Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month | Sensitivity to Loss
It's hard to sit down and do this, but it's also important. A year ago, I wrote down my miscarriage story and shared it with the world on my vegan food blog. It was hard to re-read my own story today, after feeling prompted to do so because it is October - and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Emotional healing has certainly continued in the last year, but the sting of our loss is still raw at times. It will always be a part of me.
This month, during the 7th month of a healthy, uneventful pregnancy, I have so many mixed emotions. Gratitude, joy, and bright-eyed-anticipation for the life of our sweet baby kicking inside me, and yet heaviness that this beautiful life has yet again opened my heart to the possibility of incredible pain and loss. I have found that sometimes I want to push away the reality of my story to protect my heart from feeling scared, to bury it all. But my reality is that I am living in a state of both joy and grief. I have visualized the birth of our new baby many times, and each time, my heart thumps, "I can't wait to meet this baby, and I miss my first baby." This life does not replace or erase.
I am grateful to all those who have listened to my story, as it continues to unfold, through the ups and downs of the last year and a half. I'm also grateful to those who have shared their experiences and stories with me. I hear you. You are not alone.
Sensitivity to All Who Have Experienced Loss
As a conclusion to this little post, I'd like to mention a few of the questions that have been difficult for me to answer in the last year and a half. I want to do this in hopes of bringing greater awareness to others about how well-meaning questions can sting, confuse, and hurt.
- When are you guys going to start having kids?
- How many kids do you want?
- Is this your first baby? Do you have other kids? How many children do you have?
For women who have had pregnancy/infant/child losses of any kind, who are pregnant again after a loss, or who are longing to be pregnant, these questions can be really difficult to answer.
When asked a question like this, my loss comes to the forefront, my mind swirls, and I think things like, "Do I tell this person that this is my first baby? It's not. But opening up a conversation about my miscarriage with this acquaintance or stranger feels vulnerable, uncomfortable, and I'm pretty sure that's not what they bargained for when they asked. Do I avoid an uncomfortable conversation by giving an answer that feels dishonest and watered down? Somehow, omitting the reality of the loss of our first baby feels equally heart-wrenching and socially expected. I don't know what to say. Maybe I'll just be snarky and teach them a lesson. No, that's unkind. They mean well. But they'll keep asking other people this question if I don't! But it will be so awkward." The thoughts continue to swirl.
If there are good questions that could replace the ones I mentioned above for people who genuinely do want to get to know another person better, I don't know exactly what they are. A friend suggested, "Tell me about your family." And then really listen, and be willing to hear a real answer. Maybe that's the best approach. I'd love to hear thoughts about that.
The world would be a better place if we were all a little more careful with our well-meaning questions. It's impossible to do it right every time, but it's not impossible to learn from the experiences of others, share your experiences to help others, and try to be ever more loving, supportive, and sensitive in our interactions.
My heart is with all those who have experienced this kind of loss today, and my prayer is that you will not feel alone - that your baby is recognized as the deeply loved individual that he or she was - and that you feel supported and seen as we walk this journey together.