Pregnancy and infant loss is never easy. The passing often takes with it shattered hearts and dreams of a future far different than the reality. Having to go through this process while still being called on to serve others -- whether that role is bearing work responsibilities, as "mom" for other children, coping with deteriorating health of parents or in-laws, or simply juggling your relationship with your partner -- 'overwhelming' doesn't even come close.
As this day neared, I have spent some time reflecting -- or rather trying to -- on my losses. Over the years, there have been several. I know that I'm fortunate to have other children… all whom I love dearly. Still, I do miss those that should have been seated at my table; snuggling on my bed piled with books asking "please read it again, mama!"; frustrating me at times as they can't find their jacket or *one* shoe as we rush to head out the door. I wonder -- 'What would you look like?' 'Would you be athletic, inquisitive, musical, compassionate, etc.?' 'What would you want to be when you grew up?'
The only question that I know the answer to is that you would know you were loved. You still are.
Currently, I have a lot on my plate. (HA! That has been the story of my life for 20+ years!) I have a job that I love but which keeps me busy. My immediate family responsibilities are huge -- but generally in a good way. (Just keeping up with the schedule of who needs to go where when can be challenging!) My extended family has been struggling with various serious health issues that are hard to accept. At the moment, I *feel* that need to be the glue working through it all and more so -- helping the rest of my family do the same.
I needed though to carve out some time for me -- to reflect… to remember… to dream… to grieve those that were gone too soon. While I love my husband, this is not something that he 'gets.' His preferred version is to "fix it." Since this is impossible, he prefers to ignore. I realize (thankfully NOW), that men do grieve differently. (See Understanding a Spouse's/Partner's Grief in Pregnancy Loss.) I know that he, too, does miss our babies that we loss, but have accepted that he does not feel the need beyond participating in our remembrance events, to discuss further. He readily admits to not being willing to reopen those wounds.
For me, it is healing. Carving out this time out of my overly hectic life is something that I want to do for those children and myself. It helps me to talk with others that have 'been there, done that' experience as I know that (unfortunately) those moms understand. Here are a few methods that I have utilized over the years:
1) Lighting a candle. I find that somehow soothing and help with centering my focus. We take part in the annual Wave of Light on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day every October 15th at 7 p.m. in any time zone. Additionally, I try to do so on the anniversary of a loss.
2) Selecting a remembrance activity. Every year we select something to do in memory of those we have loss. Some ideas we have used -- a celebration of "life" by planting trees in a park or including a special "memory garden" every spring amongst our flowers; building unique bird houses/feeders that present a colorful display throughout the winter months as they offer refuge in the trees throughout our backyard. One year we helped build a children's playground in honor of our "angels".
3) Finding a way to include them in our "traditions." Example, every year our living children get to select or make a special Christmas ornament that hangs on our tree. It offers a walk down memory lane as we remember years past. When we experience a pregnancy loss, we make certain to buy or create one for that child as well that is then hung in the years to come. For Thanksgiving, we recall all that we are thankful for. As painful as any loss has been, we remain grateful for the short time we had those with us and -- that they are (according to our beliefs) now a part of our "Angel squadron" watching over us. That helps me smile. :)
4) Reaching out to others. This is where Pregnancy.org has been such a blessing. This is part of my catalyst in writing this now! I am renewing my efforts to reach out to those that perhaps are new to this journey as well as those that may be further along -- maybe now trying again or pregnant again after a loss. You never again can fully view pregnancy with that wide-eyed innocence of a first timer. I found through making those connections, that I was aiding my own personal path of healing. It was a gift to myself (and hopefully others!) that I have been missing.
Today, I invite those of you that have experienced a loss to please join me. You are invited to take part in lighting a candle at 7 p.m. in your time zone as we become a part of the "Wave of Light." You are encouraged to meet me on our Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support board -- today and throughout the coming year as we give/receive support. Finally, I'd love to have you comment *here*! Feel free to post a note to me, to your baby, or as a note of support to someone else.
Thanks for reading!