Monday, October 15, 2012

On Loss...

I'm not one to really pay attention to the myriad of "National Days" - there really is a "Day of Awareness" for everything you can think of.  They even have a National Talk Like A Pirate Day (I kid you not) that is extremely popular!  But when I found out what today was...it caught my attention.

Today is National Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I'm pretty sure you all know why this day would mean something to me.

I've always wanted to devote a blog post to the friends and family of those who've lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth.  Today seems like the perfect day to do it.  I think many people are at a loss when looking to support or comfort the Mom and Dad who lost a baby.  I thought I'd offer my two cents - coming from my own, numerous and unfortunate losses.  This is, of course, from my perspective.  Everyone is different.  But, well...here goes! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please Don't Judge.
It's very easy to project your experiences or feelings onto another person.  Maybe you had one miscarriage...or ten.  And maybe you were over it in a week...or never.  Everyone is different.  Try not to judge another person for how they handle their own loss. You may think they should be "over it" after a certain period of time - that their grief is out of proportion because the baby wasn't even born...or  they never got to know him or her.  Or that they got "over it" too quickly.  It's always best to keep your judgements to yourself and respect everyone's journey as just that...their journey.  People may find it strange that I don't recall the dates of all of my losses.  And most of the time - I don't remember how many losses I've had.  Every single time I am asked, I need to stop and re-count.  I suppose the way I deal with it is to block it all out.  I truly stopped keeping track after my fourth loss.

Please Don't Avoid.
The worst feeling in the world is to feel completely isolated and abandoned after a loss.  Let's face it - no one likes to talk about death.  And if you add the whole "OBGYN" portion to it, people feel queasy. But imagine going from the incredible excitement of life in your womb... picking out names... planning a nursery...to BOOM - gone.  It's a "falling off a cliff" feeling.  Be there when your friend reaches the bottom and needs help getting back up the mountain.

Please Drop the Platitudes!
We've all heard them - and many of us have said them.  

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle," 
"Something was probably wrong with the baby - this was natures way of taking care of that," (especially offensive if you already have a child with special needs) 
"You can try again,
"There's always adoption," 
"It wasn't the right time,"  
"You just need to relax and it will happen"

.... and so on and so on.  Truly - I promise you - the best possible thing you can say to a friend who lost a baby is simple.  Just say "I'm so, so sorry.  I can't imagine what you're going through." (Because you can't!) Even if you went through it - it was in your own way.  Trust me on this.

While I could say something about each of the above expressions and explain why they are annoying/offensive/insulting/frustrating/all of the above, I should also say this:  If you have just lost a baby and hear any or all of the above (I've heard them all and more over the years!) - don't take anything personally.  Remember that the person across from you is probably feeling awkward and nervous and just doesn't know what to say.  Sometimes people who want to help think they can do so by giving you advice or their opinions.  Always assume (for your own sanity) that it comes from a well meaning place.  Nod politely, say thank you and move on.  Trust me on this one.

Please Wait to Tell Your Story.
If you get a phone call from your friend telling you they just lost their baby, now is not the time to start telling your story.  Especially don't tell your story if it isn't your story.  Hearing about your neighbor's daughter or your cousin's friend is not helpful.  Focus on your friend and save the story for later when the dust has settled.

Please Remember the Husbands.
A baby is made by two people.  A miscarriage or stillbirth is grieved by the same two people.  The husband bears the extra burden of society's expectation.  He's supposed to be the strong one supporting the wife as she gets showered with the attention medically and emotionally.  Please don't forget the Daddys of these lost babies.

Please Don't Bring THIS Up.
"At least you have other children."
This was a kick in the gut for me each and every time I heard it.  I have always felt like comments beginning with the words "just" and "at least" were one way to (unintentionally) minimize a situation.  The comment, in my opinion, implies that I'm not grateful for the children I have.  Just because I have two boys (that I am so grateful for!) doesn't mean I don't miss the 10 babies (9 miscarriages and a stillbirth) that I've lost along the way.  Actually, having Gavin and Brian means I know exactly what I missed with each loss.  The comment is also a bit of a guilt trip.  And there's nothing worse than a guilt trip when you're already feeling guilty for losing the baby inside you.

Please Don't Attempt to Figure Out Why.

"It was God's plan."  
"Maybe you worked out too much."

"I told you you were too {fill in the blank} and that it may affect the pregnancy!"
They are already questioning why.  They are likely already blaming themselves unnecessarily.  Try not to add to that.

Please Listen.
I've learned in my lifetime that most people want to be heard.  They want to feel that their story - their experiences - their suffering - matters.  They don't need advice or conversation much of the time...they just want you to listen.  The subject matter is painful - miscarriages and stillbirths are ugly and devastating.  But try to just listen.  And if they aren't able to talk - it's okay to be still.  The truth is - there really are no words at a time like this.

Please Remember the Babies.
If you are really close, remembering the date they choose to celebrate the baby they lost is such a loving thing to do.  If they named the baby, there is nothing better than to hear people say his or her name.  I love when people mention Darcy by name - it makes my heart skips a beat!  It's nice to send a card or a note that you're thinking of them.  And if you get a gift - one that memorializes the baby in some way is extra special.  A very special friend had a star named after Darcy Claire when she was born - and it's something I will treasure forever.

