Thanks to my Facebook feed, I was all too aware of just how many people in my digital circle have faced the loss of a baby before they were born or soon after. Many people were brave and shared their stories and experiences. I did not.
Mainly because… I don’t know. I am a private person and I also don’t like to upset my family who while they share my pain, don’t need to read about it on my blog.
October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss month. I wasn’t really aware of this until my mom had asked if I was interested in attending a Remembrance service at the funeral home near our house. I declined, as I felt our family had ridden that roller coaster enough. I did feel guilty though. Should I have gone, so mom could have gone? Would it have helped her? But I was feeling selfish and wanted to just deal with my feelings on this and that was that.
Grief is an odd thing. Our western culture does not do a good job of handling it or the transition back to normal life well. Our grief tends to have a tinge of guilt hanging about it as we appear to ‘get over it’ and carry on. I think even in the midst of what causes us grief, we judge ourselves and are judged by those around us if we are not showing our sadness enough for for long enough, however nobody seems to know what that timeframe is or what you are supposed to be doing.
I sort of like the ideas from the past and other cultures that have set times for mourning. So you do you bit…wear black, look dramatic, spend time at home and then boom. Your time is done. Carry on and wear colours again.
This sort of tradition is probably really helpful to other people too as so many do not know how to handle grief and especially when it comes to loss of unborn babies. For many a miscarriage is something to shrug about and move on, and they don’t fathom the pain that having that expectation of a child taken away is.
Which is odd, because we make such a big deal about celebrating pregnancy. People plan huge pregnancy announcements, baby showers and gender reveal events. They make the making of a baby a really big deal. So why do so many people not understand that the loss of that baby is also a big deal?
This is not about everyone out there. There are plenty of people who do understand grief. We were surrounded by many who shared and supported our family and helped us heal.
Gender reveal parties make me uncomfortable for so many reasons. A) that in this day and age, why are we making such a big deal about whether the baby will wear pink or blue. Are you going to be disappointed if the baby is not the gender you wanted? And B) should you not just be happy no matter what the gender – your baby is alive and well? Not to mention, can’t you just be surprised? Do we need all this medical technology used in such a frivolous way?
We actually did find out the gender before Tara was born as she is what they apparently call a Rainbow Baby. I did not know this reference either….this is what babies are called that are born after a loss. Because we lost her would be big brother back in December of 2007, my pregnancy with her was filled with triple the amount of doctor visits and every single test they could think of.
I don’t know if I like naming the type of birth Tara is. I mean, is she supposed to feel bad for being born and not being Scott? We are just happy to have her. The biggest issue that comes up is that people tend to wonder why the big gap between her and Caity. I tell people that there was supposed to be one in between. Caity and Adam like to tell people that we were supposed to have been a family of six and not five.
But that brings back the ‘telling’ thing. I sort of hate it because if you mention to a stranger anything related to the gap or why we have talked about four pregnancies, you tend to need to go into the whole story and it is not a story I like to relive.
There are aspects of my tale that should be part of the WHY of having a month dedicated to this issue. Apart from people being uncomfortable with infant loss and the grief surrounding it, another BIG issue is making those who are part of the process to be more aware and better trained. From the poor ultrasound tech who went white and fled the room to find her supervisor who did nothing but tell us to go see our doctor right away, to our OB/GYN who shrugged her shoulders and just said ‘these things happen,’ to the nurses at the hospital who couldn’t keep it in their heads that I was delivering a DEAD baby and so I could have any pain relief available as it DIDN’T MATTER, to the photographer who blundered into my room the next morning asking to take a photo of my baby.
I would hope having a month dedicated to awareness would help these type of professionals learn more about how to handle these sort of situations far better than I experienced.
To those of you who have experiences infant loss. My heart goes out to you all.