I am the mother to five children, four of whom I parent every day. My fifth child, Hadley Jane, died in my arms on her third day of life. She was one of triplets, just as perfect as her siblings and just as loved. I miss her every single day. When someone says her name or lets me know that something about her short life touched their own my grieving heart smiles a bit.
I’m not alone. So many parents out there have lost a child, whether by miscarriage, or still birth, or from complications shortly after birth.
Nearly 30 years later, people still squirm when I tell the story of my daughter’s short life. I don’t blame them for wanting to hear stories of healthy babies and beaming parents, to hold tight to their belief that something so tragic would never happen to them — but it’s important to remember stories like mine. It’s important to let grieving mothers know that the babies they carry in their hearts are just as cherished as the ones they carry in their arms.
We have awareness days and months for every cause under the sun, with corresponding ribbons that are worn like blinking banners of support. But, I’m pretty sure if I headed out in the world with a pink and blue ribbon no one would know I’m wearing it for the daughter we lost.
Many people don’t even know about the heartache of losing a baby during pregnancy or in infancy because society has decided that it’s taboo to discuss miscarriage and neonatal loss. Remember, you can call the SANDS national support hotline any time you need to talk to someone who understands and there are simple things we can all do to help break the stigma.
1. Reach out. If you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage or lost an infant, reach out to them. I often see women share graphics or articles about miscarriage or infant loss on social media and those posts rarely have any comments. Silence speaks volumes, so write something. Tell them you are sorry for their loss. Message them privately if you’ve been there, too. If you aren’t sure what to say just put a heart in the comments; even an emoji is better than nothing. Acknowledging their loss is so important. Let them know you haven’t forgotten. I guarantee they haven’t either and will be grateful for your kind words.
2. Show your support. Social media has made it so easy to show our support for different causes. You can share the staggering statistic that one in four women will experience a miscarriage or post your own awareness message. Jessi Snapp, the artist and bereaved mother behind Luminous Light Studios, created profile and banner art and has generously made it available for public use on Facebook.
3. Do something. There are events all over the world this month, from candlelight vigils to lantern releases. International Wave of Light took place on October 15. Find out what is happening in your area and go. Or, offer to go with a friend who may be alone in her grieving.
No matter what you do during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. Break out of your comfort zone a bit and share your own story or listen to one that is begging to be told. I’ve shared my story. Now, it’s your turn. Leave your story in the comments. I promise to read them all. Together we will break the silence and maybe in another 30 years we will all be heard, loud and clear.
Support for mums who have miscarried:
- Getting Pregnant Again Helped Me Heal from My Miscarriage
- Coping with Pregnancy after a Loss: How am I Supposed to Feel?
- When Will I Stop Feeling Jealous of Pregnant Women?
Images: Getty (top); Jessica Watson (bottom)