In 1988, President Ronald Regan proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A month to bring awareness to the amount of people who are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of an infant. Taking this a step further, October 15 is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a day where families who have lost babies light a candle in remembrance of the precious little ones they lost.
If I am being completely honest, I hate that I know about these things. Until 2013, I had no idea Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month or Infant Loss Remembrance Day existed. For the past few years, October has just frustrated me, because I didn’t want to be a part of these “sad” events.
However, recently I have realized, October is important. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. In the United States, one million pregnancies a year end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn shortly after birth. These stats are heart wrenching, but I think what is even more heart wrenching than the statistics is how little we talk about those losses.
Miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of precious newborns is ugly. It’s hard to talk about. It’s uncomfortable to not be able to fix the situation or know what to say. However, no matter how ugly, hard or uncomfortable, loss is something we need to talk about. It wasn’t until I started talking that I realized so many people could relate. Most everyone knows someone who has a lost a baby.
So this October, as I think about my miscarriages, this is what I want you know:
- I remember. I know how old my first baby should be and how far along my second pregnancy should be. It hurts to remember, but it hurts more to think that no one else remembers. Please don’t be afraid to ask me how I am doing. It’s ok to talk about my babies or ask about my due dates.
- It’s ok not to know what to say. Sometimes, a hug is all I need. If you can’t physically hug me, sending a text that says “I’m thinking of you” speaks volumes.
- Loss affects my entire family. Dan and I lost two children, however we aren’t the only ones who feel the loss. My parents lost their first two grandchildren. Dan’s parents lost their third and fifth grandchild. Dan’s sister and her husband lost two nieces or nephews. Our nieces and nephew lost two cousins. We all feel the grief differently, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. If you know someone who is affected by loss, shoot them a message or give them a call to let them know you are thinking of them. I promise it will mean the world to them.
- Trying to have a baby after losing two is hard. If I am being completely honest, being pregnant again scares me. My first pregnancy was traumatic and my second pregnancy was full of a lot of hard days. It’s a strange thing to be so afraid of something I desire so strongly. My heart needs to hear your good pregnancy stories. I need to be reminded that not every pregnancy is traumatic and full of bad news. Yes, sometimes your stories will make me a little sad, but I need to hear them.
- I want to hear about your kids. I want to celebrate your parenting wins and talk through your parenting losses. I want to know the cute things and the not-so-cute things your kids did. I want to hear when you totally rocked your bedtime routine. I also want to know when you can’t handle your kids attitudes and feel like you are failing. I want to walk with you even if I can’t relate perfectly.
- Grief hits me in the strangest moments when I least expect it. I’m sorry for the tears that come out of no where. I am also sorry if I seem a little broken sometimes.
- Not everyday is a bad day. I have a lot of days that I laugh and enjoy life. I don’t think about loss all the time. I really don’t want you to forget that I am blessed and thankful for all aspects of my life, even the ugly painful parts.
If this is your first Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month after losing your baby, I want you to know:
- I am so sorry for your loss. I hate the heartache you are going through. Please know that God loves you so very much. He sees you and His heart is breaking with you.
- You aren’t alone. Don’t let yourself become isolated. Find someone you trust to talk to. Someone who can help encourage you and hold you together on the hard days. A pastor, a counselor, support group or good friend.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to not be ok. This journey is hard. Take time to grieve. Don’t put a timeline on your grief and don’t beat yourself up when you have hard days.
- Self care is important. Don’t stop eating, working out and making the healthy choices you did before you lost your baby. It’s ok to eat a little extra chocolate, but don’t completely lose sight of yourself and your health.
- Keep talking to your spouse. He is hurting too. Talk about the pain together. Tell him when you are having a bad day. Tell him when you need a hug. Spend extra time together. Go on a date…and laugh!
- It is true that the pain of loss never goes away, however it is also true that it changes. You will go a day that you don’t feel the acute pain of your loss… and that is ok. It’s ok to smile, laugh and enjoy life.
- You story doesn’t have to end with loss. Grief and loss does not have to define you.
I have thought long and hard on what I wanted my final words on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month to be. Matthew 5:4 says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I love that reminder. This month, as a community of men and women focus on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, I think it is so important to remember that God hasn’t forgotten us in our mourning. He is in the pain, holding us and longing to comfort us.