The month of October has been designated as National Pregnancy Loss & Infant Loss Awareness Month.
I had a miscarriage soon after my first child was born. My loss was accompanied with some guilt, too – finding out I was pregnant while caring for a newborn left me horrified. But, I quickly adjusted to the thought of my “Irish Twins” and was devastated when I miscarried. Then came the guilt. How could I have initially greeted this pregnancy with such little enthusiasm? Guilt and being a mama: A match made in hell.
Almost 20 years has passed since that time but there are two occasions when I am still reminded about it:
When I see my friend who had a similar due date. Her little girl is all grown up. I should have someone excitedly entering the next chapter of life.
When filling out medical paperwork. In subsequent pregnancies and on certain medical forms, you are required to record how many live births you have had, and also how many pregnancies. My numbers don’t match. I get shivers thinking about the mamas out there whose numbers REALLY don’t add up, and by a long shot. Just can’t imagine having to write down: pregnancies: 8 / live births: 0
I often think about the mamas who have lost full-term babies or babies during the first year of life. I wonder what happens when they are innocently asked “so, how many kids do you have?”
I think that must be a torturous question – the answer could either make you feel you are not acknowledging your lost child, or alternatively, you have to explain the painful experience to every stranger who is making small talk.
I had a teacher in high school who was raising two daughters, five years apart in age. She had lost her middle daughter, who was severely disabled, after several years of caring for all three of her girls. She often had people comment to her: “Two kids, five years apart in age – what an easy way to do it!”
Little did they know.
So I hope that this time of the year reminds the world that every mama is entitled to her grief – no matter what form it takes or how long it lasts. Because honestly, for most of us, it lasts a lifetime.