Today is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so I asked a friend of mine to write something for us. She has been beautifully vulnerable and real about her experience with miscarriage before, so I knew she was the one to walk us through this day. However her piece falls on you, I hope it helps you navigate your own loss and the losses of those closest to you. Here are Madde’s words:
After months of hoping and waiting, we finally breathed a sigh of relief.
A dark line.
The planning started straight away. The baby would be due in the winter, so just old enough to be sitting up at the playground by summertime. Our older two would be boldly over the cusp of being able to “hand mommy a diaper” and “keep an eye on the baby while I start a load of laundry.”
But that’s not the story I have to tell. Instead, a blurring series of ultrasounds and appointments and the words “no heartbeat.” We suddenly came to know the pain of crossing out already scheduled prenatal appointments on the wall calendar. Of having to mentally shift our minds to not plan around a long lost due date.
I was supposed to carry. Not miss. This is not how it was supposed to end.
Grief knows no boundaries. I’ve learned it to be an unruly wave that washes over me when I least expect it. Time can pale it, but it doesn’t abide by rules. Easy fixes needn’t apply. Months later, washing dishes, I choked down sobs that seemed to rise from nowhere. Drying my eyes on the sleeve of my shoulder, so the kids wouldn’t see as they whizzed in and out of the room.
One finger at a time, I tried to loosen my grip on a deeply rooted dream. Day after day, filled with a hundred griefs. A thousand deaths to myself as I gathered how to mourn a baby that will never be. A baby I never held.
I looked into the eyes of my two breathtakingly operative children. I squeezed their strong, visible trunks. Tiny, invisible cells that had divided over and over to becomes these sanguine and sturdy frames that could stand in front of me, gloriously alive. I breathed them in. Pressed my lips to their skulls. Each radiant smile from them reminded me what I was also missing. A most holy paradox. I had carried both life and death inside my inmost being.
“Look mom!” She excitedly shot her fanned palm into the air. A single raspberry on the tip of each finger. “One raspberry for each member of our family!” Five. It’s been months since we lost our baby, but to the kids, time doesn’t heal in the same way. We would gently explain again. I hugged my stomach, like pressing on a bruise, reminding myself that yes, the pain is still there.
Losing kids they say, is the hardest trial to bear. And now we’ve been there. And the world is a different color. A scarier, less trustworthy color. Miscarriage is a silent sorrow in a loud, loud world. But it doesn’t need to be carried alone.
So I offer some humble advice.
If you’ve been through this pain, you can shed light on it. Talk about it. Speak volumes on a silent subject. In my experience, if there’s one thing that can help a grieving mother, it’s solidarity.
For those of you who don’t know this pain, chances are you know someone who does. Grieving parents, more than anything, want their baby back. But since that’s impossible, you can give them many other things to help carry their grief with them. A good starting point is acknowledging their loss. Saying something, even if it’s the wrong thing, is better than not saying anything at all.
Don’t be afraid to bring it up. You’re not reminding me of it. It’s already on my mind. I’m already thinking about it, especially in the weeks and months afterward. And it’s nice to have someone think about it with me. To help me lift the load.
For me, it is helpful to remember that what seems like the worst is not the end. It is the way through. Through to a different place than you expected for yourself. But it can still be good.