Trigger Warning: Pregnancy Loss
Dear Middle Daughter,
I have such a jumble of thoughts and feelings as I sit down to write this. What do I say to someone I never met?
We’re coming up on the fourth anniversary of losing you. We weren’t far along on our journey yet – only 9ish weeks – but something happened and you rested instead of grew. We tried so hard, for so long, for you but I still felt unprepared – how would I find enough love to share between you and your big sister? Was I ready for the big life changes that came with bringing a tiny one back into our lives? Somehow, when we found out you’d never join our family, all of the misgivings and worry were replaced with complete and total grief.
What happened to you, tiny one? Did I do something wrong? Was it that fender bender we got into on our way to work? Was it the stress of making a huge career shift right around the time we found out you’d be coming? Did I accidentally wish you away with my worry?
I remember going in for the “procedure” to make our abbreviated journey final. Cold rooms, sterile floors. My comforting doctor telling me I’d be okay; all the nurses who told me they had experienced loss, too. “Something wasn’t right. Your body knows.” It helped, but it didn’t. I wanted to know why; where did we go wrong?
I moved through the next two weeks mostly numb. Pretending life was normal.
Dressing up for trunk or treat with your sister and carving pumpkins. Slowly life did get back to normal and I started to compartmentalize you away – into a little box in my heart.
I went back to the doctor for a final check up. She told me there were no answers. “It just happens sometimes.” She handed me a piece of paper that said we lost you for no good reason – which was supposed to be comforting somehow – and I saw the words, “Normal female tissue.”
“Is that talking about me? I’m the female with normal tissue?”
A sad look, a short breath, “No.”
“It was a girl?”
Nothing could have prepared me for the realness flooding back. I lost a girl, not a sesame seed. I lost my daughter’s sister, not a jumble of cells. I lost more tea parties and princess dress up and nail painting and pink and tiny ballet shoes and and and.
Dear one, only a few months after we lost you, we found your baby sister. She started growing quick and strong and we were filled with hope. We guarded her like diamonds and every flutter of her feet and every hiccup was savored because she was safe.
She arrived a few days shy of the first anniversary of losing you.
The rain poured that day, so we saw no rainbow…but we felt it.
Three years later and I still have a lot of questions. I understand we’ll never know why you went away. So many mommies won’t ever know, either. I want those mommies to know they’re not alone. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to talk about being sad. It’s okay to not be okay about something like this.
“At least it was early.” Should I forget the youness of you?
“At least you got pregnant again so soon.” Should I forget you happened?
We’re not supposed to talk about pregnancy before the first trimester is over “just in case.”
Whose feelings are we saving with that rule? If “just in case” actually happens, what are mommies supposed to do with our feelings? Whisper to our partners and no one else?
My girl, when I lost you, I went inward. I went so far inward I left the doctor’s office and went to work. That’s what I was supposed to do, right? Don’t talk about it, my body did its job, just keep moving.
Eventually, though, it was time to talk about you. Not just to your daddy but with our friends, our extended family, whoever was listening. Doing that made you feel more real. Made me feel whole again because I could acknowledge you happened, that you went away, and that we were devastated for the lost promise of you.
You know what happened? Lots of people started talking about it. People I had no idea had experienced loss reached out to me with their stories, their missing babes they never got to meet. It made all the difference in the world to feel like we experienced loss together, not alone. Sharing our grief made the grief tolerable because we shared it together.
My dear middle daughter, I wish we could have met you. I wish we could have gotten to know you. I can assure you, I will never forget you.
Love you forever,
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For resources, contact a counselor in your area or visit http://www.october15.com.