October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.
October is also the month when my husband and I experienced both of our miscarriages.
The first was very early–around five weeks. The second happened two years later, and I was ten weeks along. The news came at our first ultrasound.
I will never forget the words of the doctor, “I’m sorry, but we can’t find a heartbeat… which means this is a miscarriage.”
My mind was reeling in shock. No, not again, how could this be happening? The year that followed was the hardest of my life as my husband and I, with trepidation, attempted to get pregnant again, and I wrestled with all of the grief, sorrow, fear, and doubt that washed over me in the wake of our loss.
Since then, I have found out a number of heartbreaking statistics. Nearly one in four women have experienced at least one miscarriage. Miscarriage is something we rarely talk about. We live in a society that ascribes very little value to the life of the unborn. But each one lost is an individual, and their death brings the grief not only of loss, but of a life never lived. Almost every day I think about how old my first two babies would be now . . . especially when I see other children who would be around the same age.
If you are a babyloss mom, especially if you have experienced multiple losses, your world, your perspective, has changed. For a babyloss mom (or dad), some things suddenly become our reality:
Hesitating to announce pregnancies. With our third baby, we didn’t make any social media announcement until he was born.
The question “how many children do you have?” becomes very complicated.
Sometimes avoiding baby showers because they are just too painful.
Looking at family pictures and always feeling like someone is missing.
No longer thinking, “That couldn’t happen to us.”
Dealing with expectations that have been shattered.
Thinking about things we can do that give our child’s life and memory purpose. For me, that’s talking about it–on the internet, in person, in church, in class. I love connecting with other moms who have been through this, letting them know they are not alone, walking with them through this difficult time.
To the mom who is going through pregnancy and infant loss:
You are not alone.
Your loss is very real–you are grieving the death of a child–as well as all your hopes and dreams for their life. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Slow down if you need to and take time to work through your grief. Don’t be afraid to talk about it with other people.
There are a number of griefshare classes here in Albuquerque, you can find some of them listed here. If you are involved in a local church, talk to your pastor. Let them know what you are going through so they can walk alongside you. Perhaps they can put you in touch with someone else in the church who has gone through it. Dar a Luz Birth Center also has a birth grief and loss group, which you can find more information about here. This website is one resource I have appreciated a lot. Seek out other mothers who have gone through this. You could even contact me, by commenting on this post. I would love to connect with you and talk to you! Many women–and many couples–go through this alone. But know that you don’t have to.
Make sure you get good medical care. Ask questions; be informed. Have doctors and nurses explain to you what is happening, physically. If possible, run some tests. Make sure you are well taken care of. With my third pregnancy I had a really good experience with Women’s Health Specialists of New Mexico. I would recommend them, and they take most insurances.
Perhaps do something to memorialize your baby, with a special piece of artwork or jewelry, a symbol, or a poem.
If you are wondering how to support the person in your life who has been through a pregnancy or infant loss, here are some suggestions.
Sit with them and listen.
Take them a meal.
Cry with them.
Let them know you are thinking about them, and that you care.
Be sensitive about what you say to them. It was painful for us to hear “maybe you’ll get pregnant again soon,” partly because we didn’t want to think about that just then since we were mourning the baby we had just lost; but also because it hasn’t always been easy for us to get pregnant. After our second miscarriage, it took us over a year to get pregnant again. But hearing, “I’m so sorry, I am here if you need anything, I am praying for you, how are you really doing?” etc, was helpful and healing.