October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A month where we are supposed to pause and reflect on those who have suffered the unimaginable horror of losing a child. If I’m being completely honest with you I’ve been avoiding this topic like the plague. I’ve re-posted some great content from others blogs, I’ve mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter, but have not tackled it myself. And no, I hadn’t been meaning to get to it later. I didn’t want to talk about it…Because it terrifies me.
I’m 30 weeks pregnant, and it still terrifies me. I’ve been fortunate enough to never experience miscarriage myself, and it still terrifies me. It’s one of the most terrifying things I can even imagine- to get pregnant and never get to hold your child. Miscarriage is like a dark cloud that hangs in a room, sinister, scary as fuck, disruptive and painful… and yet we, as a society, seem to think if we just don’t make eye contact with it, it will go away. If we don’t make eye contact with it, it won’t hurt us. But that’s not true. In fact, that’s bullshit. This kind of thinking hurts others. Other people who’ve already been hurt enough by their shitty turn in circumstance and shouldn’t need additional shame heaped on them through our non-actions.
I’ve known so many people who’ve had to be brave while their dreams and lives crumbled in front of them. In person. Online. The numbers are staggering- 1 in 4 couples will lose their child to miscarriage. Many have had to go through this more than once, twice, five times. I truly cannot imagine. Infertility has made me more aware of the statistics of pregnancy loss, it is prevalent within the community because repeat pregnancy loss classifies a couple as technically infertile. Miscarriage and still birth touch so many, and it is devastating. Even if you weren’t trying to conceive it’s gutting to lose a baby. If you have tried for months or years or undergone treatment to see those two lines it can seem world ending. And yet even within the infertility community we sometimes only whisper about miscarriage. We know better, and obviously support those who are suffering, but it can be hard. That terrifying reminder that you can get that close to the dream and still not have it become reality. The fear shakes us and we feel the need to distance ourselves from that hurt.
Recently, I’ve had the privilege and misfortune of helping some friends through miscarriages at different stages of their pregnancy. While trying my best to support them it occurred to me how hurt they felt and how much it seemed like they couldn’t voice these hurts because no one wanted to talk about it. No one knew what to say. It made everyone uncomfortable. But you know what? That’s the other people’s problem, or it should be. We shouldn’t be making this discomfort the grieving parent’s burden to carry. They have enough to endure without adding societal shit and terror onto it. So I want to take this opportunity to apologize.
I’m only able to speak for myself, I don’t represent others, but I am sorry.
I’m so sorry for:
-Not talking about pregnancy and infant loss earlier, my silence doesn’t make it go away.
-Not talking about it because I hoped it wouldn’t affect me. For letting my fear override my compassion.
-Not looking you in your eyes when I tell you I’m sorry your pregnancy has ended. Not seeing you doesn’t somehow protect me from your grief.
-For not just telling you that I don’t know how to help or what to say. For forgetting that sometimes admitting that I don’t have the answer is all you need.
Instead, let me say that truly:
– I’m sorry for the depth of your pain, although I cannot understand it.
– I’ll be here to listen when and if you need to talk. Or if you just need me to hold you while you cry. I cannot understand this grief, but I know that grief is tempered slightly when you have people to stand with you through it. I hope you’ll let me be that person.
– Your baby was real. And loved. And should be addressed. I will not cringe away from their name or their memory. I may not know what to say. But please don’t feel you have to silence their name on your lips.
– I’m sorry that we live in a society that whispers miscarriage and avoids people who have suffered it as if it’s catching. And I’m so sorry if the last time this happened I left you alone in it. I was wrong.
-I love you.
I wish there was more I could do, but this post is a small start and it’s all I have right now. Having to walk with these friends recently has broken my heart and I just hope that in the future I can do better for them and anyone else who has gone through this terror. I am ashamed for what I did not fully understand before. I hope that if you have undergone the loss of your child that you have had support through the pain, and that you know your child was valued. Whether they lived hours, days, weeks, or months. Whether they breathed air or not.
I am so sorry for your loss.
I’ll leave you with a song by Ed Sheeran. He wrote this for friends that had undergone a miscarriage. It’s a beautiful and desperately sad tribute. Raw and from the heart.