October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I'm a day late on creating this post to recognize the day that's set aside in October for remembrance in memory of those lost.
Pregnancy and infant loss is much more common than many realize. 1 in 4 will experience a loss. Approximately a million pregnancies each year in the US will end in early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or loss of a newborn.
In October of 2004 my husband and I got married and planned to start our family as soon as possible. We found out we were expecting on December 5th of 2005 and I promptly called everyone I knew and let them know. I told all of my co-workers and I started a journal to my baby that day! I had been desperately wanting a baby for the prior four years but was waiting for the timing to be right.
On the 9th of December I went to meeting with my mom and my sister to celebrate my brother's recovery from addiction as he had met a big milestone. That evening I was feeling off and thought maybe I was just starting to get the common queasiness that comes with pregnancy. About 8:30 that evening I went into the restroom in a small church in a small town and realized I was bleeding. I sat there and cried because I knew in that moment that my dream was crashing and I was devastated. By the following morning I was certain that I had miscarried and I called my midwife through my tears and she ordered blood tests to check my hormone levels. She called me later that afternoon and while she told me through my unending sobs that my levels were zero I could hear her voice cracking as she tried to comfort me.
Miscarrying is devastating and miscarrying with a first pregnancy leaves you with so many questions, fears and doubts about your body. Until you experience it personally you don't realize how common it really is. If you've shared your news with others many will share their own loss stories with you. We really need to remove the stigma around pregnancy loss so others don't feel so alone in their journey. Many never share their stories with anyone outside their immediate family and that's ok because it is their story to share (or not) as they feel led to but you need to know that if it happens to you you're not alone. Look around you and know that someone close to you shares the pain you are experiencing.
When you experience a loss at any stage many people will try to comfort you. They often will be very clumsy in their efforts and may even say things that are more harmful than helpful. Forgive them as they really are trying. Also know there is no time limit on your grief. If you feel better in three days good for you, if you're still sobbing quietly every night while trying to sleep three weeks later that's ok too. Reach out to those close to you who will listen and offer a shoulder to lean on or to cry on.
If you know someone who had recently experienced a loss and you want to help and/or offer comfort a simple "I'm so sorry this happened to you" goes a long way. It's ok to say that you don't know what to say and to just say you're sorry. A gift that recognizes their loss or a nice meal also goes a long way. When I lost my baby my sister typed out a lovely poem and framed it and bought me an angel bracelet. I still look at that sitting on my dresser and think for a moment about that baby and wonder what they would have looked like or what their personality would have been like.
My story had a happy ending as I actually found out I was expecting again exactly a month after my loss and I now have an amazing 15 year old daughter who is going to light the world on fire and I count my blessings all the time that I have her in my life.
Know that my heart goes out to you always if you've been there and while there is a day and month set aside for observance that doesn't negate the grief you may feel on the other 364 of the year. If you need resources related to pregnancy or infant loss please reach out and we will help you find resources in your area and that are related to your specific needs.