Monday, February 8, 2010

The truth about pregnancy loss

This is from a post I made on a rather large message board. I wanted to keep track of it because it was something I meant to capture in words so many times but avoided. I was finally inspired by a bit of drama involving "lurkers" on the loss boards. I wanted to try to encapsulate the feelings a woman experiences after pregnancy loss in a way that could help others learn to sympathize. After all, many of us who experienced loss have all experienced well-meaning friends' and family members' less than helpful advice and insight on the subject.

It might seem a strange juxtaposition to my last post, but hopefully it helps someone else voice their feelings.

"Pregnancy loss is real loss. Those who are here and those of us who have passed through have experienced death. It's not what society generally considers death, but that is only because society as a whole chooses to ignore pregnancy loss. It's uncomfortable, surreal, and scary for those who have not experienced it. There was no person, no life, no accomplishments to remember fondly and mourn. People do not ask about our babies. People often do not know about them. Society says things like "it wasn't the right time" or "it's better this way" or "God has a reason," and then they drop it and expect that it never has to be mentioned again.
But these deaths for us are very real. As real as the loss of any grandparent, friend, or loved one. The baby that no one knew was known by its mother, even if only for a moment. We carried these lost children, and we loved them. We loved them with a fervor that is matched by the love of any parent. We wanted them. We wished for them. We prayed for them. Some of us waited days in limbo to find out the worst. For others a moment shattered everything.
But for most of us, the mourning has been done alone. There is no funeral, no memorial to remember the life lost. Many of us experience postpartum depression in the cruelest of all tricks, because our pregnancies ended too. However, unlike those who society sees as having a "right" to PPD, there is no baby to be the light at the end of the tunnel. And because this death was not acknowledged, people forget. They tell us about their pregnancies, they avoid us because we're still "not over it," they call us out for having sad days or bitter days as though we should have more control than others over the grieving process.
I have the bittersweet experience of knowing all sides of the equation. I have been blessed with a child. I have lost pregnancies. I have been blessed again. I have known the sheer madness of grief, the pure joy of expectation, the momentary solace of hope in the face of uncertainty, and the crushing hopelessness of loss and it is enough to drive one insane.
May you never experience it. I truly hope you do not. I hope this is only something you can read and learn to sympathize with. That the next time you hear another woman say something bitter or roll your eyes at the woman with downcast eyes at your OB's office or lurk on another board that you look closer and see the pain behind these simple, insignificant moments and sympathize instead of criticize or condescend or preach to them." (1-3-10, posted on


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