October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. I didn’t know that something like that even existed until 2012. It is something that I bring awareness to every October because it is an issue that I hold near and dear to my heart.
On September 6, 2012, I gave birth to a baby born way too early. I was only 23 weeks along at the time. Every time I go back to that day I think “one more week and I would’ve been at viability…..I wonder if he would have made it…” That was my first (and only) pregnancy and it was filled with complication after complication. What ultimately happened was complications with high blood pressure and an amniocentesis which caused me to go in to pre-term labor early. That week is one of the hardest week that I have ever have to go through. It really is a lot more grief than I had to go through with losing my mother. Although that one was a hard pill to swallow, she had cancer and we had time to prepare for that loss. It was unexpected. The loss of a child however is not. One of my dear friends posted a picture that summed up everything that I have felt and have wanted to say for 2 whole years.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss touches 1 in 4 people. I never knew that. When you are going through it, you feel as if it is just you by yourself. Which brings me to……
1. You are not alone in your loss. When I shared on Facebook that I lost my child, the response was overwhelming with friends that had gone through the exact same thing, but had never shared or talked about it. It seems as if it is easier to talk about when you are talking to someone that has experienced the same thing. I have so many renewed friendships just due to that one more thing that we have in common. I was just talking to a co-worker today and learned about her losing her first child. She asked if I had any children and my hesitation was what had her share her story. It’s amazing what a “community” that we are.
2. Grieving is a LIFE LONG process. This is so true. You’d think that you wouldn’t grieve hard over someone that you never got to meet, but you do. The bond between a child and a mother is so INSTANT. Whenever I think I am okay, I see my friend’s son, who was born a week after my original due date and I lose it all over again. Not that I don’t love seeing her son, I just think that they would be the same age right now.
3. Heartache is a physical pain. Now this one I don’t agree with. It’s not physical for me. It may have been at the very beginning, but it is much more mental than anything else.
4. One does not simply “get over it.” The worst thing that I heard in the world was from my dad. I took only 3 weeks off from work after delivery. (My doctor was fully prepared to come up with reasons why I needed a full maternity leave for FMLA purposes for my job. She was awesome.) at the end of the first week, he was telling me how I needed to go back to work because I couldn’t grieve forever. He was lucky that this was by phone because I’m sure I would have thrown something at him if he was in my presence. I needed those full 3 weeks in order to be able to be around people. “Getting over it” still hasn’t happened and probably won’t.
5. A new baby does not replace the other. Because I am not trying to conceive at this point, I wouldn’t know. I’m sure that this is true, but a new baby would be awesome.
6. It’s OK to not be Ok. This is a lesson that I have had to learn. I am used to being strong and being the one that people can lean on when they are going through things. Feeling helpless is something that I don’t do well. It feels weird. I had to learn that it is normal to tear up at diaper commercials and at random times. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s normal.
7. Babies exist even if not born. It’s not okay to dismiss the memory of that child. He was still a person.
8. I will forever and ever love my baby. Without question.
9. Grief never 100% goes away. See #5
10. Please don’t judge what you don’t understand. People who have never experienced a loss of this magnitude don’t quite understand what you are going through. I try my best not to get mad, but I feel as though if you have no idea what it’s like you should listen more and talk less.
11. Pregnancy and infant loss can happen to anyone.
12. I hope it never happens to you. I really hope it doesn’t!
13. I thought it would never happen to me.
14. My baby’s memory is safe within my family. My family recognizes me on Mother’s Day with gifts and flowers and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.
15. It never stops hurting, maybe just less often. See #5.
16. Talk to someone SEEK SUPPORT. Find a counselor. Talk to supportive friends. Reach out to family. Do something! Do not try to get over it alone. It’s okay to need help.
17. Cherish each moment. Never diminish the time that you had because of the loss. I enjoyed the wonder of pregnancy and preparing for the child. I never will forget the happy times.
18. Be gentle with yourself. Enough said.
19. Losing a child is not a disease or illness. There is NOTHING wrong with you!
20. Please learn to love and accept the new me. I have lost friends and have experienced strained friendships due to my loss and the timing of my loss so to speak. I wasn’t answering phone calls after I got home from the hospital. I couldn’t talk to people in my face, let alone talk on the phone. There were a lot of people who took offense to my silence. I felt bad about it at first and blamed myself. Then I woke up. If you can’t be a supportive friend during a time of loss, then you weren’t a real friend. Period. Point blank. It was okay for me to not care about anything else but myself at that time. I miss those people, but I am glad I know who they really are now.
21. Please value my child’s life. See #8.
Have you suffered the loss of a child too early or know someone who has?