International Pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day is a day of reflection for many parents. Sadly, there are so many parents who have lost infants and suffered a miscarriage that the frequency with which it happens is staggering.
Never heard of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day? That’s ok. I wish no one was having miscarriages or losing infants. It’s a day of remembrance for parents who have suffered miscarriages, delivered stillborn babies, sudden infant death syndrome victims and other causes of child loss.
“National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month … offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems,” Ronald Reagan.
Before we lost our baby, I never knew there was a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I had no idea knew that 1 in 4 pregnancies ended in miscarriage.
But once I miscarried, everyone I knew had a story. It’s something that happens to a lot of us that none of us talk about. It made me sad to know that all of these women were walking around the world with their hearts broken in a way that brings a pain and anguish that only losing a pregnancy or a child can bring.
The grief is one that you cannot get passed. Time can make it easier to survive, but you never get over losing a baby.
According to United States estimates, roughly 15 to 20 percent of all American pregnancies end in miscarriage in early pregnancy. Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy.
More than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks. Mine happened during week 10.
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I don’t talk about my miscarriage very often anymore. It’s like reopening a gaping wound in my heart to remember too vividly. But it remains, right beneath the surface, like a ghost haunting me. Today, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I want to talk about it.
My pregnancy was unexpected. It wasn’t planned. We were living with my in-laws, waiting for our house to sell in another state. The Big Guy and I had been living apart for 2 years because of the Big Guy’s job. It just wasn’t doable anymore.
The Big Guy and I wanted another child. We’d planned on another child, after Gabi. When Gabi was almost 2, the economy was terrible and the Big Guy had to work out of state. We only saw each other on weekends. We had to shelve the idea of baby #3.
2 years later, living in a bedroom at my in-laws’ house, we were pregnant. Feeling every bit of the scrutiny and judgment one feels when, as an adult, living in someone else’s house with little kids. There were stepping on toes and disagreements on child rearing. It was a lot of good intentions gone awry. Mostly it was a lot of biting of tongues and hurt feelings.
I found out that I was pregnant at quite possibly the worst timing ever. Especially since there was such a lack of boundaries that things like, “ I hope you guys don’t get pregnant. We can’t fit anyone else in this house,” were tossed around, half teasingly and half-truth.
There we were holding this secret. We were excited about the secret baby of ours. More than anything, I was thrilled to be able to give our Gabi the one thing she was asking for, a baby brother or sister. I could stomach all the rude comments just to know that on her birthday, I was going to surprise her with the one thing she wanted most.
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It was hard walking around a house, where it had openly been said that another child would be an even bigger imposition than we already were. It was hard keeping it hidden with extreme morning sickness and trying to appear as normal as possible when keeping the biggest secret I have ever had; the most amazing secret.
A few weeks before my big planned reveal at Gabi’s 5th birthday party, I began to spot. It was week 10 and 4 days. I had spotted with both previous pregnancies. I wasn’t worried but I called the doctor anyway, just to be sure. Then, it happened. My secret miracle was lost. I had a miscarriage, all the world receded to the background and all I could feel was the loss.
It felt like I had been betrayed. I felt guilt for being scared when I first found out that I was pregnant; shame that I had let their words weigh on my heart. It felt like somehow, I was responsible. Did I allow it to happen? Like maybe if I would have spoken up at the time and told them I was pregnant and demanded they accept it, maybe my baby would still be alive. But that was all lies that my broken mind told my shattered heart to survive; to make sense out of one of the most tragic moments of my life.
What was going to be a pregnancy announcement turned into a miscarriage announcement. I felt compelled to let everyone know that my baby was here. He existed. He was loved, even though he was now gone. It was, thus far, the worst moment of my life. I was wounded irreparably and I have never completely healed.
My baby would be turning 6 this November 24th. I have friends who have children who are 5 and 6, who I completely forgot that were pregnant at the same time as I was because the year of 2012 is a complete blur of sadness and grief to me. All that I can vividly remember is the excruciating pain I endured. The millions of tears that I shed. Little voices, hugging me tight and offering me love and acceptance while I mourned the loss of their baby brother/sister.
1 in 4 women experience this kind of loss and the mind-breaking grief that so often accompanies it. It’s unimaginable and unfathomable the pain the human heart is capable of experiencing until you do. Then nothing else seems quite as relevant.
So many mothers and fathers walking around the planet surviving the pain and loss of their children. Let today, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, remind you to be kind to each other, every day because you never know what someone is going through. It could be the worst day of their life or the anniversary of their loss. You just never know.
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Somedays I feel strong and like I’ve made major leaps to move on through my grief and loss and other days, I feel like my heart is held together by a stick of chewing gum and a prayer. I am surrounded by what might have been all around me. It hurts because my miscarriage robbed me of that. Still, I try to take joy in the little time I did have; the all-consuming love that I had for my third baby and that has to be enough for now.
Do you know anyone who has suffered a loss?