So I didn’t know it until I was perusing Facebook this afternoon, but today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. But I’m glad it does.
The terrible thing about pregnancy loss is the absence of a person who was wanted. Many times, a mother never gets to hold her child. Or sometimes mothers hold their stillborn babies for a short time, trying to imagine their breaths, their life. Time brings you to due dates and birthdays and first days of school and all those things that your child won’t be present for. With these losses, there are no memories of who that child was, there are just memories of who that child could have been. There are no photographs to muse over, though there might be scars on the mother’s body to mark the child’s life.
To give the parents a chance to remember their children is a kind thing. Today people who have experience miscarriages or pregnancy losses know they are not alone.
I have had more than one miscarriage, and I wanted those babies. They weren’t around long enough to mark my body, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. The beauty of their absence is the reminder that they were loved by a mother and a father, and that is gift that all of us cherish. Though I couldn’t hold them, feed them, bathe them, or rock them to sleep at night, the one gift I could give was a mother’s love. It is intangible gift, but not an invisible one.
For me, writing about my experiences has been cathartic. I’ve shared this one before, but I once wrote an essay about how one of my miscarriage experiences led me to feminism. You can also search this blog for more posts on miscarriage and will find a few, including one on my tattoo that marks my miscarriage losses.
Lastly, a different essay about that same miscarriage called Embers is forthcoming in St. Katherine Review. If it was a girl, I wanted her name to be Ember, and the essay chronicles the whole experience, including counting ceiling tiles at the doctor’s office and coming to terms with a womb that had become a tomb.
It is okay to embrace the absence and sadness that comes with miscarriage. And it is also okay to find redemption and rebirth in the embers of loss.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who have experience such losses. You are not alone.
To celebrate Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, I am sharing a poem I wrote about my first miscarriage, which was published in San Pedro River Review in the Spring 2011 issue.
When the doctor’s visit is over the husband
whispers and you know something
has been lost. There was a moment
heart startled and released
the hushed sound that marks a grief. A grave
is not needed for this. But a mother
wants a place for her child. That echo
coats branches like a light snow
tapping all the way down your window.
Stroke, stroke of the hawk’s
wings far above. When the beating
stops, a prayer billows up.
The mother, the only one
who came close to the baby,
lets go of silence.