“Woman to Woman”: National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

The only moments of joy I had over the weeks were at my OBGYN’s office. He told me everything in my pregnancy was going as it should. I’ll never forget the ultrasound where I finally saw my baby’s heartbeat. It was flickering on the screen like a little twinkling star. I left that appointment with a renewed inner strength. My baby needed me to be positive so that he or she could thrive inside of me.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

That night I felt the familiar sensation of a pop and then the expulsion of blood running down my thighs. I immediately broke out in hysterical tears begging God not to let this be happening again. As I sat up, I was telling Him my baby was all I had. I was pleading with God that He not allow this to happen to me again.

Upon reaching the bathroom, I see blood pour out of me. I sit down on the toilet. While cleaning myself, I see a tiny placenta and what appears to be the shape of a tiny fetus on the tissue. I touch it and stare at it through hot, blurry, tear-filled eyes. I keep saying, “No, no, no, no, no, please, God no!”

I rush myself to the emergency room. After the ultrasound, I hear the words I’ve heard far too many times: “I’m sorry, but your pregnancy…” and I lose it.

That’s an excerpt from my memoir, “Woman to Woman: Letters from Wives to Mistresses.” It’s the most vulnerable and saddest moments of my life that I’m choosing to share with others. This isn’t a book promotion, however. This is me adding to the much-needed conversation about losing a baby; be it by miscarriage or infant death.

I have suffered 4 miscarriages in my adult life. One such loss was called a “Blighted Ovum,” which is where the placenta keeps growing even though the baby has died. That was a tough loss because my own body was tricking me into believing I was carrying around a live child when nothing was farther from the truth. It would be my most loss until my last miscarriage, the one I speak about in my book. It was the only pregnancy where I got to see my baby’s heartbeat, and that sight assured me that that pregnancy was going to make the distance. I had allowed myself to have hope during that pregnancy because it hit milestones I never had in previous ones. Yet, here I am, 48-years old, without a live biological child to call my own.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one crying along with Ms. Chrissy Teigen who recently suffered the loss of her son Jack. Seeing the photos of her and her husband, John Legend, holding and saying goodbye to their baby boy still wrenches my heart. For Chrissy to allow to be shared such a shattering moment in their life with the public was not only bold but made me feel like Chrissy is more than just a celebrity, in that moment she was our friend and our sister.

Thank you Legend family for sharing your hearts with ours.

Many were shocked to see the stark realities of losing a baby to miscarriage. Some gave voice to their disapproval. But, I’m sure there were many more of us who appreciate her putting a bright light on such a dark moment.

No one gets to tell us how to grieve our loss!

No one gets to tell us how long we have to grieve!

There are some things we can do to help ourselves and others through this type of loss. From personal experience I can offer that talking to friends can help. Allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you need to feel to get through a bad moment helps also. If you need to ugly cry, do it. If you need to scream or want to break every dish in that cabinet…do it. You can glue dishes back together in those times when you need something to do to fill the time.

  • To get through this difficult period, you can also: 
  • Talk to a professional (please do not keep your feelings bottled up).
  • Go outside and let the sunshine light up your face.
  • Bathe & change clothes.
  • Don’t blame yourself (I still struggle with this one, but I’m working on it).
  • Rest (the body and mind heal when you get to sleep).
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Of course, there are many other things you can do, and allow others to do for you, to support you while you heal physically and emotionally.

Whatever you do, please don’t turn away help from those who love and care for you, even if it’s a stranger. If you’re with a partner, allow them to grieve with you. You will get through this together.

In 1988, former President Ronald Regan designated October as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.”

He stated:

When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes. Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities

To my fellow “mother’s at heart,” I am you, and you are me. I share your pain. I cry with you and for you. If you’ve gone on to have successful pregnancies and revel in the joys of hearing your child’s laughter, I am so happy for you. For my mother’s at heart who have yet to give birth, I have hope for you. For my mother’s at heart who may have decided not to have biological children, like myself, I understand you. We can give our love to other children who need it – nieces, nephews, cousins, or like me, my beautiful step-daughter, Tatum (the daughter of my second ex-husband). Loving her fills my heart as if she were my own.

So, as this month of honoring those lost pregnancies passes, we mothers…ALL of us, know that none of our memories fade, nor do our tears stop falling with regards to our losses just because we leave the month of October. But, let’s make sure that we do take a moment to send out our love to those who have suffered these precious losses, because be it October, November, or December, the emotional and mental support we need takes much longer than 30-days.

I wish you all well, and good health. Please stay safe during these distressing times.

If you or anyone you know needs additional support after the loss of a child, please visit: www.nationalshare.org.

If you or anyone you know is feeling lost, or even suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

(*photos courtesy of Chrissy Teigen © Instagram – @chrissyteigen)

(*Reagan quote taken from: http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com)