Almost five years ago, life as I knew it was about to change forever. A series of events including a once-in-a-lifetime, soul-finding adventure in India and a career change were leading me to a place I always knew I would find: motherhood. My husband and I planned out the birth of our first child almost down to the exact date and when we saw two pink lines on the pregnancy test, it was exciting, but not at all a surprise. It was life as it was always meant to be.
Before my daughter was formed in the womb, I knew her. I had hopes and dreams and a lifetime of memories waiting to be made. When Gabriella was born and placed on my chest, it was as if a piece of my soul was being returned to me. She was always mine, even before I held her in my arms. We are kindred spirits with a connection stronger than words can describe.
My life’s plan included having children two years apart and being the planner that I am, our second baby was due on Gabriella’s second birthday. Something went wrong and what was meant to be never was. I lost my second child, Eliott Jacob, at 17 weeks. It has been more than two years and although time lessens the sting, I know the brokenness I feel will always be there.
Before my son was formed in the womb, I knew him. I had hopes and dreams and a lifetime of memories waiting to be made. When he was taken from me, it was as if a piece of my soul was ripped away. He was always mine, even though I never held him in my arms. We are kindred spirits with a connection stronger than words can describe.
In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. When a child loses a parent, he is called an orphan. When a spouse loses her partner, she is called a widow. When a parent loses a child, there are no words to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many families have experienced.
Statistics vary, but it’s estimated that one in four pregnancies ends in pregnancy loss, though it’s still a subject shrouded in mystery…unless you’ve been through it. Despite differing circumstances, almost everyone I meet who experiences a pregnancy loss has the same story: “I never thought it could happen to me, and I felt so alone.”
That’s my story too, unfortunately. I don’t want anyone else to feel alone. There are so many of us who have walked this dark path before and there is hope, in many forms, at the end of the road. I enlisted the help of a few of my friends to begin a conversation about pregnancy loss. I asked them:
“What’s one thing you wish others knew about losing a baby?”
“I don’t mind you asking questions or bringing up my loss. In fact, I cherish the times I’m able to talk about him and remember him. I had dreams for his future and I was devastated when those dreams were shattered. He was and always will be my middle son, the baby I loved so fiercely and never met. He made me a mother just as significantly as my other boys. Please give me the opportunity to remember and share my little boy.” ~Sarah
“The one thing I wish people knew about losing a baby is how emotionally draining the whole situation is long term. Talking about babies, being around babies, thinking about babies all while struggling to maintain a sense of composure is tough. I wish people would stop constantly asking questions like, “When will you have children?” or “Do you have children?” Questions like this are painful and awkward to those who have experienced loss. Many people don’t understand the pain and struggle that comes with losing a baby and that the grieving lasts a lifetime.” ~Lizzie
“As I was going through it, and right afterwards, I really wanted everyone to know about the physical realities of it, because that is what I felt most unprepared for and disturbed by. This personal or highly confronting stuff, that might be considered “gross” or just too intimate to share easily, is the stuff I particularly don’t think is talked about commonly by society while at the same time can be very difficult to handle. I also remember a lot of well-meaning comments such as “I’m sure you’ll have another one” and me gently having to explain that I appreciated their intentions but was currently focused on the meaningfulness of the baby and grief of the loss. Now, months on from the experience, I wish people knew and felt comfortable to continue to acknowledge our baby/ loss. This is especially now I’m pregnant again. An inner quiet battle goes on every time someone says “is this number 2?” with me deciding whether to talk about my second pregnancy or not.” ~Emily
“I didn’t realize how sad I would be. How heartbroken. I remember my mom and sis were at my house and I just screamed “It’s not fair!!” and burst into tears. I wish there was a support system to turn to when going through it. I just remember feeling so lost. I had NO idea what to expect from letting it happen naturally. My mom found one thing online and that was it. Even the doctor didn’t give me much info about it.” ~Katie
“Before my losses I had no idea that such a thing was likely to happen to me; it seemed like an uncommon thing. Then when I had my first loss, I learned so many people I knew had gone through miscarriages too. I wish people would talk about it. Talking about it (and crying) was the best way I could deal with the grief. I wish it didn’t feel like a taboo subject. I still want to talk about it years after. It is a sad and very normal thing. Also this can help moms feel less guilt over a process that is, unfortunately, common and natural.” ~Laura
“I will never be whole again. With time my body healed, my emotional scars fade, a rainbow baby takes my soul happy…but I am no longer whole. A piece of me is gone and with my baby. It sounds so dramatic, but real for me.” ~Stacy
On October 15th, you can join the many other parents who are grieving in the International Wave of Light where participants from around the world light a candle in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. (in your time zone) light a candle and leave the candle burning for at least an hour. The result is a continuous chain of light spanning the globe for a 24-hour period in honor and remembrance of our babies.
If you are local to San Antonio, join me on October 15 at the 6th annual remembrance event put on by my friend Katie. This will be our third year to attend and every year I’m saddened and comforted by the amount of families who come light candles for babies lost too soon. It’s important to remember that we are not alone on this journey.