I have been pregnant 5 times. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage when I was nine weeks pregnant, complications with Crohn’s disease they said. My second gave us our first daughter. I miscarried my third pregnancy when I was 7 weeks, a blighted ovum - they said there wasn’t even a baby there anymore. My fourth pregnancy resulted in the birth of our second daughter. My fifth and most recent pregnancy ended when I delivered our stillborn son when I was 5 months pregnant. They told me he had been gone for weeks.
Are you uncomfortable now? You don’t really want to read any further? Maybe you feel sorry for me that I would put myself out there like that …
Why? Does my grief offend your sensibilities? Maybe on the surface. But I think you’re afraid. Afraid of it happening to you, afraid of admitting you feel grief too, afraid of what others would think. I can’t imagine any other reason why society dictates that when women suffer the loss of a pregnancy, they need to suffer in silence. It has to be fear …
I have tried to “hide” every one of my pregnancies. Until I reached that magical ‘3 months’ when the pregnancy (usually) is deemed to be viable and you are more than likely to be holding a new babe in your arms in a short six months. And so, for both of my miscarriages, I grieved without the support of most friends, professors and some family, simply because they didn’t know.
When we lost our son Nate, I was 5 months pregnant. Everybody knew we were expecting … I like that word ‘expecting’. We were ‘expecting’ to have a baby in July. It didn’t happen. Our ‘expectations’ were not met. I … we … were crushed. But the outpouring of support we received from everyone is what helped us (and is still helping us) get through. I realized how helpful that would have been after my other two losses.
I understand first hand why some women would prefer to grieve alone. A lot of people don’t get it. With miscarriage, they don’t really think you’ve lost a baby. They think they’re comforting you with words like “Well, at least it was still early.” Like because your baby was really small, that means you loved it less. Or, “It was God’s will”. Honestly, that’s just going to make me even more pissed at God then I already was.
Most people mean well, but they don’t know what to say or do. So, they come out with awkward lines, or end up not doing anything at all (which is so much worse). And the reason they don’t know what to say or do, is because they’ve never really dealt with it before, because people don’t talk about it.
Nobody wants to believe babies die. But they do. And the parents who have suffered such a tremendous loss need your support. And the only way I can see things changing, is if those of us that have suffered start speaking up. A new pregnancy shouldn’t have to be something that you hide. You should be able to rejoice, knowing you will have the full support of your friends, family, co-workers, church, etc., if something does go wrong. So, I will tell my story, and invite others to do the same. In the hopes of encouraging a more aware, supportive and compassionate people.
This Saturday, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Together with my husband and girls, we will walk to remember Nate and our other two angels; to support those walking with us; and to represent the others suffering alone.