First of all, I would like to put it out there that one month of attempting to make more people aware of pregnancy and infant loss is simply not enough. People need to be aware of this important subject year round--as we do for so many other vitally important diseases and causes. I am glad that there is at least a time of attempting to make more people aware of something so important. I am thankful that there are those who are willing to do what it takes to stop the silence.
When I lost James Isaac 16 years ago, I only spoken to or known of one person in my life who had ever suffered child loss. The woman I knew had had a stillbirth more than 15 years prior to my stillbirth. She had pictures of her baby throughout her home. She was not afraid or ashamed to share her story. I remember (prior to my stillbirth) being very uncomfortable, yet feeling very sad, around this amazing woman. But she was the only woman who had ever shared with me that she had lost a child.
Once we had our stillbirth, women seemed to crawl out of the woodwork sharing with me about their losses--mostly miscarriages. Because of the fact that many of these women shared their stories with me while I was still in the midst of the shock stage of my grief, I honestly don't remember exactly which women shared their stories with me or even what their stories were. I do know that there were quite a few of them.
My point is that we shouldn't wait until a friend or loved one loses a baby before we share our stories.
We should share our stories with love, pride, and yes, even joy. I loved--love--all three of the babies I lost. I am not a mommy of JUST my living, breathing son, Samuel; I am mommy to James Isaac (born & died March 17, 1999), Panya Ruth (miscarried November 10, 1999), Samuel Josiah (b. May 1, 2001), and Anna Rose (miscarried November 22, 2005).
So secondly, it is important for those of us who are part of this Family to be able to feel free to say that we are Mommy to more than just one child without feeling as if we've brought the roof down or without making everyone around us uncomfortable.
Who do we "fix" or change that? The only way to change the awkwardness around us whenever someone brings up "lost" babies is to be loving and simply let the Mommy (or Daddy) talk. In spite of our desire to say something to "help," saying nothing is typically the best option--except to ask a question or to gently and lovingly let the Mommy know that she is in a "safe" place with a "safe" person. Hugs go a LONG way. As do simple touches.
Over the past 16 years, I quit sharing with so many people about my losses. The uneasiness that comes into a room says more than any words could possibly say. I don't like or want to make people uncomfortable. But I do want to share about my babies.
I loved--love--them. They were real for me. They ARE real for me. Yes, it is painful for me to talk about my babies, but even more than that, it especially painful to act as if they never were--never to speak their names or to share with others how very much I love each of them.
In truth, writing this blog (and my Memoir) is not easy for me. I am scared to death of how you will receive my story. Not to mention the simple fact that sharing my story is still painful--even though the first loss happened more than 16 years ago. With each post I write, I feel as if I am wearing my heart outside my body, but I've heard that every mother feels that way about her child--whether here on this earth or in heaven.
We're taught about being sensitive, loving, and understanding with those who have physical challenges and disabilities, mental challenges and disabilities, widows/widowers, children who have lost their parents or grandparents or other loved one, and especially with those of a different race. But we aren't taught about being sensitive, loving, and understanding with those who suffer the loss of a baby. We have NO idea what to do with those who have lost a baby.
I'm here to tell you that we need to be sensitive, loving, and understanding with Mommies whose arms are empty. We deserve that, too.