I woke up this morning (now yesterday) to the same announcement many of you probably did: Prince Harry and Duchess Megan are expecting their first baby. That means that I, along with the rest of the world, can look forward to continuous health updates, baby-bump watches, and maternity wardrobe reports for the next six or so months.
The month of October is, among other things, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Today (again, yesterday now) specifically, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. Statistically speaking, one in four to one in five pregnancies ends in a loss. That means that most women have experienced the loss of a child.
For those of us living with having lost a pregnancy, delivered a child who was stillborn, or lost an infant, we don’t need a day or month to be more aware of our losses. Our losses are not neatly relegated to one day or month of the year; we are keenly aware of allofthelosses, every day. Although the context of our individual losses is as unique as we each are, I am certain that we all have several things in common.
Whether or not you have other living children, you will always be aware of the one or ones who are not with you. For me, the passage of time is strangely fluid, flowing and ebbing between the extreme present (the seconds and minutes spent just trying to catch your breath when someone’s sonogram appears on your Facebook feed, or you walk into the break room at work to a tray of pink and blue cupcakes) and longer stretches of time [years and years, which now add up to more than a decade (that’s exquisitely difficult to write and to reckon)].
It’s no first tooth. No first step. No first word. It’s every birthday, not celebrated. Every New Year. Every Easter. Every Mother’s Day. Every Father’s Day. Every Grandparents’ Day. Every first day of school. Every Thanksgiving. Every Hanukkah. Every Christmas. Every first communion. Every bar mitzvah. Every learner’s permit. Every graduation. Every wedding. It’s every Hope and Dream you had for that child. It’s the image of all the ways you expected and planned for your life to be, cast in the negative.
I do think it is important to be able to, or to feel as though you are able to, speak of such things. And, maybe, for now, in order to feel okay about speaking our truths, we need a socially sanctioned day and month (especially in the absence of rituals for those of us whose losses came before a certain number of medically and socially recognized weeks). However, it is my sincere hope that more of us feel like we can share the myriad ways in which our losses have and continue to unceasingly affect who we are, regardless of the month or the day.
As always, I welcome your thoughtful questions and comments.