One of the hallmarks of growing up is the growing awareness, and then understanding of, the issues of pregnancy. The issue may be not wanting to be pregnant or wanting nothing more than to have a baby, or it may be one of the varying degrees of success toward either effort.
Pregnancy loss is one of those issues. It seems, in some circles, as though it’s perceived as something we simply do not discuss, or something we have not discussed and need to discuss. The seemingly pervasive sense that “we don’t talk about this” or “pregnancy loss is the secret, silent pain” used to confuse me, because I had never (knowingly) experienced the silence. Pregnancy loss is not a part of my own experience. It has always, however, been a part of my story. It is a part of some of my most formative memories. There were family stories going back generations, reasons why this aunt never went to baby showers and why those siblings were so far apart in age. There were couples at church who lost their babies, and we would pray for them. There were funerals with tiny caskets that were carried out by one person. Pregnancy loss felt, for a very long time, to be very real to me, and not something that was hidden.
But the older I get, the more I learn that many people really don’t talk about miscarriages and other pregnancy losses. Sometimes they’ll speak of it years later, and I’m sure there are others who never speak of it at all. I hear it in passing comments about why she never goes to that church on Mother’s Day – it was four years ago at the Mother’s Day service that she lost her first baby. I see it in whispers in social media, of veiled “praying for the so-and-sos” and we all draw our conclusions when the updates stop coming for a while.
These days, it can be easy to find community online. There are bloggers who “go public” with their losses, making it easier for other grieving women and men to find solace and know that they aren’t the only ones. I have often been silent, because I can’t personally relate and therefore feel like I have nothing to contribute. I hope, though, that I could be a safe place if any of my friends is dealing with pregnancy loss. My contribution to the conversation is not a personal story, but I do want to be a support, a listening ear, a meal-bringer, a friend that can be called on in the middle of the night. I want to love on these hurting parents, miss these unseen children, come alongside in, and affirm, the grief.
Every moment of every day, I live in the very real grace of having been pregnant only once, and having a thriving toddler to show for it. There are millions of women who can’t say the same – millions of couples and families who have “set a place at the table” for a little loved one who will never join them. My hope, moving forward, is that I can continue to lend my voice in support and love for these hurting families.