I’ve been avoid writing because of a topic that would not leave me alone. It’s hard to know that friends and family will read about my pain and either feel guilty or sorry for me. I certainly don’t want pity or to place blame or guilt on anyone, so I just chose to avoid writing altogether. And then, one of my best friends recently experienced her second miscarriage. The similarities of our experiences are mind blowing, but during my visit with her, I realized how important it was for me to write this blog post. So, here goes.
After a year and a half, I believe the process of the wound scabbing over and turning into a scar has completed and my life has resumed on to a new normal. However, my pain still exists, it just shows up in unwanted places now. Before, it was a nagging pain, one that I can only compare to a burn injury. Always there, always hurting, only alleviated by sleep or medication. Now, it’s more of a triggered pain: a friend or acquaintances pregnancy announcement or birth announcement, the first birthdays of the babies that turned one around the same time my boy would have. The silence of family and friends, because they don’t know if they should talk about him, or just avoid the topic altogether. From now until the end of my life, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my due date, my loss date, any family gathering, these days will all trigger the pain of our loss. The pain of memories never made, the reality of life moving on with no one other than myself and my husband to vocally remember our son that was just as real as all of the other babies living in this world. Directly after my miscarriage we encountered the trigger days, but my wound was still gaping and the pain was relentless, with or without a trigger. But, this past year, I brought my scars to each party and found myself confused by my feelings of the silence. Do I really want our friends and family to talk about our son? Would talking about him hurt more than the silence?
Several months ago, I decided to join a few closed groups on Facebook that are for people like me. Those of us trying to cope with our losses caused by miscarriage. I needed somewhere to vent out my pain when I was in places that weren’t appropriate to cry or display my anger. Along with the ability to vent without judgement, I found that while each of us has our own unique miscarriage story, for the most part, we all experience the same need to remember our babies and confusion on if and how we need our families and/or friends to remember our babies. Almost, every single person that commented on my posts about how hard it was to attend a birthday party, or Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering, without hearing one single mention of our missing family member, had felt that same confusion.
Before my visit with the friend I mentioned earlier, I realized that even I, someone who has walked down the road she’s just starting out on, even I, really didn’t know what to say to her. I could give words of encouragement, and provide quotes and scriptures that helped me get by; but we both knew that her pain was too deep for either of us to mend. After our visit and during a 2.5 hour car ride home, I contemplated the confusion that I’d been internally battling for months. What is it that she needs? What did I need at her stage in this grieving process? What do I still need? I decided, that our need was to have at least one person, besides our spouses, that would never forget our babies. To always remember that they existed, even though just briefly, they still existed. And that their short existence in our lives mattered.
It’s important to me that my family and friends who are reading this know I’m not upset or angry at them. Nor, do I want to make those that have reached out feel like I think they should have done more. I mean, really, as I mentioned, even I don’t have words. I just want you to know that it is okay to bring up more than just the pain I’ve been feeling. It’s okay to bring up how old he may be, or compare him to the other children in our lives. It’s okay to send a note of remembrance. It’s okay not to remember the date we lost our babies or the date they should have been born; by remembering them at all means their short time here hasn’t been forgotten. They existed. My sons little heart had a healthy beat for almost 15 weeks of our lives. He had a heart that stole mine from the very first beat I witnessed. Because, holding my son in my hand, counting his fingers and toes, that changed me; he changed me. And although his life didn’t extend into your physical world, he enveloped our whole world, forever. So whether or not you bring him up doesn’t change how often he is on our minds. And talking about him will never inflict any new pain.
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
I feel the need to spend a little time on something I touched on at the beginning of this post; and I think it’s safe to say I can speak for all of the miscarriage moms and dads on this – pregnancy announcements and birth announcements — these sting. Not because we are not happy for those of you going through such an exciting time in life; but instead, due to our loss in a time that should have been exciting. We are tainted. So, please don’t be offended if we don’t ‘like’ your baby picture posts or comment congratulations on your pregnancy or birth announcements. Some days are better than others. And my biggest hope is that one day, I’ll be able to share a birth announcement of a healthy baby, too. I also, just have one request on behalf of all of the miscarriage community, please cherish your ‘moment’, gratefully, and realize that your experience is literally, from the mouths of doctors everywhere, a “miracle”. Don’t complain about it. If you are going to put it out there for all of us to be a part of, please be aware of our sting and be intentional of your awareness in your choice of words. There are tons, literally tons, of us out here trying to have the same experience you are having; but we are fully aware that even when that test pops up positive for us, our ‘moment’ will be filled with joy mixed with fear and excitement mixed with anxiety for the next, hopefully, 9 months. And that is something we hope none of you ever have to experience. Oh, and if you happen to see a fake pregnancy announcement or two floating around on your social media around April Fools Day; perhaps instead of joining in on the “fun” you’ll instead think of your friends going through fertility treatments, or the friend that just lost her baby, and think twice. Because, those ‘announcements’ cut like a knife and are really the worst joke ever.