Losing a baby is a devastating experience.  And I can tell you from my own experience, loss number 10 was just as excruciating as loss number one.  I hope, on this National Day of Remembrance, that people everywhere will come out of the shadows and talk about their losses.  I encourage anyone who wants to write their story to use my comment section as a way to jump in the water.  Whether you are 21 or 71, you never forget the babies you carried.  
Today I celebrate ALL of our babies...and thank them for the way that they changed us.

We remember them every day.



12 comments:

  1. Hi -- this is actually a comment on yesterday. Something's goofy and the comment thing is all garbled up for that post. I didn't want you to think people were being silent in a difficult time. Thinking of and praying for you re: Gavin's diagonosis.

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  2. Oh honey. I've never written on a blog before, but I had to write today. You see when I got pregnant my husband was at war. He passed on a few years ago and never knew about our baby. You see I lost that baby all alone in our tiny little apartment. No family, no friends. I didn't know what was happening to me and when I tried to talk to my own Mother she said that ladies don't talk about these things. I knew it would break my husband's heart to come home to such news, so I kept it inside. Losing that baby was like losing a part of my soul. I will never forget. I've never told this story until now. You see the way you so bravely tell the story of your life has inspired this old lady to tell my own stories. They have been buried for so long, just like that child I buried so many years ago.

    Thank you Kate. I wish you were my daughter.

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  3. Nice post Kate. As you said, this is your perspective. I would just add that mentioning God's hand in a miscarriage might bring peace to some people who are blaming themselves and who have a strong belief in that and/or reminding someone or mentioning the baby's name might bring up unbarable sadness for some. I know some people who can not and don't want to discuss it. But you did a nice job reminding everyone to remember to care about people who have gone through this. Nice post. Thanks.

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  4. I just want you to know that you inspire me with every post! You give me strength and hope. My heart goes out to you and your beloved family, and I wish you the very, very, very best! You put me constantly in mind of my personal motto, courtesy of Viktor Frankl: " Man should not ask what is the meaning of life, but remember that it is he who is asked."

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  5. We lost our first daughter when I was 21 weeks pregnant. 14 years later I can still cry like it was yesterday when I think about her. You never really "get over it". She was a part of me, as your Darcy was a part of you. I have 2 beautiful girls now 13 and 11, but I still wish I had 3. Keep inspiring people.

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  6. I just read this post and read the comments. Whoever wrote about your story when you lost your baby while your husband was at war ... I am sitting here with eyes filled. What an incredible story and Kate - if you ever question why you do what you do, come back and read that comment. Much love! Janica

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  7. Once again u amaze me.. Ur strength is by far more than many can handle including myself.. I'm sorry if I was one of those people who said those things to u which I know I was. I will never know what each day is like for u thinking of all that you've been thru but once again will remind u of how wonderful I think u are and ur 3 boys.. Xoxo❤

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  8. Thank you for being a voice for so many of us out here, who just don't know what to say.
    I have lost 4 babies. People often said, it just wan't meant to be, or, your young enough to keep trying, and then after we had our 4 kids, they would say well my goodenss what would you have done with 8??? (i always think that's crazy, umm Love them, duh)

    Anyways, Thank You for always sharing with us. Big hugs to you!

    Christy

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  9. This is absolutely amazing. And beautiful. We lost our twins 8 weeks ago, and this is just what I needed right now!

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  10. Very few know I was ever pregnant ... I was so excited it was all I ever wanted. When I grew up I wanted to be a housewife and a mom lol. I was 38 so I knew this was it, probably my last chance to finally be a mom. I wasn't married but I was so in love and over the moon to be pregnant. My best friend was pregnant, my sister was pregnant .. what an ideal time to have this miracle happen... and before I knew it, it was over. I no longer had that baby I so much wanted to hold and love. No one knew, and because I wasn't married, no one would have expected I was pregnant. Now, when I snuggle up my best friends beautiful daughter and love up on my beautiful niece, it will sometimes creep up on me that my son/daughter should be about the same age... It's heartbreaking ...and sometimes unbearable... and a very very lonely sad feeling...

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  11. Kate: Thank you for telling the story of your life journey. Last Oct. I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child. This would be my first miscarriage. I thought that afterwards it would be easy to try again. It is now April and the pain of the loss is still there. I don't know if I could face another miscarriage again. I work with adults that have disabilities and know the challenges that the families face. Fear overwhelms me! I know that God has called me to help those families. I fear trying to conceive again yet wanting to fill that empty void. Your story today has insprired me to not have fear. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your son Gavin! May God continue to strengthen you. I still keep trying to find the "joy" during the trials.

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  12. Kate,

    I know this particular entry is a few months old but I'm just now catching up on your life's story. I read the entire Caringbridge in a few short days. I have a condition that makes it nearly impossible if not completely impossible for me to get pregnant. I've had a few times I *thought* I was pregnant but never knew for sure. In Oct this last year, oddly about the time this post was written I got confirmation that I was between 8-10 weeks pregnant. I was overjoyed, the impossible was suddenly happening. However about a week later when I went to my doctor for a follow up, it was discovered I had a tubal pregnancy. I was given methotrexate and sent on my way. It sucked and I was in a bad depression for a very long time.

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