In 1988, President Ronald Regan proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. A month to bring awareness to the number of people who are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, and the death of an infant. Taking this a step farther, October 15 is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a day where families who have lost babies light a candle in remembrance of the precious little ones they have lost.
If I am being completely honest, I hate that I know about these things. Until 2013, I had no idea Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month or Infant Loss Remembrance Day existed. For several years after my first loss, October just frustrated me because I didn’t want to be a part of the “sad” events.
However, in 2017, after the loss of our second baby, I realized October is important. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. In the United States, one million pregnancies a year end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn shortly after birth. These stats are heart-wrenching, but I think what is even more heart-wrenching than the statistics is how little we talk about those losses.
Miscarriage, stillbirth, and the death of precious newborns are ugly. It’s hard to talk about. It’s uncomfortable to not be able to fix the situation or know what to say. However, no matter how ugly, hard, or uncomfortable, loss is something we need to talk about. It wasn’t until I started talking that I realized so many people could relate. Most everyone knows someone who has experienced the loss of a baby.
So in October of 2017, as I was thinking about my miscarriages, I wrote what I wanted you to know. Two years later, as I re-read what I wrote, I realize that I still want you to know these things:
- I remember. I know how old both my babies would be today. It hurts to remember, but it hurts more to think that no one else remembers. Please don’t be afraid to ask me how I am doing. It’s okay to talk about my babies or ask about my due dates.
- It’s okay not to know what to say. Sometimes, a hug is all I need. If you can’t physically hug me, sending a text that says “I’m thinking of you” speaks volumes.
- Loss affects my entire family. My husband and I lost two children; however, we aren’t the only ones who feel the loss. My parents lost their first two grandchildren. My husband’s parents lost their third and fifth grandchildren. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law lost two nieces or nephews. Our nieces and nephew lost two cousins. We all feel the grief differently, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel it. If you know someone who is affected by loss, shoot him/her a message or give this person a call to let him/her know you are thinking of him/her. I promise it will mean the world to them.
- Trying to have a baby after losing two is hard. If I am being completely honest, there are days that the idea of being pregnant again scares me. My first pregnancy was traumatic, and my second pregnancy was full of a lot of hard days. It’s a strange thing to be so afraid of something I desire so strongly. My heart needs to hear your good pregnancy stories. I need to be reminded that not every pregnancy is traumatic and full of bad news. Revelation 12:11 says that we conquer the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and testimonies. Your story of a good healthy pregnancy that leads to a full-term baby serves as a testimony that is a reminder that I can choose not to live in fear.
- I want to hear about your kids. I want to celebrate your parenting wins and talk through your parenting losses. I want to know the cute things (and the not-so-cute things) your kids did. I want to hear when you totally rocked your bedtime routine. I also want to know when you can’t handle your kids’ attitudes and feel like you are failing. I want to walk with you even if I can’t relate perfectly. I want to be the type of friend that helps you carry your load. (Ecc. 4:10)
- Grief hits me in the strangest moments when I least expect it. I’m sorry for the tears that come out of nowhere. I am also sorry if I seem a little broken sometimes. When that happens, I encourage you to remind me of the goodness of God. Remind me that His promises are still true.
- Not every day is a bad day. I have a lot of days that I laugh and enjoy life. I don’t think about loss all the time. I really don’t want you to think I am always sad. I am blessed and thankful for all aspects of my life, even the ugly painful parts.
If this is your first Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month after losing your baby, I want you to know:
- I am so sorry for your loss. I hate the heartache you are going through. Please know that God loves you so very much. He sees you and His heart is breaking with you (Ps. 34:18).
- You aren’t alone. Don’t let yourself become isolated. Find someone you trust to talk to. Someone who can help encourage you and hold you together on the hard days. A pastor, counselor, support group, or good friend. If you are looking for a faith-based fertility support group, please ask me! I know a great one!
- Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to not be okay. There are so many times in the Bible that David, a man after God’s own heart, told God he wasn’t okay (one of my favorites is Psalm 13). This journey is hard. Take time to grieve. Don’t put a timeline on your grief and don’t beat yourself up when you have hard days.
- Self-care is important. Don’t stop eating, working out, and making the healthy choices you did before you lost your baby. It’s okay to eat a little extra chocolate, but don’t completely lose sight of yourself and your health.
- Keep talking to your spouse. He is hurting too. Talk about the pain together. Tell him when you are having a bad day. Tell him when you need a hug. Spend extra time together. Go on a date…and laugh!
- It is true that the pain of loss never goes away, but it is also true that it changes. You will go a day without feeling the acute pain of your loss… and that is okay. It’s okay to smile, laugh, and enjoy life.
- Your story doesn’t have to end with loss. Grief and loss do not have to define you. You are a chosen, daughter of the king. His promises are still true (Ps. 113:9).
In 2017, I thought long and hard on what I wanted my final words on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month to be, and honestly, my thoughts haven’t changed. Matthew 5:4, NIV says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I love that reminder.
This month, as a community of men and women focus on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, I think it is so important to remember that God hasn’t forgotten us in our mourning. He is in the pain, holding us and longing to comfort us.
Featured Image By Joanna Kosinska
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on borderless.blog