I’ve been observing Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) awareness month since 2012, which makes this October my 6th one. Each year I’ve done things a little differently; a few years I participated in photo challenges, I went to a memorial event with a friend a couple years ago, one year I hid in bed most the month, and last year I white-knuckled my way through the month just holding on until I could safely hold my rainbow. I always knew if I made it through to my rainbow, observing PAIL awareness would be different. I just had no clue what it would look like. Now that we’re towards the end of the month, here’s five ways my October was different because I’m a loss mom with a living child.
1. I felt guilty/like an imposter
It was a rough month in terms of guilt. I know several mothers who lost children this year, and in some instances I just didn’t know what to do. This has been the happiest year of my life. Having a baby and routine has been cathartic for me. I no longer struggle with the complex feelings of failure brought on by recurrent miscarriage, and for the most part I’ve accepted and am at peace with how my previous pregnancies ended. How do stand with so many other bereaved mothers while I have so much joy in my heart? For the first time I felt like maybe I just didn’t fit in, and it was weird.
2. I reached out to support
In previous years I’ve reached out to women for support. I desperately needed to know I wasn’t alone, and that other women had experienced happy endings. I was terrified I’d never be a mom, much less carry to term successfully. I posted all over social media hoping to hear from women who had been where I was. This year, I was more passive about my posting. Instead, I sat back and read what others were saying. I’d comment my words of encouragement and hope. Where I felt it was appropriate, I used my son’s picture as proof that loss isn’t the end of everything, and that life can continue alongside the grief.
3. I wondered about the future
In past years, the future was this gaping, uncertain, black hole. It was a concept that stressed me and brought me to tears. This month I sat down and seriously thought about what my future might look like. I’d like to try for more kids, and I know that I have a higher risk for miscarrying future pregnancies. It makes me extremely sad to think about losing any more, but having experienced what it’s like to have a rainbow baby gives me strength to face that fact. I may experience loss again. It will be heartbreaking, and I’ll grieve just as much as I did for my previous three. But this time, I know how strong I am.
4. I forgot to light my candles
I almost didn’t want to type this, because I feel horrible… but I forgot to light my candles on October 15 during the wave of light. I had it in my calendar, and I had my three candles ready to go (a large beeswax candle and two scented soy tea lights) and I missed it. It had been a rough day, my son had been somewhat crabby, and I decided to put on a movie with my family and stretch out on the couch. When it was over, I realized it was after 8 pm and my candles had never been lit. I think, though, that this goes to show that loss makes way for life to continue. All day I had been thinking of my three little ones and lighting candles for them. I even took the time to carefully pick out which candles I wanted to use and get them ready. I may have forgotten the day, the time, and the act of lighting those candles, but I certainly didn’t forget my children that day.
5. I cried
This one is a bit of a cheat, as I’ve cried every October since I lost my first. My due dates were in September and November. With October being right in the middle, it’s a tough time of year and I tend to feel a lot of self pity. This October, I didn’t cry for myself. I did cry for other parents who are experiencing the pain I went through, and who are still on the path to healing. I cried for my son, who barely has a connection to his older siblings. This year I was able to look beyond myself and feel empathy for others. After 6 years of being so hurt, and so focused on my own pain, it was a freeing experience to feel for others.
Right now, I’m in a really great place. I understand grief and life are fluid, and next year may not be like this. Loss has taught me to be gentle with myself when I struggle, and to fully take advantage of the times I’m doing well. I hope I’ve been able to take the kindness and support shown to me throughout past Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness months and pay it forward.
Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers