Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Today, I remember my Seraphim, who we lost 2 years ago.  I remember all my friends and family's babies who never saw life outside of their mother's wombs.  I remember my family member's baby who lived for just a short time in this world.

memory stones at a Dia de Los Muertos art show
I found with my miscarriage that many people simply did not know what to do or say to help me through my grief.  Some had wonderful intentions, but said some of the most hurtful things.  Others simply said or did nothing at all.  That was even more hurtful.  If you know someone that has gone through a miscarriage or infant loss, don't just ignore it.  Do something.

Here are some things that were helpful:

A home cooked meal.  Food was the last thing on my mind during my miscarriage, but I knew that I needed to eat.  I didn't have the energy to cook.  A few families brought us meals and they were well received.  I cannot express to you how grateful we were for those meals.  Even if I didn't eat much, I knew that my daughter and husband were getting some good food.

An offer to babysit.  One of the things about my miscarriage that was so difficult was that my baby was actually on my ovary, which is called an ectopic pregnancy.  I had to receive a couple shots to ensure the baby would no longer grow on my ovary (heartbreaking) and then had to get my blood drawn every couple days for a week, then a couple times the next week, followed by a few more the next couple weeks.  Needless to say, that was a lot of running around.  Since I didn't have set appointments at the lab, it was first come, first serve.  Sometimes I would walk in and walk out in 5 minutes.  Other times I would wait for 45 minutes before I was able to have my blood drawn.  Some of my friends offered to watch Z for me when I would go get my blood drawn and I was very grateful.  Family members offered to take her for a whole day the week after the miscarriage occurred so I could rest and grieve.

Something to make me laugh.  Some of my friends had beautiful flowers delivered.  That was very much appreciated.  But the thing that I remember most was what my sister-in-law and brother-in-law sent to us.  They had called us to see if we would be home when the delivery was scheduled, but I assumed it was flowers.  Then Joe answered the door and started laughing.  I was laying on the couch and asked what was so funny.  He walked into the living room with an edible fruit bouquet.  It was totally unexpected.  I could not stop laughing.  I'm sure that they meant for the bouquet to be comforting, but it was so much more than that.  It was the first thing that put a smile on my face in the midst of pain and grief.

A chance to tell my story.  Loss makes people uncomfortable.  Having recently lost my Great-Grandpa and my Grandma, I know that people don't like talking about death.  But something about losing a baby makes people infinitely more uncomfortable.  I don't know what it is.  Lots of people told me they were sorry and praying for me.  However, not many people were willing to listen.  I read somewhere that telling your miscarriage story can be almost as important as sharing your birth story.  I had a few friends that were willing to listen to all of my story and while it was painful to share, it was also healing.

Time to grieve.  One of the most common questions I was asked when I shared about my miscarriage was, "When can you try for another baby?"  This was incredibly infuriating to me.  I had just lost my baby.  I felt rushed, like everyone thought if I could just get pregnant then I would be "over it".  I needed time to grieve.  And because the grief was so tied to my baby's existence, it was hard to let go of that grief.  I wasn't ready to even begin thinking about having another baby.

Gentle words.  I heard a lot of painful things that were meant to be comforting.  Things like, "You're lucky you weren't too far along..." or "Maybe your baby was disabled..." or "I bet it's just a late period..."  When you are trying to think of what to say to people who are grieving the loss of their baby, don't speculate.  Uncertainty is such a big part of a miscarriage, the last thing I needed was people trying to figure out what reason God would have for letting my baby die.  What I needed to hear was "I'm very sorry...." or "I have no idea what you are feeling, but I am here..." or even "What can I do to help?"  Choose your words carefully, but make sure you say something to acknowledge the loss.

Understanding and patience.  Grief makes many things difficult.  Everyday things.  Brushing your teeth, changing your clothes, even breathing is difficult after a loss.  Many people were there for us immediately after the miscarriage, but a week, two weeks, a month later?  Not so much.  A month after my miscarriage I would still spontaneously burst into tears in public, still have difficulty completing everyday tasks.  I would still get angry at every single pregnant woman I saw (sorry to all my pregnant friends during this time!)  Life was just hard.  But everyone else had moved on.  I was in need of some understanding and patience.

Support from those who have experienced loss.  Specifically women and men who have suffered a miscarriage or infant loss.  There is a special bond between people that have experienced this kind of loss.

A name for our baby.  This one was probably the most healing thing we could do.  I'm not sure how something as simple as naming our unborn child could have such a healing effect, but it did.  Since we named our baby after Saint Seraphim of Sarov, we also got an icon of the same saint.  It's a tangible item to help us remember.  No matter your faith or religion, you can get something physical in remembrance of your baby.

To those who have suffered a loss, do you have anything to add?  What helped you during your time of grief?


  1. Thanks so much for posting this, Mirms! It's so good to know what would be helpful in these situations. As a, "I have no idea what you're feeling, but I am here..." friend, sometimes finding the right thing to say or do can be really challenging. I have no way of putting myself in your position to know what to do—I suspect that a lot of people that responded to your poorly felt the same way. Just know that they were trying their best and doing only what they knew to do at the time. I hope a ton of people read this post so that they (including me) can be more informed if they're ever faced with another situation like this.

    I love you!

  2. Awesomepost Miriam. A miscarriage is an extremely difficult grief because it doesn't seem tangible. People who havent had the experience don't understand the pain. I was reminded again of how deep that grief is as I wept with a dear woman and her sister this week at work. My tears were for her pain, and for you and Joe, and Abby and Cory. This Abita will never forget your baby or Abby and Cory's.

  3. I would add the obvious - treat it as a death in the family, so express your condolences, perhaps send flowers or a card...and remember months or weeks after. Even if there is initial support, often it fizzles out in a few weeks - so send a cheery card next month. I think one of the most important things was to continue to speak of the baby and use his/her name - don't avoid the subject thinking that it brings pain to the parents - in fact its the opposite, its so nice to know that others around us remember and acknowledge our children. Good job!