There is something very different I want to share today and it doesn't involve delicious cookies or a new outfit. It isn't an easy story to share but it is important to share it. My little peanuts, I want to talk about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and help open up a very needed discussion for women everywhere. Did you know that 1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy, delivery, or infancy? Well, I am the 1 in 4.
I debated for weeks about whether or not I'd share my story on the blog at all and make it public but I recently joined a support group to navigate through this experience and we had a conversation about giving our losses a purpose and breaking down barriers around miscarriages in honor of the babies we lost. We talked about how we have all involuntarily become warriors for pregnancy and infant loss and how it has sort of become our mission to talk about our lost babies and hopefully bring this insanely common nightmare to the surface and show others that it is OKAY to talk about it. It is OKAY to feel things about it. It is OKAY to share your experiences. It is NOT something we have to hide. Because miscarriages (and infant loss) are way more common than you think and yet no one knows it because we are all made to feel as though we shouldn't talk about it. So when I saw that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I decided to share after all.
When you find out you're pregnant, you get bombarded with the warnings of "don't tell anyone for the first 12 weeks in case something happens!" from all sides - books, family, friends, media, internet, etc. Everyone and everything you consult makes you very aware that your pregnancy (for now) is a secret. You understand and are aware that miscarriages are more common in the first trimester from all these warnings but you don't actually BELIEVE it will happen to you. Then it does. And then you suffer for weeks in silence because no one even knew you were pregnant (besides maybe a few people - who then become your support squad and link to reality) and because of that, you feel as though you can't tell anyone about the miscarriage either. And so it becomes taboo. It becomes this big dark thing you shouldn't discuss. You have to force yourself to go to work every day and smile like nothing is wrong even though your heart has been shattered into a million pieces and all your hope has been dissolved into a murky puddle.
Well, my peanuts, I am discussing it and I hope if you have gone through an experience with miscarriage or infant loss, you feel empowered to do the same to honor your baby - no matter how far along the baby was. Cody and I lost our baby at around 10 weeks in September and while I did not even get to hear its heartbeat, it hit me like a 16 wheeler driving way too fast on the Mass Pike when my doctor confirmed what I feared after leaving the ultrasound room with no printed photos and nothing to listen to - my baby was gone. It was our first baby and that experience - that ONE time only experience of being pregnant for the first time with your first baby - was stolen from us. It was ripped from our hands. That has been the hardest part to cope with for me.
I wrote the following letter to my baby a couple days after hearing the bad news and I want to share it in honor of our little Baby Patnaude (the size of a tater tot) who didn't get a chance...
A Letter to My Lost Baby
You were mine for 9 weeks and 6 days. But it only took a moment for you to be taken away from me. They told me your heart wasn't beating and it was like they tore mine out as they delivered the news. When they called us into the room twenty-five minutes early, I naively appreciated the rarity of a doctor running ahead of schedule. Now I know it was to pull the band-aid off quicker.
I feel as though I failed you, baby. You stopped forming at 8 weeks before you even had a fighting chance. You didn't have eyes to see through and you barely had hands and feet. You were nowhere close to taking a breath of actual air but you were alive - you were a life. You were going to come into this world, challenge us more than anything else we have experienced, and show us a love we have never once felt before. You were supposed to be ours. You were ours. You are ours.
Some might say 9 weeks and 6 days is a far too short period of time to feel a connection, feel the responsibility, and, most definitely, feel love. But you were mine from the very start, baby. When the pregnancy test turned positive, I started shaking under the bright glow of the bathroom lights from utter disbelief. I was immediately overwhelmed with the knowledge that you existed, that you were going to come into our lives in just 9 months and, in nearly an instant, I had plans. I had decided what our favorite song would be (“Alligators All Around” from Really Rosie, a musical I loved as a kid) and that I'd read every book ever published to you all day long if you let me. I know it's cliché, but it would have been us against the world, the dynamic duo.
You see, baby, I think I loved you from the very moment I knew you existed. You were nothing but a speck in the sea of my womb but you had the power to change my life. But then you were taken away from me and now I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself. I am just a void.
I may not have ever heard your heart beating, baby, but I expected you to be with me for the next 30 weeks and longed to feel you move within me. And now? Now I have to let you go, say goodbye before I even got to say hello.
The thought of you leaving me terrifies me and breaks my heart over and over. Every swipe of blood is a reminder of your life ending, your existence slowly leaving me and my incapable body. The thought of “after” seems too foreign to accept, too impossible. The idea of mourning you in the dark, out of anyone's line of sight, feels sickeningly cruel. Only a few knew you existed and now hardly anyone will know of the loss of you. It's so unfair, baby. I wish I had a say. But I can't stop you from leaving me and I can't opt-out of this reality.
They say something was wrong with you, that there was something incorrect in your DNA, your cellular development. But, baby, nothing was wrong with you to me. You were perfect. You were mine. Even if for 9 weeks and 6 days.
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