My baby boy would have turned 20 this year. For many that know me, this may cause some confusion…what baby boy? On February 16, 2001, I miscarried at 7 ½ weeks pregnant. Since I was the proud Mom of two beautiful daughters at the time, I’m convinced my angel baby was a boy. Zachary.
It’s been over 20 years since I lost my little baby. I know, you may think that I should be over it by now, but if you’ve ever experienced miscarriage, you know that you don’t just get over it. In fact, like most grief, your heart never fully heals; it just gets easier living without that piece of it. I’ve learned so much over the years. I’ve learned a ton about myself, I’ve heard some incredible and painful stories of other women who have been through this, and I’ve learned more and more that the world really doesn’t talk about miscarriage.
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. During the entire month, we take time to honor and remember those who have lost a child during pregnancy or lost a child in infancy. I’m certain many of you may not be aware of this recognition during the month of October. Unfortunately, according to the American Pregnancy Association, 10-25% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, which equates to 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. This means it is way more common than you realize. I’d be willing to say the majority of people reading this have been impacted either directly or indirectly by a pregnancy loss.
So why is miscarriage, pregnancy loss and infant loss such a taboo topic in today’s society? No one talks about it, and few know how to help someone going through it. It’s awkward to address in general, both for the parents experiencing the loss and for the people trying to help them cope. It becomes easy to pretend it didn’t happen, so we don’t have to be uncomfortable.
I vividly remember feeling sadness, shame, guilt, and self-blame. I cried, because when I saw the two lines on the home pregnancy test, I loved you. I began imaging the child you would be, how much your big sisters would love you, I dreamed of your future that due to the miscarriage, would never come to fruition.
Then the questioning began… What did I do wrong? Why was I being punished? Did I eat something I shouldn’t have? Was it the cold medicine I took before realizing I was pregnant? Did I hurt the baby? Did I cause this? I also didn’t realize that although the pregnancy has ended, it takes a while for your body to realize it’s no longer pregnant. Having to walk around feeling pregnant was an additional level of awful I had not been prepared for.
The silence around early pregnancy can also mean lack of support with pregnancy loss. Many parents, like myself, wait until they have passed the 12-week mark before sharing they are pregnant. By doing so, many suffer pregnancy loss in silence. It can feel very isolating, without the support of others, those who love you and those who share your experience.
As I mentioned earlier, for those of you reading this who feel like it doesn’t relate to you, remember 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, so I would be willing to bet you know of someone who has experienced the loss of their baby. Because of my own experience with losing my Angel Baby, I’d like to offer some suggestions to help those you care about as they work through their own grief journey.
- Lend your ears and your heart. If someone shares this news with you, don’t be afraid to just sit and listen to them. Keep checking in on them as the months go by so they know they are not alone. Don’t forget to ask about the Dad too.
- Acknowledge the life of their baby and acknowledging their parenthood. How ever you choose to do this, allow the parents to know their baby is real and their loss is real and that it is okay to grieve.
- Remind them they are not at fault and they are not alone.
On October 15th, Arlington will participate in the International Wave of Light, by lighting a luminary at 7 pm local time to honor all babies gone too soon. I would be honored to light a personal luminary in remembrance of a baby you loved, to create a continuous “wave of light” across all time zones covering the entire globe. Please register below to have your personal luminary lit.