October is Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness Month. 1 in 5 pregnancies result in a miscarriage and 1 in 100 births end with a baby passing away before, at or shortly after birth. I personally have experienced both. My early loss was my first son Jack’s twin early in pregnancy in 2012. It was physically painful, extremely scary, and emotionally heartbreaking. Our second loss was December 9, 2015 when our third son Theodore was born and passed away from a Congenital Heart Defect. This loss is profound and has taken our family on a beautiful journey learning to love fearlessly and unconditionally.
Reflecting upon my early emotions from these losses I realized both times we felt alone. We didn’t openly talk about our first loss and with the loss of Theodore we choose to be open in hopes that those who walk this journey after us will find comfort knowing they aren’t alone. No two journeys of loss are the same, but there are threads that are woven in the fabric of a heart broken from the loss of a baby that are mirrored in each loss. I have found being able to speak and write openly about our journey to be therapeutic.
I often wonder why, with something so common, do we have a culture which is uncomfortable talking about miscarriages and infant loss. What I know to be true is that healing happens when the pain is acknowledged, when the name of your baby is spoken, and when you are loved through your journey no matter how messy it gets. Living your forever without your baby is hard, mothering a child you can only hold in your heart feels incredibly overwhelming and impossible at times but with the love and support of your community this can feel lighter. It can feel bearable.
The day Theodore was born and left our physical world was the day a new me was born. I have had to be gentle with myself as I struggle to figure out whom that new me really is; how to navigate the world with a broken heart that will never mend and with a void that can never be filled. I see my son missing from every moment of my life. It is impossible to see my two boys and not see the third missing. I also see him present everywhere. He has many ways to tell me how close he truly is especially at times my heart hurts the most.
Experiences like these leave you at a crossroads choosing between walking the path that allows you to form a hard shell over your shattered heart or becoming open, vulnerable, and honest. Knowing the path would be harder but so much more rewarding, we chose the latter. Our family is forever changed in most beautiful ways because we are walking this journey by choosing the route that leads us to love fearlessly.
Many couples have silently carried the loss of a baby for decades. A parent doesn’t get over a loss like this but the loss can feel lighter with time and sharing helps lighten this load. Throughout this month, share your experiences with one another. Talk about the babies we no longer can hold, use their names, and ask questions. It is time we break the silence and embrace the truth about life. Babies die. It is heartbreaking but true. There is no shame and it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. We can comfort and lift each other up, if we can be open with the reality that this happens to many.