I remember when I had my first miscarriage in 2008. I was six weeks along when I miscarried our first baby in our bathroom shower. There was a lot of blood and pain. I was supposed to sing a solo in church the next Sunday and called in sick. I remember feeling so ashamed and embarrassed.
We only told one person, and his wife dropped off a meal for me. As a new bride, I wasn’t able to process this. When we told our parents and my sister, I could not have been more awkward about it. I think I felt obligated to tell them, but I was so uncomfortable with the conversation at the same time. The general consensus was that I could try again (and why was I telling them?). The experience did change me.
When we became pregnant again a few months later, I was very hesitant to tell anyone. I wasn’t sure when it would feel ok to get excited about the pregnancy. I know that I did eventually. He’s eleven now, so I’m pretty sure I turned the corner at some point!
I went on to have two more healthy pregnancies adding another boy and then a little girl to our family. When we tried for our fourth, I had forgotten what it was like to be afraid to announce a pregnancy, so when I miscarried at six weeks, we had already told people. I was deep into mommyhood at that point, so I experienced it differently from the first time. My pastor called to pray with me, and a church friend dropped off a meal. A friend encouraged me to take some time to grieve, and I remember thanking her and telling her how much that meant to me.
We decided to try again, and our little boy Joey was born. Sadly, he lived only three weeks. Here is the thing. When you lose a baby to miscarriage, you have the option to keep it quiet. When you lose a newborn, not so much. There was a funeral, a burial, a headstone, stacks of cards, meals, flowers, a memory garden – the whole thing. What surprised me was how many women approached me after Joey died to share their stories of loss. I learned about miscarriages. Some of my friends had as many as eight. I learned about stillbirths. I learned about abortions. I learned about babies who died within their first year. My Joey, who died very publicly, bonded me to so many other women who shared their stories of trauma and loss. I think that part of Joey’s legacy, part of what he came here to do – was to help other moms and dads open up about their own stories of loss.
I’m bringing this up because October is Infant Loss Awareness Month and the 15th is Infant Loss Awareness Day. It is a day set aside to remember babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and early infant loss of any cause. Many choose to remember babies lost through abortion. In many cultures, and in some cases, our culture, it is taboo to mention babies who died. Infant Loss Awareness Day was designed to address this and give parents permission to remember their babies and receive care and support. One in four pregnancies ends in a loss of some sort. If you have not lost a baby, you know many women who have.
Have you remembered your baby? It is a very personal decision but I believe it is healing to talk about and remember our little ones who have died. Locally, there is the Angel of Hope Memorial Garden in Blanchette Park in St. Charles. If you have never visited, it is a beautiful place to go and remember your child. A local organization called Share organizes a Wave of Light and other events throughout the year. Also, St. Louis Mom has a “Forever Loved” wall, and we would love to add your baby to be remembered there; just message us. Other moms remember their babies with a picture frame in their home, perhaps of an ultrasound or early baby photo. Some have a special tree or plant in the yard, a statue, or a Christmas tree ornament. However you decided to remember your baby, know that there are safe places to share about your journey in motherhood. I would love to hear your story.