February 1st marks exactly three years since my miscarriage. Three long years since my body betrayed me, extinguishing the life it was supposed to nurture – and with it, all my hopes and dreams for an imagined future.
Grief has become a constant companion and a familiar friend who walks beside me daily on this journey through baby loss. Grief supported me through a rainbow pregnancy and now while I parent after loss. It may seem strange to others who haven’t experienced loss to hear me speak so fondly of grief, to personify it, to see it as my friend, my partner rather than as my enemy. To me and to others like me, I think it makes sense.
My grief has been there since the first moment when I knew my baby was gone but was afraid to speak the truth. I didn’t want to jinx it, just in case I was wrong. I was not ready to say the words out loud. Grief knew me and knew what I was feeling. It wrapped me in its gentle embrace as softly as a lover might. It enveloped me as my world fell apart, while I prayed and begged for another ending to my story, all the time knowing my baby was really gone. Grief held me while inside I shattered.
Grief kept me from feeling so alone and so lost in my darkest hours. I have always been able to find solace in my grief when the pain of loss visits me again. It understands and brings comfort. And there are times, even now, when I unplug from the world and disappear just to be alone with grief.
Considering that 1 out of 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and 1 in 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth, experiencing baby loss should not be so lonely or isolating. We shouldn’t have to depend on only our own grief to comfort us when, sadly, our sisterhood is so large. Our collective grief and experiences should help bring each of us comfort. We need to practice speaking the words out loud and sharing our stories. We need to let the other moms who are experiencing loss right now know that they are not alone. Losing a baby is devastating enough without feeling so completely isolated.
Luckily for me, I searched for others who understood, and I found them. When I got pregnant again, I found a community of courageous mamas here at Pregnancy After Loss Support who did speak the words out loud that I so desperately needed to hear: “Choosing hope over fear while nurturing grief.” In that moment, I realized I wasn’t alone in my loss or my subsequent pregnancy. I realized I wasn’t selfish because I still grieved one child while growing another. I realized it was okay to hope and okay to grieve. I could do both. I could be both a bereaved mom and an expectant mom.
It’s been three years. My life has not turned out like I planned – from losing a baby to getting pregnant again to finding myself a newly single mom raising two children born before loss (sunshine babies) and one toddler born after a loss (rainbow baby). Every day, I’m discovering that’s okay! Life never goes as planned. I’m surviving. I’m more than surviving. I’m living, and I’m finding that I’m happy again! You never think you will be until you are. In the midst of all the chaos, there is joy. You find happiness when you least expect it.
Today and every day, I encourage you to take life one day at a time. Sometimes, maybe you need to take it by each individual moment. Remind yourself that YOU ARE OKAY IN THIS VERY MOMENT. You will make it! So far you’ve beat all the odds that have come at at you. You’re a survivor. If you haven’t already, I encourage you share your story of loss – to say the words out loud. You might make someone feel less alone, or if you’re lucky, find a kindred spirit. If the words won’t come yet, maybe consider getting a tattoo or a piece of remembrance jewelry to honor and remember your baby. One day when someone asks you about its meaning, you’ll be ready to share your child with them. Above all, choose hope, nurture your grief, and always be courageous!