October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and earlier this month — on October 15th — was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It is a day and a month to remember the babies we have lost from miscarriage, still birth, or the death of a newborn. Many may have lit a candle for the babies they lost, and many sent thoughts or prayers to families who have suffered.
Statistics estimate that one in four women suffer from a miscarriage in their lives. I am one in four.
I am one in four women who have held a positive pregnancy test, and instantly loved my baby.
I am one in four women who found a clever way to tell her husband that I was pregnant.
I am one in four women who talked about names for that baby with my husband.
I am one in four women who told my mother she was going to have another grandchild.
I am one in four women who had a doctor tell me that this pregnancy might not be viable.
I am one in four women who felt the contractions from my body naturally miscarrying my baby.
I am one in four women who watched her husband cry, knowing he lost a baby too.
I am one in four women who felt confused by how sad I could be about a child I never had.
I am one in four women who had to get my blood tested until my HCG level was back to zero.
I am one in four women who wondered if I could ever have another child – emotionally and physically.
I am one in four women who struggles each year on the day I lost my baby.
I am one in four.
As women, chances are that we will either experience miscarriage ourselves, or someone close to us will. Before I had my miscarriage, I had several loved ones lose babies. I tried to say the “right” things and send cards, meals and text messages to check up on them, but nothing ever felt like it was enough. Then I became one in four myself. I’m here to tell you that what you do and say does make a difference during some of the worst and darkest times. The support I received was enough to help me get through it.
Below are the five things loved ones did that helped:
1. Talked about their own experiences with miscarriage.
So many of us experience miscarriage, and truth be told, only we get it. It is such a unique pain – to designate a place in your heart for a child you will never know – but we all have that in common, whether we carried our baby for a few weeks or 9 months. The first people I told were loved ones who had lost a child themselves. They told me what they had named them. What they did for self-care. What to expect physically during the miscarriage. And they, too, understood the excruciating pain from losing a child they never knew. I was overwhelmed with how many friends and family members told me about their own miscarriages, and although I, of course, don’t want anyone to ever feel that kind of pain, simply knowing I was not alone and what I was feeling was justified provided comfort.
2. Let me know they were thinking about me.
Although nothing takes the pain away, the flowers, cards, offers to bring meals, calls and texts made me feel a little less alone. Miscarriage may be one of the loneliest things a woman can go through, so knowing others are there if and when you want to talk does help. I remember receiving a few texts that simply asked “how are you feeling today” and “I’m thinking about you” and it made me grateful for all the wonderful people I have in my life. It also opened the door, so to speak, if I did want to talk about it.
3. Encouraged me to grieve.
When I told one of my closest friends I was having a miscarriage, I said I was “lucky” because it was early. She never once asked me how far along I was, and I will never forget that or her response, as it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. She said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s hard and you have every right to be sad.” It was then that I was actually able to grieve. I was able to cry and not feel like I was overreacting. I was able to name that baby and recognize that there will always be a special part in my heart for that child. And then, I was able to heal.
The keepsakes were something I would have never thought would be so helpful, but they were and they still are today. My close friend gave me a necklace with the name I chose for that baby on it. Every day I look at it and it gives me peace to think that my loved ones have recognized that child was mine too. My mother gave me a religious chain and prayer as well. It’s something I keep in my nightstand so I know where it is when I need it.
5. Shared other stories of loss.
A few weeks after my miscarriage, one of my friends insisted I spend the day out with her. We had a few drinks and she knew me well enough to know I was ready to start talking about it. After listening to every word I had to get off my chest, she said something that I still, to this day, think about. My friend had gotten pregnant at 16 and her aunt and uncle adopted her baby so she’s grown up knowing her biological child. She told me, “I’ve never had a miscarriage, but it has been horribly hard at times to watch someone else raise my child.”
I had been friends with her for more than ten years, and I had never – not once – thought about how hard that would be for her. In that moment, we cried together for our grievances as mothers. And that was a beautiful moment.