Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15, Preganancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day - Remembering Elizabeth

Today is the one day a year that people all over the world light a candle at 7 pm to burn for an hour to keep a wave of light across the world.  A pretty cool concept for a not so cool reason.  If you have lost a baby to stillbirth or miscarriage or another reason, you are part of this unlucky club.  For me, it was my first pregnancy that ended in a stillborn baby girl, Elizabeth Helen, 16 years ago.  Yes, 16 years ago and somedays it seems like just last year, other days it seems ions ago.

I just read a blogpost,  that focused on the delivery of a stillborn child.  A story no one really wants to tell, and frankly, no one probably wants to hear.  This is the really hard part for us mothers.

This is something I would like to share, something that I feel needs to be said.  My family and close friends know about my daughter, they talk about her and I am able to share her with them.  Those who are a bit farther removed from my inner circle may or may not know about her.  Somedays I will mention something and then feel the need to explain.  Sometimes it is just easier not to talk or mention.

Here is the thing, I was pregnant with Elizabeth for 9 months.  I had morning sickness, I got large, I bought maternity clothes, I had weird food cravings.  I went through labor and delivery.  I had an epidural, I gave birth.  Unfortunately, my child was born still, but she was still born.  I then had an entirely different experience in the delivery room.  We got to hold her, keep her in the room until we were ready to let her go.  Family members got to hold her.  When we were ready, they took her away. Then we had to make funeral and burial arrangements.

But I remained in the labor and delivery area of the hospital, where I could hear other babies cry.  Where there was a leaf with a raindrop on it on my door, to let the nurses know what happened to my baby.  

I tell you these things not to make you sad or to make you feel sorry for me.  Elizabeth was a blessing.  Because of her I am a different person.  Because of her I have met a wonderful support group who have had the same experience.  I tell you my story so that when we talk about mom things, about pregnancies, etc.  you understand that even though my child did not live, I had the same experiences you did.

I have been in conversations, especially before I had my other 2 children, when I would chime in to a pregnancy conversation about pains, or kicks, or cravings, or labor, or epidurals and everyone would get quiet.  They would look at me like how would I know,  I have no children.  I am not quite sure what they thought, that just because my end result was not favorable, that the prior nine months of my life just got erased?  So I share so that maybe it is better understood that mother's like to talk about their kids, all of them.  We share our ups and downs.  We share our experiences, and it is OK.  I know my baby is gone, some days I am sad, some days I count my blessings, but most of all, some days I just need to acknowledge that she was here, at least for those nine months inside me.

So on this day of remembrance, remember not just those babies that have gone too soon, but also their parents, be kind, listen and just try to get past the uneasieness and try to understand and just let them share.