When I was young, my mother told me about her experience of having a miscarriage with twins at 21 weeks. It was a snippet of a story, a footnote in my childhood. I was her rainbow baby. And if she had carried those girls to term, I wouldn’t exist.
I didn’t understand what her experience must have been like until I became pregnant. The same afternoon we excitedly told my mom she was going to be a grandma, I found myself in a hospital basement where I learned the tiniest of hearts no longer had a beat. I was only several weeks along, but the thing about an early pregnancy is that you can pack a lifetime worth of dreams for your child into the first hours you are aware that they are growing inside you.
I remember the physical pain of that day, and the emotional anguish. I remember the animal cries I made as my mom rubbed my back. Our language around pregnancy loss and miscarriage falls short.
And although common, the topic can still be taboo – certainly, around the baby shower crowd you’re likely surrounded with in your 20s or 30s. Each sonogram post and gender reveal, each time you walk past the baby stuff at Target – it stings. The idea of trying again, of opening myself up to the possibility of another loss, was terrifying.
The degree of grief over losing a pregnancy isn’t necessarily a direct correlation to the number of cells that have divided inside you, or what size vegetable your gestational tracking app will be stalled at until you ask your partner to delete it from your phone. Sometimes, it’s the years you’ve had that baby dream in your heart, multiplied by bodily trauma, multiplied by the number of people who’ve congratulated you who you now must tell you are no longer pregnant.
My grief was soon replaced by joy. We were supposed to have a March baby, but we had a June baby instead. My rainbow appeared quickly. But my first pregnancy also provided me with a connection to women who have shared their stories of loss – like my mom. These are important stories. We need to honor them by creating space for this kind of sorrow. Space for stories that end mid-sentence, for chapters abruptly cut short. Space can be a cup of tea, a warm embrace, a reminder that love carries on.
October 15 is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. If you have lost a child through miscarriage, we see you and stand by you in your loss. You are not alone. We invite you to fill out a form to visually honor your little one on this Forever Loved Wall.