Next week will mark the day I’ve been dreading for nine months.
It’s the day I was supposed to be meeting our second baby.
Instead, my first ultrasound last March confirmed a baby but no heartbeat. A few weeks later, I went into the hospital pregnant and left drugged and empty.
I didn’t understand miscarriage until it became part of my story. I didn’t know that all around me, women were a part of this secret club, bonded by a grief few on the outside seem to truly understand.
I thought it was like getting your period … only then it was over before it started. I didn’t realize that sometimes it involves surgery with paperwork where you sign your baby’s remains away to be incinerated with the other “medical waste.” I didn’t realize the insurance company will send you bills calling your condition a “spontaneous abortion.”
But I’ve been awakened to this silent grief. The women who hug me and whisper “me, too.” The grandmothers who still tear up at the memory of a loss felt decades ago.
We don’t talk about our pregnancies until we reach that magic twelve week mark where it’s suddenly safe to go public. We smile sweetly when well-meaning strangers ask “it’s about time for little Sally to get a sibling, right?”
Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day that was designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Internationally, the day is remembered by lighting a candle at 7 p.m. in your respective time zone so that a wave of light reaches around the globe for twenty-four hours remembering babies whose lives were cut short in the womb or shortly after birth.
There’s not a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t ache a little. There was no funeral. No formal good-bye. But it was a grief that ran deeper than anything I’ve yet to experience. It will forever change my perspective on pregnancy, ultrasounds, beating hearts and the miracle of life.
Joining the secret club also creates an awareness and love for women silently grieving themselves. I can hold their hand and remind them to keep breathing. When people ask me when my son is getting a sibling, I tell them why he doesn’t have one. More awareness can only breed more compassion. And for goodness’ sake, stop asking that question.
So to all the mamas aching for a baby you never held or who left your arms too soon; who are waiting to get pregnant, or are pregnant after a loss, full of fear: keep breathing.
I’ll be lighting my candle tonight to remember my sweet baby who I never got to hold, and for all of you who became part of the club you never wanted to join.