October 15 is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day around the globe. Right now, around the world, people are lighting candles in memory of their lost children, of dreams unrealized, of lives unfulfilled.
I know that my pregnancy announcement coincided with today and I wanted to write very intentionally and thoughtfully about this day, as I have recognized Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day here at this space for the past two years, despite never having been pregnant (previous to today, of course).
Today has been filled with much joy and celebration. I did the thing I’ve always wanted to do like “normal” pregnant people: post my news on Facebook. My husband did the same. As folks have asked when I’m due, I can imagine the wheels turning in their heads. “Hmmm… she’s only just a few weeks along” I can hear them saying in their heads.
They’re right; I’m about 4-5 weeks at this point. Such is both the blessing and curse of pregnancy via infertility treatment: you find out WAY sooner than most.
As an infertility blogger who has witnessed much pain and heartbreak in this community, I know that we are still very, very early in the game. I’ve yet to even have my third beta, let alone even see a heartbeat.
And yet, I refuse to walk around waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I was really nervous about writing this post, as if somehow writing the words “pregnancy loss” or “miscarriage” might somehow curse our pregnancy, like I might somehow will some tragedy on myself. Jews are a bit superstitious when it comes to pregnancy things. The fact that I’m “out” with my pregnancy status so early is a huge taboo, even by non-Jewish standards. But the fact of the matter is, my blog put me in a unique position.
I wrote about this two years ago:
I have never experienced a loss myself, and it’s something that has actually been the driving force behind pursuing adoption. Is IVF truly worth the risk if we lose the pregnancy? I just don’t know how I could bear it. IVF/DE isn’t totally off the table yet, but the notion of loss is still an ever-present thought in the back of my mind.
In truth, writing about this will do no such thing to harm me, my pregnancy, or my Team Zoll MVP(s). As much as my fate was not in my hands the day before first beta, it’s even less so now. So rather than walking around worrying if this pregnancy will continue, I own this moment of joy.
I live and breathe in this moment, accept it for what it is, and remain vigilant and attuned to any signals my body or my embryo(s) might be telling me.
Am I scared?
Absolutely.* I think it’s a reality that every woman pregnant after infertility, no matter how many cycles she’s done, will always have: to be scared if it will last. When joy and hope have been robbed from us time and time again, we are reluctant to receive those gifts without hesitation. For some of us, that voice of doubt and fear may speak to us louder than others, especially if we have previously experienced a loss.
For me, I choose to quiet that fearful voice for now. It’s not out of blissful ignorance. It’s out of being in this moment: I choose to capture the joy for what it is and not miss out on a single second of this experience right now.
I will happily side-step superstition to enjoy this unique and beautiful moment in my life – and to educate others in the process.
(*And to be honest, I’m scared about a lot of things: from labor to birth to quieting a colicky child to multiples to placenta previa to premature birth to maternal mortality to telling my child that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist.)
I want to talk a little bit more about living in the moment and more specifically, about owning grief.
As I’ve written about before, pregnancy and infant loss so rarely have a coffin. This type of loss often comes with no physical marker. In the case of stillbirth, you might have some visual cues: a mother-to-be who no longer has her swollen belly. But what of the mother who lost her child at 6 weeks? What of the blighted ova? The chemical pregnancies?
I think it’s this lack of a physical void of loss – in all cases really, a person who hadn’t even entered the world or maybe only just so briefly – that makes it easy for people to write off your grief. When you look at a family photo and grandma’s not in it anymore, you have a physical reminder of a void left behind. In so many cases with pregnancy and infant loss, you don’t have that empty spot in the photo frame because they were never in the frame to begin with.
The theme I choose to reflect on for this year’s observance is to own your moment. For me, I’m owning my moment of joy.
But if you’re remembering an angel child today, own your grief.
Don’t let anyone tell you your loss was insignificant.
Every loss is a wound on a mother’s heart, no matter how early. Because I can tell you right now: I may only be 4-5 weeks pregnant, but I am already in love – with these growing balls of cells and even more so with the idea of motherhood and parenting with my husband.
Don’t let anyone minimize your pain. And more importantly, don’t let anyone minimize the mark your angel children have left on your souls.
Your loss – your grief – matters. Own it. Breathe it. Release it – when you’re ready.
Several bloggers have written about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness today. I’d like to call out some truly moving, stellar posts:
- Kait of Pictures and Print has plea for support today that is so beautifully crafted, her words of pain and longing calling out for compassion. Flood her with light today on her post, Remembering.
- Kathy of Bereaved and Blessed has made a knock-you-to-your-knees video about her journey through recurrent miscarriage and pregnancy loss. Her video is at once devastating and hopeful, her grief captured in exquisitely clear beauty. Watch her video at Always in Our Hearts: For Molly and Babies Benson.
- Kristin of Once a Mother has an amazing guest post at Still Standing Magazine today reflecting on how the loss of her daughter Peyton always remains a hidden vibration, pulsing and humming in every moment, even four years later. Find out what Just Beneath the Surface means.
- And finally, RESOLVE New England features a post today with advice for family and friends about how to support someone who’s experienced pregnancy loss. Learn more about Supporting a Friend or Family Member Through Recurrent Miscarriage.
One candle for the past and the road we’ve traveled.
One candle for this moment, owning where we are right now.
One candle for all that lies ahead and never giving up hope.