Losing Our Sense of Loss

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Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and I am at a loss of how to best honor this day. I know too many of us woman who have had to suffer the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. Every situation is different, every woman’s experience their own, except that in the end, all of the women had to deal with the loss. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.” That means that an average of 1 in 6 pregnancies end in a loss. That’s a lot of loss.

Yet, there is a not a lot of discussion or acknowledgement of that loss. Many women view this loss as a private matter, hiding it even from their partners. Other women express feelings of failure, as if they somehow were not living up to their jobs as women. Some women do talk about their loss and share their experience with family and friends. Truly there is no judgment here or easy answers of how to deal with loss. Much like every woman is unique, so are their struggles and experiences.

Personally, I have had miscarriages. The first time round I did not say anything to anyone. The times after I did. I was hesitant to do so but was surprised when sharing just how many women shared back their experiences. It opened a whole new world to me of loss and how different women deal with it. I was shocked at how many women I knew, some very well, and yet I had no idea of just how much they were dealing with or had experienced. It opened my eyes to see a world in which loss was significant and I was significantly lacking a sense for it.

After battling two very difficult pregnancies with hyperemesis, having more children is too big of a risk. When people often ask me if others are on the way and I laugh it off, but behind the laugh is the sadness of a choice taken away from me. Upon reflection, however, I realize that I am just as guilty when it comes to this. Some of my well-meaning comments, jokes or questions could have been painful. My seemingly innocent queries into when a brother or sister might be on the way could have triggered pain. My joking about who might be next woman at work pregnant might open a world of worry, shame and hurt. Talk of that nature is common and a topic of discussion for families, friends and colleagues. Looking around, it appears that while we do not talk about loss all that much, we do like to talk about a woman’s family planning quite a bit.

We cannot do much to prevent loss of pregnancies and infants. It’s not really in our hands. What is, however, is how we approach woman and family planning. So to honor today, I am taking a pledge to be more aware of loss. I will do my best to keep my comments and questions about a woman’s family planning to myself. I will lend a listening ear and wait for what is offered me. I will offer support, share in loss and be there for any woman who sees fit to share with me her personal and unique situation. I will celebrate the joys of woman in pregnancy and childbirth, but will also try not to forget the struggle that can be associated with those triumphs.

Today at 7pm in every time zone, there is an international wave of light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I offer my light, and my hopes that we can all develop a better sense of loss.