As the summer fades into fall, October bursts forth in colors. One color that we see everywhere is pink, acknowledging breast cancer.
There’s another palette, of softer colors. Light blue and light pink. Typical colors used in baby blankets and tiny hats.
We Honor Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness in October
I’m hearing a lot right now, you probably are also, about miscarriage and infant loss. How the heartbreak is a long, slow recovery that we don’t ever quite finish healing from, that leaves its legacy in the form of an emotional and psychic scar.
We take this month to say, we care. We want to acknowledge your pain and the love you had for someone you barely met but knew deep in your heart. Your baby to be, your fetus, your infant, they matter. Your brief glimpse of parenthood mattered. Your pain, matters.
My Personal Story
For me, I feel it personally as well. The miscarriages I endured; my due dates were both in October. Poignant is the right word for how I feel at this time of year, with the leaves falling, even though those losses were decades ago.
In fact, I always know how old my children would have been had they been able to develop in utero, been born and lived. I wonder occasionally what they would have looked like, what they would have laughed at and yes, I miss them.
There is no forgetting, even though there has been healing, like other wounds I’ve sustained. Healing came from a mixture of things; working with a mental health professional; support through the Grief Recovery Method, the love and patience of my husband, family, and friends. It’s become a part of my past, a piece of who I am, sometimes bursting into present moments at unexpected times.
A Forgotten Group
There’s a group of parents to be that are not often recognized, this month, or any other. They stand silently, in their anguish, pain. They often stand alone, shrouded in undeserved shame and guilt. But mainly, they stand alone.
In this month of remembrance, of infant and pregnancy loss, I listened to one woman, speaking through the tears sliding down her cheeks, reminding me, she was one of this group of parents to be who are unseen, unheard and unrecognized. She was the one who reminded me.
People, women, who desperately yearn to be parents, who make the heartbreaking choice to terminate a pregnancy for the good of their fetus, not yet baby, but still a baby in their hearts and minds. These decisions are made, before they are even parents, for the good of their babies to be.
These decisions are of biblical proportions: King Solomon holding the sword, offering to divide the baby in half to give each of the women a chance to be half of a mother. The true mother steps forward and tells King Solomon, give the baby to the other woman. She puts the baby’s wellbeing, life, before her own desires to have half of her baby in her arms.
These are the decisions these forgotten parents have to make, even before they are actual parents of a live newborn. They have to overcome their own deeply felt longing and need for that baby They have to choose their own loss over their baby’s pain and suffering.
A Heartbreaking Choice
These terminations, technically abortions, are made for devastating medical conditions. Conditions that are, without doubt, confirmed many times over by tests, procedures and doctors’ consultations. They are done because of the certain pain, suffering, and death that the babies will suffer as soon as they’re born.
Terminating a long-awaited, hard fought for pregnancy, is among the most excruciating decisions that a person challenged by repeat miscarriage or infertility ever has to make. A decision that none of us would ever want to face and that many of us pray we will never have to.
It’s also among the bravest of decisions. Putting the needs of an already loved unborn baby before one’s own desires to hold them in our arms is made by those who can rise to parenthood in that instant, even though they were unprepared, because they have to become parents at that moment. They are letting go of someone they’ve never met but know intimately.
Honor Their Losses
I honor them and the loving parents they had to be, in a way that they never envisioned. Making the decision, experiencing loss and grief, wounding them in a way that we can’t even begin to imagine.
Let’s stand with them. And grieve with them.
And maybe, someday hope with them to become parents of a living child.