October is apparently the month for awareness. And each and every single one I support the best I
can. Need a little more pink for breast cancer awareness, okay? Need some reminders how bullying can affect lives? Tell me where to sign up. But there is none more important to me than Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Awareness.
And I can guarantee that because I just wrote that that I have turned off some of you. Not because you are mean or cruel or because you don't care. Instead it is because no one wants to talk about a baby's death. Let alone a pregnancy loss. Pregnancy brings about feelings of hopefulness and looking positively toward the future. A pregnancy loss dashes all hopes and forces us to think about grief and loss in ways that many times hearts cannot comprehend.
The hard truth though is that 10-25% of all recognized pregnancies are lost due to miscarriage. Do you understand what that means? Recognized means someone besides the mother and father recognize the female as pregnant. That means that the statistics on pregnancy loss are much more high. More importantly, those are the pregnancies that are talked about. I imagine that statistic to actually be much higher.
I also believed it would never happen to me. And once it did I was devestated by how much a lack of awareness did exist on the topic. I was fearful to bring it up. I am still am. I was fearful to acknowledge something that I hadn't seen. Almost as if I didn't have the right to grieve because my baby was so small. But when I did bring it up comments like, "It was for the best" or "You can have another" came across so hurtful, though not intentional. My response is and always will be, "I wanted that one and a child could not be replaced. With time and healing I realized the comments were less about me and more with the uncomfortable topic of pregnancy loss.
I have shared my story so much that I want it now to forever be one I have with just my guy. It is ours. It was our pregnancy, our loss and our child. But what I can share is more awareness through the acknowledgement that it happened to me. Especially in this month.
That pregnancy loss doesn't come with a ruler to measure size against the amount of grief you are allowed to have. It also doesn't come with an expiration date. It has been 10 years this past August for me and sure the hurt isn't the same as the day of. But my aching heart and longing for what never was is exactly the same. No matter the years or time or the tears. I will always wonder what if? That was my child.
Society in general struggles talking openly about things like grief but what a grieving parent wants more than anything is that acknowledgement that their child existed. For some that may just be on the anniversary of the due date you say, "I know today is the day and I am thinking of you." Or sometimes it maybe just a simple, "That sucks. I am so sorry." This can take place even years after the loss.
Every single year, my life long friend who also suffered a pregnancy loss and I, will go out of way to do that. We both recognize the acknowledgement we want will usually just be provided by ourselves. So we make a simple, but an easy point to text, or phone call on an important day associated with the loss. She gave birth to her baby way too soon. And my own pregnancy loss was a spontaneous abortion, a cruel and tough term considering that baby was very much tried for and wanted, but that is the medical term for a pregnancy lost before the 20th week of pregnancy. But we bonded in a manner through that loss in ways that most people can't and should not have to know.
But for me the acknowledgement comes from the extra tiny pumpkin we purchase every year or that special ornament on the christmas tree. Or the tight hug my guy and I share around the day of of the loss. Oh and the memories in my closet. A tiny baby quilt, a doctor's slip acknowledging "threatened miscarriage", a certificate from the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, a bag full of 10 pregnancy tests that I used to remind myself a baby was there even though I knew it was a loss and I took one every day until it was completely blank, a beautiful angel knitted for me by a church lady who was asked to anonymously pray for our loss and a picture I received anonymously in the mail.
If you do know someone that has suffered this loss the best thing you can ever say is, "I am sorry." I know there are things that pop up to say that seem right, but usually they are not. I have even said them. Just acknowledge the loss as a loss like any other. A tiny baby wanted or maybe even not wanted. It is the loss of a life. The minute a woman knows she is pregnant plans are being made for this life and its purpose.
October 15th was set aside by the United States Congress to acknowledge it as National Pregnancy Loss and Miscarriage Rememberance Day. I choose to participate by lighting a candle for our own child, but also millions of others. If you do nothing else, I encourage you to send up a warm thought, a prayer or a moment in that day where all the focus is on such a tremendous loss and its lasting reminants on its parents and families. We cannot ever end pregnancy loss, but we can stop pretending it doesn't happen and hurting those who know it does because they live with it.