One in Four women will experience pregnancy loss. It is a fact. A terrifying and deeply saddening fact. I know that I am proof of this statistic. The year I was pregnant with Cora, I had 3 other friends who were pregnant. Literally, I was the 1 in 4 in that group. I remember thinking that when I first heard the statistic – I am the one in four. And to go deeper, I am the 1 in 160 women who will give birth to a stillborn baby. Something that happens in less than one percent of pregnancies.
October is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan declared this in 1988 and said: When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
I have chosen to be as open as possible about my experience. I believe it is import to share not only for my own healing but to give others a better understanding of what we’ve gone through. And to provide hope and encouragement to those who are now walking this path. Not everyone chooses to open up about their pregnancy loss. It is an uncomfortable topic. It is not easy to talk about. I have shared very personal details with the world. Details that I would never have dreamed of sharing. But I feel that it is important.
I remember thinking “How are we going to tell everyone that Cora had died?” I was paranoid people would wonder what happened and come to the wrong conclusion. Did they think I had done something to cause this? Thoughts like “I bet she didn’t do her kick counts or maybe she ignored warning signs” crept into my head. I was a little afraid to go out in public because I could feel people staring at me. I could feel them look at my empty stomach – I didn’t have a baby but my body looked like I had just given birth. Or there were several times when I walked up to a group and the group got quiet – most likely they were just talking about us. Or it could have all been in my head? Who knows.
I know these monthly “celebrations” can seem a bit overboard but I feel so strongly about bringing awareness. Hearing that someone lost their child will never be a “normal” conversation. But maybe we, as a community, can make it easier for someone to open up. We can be understanding and empathetic. We can try to put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand their pain. We can put our arms around our friends and love them. We can understand that what is important is not the cause of the loss but the recovery and ongoing support that couples and families need. We can understand that this happens to the parents but also the families of loss couples. Grandparents lose their grandchildren, Aunts & Uncles lose their nieces and nephews, cousins lose their cousins. The loss of a baby happens to the whole family – the loss has a ripple effect.
In the past two weeks, I have been contacted by 3 different people to get resources for a friend who lost their baby. I think about those mothers weekly. I have seen announcements on Facebook and I think of those mothers. I pray for those mothers and their families. My heart aches for them. I want to try to take away their pain or make their life easier. I wish I could do more. Last year I wrote a post about several loss resources that were/are essential to my healing – if you know someone who needs help, please read about these organizations. They are incredible.
If you have lost a baby, even if it was a long time ago, you can join the loss community on October 15th (7pm local time) by lighting a candle in their honor. We call this the “Wave of Light”. It is a world-wide remembrance – which is pretty incredible when you think of it. People from all over the world, honoring their children. Out loud. For the whole world to see. We will be lighting a candle for our sweet Cora <3.
Cora Lou, we remember you every day. We love you every single day. And we will never let your memory fade.