In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan Proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
If you, or someone you love, has lost a baby, whether after birth or through miscarriage, you know the pain never goes away. Miscarriage, especially, is often a sorrow that a mother (and father) bears alone—because the loss is unseen. The death of an infant, right at the beginning of a beautiful life, is devastating.
I am writing this post as a tribute to my own personal struggle with infant loss, but also to continue to create awareness and support for those parents who have suffered in silence. On September 20, 2017, after an anxiety-provoking and complicated pregnancy, I had to have an emergency C-section in order to protect my own life. A tiny, underweight baby girl, who got to breathe on this earth for one hour and 15 minutes, was born. Of course, our baby’s story was more complicated than that and wrought with scary twists and turns up until the day we lost her. And looking back I now realize that my grief didn’t even start around that time, but the day I found out that my baby girl could have a random and fatal genetic disorder; I was only 12 weeks along and we lost her at 26 weeks. Each and every week in between was sheer agony. I also didn’t know it at the time, but after that devastating phone call, I would no longer get to experience a “normal” and happy pregnancy, but one full of devastating news, tests after tests, and doctor appointments after doctor appointments.
I really sat long and hard to think about what I was going to fill this post with. I could fill it with details of my loss, of them before, during, and after. But the thing is, those aren’t as important to me as what lies ahead. Everyone’s take on grief is different, and it is not my place to tell anyone how to grieve their lost baby. But the message I want to leave is that it is okay to hurt sometimes, to be filled with that heart-breaking pain, and to have those moments to miss the babies we are living without. Do not allow the loss to be for nothing. Enjoy life, embrace what you have, and try not to let those painful emotions consume you until there is nothing left. I understand that sometimes we feel like a piece of us is missing when they leave us. And that there is nothing else afterward. But the truth is, there can be joy again and love. We might have lost an angel, but hopefully what they have left us is strength to carry on.