Today is Oct. 15 — Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have been sitting at my desk debating with myself as to whether I should write a column about the subject or not.
The subject is a private and painful one, and one of the issues that makes it difficult to deal with is that people don’t really want to talk about it.
So it is for all of those reasons that I have been waffling. It is painful, it is private, and for me, it is personal. But if someone doesn’t talk about it — how will others know they are not alone in their suffering?
I have experienced pregnancy loss four times — my first, my last and two in between several healthy babies. Two first-trimester miscarriages, and two in the second trimester.
Second trimester — as in hearing the baby’s heartbeat, wearing maternity clothes, picking out names and then seeing a look of dread in your doctor’s eyes when he can’t find that heartbeat that was there at your last appointment.
All of the losses were devastating, but the second trimester ones were brutal. When you lose a baby that far along, your body can think it has had a child. Your milk comes in, your hormones go haywire — further complicating an already emotional situation.
When you lose a baby you need space to grieve, but you also need others to come along beside you and give you comfort.
You have lost a future that you have been dreaming about and planning for. You wonder — will I always feel like there should have been another chair at the family table? The answer for some — is yes.
Time does heal and lessen the pain. My pregnancy losses are not something I think about very often, they were many years ago now. But when I do talk about them — like today — there is a familiar lump in my throat and sting to my eyes.
I had some great support from my family, my friends and my church during those times. Not everyone is so lucky. My encouragement to those who are going through loss is to reach out and ask for help. It hard to heal when you are alone.
If you know someone who is dealing with pregnancy or infant loss, step out of your comfort zone and offer to help. Offer to talk, watch their other kids, bring over a meal or a chai latte. Just something to say, “I’m thinking about you,” and to acknowledge that their loss is real.
Never say, “It’s alright, you’ll have another one some day.” That doesn’t help and it may not be true. One of things parents who have lost a child deal with is the reality that they may not be able to have another one. When I had the second of my second trimester miscarriages, I knew in my heart that was it — there would not be another successful pregnancy in my future.
Also, don’t forget about the father and the grandparents.
One more thing — if you are the one who has dealt with pregnancy loss and have come out of your grief to see the light at the end of the tunnel — be brave and offer some companionship and comfort to someone going through the same thing.