I have not experience etopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death so my reference will be about miscarriage. I want to express my thoughts to those families who have suffered these kinds of losses, as each one is a different kind of loss with its own emotional turmoil.
As Amy Roberts puts it so well, “When you become pregnant you enter a big club for women. Its a subculture. You are accepted into the club with open arms. But when you loose the baby you are no longer a part of this club and you can no longer “fit right back in” to where you were before you were pregnant. You are in limbo. There’s no where to go.” Your childless friends don’t really know how to console you. Your friends who are pregnant avoid you because they don’t want to feel upset that they have a baby and you don’t. Your friends with kids are so busy with their kids; they usually don’t have time for you anyway.
After months of sorrow, pain and healing, my husband and I became comfortable talking to people about our first loss. Surprisingly the more people we told, the more people confided in us that they had miscarried too. In a way, it was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone, but in another way, I really needed these people when I was hurting and wanted to talk to someone.
Why didn’t I know someone who suffered a miscarriage when:
- I was bleeding and cramping curled up in a ball for days
- My due date came and went and I had no baby to hold onto
- My Pregnancy Tracker sent me that irritating reminder email of “Your baby is this old and as big as this piece of fruit” that made me avoid the produce section of the grocery store
- Every time someone announced their pregnancy on social media I counted how far apart our babies would have been
- I attended a baby shower and hid in the bathroom crying
- Every time I saw a baby I touched my stomach….then realized I needed to stop
- My husband tried to touch me and I recoiled
- I avoided driving by the maternity store on my way to work.
And that is when I decided we needed to speak up about our loss and support anyone who went through it again. It HURTS, it hurts your body, your mind and your soul…and it is OK and normal to hurt! This loss is just like any other death, you will grieve and this grief looks differently for everyone. It is NORMAL to feel angry, guilt, denial but how do you know this if no one talks about it? Going back to the statistics… one in FOUR women experience miscarriage but we, as a society, never talk about it. We don’t console each other nor prepare each other for the terrible heartache that it causes us, our marriages and our relationships around us.
On October 15th Remembering Our Babies campaign encourages people to light a candle at 7:00PM with the hopes that there will be a continuous wave of light across the globe. But let’s go beyond that: use social media to show support for yourself or those who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, still birth or infant death. Ways you can do this include:
- Posting/Tweet a link to this blog or October15.com
- Change your profile picture to a candle (or use the one above)
- Post/Instagram a picture of a candle
- Post/Instagram a picture of you lighting your candle at 7:00PM.
Also, if you have experienced a loss, be more open about it and do not be ashamed of it. By being more open, you can support, guide and lift up others through their losses. Losing a baby, no matter when it happens, is life altering and needs all the support you can get. I also encourage you to light a candle(s) in memory of your angel babies to show that you have experienced such a loss so that other people can be comforted that they are not alone and if they experience a loss they can reach out to you.
If you have never experienced infant loss, I encourage you to still take action on social media to support those who have and let them know you are there for them. If you know someone who has suffered an infant loss or if you meet someone in the future, it can be uncomfortable to know what to do or say. Amy gives some great ways in her post above and I would like to add that you can acknowledge the loss even when you think it might be a difficult time for the person. One of the most moving moments for us has been when our friends made an effort to tell us in private about their pregnancy, knowing that it was going to be emotional for us to hear. They didn’t want us to hear it from someone else, and they wanted to be there beside us as we juggled the emotions of happiness and sadness at the same time. We’ve also had friends who have given us an easy out when we were invited to their baby showers, knowing we were not in the best place to attend.
Miscarriage is hard for so many and I have found that by being open and talking about our losses my family has healed and we have helped so many through such difficult times. It makes us realize that our three angel babies have a purpose way beyond their little lives and this is the greatest gift they could ever give us.
If you have experience a loss and would like support, you can always contact me, Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org
Support is also at the following websites:
Books that might be helpful are:
Losing You Too Soon by Bernadette Keaggy
Avoiding Miscarriage by Susan Rousselot
Pregnancy After a Loss by Carol Cirulli Lanham
When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden by Sandra Glahn