Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month in October holds deep significance for me as an OB-GYN. I’ve shared the joys and sorrows of countless patients over the years.
Why do we need an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month?
Losing a child during pregnancy or infancy can be isolating, as it is often a topic that people don’t want to talk about as it’s shrouded in grief. However, it’s important to raise awareness and have open conversations about it. More specifically, a designated awareness month can help bring people together and provides a safe and supportive space to share stories, grieve, and honor our little angels.
You are not alone
Infant and pregnancy loss is a topic that stirs up a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve witnessed the pain, isolation, and loneliness that it brings. As a physician, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. You are not broken. It’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong. There is nothing you or I or anyone could have done to change this outcome. Your pain is valid, and your grief is real.
I’ve stood by my patients as they grapple with the anguish of pregnancy loss. The hopelessness that engulfs you can feel suffocating. It often feels like a personal failure. You might wonder if your body betrayed you, if you made a mistake, or if you missed something crucial. The truth is, you did not.
Find your community
One of the most powerful ways to heal after the loss of a child is to connect with others who have gone through a similar experience. Joining a support group, attending a remembrance event, or participating in an online community can provide a sense of belonging, validation, and hope. These connections can help you feel less alone in your grief and provide you with support and understanding.
Choose you remembrance
Honoring the memory of our children who are no longer with us can bring great comfort and healing. There are many ways to do this. Some parents light candles, create memory books, wear special jewelry, or plant a tree in honor of their little one. Others choose to celebrate their child’s birthday or angelversary, while others raise awareness and funds for charities that support infant and pregnancy loss.
The length of your pregnancy does not determine your grief
Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss are painful. It does not matter how early or late they occur. Every pregnancy, no matter how short-lived, carries dreams and hopes. The significance of your loss is not diminished by its timing. It’s okay to grieve, to feel lost, to cry, and to scream. These are natural expressions of your emotions, and they are valid. As an OB-GYN, I’ve learned that sometimes, well-intentioned people say the wrong things. This can make the pain even more profound. Their words may fall short, leaving you feeling emptier than before. I understand how these seemingly comforting words can cause unintentional harm. But please remember this – the intention is not to hurt; it’s to help, even if the outcome is not what you expected.
What to remember if you’ve experienced loss
- 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So again, you are not alone. The statistics show that many women go through the heartache of pregnancy loss. It’s more common than you might think.
- It’s not your fault. Blaming yourself only adds to the emotional burden. Your body is not your enemy.
- You did nothing wrong. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, nature takes its course. It’s essential to understand that the loss was beyond your control.
- There is nothing you or I or anyone could have done to change this. Pregnancy loss can be a result of various factors. Most of which are beyond human intervention.
- No matter how early it was, this was your baby. This was your dream. It matters, and it’s okay to grieve. Every pregnancy carries dreams and hopes. The depth of your grief is not determined by the duration of the pregnancy.
- It’s okay to feel lost. The overwhelming emotions can make you feel like you’ve lost your way. Just know it’s a natural response to a painful experience.
- It’s okay to cry. Tears are a way to release your pain. It’s alright to cry when you feel the need to.
- It’s okay to scream. Sometimes, the emotional turmoil may make you want to scream. That’s a valid expression of your emotions.
Healing is possible
It may not happen today or tomorrow, but someday, when you are ready, you will find a way to heal. I’ve cried and grieved with more patients than I could count. Yet, their stories and strength continue to inspire me. Your pain is real, but so is your capacity to heal and find hope again. In time, the scars will fade, and the memory of your little one will remain a cherished part of your life story. Remember that you are not alone on this journey. You have the support of those who understand and care, and someday, you will find healing and peace. Losing a child is one of life’s greatest tragedies, and the grief can be lifelong. While it’s important to honor our children and grieve our loss, it’s also important to find ways to move forward and find hope. Support groups, therapy, and talking with others who have gone through a similar experience can help parents find a new normal and a sense of hope for the future.