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Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

by Rachel

honestly

October 25, 2013

Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month

1 year, 7 months and 12 days ago I lost my son to a pregnancy complication. He was just 20 weeks along and I was heartbroken.

Grief came on me in waves. One day I’d be okay and get through normal tasks, while the next I could hardly keep the sobs at bay and was lucky to make it from my bedroom to the living room. Although my husband was grieving just as deeply as I was, his grief looked different than mine, and sometimes I felt alone – like no one understood or even cared what I was going through. Reminders that others shared my pain and that I was so-very-loved came in different shapes and forms: phone calls, flowers, meals, cards and visits.

Hello darling, you are not alone.

 It was that love that helped me then and continues to strengthen me today. If you know someone who has experienced a loss (during pregnancy or after), you might be unsure of what to say or do. Here are a few things that blessed me and may help you reach out to a hurting friend:

ASK.

“How are you?” can be a flippant greeting or the question of a caring friend. Ask how your friend is doing when you have the time to listen and give your friend your full attention, and where the two of you won’t be interrupted. She may not be ready or need to talk right then, but it shows that you care about her and her child. If her answer is short, don’t press it. Give her the opportunity to share but the space to be quiet.

GIVE.

Flowers, cards and meals all show a hurting mom that she is cared for and loved (dad too!). And don’t stop after a week or a month. Sending a card 6 months down the road or at a special marker or anniversary reminds a hurting mom that you remember and care. 

CRY.

One of my most poignant memories is crying with my doctor when we realized that we were losing my son. I also cried with friends and family members. Allowing your own sadness to show comforts a mom and lets a mom know that you loved her child and that you are mourning with her. Just be careful not to allow your grief to become a burden to your hurting friend.

BE PRESENT.

It can be uncomfortable to spend time with someone who is mourning but having a friend or family member around comforted me in a way nothing else would. It didn’t matter what we were doing – going for a walk, watching a movie or making dinner – just having someone around allowed me to focus on something other than my grief. And gave me the space to talk about my sadness if and when I needed to.

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a special time set aside to recognize the loss so many parents experience. It also is meant to inform and provide resources to parents who have lost children during pregnancy or infancy. To learn more visit hiringforhope.org/pregnancy-infant-loss-awareness.html.

Maybe you have your own story of pregnancy or infant loss. Include a snippet of your story below so we moms can hold each other and grieve together.

Things have gotten crazy in the Oliver household recently, as Rachel and husband James welcomed a sweet bundle of joy wrapped in pink {Reagan Leigh} to their home. The road to parenthood hasn’t been an easy one but Rachel is amazed at how God carried her through the bumps to new, exciting places. When not editing, writing or brainstorming for work at MOPS International, she enjoys playing with and trying to get a “ma ma” out of her little Sweet Pea. Connect with Rachel on Twitter @rachelroliver, on the Hello, Darling blog or her personal blog Rachel & Reagan.

Share your thoughts

One of our mentor moms stopped me in my tracks on day by saying that life goes on for everyone else, but that we don't forget. It blew me away, she was talking about her mom- but for me- I needed that moment as I remember my son, and my daughter. We are pregnant with our 6th child that I will have the honor of delivering, and have a few other souls in heaven that left my body too soon. It has become apparent that it is not just me that has this grief that I am carrying around, but my kids are too. I think that a very helpful article for Momsense would be about helping kids grieve. We lost one of our son's in a very difficult way when our oldest was 20 months old- but he remembers it. He remembers the church. The funeral, and holding him to say good bye. Kids aren't able to process this at that young of an age, so he is struggling now 5 years later to come to terms with this loss and it would be great to have some pointers.

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I am a mother. I have 1 beautiful 4 yr old daughter, 3 blessed souls who graced my body for a short time, and 1 growing soul due to be born in Dec. I am in awe of the miracle that is life and my own significant, yet minuscule role in co-creating it. My most recent miscarriage was transformative in that I began praying the minute I learned about the pregnancy, not for the perfect healthy birth I so desperately hoped for, but rather, that I may learn and get everything I possibly can from this miraculous and complex experience. I knew, with certainty, that pregnancy does not equal live birth, so I chose to ask for guidance, knowledge, wisdom, and insight from Creator during the process. I hoped to gain as much as I could from the experience and relinquished my belief that I knew what was best for me. Absolutely transformative. While my body was physiologically completing the process, I experienced the most significant spiritual experience of my life. I am grateful. I am honored.

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In response to the "Ask" section one of the best questions I was asked (after Charlotte's stillbirth at 30 weeks) was, "How is your heart?" That to me was the best question ever. When asking, "How are you?" it is very general and I always felt like I was fine physically. I had healed from delivery, made it through my milk drying up, and "felt" fine. However my heart was still shattered and not quite connected to my head at times. You still move through a fog of grief at times functional and seem "normal" on the outside, but some days that fog is so thick you can't see anything and could really use a friend to hold your hand and you do even the daily tasks required. And YES send notes months done the road. It is healing to have others remember your loss further out from the event. And always ask your friend to tell you if there is something you would prefer not to happen. I didn't like to hear my daughter's name spoken at first, it too

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Thank you for sharing this and for remembering the babies born to Heaven and the parents who miss them. I have five children - two on earth and three in Heaven - and these suggestions are spot on. I survived our losses by the grace of God, the promises in His Word, and the love of the people around me. The greatest gift I received during our worst days was friends who remembered my due date, or the anniversary of our loss, and who told me they were remembering Naomi, or Kyria, or Jordan. No, fellow mommies, you are not alone. Never.

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All I can say is yes! This is so spot on. I've lost two babies in the last fifteen months and can strongly identify with every word of the above. Mamas, you're not alone and grieving for your child is okay. You are cherished and dearly loved. Our Creator longs to wrap His arms around us and give us the comfort no other human can give. Let Him hold you and, yes, cry with you. He knows of every tear and no amount of pain will ever be wasted. You and your sweet, precious babies are loved. <3

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The most important thing I think I would add to this is, "Say the child's name." Asking and talking about the child, the loss journey, and even what the child was like are very powerful ways to tell a grieving mom that her baby *is* real and *was* here, even if ever-so-briefly. Sometimes we begin to doubt the child's very existence to the world when it seems that he or she is being erased -- when in reality, everyone is afraid to "remind" her of the child. You can't remind someone of something that is tattooed on her heart. Talk about her child. She needs to hear from others that you remember.

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