My dearest friend Lisel went through something many of us do; but not so many of us talk about. It actually happens to 25 percent of women. That means at least one of your female friends likely has, or will have, gone through it – the loss of a child.
Now I’m not going to get into the politics of when a child becomes a child – the fact is, she was pregnant, and then she wasn’t. And the suddenness of both of those occurrences happens so much faster than our emotions can manage.
I’ll let her share her own words:
I miss you. Everyday. I don’t really know how, since I never got to meet you. You were only with me a very short time, but in that time, you were the center of my universe. You were the subject of every thought, every daydream, every plan I made. You made me whole in a time that I had been feeling so broken. You were unexpected and discovering you scared me so much more than I anticipated, but you were a literal dream come true. I imagined what your skin would feel like against mine and all the songs I’d sing to you as I rocked you to sleep. I wondered what your smile would look like and if you’d have green eyes like your dad. If I closed my eyes, I could feel the soft, sandy curls I was so sure you’d have. It’s funny how real you were, when the only proof of your existence were two small, pink lines – bright and strong, like I knew you would be.
When they told me you were gone, I was sure my heart had actually broken. The single ray of sunshine in my days had been extinguished. I sat silently for hours, drenched in tears. I’d never get to count your perfect, tiny fingers and toes or kiss your soft, pink cheeks. I’d never hear your cry or your laugh or your sweet voice call me mama. It hurt. Everything hurt. Days passed and I went through the motions: get up, you have to get up. And remember to smile, remember to look okay, no matter how you feel. I’d only felt that ache in my chest once before, when your great grandmother died, and she’d been with me for 27 years.
For seemingly endless weeks I was certain I’d never feel okay again. I felt more alone than I ever had. I was angry, with God, with my body, with the world. Every pregnancy announcement was an assault on my entire existence and I felt so much guilt for how irrational I was being.
But as the physical reminders faded away and waking up to a tear soaked pillow stopped being a daily event, I realized something. I am strong. I am brave. Being your mom, even just for a short while, gave me new life. You made me see that some things are just not up to me, no matter how hard I try; that I can do everything right and still have everything go wrong, but that it doesn’t have to destroy me.
I found myself in the months after you and I’ll always be grateful for that. You will always be a part of me. You changed me in ways I can’t put into words. And I’ll always love you. You’ll always be my baby. Always.
Just let that soak in…Always.
For a little context, Lisel and her husband at the time were going through a rough patch. In fact they split up a few months after they found out about the loss of the baby. It was unrelated to the baby, but that news surely didn’t help.
“I think splitting up with (my husband) kind of made me feel like I should have been more relieved that we wouldn’t have a child in the mix, but I still desperately wanted that baby,” she told me. “I still do.”
Lisel was pretty open about what she was going through at the time it was happening. But everyone in her circle was “getting over it” a lot faster than she was. It became harder and harder for her to talk about how much it still hurt. She felt like she should be more “over it” too.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent news from model/social influencer/cookbook author Chrissy Teigen and husband, musician John Legend, about the loss of their son shortly after his birth. Fame cannot protect you from pain. I saw comments on social media chastising the couple, not only for being so public about their grief, but also for taking a picture of the raw moment of realization that their son had left this earth.
The reality is that one person cannot dictate the way another handles tragedy – especially not something this deeply personal. Teigen and Legend chose to use their significant public profiles to bring awareness to a difficult topic that is too often taboo.
Losing a child at any point in the child’s life is devastating. And dealing with that loss is even worse. October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. The awareness day is celebrated on Oct. 15, when the “International Wave of Light” is displayed; mothers light a candle at the same time across the globe to honor their lost children.
The lack of understanding, and perhaps, confusion on the part of the person who *didn’t lose a child, as well as support for the grieving family, is what this awareness month is hoping to elevate. Even though this awareness month was declared in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, there is still so much shame and guilt associated with the loss of a baby.
Another very important part of this loss to realize and remember is that fathers also go through it. While mothers may feel the loss more, internally, for lack of a better word, fathers too experience great grief. We cannot forget this.
I found this website with some helpful resources for parents going through this, and for their friends and family who are there to support them. There are also social media tools to help spread awareness all month long.
Lisel’s story is not uncommon. But her lost child is one-of-a-kind, and will never be forgotten. Her due date would have been Oct. 23, 2018.