Your period is late. You feel a little off, maybe a bit nauseous or you’re running to the bathroom all the time. Something is up. You go to the drugstore, pick up a pregnancy test and chug a litre of water. You pee on the stick and then you wait. Whether you were trying to get pregnant or this is a bit of a surprise, you feel an overwhelming wave of emotion that comes over you as the positive symbol appears on the test. It’s official, you are pregnant. If things go according to plan, in the next nine months (plus or minus a few weeks), there will be a new addition to your family. You may start envisioning what your baby will look like. You may start making plans around the due date. You may buy a pregnancy book, or sign up for pregnancy update e-mails, or buy a cute onesie as a way of telling your partner. The baby has already become a part of your life.
Unfortunately, for many women, things do not always go according to plan.
All too often, women will experience the horrifying knowledge that they are no longer pregnant and their baby is lost to them. The pain of the loss is often compounded by the general silence around the experience of pregnancy and infant loss. Society does not want to talk about it. There is an unspoken code of silence that exists. Women are left to suffer in silence, for fear of making others uncomfortable. However, these losses are very real and deserve to be grieved.
If you were only a few weeks pregnant, you deserve to grieve.
If you had to make the devastating decision to terminate a pregnancy due to a medical condition, you deserve to grieve.
If you had a stillbirth and only held your infant for a few brief moments, you deserve to grieve.
If you have lost your baby, at any stage, in any manner, you deserve to grieve.
Grief can come in many forms. You may want to wear a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby. You may want to acknowledge your child’s birthday or the date of their loss each year. You may need to spend some time away with your partner. There is no wrong or right way to grieve; you need to do what works for you. The most important thing is to acknowledge how you are feelings; do not try to minimize, avoid or shame yourself out of your feelings. Be prepared for the grief to come in waves. It may be months or years since your loss, but the intensity of your grief may be triggered by an anniversary, a song, the cry of a new baby. While the grief may become less intense, more tolerable, there may always be a sense of loss.
One of the most powerful healers can be talking about your loss. Many women who have experienced a loss, such as miscarriage, find that talking will often open up a floodgate of women who have experienced something similar and are desperate to talk about it. Considering that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage there is a good chance that someone you know has had a loss. Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day. Reach out. Grieve your loss. You are not alone in this.