As moms we can understand that there is no greater joy than seeing our children’s happiness. To see them roll over for the first time, take their first steps, or to say their first words; these are moments that every mom will cherish for the rest of their life! But sadly, so many moms never get the chance to experience these things. 1 in 4 women have suffered from a miscarriage or a loss of a child, and many of these women suffer in silence through their pain. Some feel ashamed, guilty, but the depression that most women feel is overwhelming. October has been designated as the awareness month for all women who have suffered from the loss of a child. When Ronald Reagan dedicated the month in 1988 to this cause he said these words:
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.” – Ronald Reagan
So in honor of all the women who have suffered these losses I collected some stories to find out what happened in their families. I am blessed to be a woman who has personally never experienced this pain, but often times that leaves me at a loss of what to say to comfort those who are going through these trials. Writing this article was a very emotional, raw, and eye-opening experience but I hope it is one that people learn and heal from.
Many of the women I reached out to were completely surprised by their pregnancy but were elated when they found out. One woman even described calling her significant other right away at work and letting him know he was going to be Father, another found out she was pregnant again when her daughter was only 5 months old so when they called her family to tell them the news they decided to move and be closer to them for support, others who were unmarried went to the courthouse and were married right away and celebrated the start of their family. Overwhelming joy and life-changing decisions were made from their pregnancy tests were described over and over again; names were picked out, rooms were decorated, futures mapped out but all of it was ripped away all too quickly.
Many women were told the news that the baby had passed at their first doctor’s appointment, some were rushed to the ER when they experienced the pain and bleeding, and others experienced the loss at what they thought would be the day they brought their child home.
“When I was 5 months pregnant with Ethan I was told he had a tumor. For 2 months we fought for him to stay in my belly without going into heart failure. He was born at 32 weeks, but died during surgery to remove the tumor. The tumor was attached to his throat/neck area. It was pretty big too…. Maybe a baseball size. It’s been 11 years since he passed”
What I feel is really important to note at this point in the article is that it doesn’t matter how far along in the pregnancy they were, or whether they had physically given birth yet or not, these women had children that they loved and cared for. To have that love and joy gone in just an instance is devastating, not just emotionally but physically. Miscarriages themselves are extremely painful with cramps and bleeding that lasts for days and with nothing that doctors can really do to help. But through it all they are supposed to just continue on in life as if nothing happened, go back to work, be happy, take care of the rest of the family. While some women described the devastation of their loved ones others described the dismissal they felt at their lowest points,
“I don’t know why you are so upset, we can just make another one.”
“Well it’s a good thing if you think about it..you weren’t ready.”
These comments made by others to these women are something I have struggled with understanding as I wrote this article. I have always been a person who tends to be at a loss of words when people are suffering, but I couldn’t imagine dismissing someone’s loss in such a way, but apparently, these conversations are all too common for women who have suffered this loss. While no one really wants to be asked “How are you doing?” or “How are you holding up?” a thousand times, we should be offering them our support and be a shoulder to lean on. In times of struggle for anyone others should strive to be a source of strength. Women should not have to experience shame and guilt during these times, and while I feel as a society we have gotten better at acknowledging these sentiments, hearing stories as recent as a few weeks ago, showed me that we can continue to be better.
Let us continue to bring awareness to women all across this nation that they are not alone in their suffering, and that they have nothing to feel guilty and ashamed over, but more than anything let us honor these mothers for the pain that they have suffered. We as fellow moms need to recognize that the role of mom can mean very different things, sometimes it’s a woman who is still dreaming of the child that they never had the chance to know, or a woman who is still hoping every month to have a positive test, or a woman who has to visit a grave each year instead of throwing a birthday party. It is these women and more importantly these moms that we honor this month.