Stashed inside my husband’s family bible are three ultrasound pictures. Inside our bathroom cabinet are two positive pregnancy tests. My baby matters. What should have been a happy day when we got to see the baby’s heartbeat was a day when we didn’t. I remember shivering in that cold ultrasound room thinking how many joyful moments and how much tearful sorrow had been housed by that very room. The doctor tore off the ultrasound print out and asked if I would like to keep it. The counselor inside of me knew exactly the right answer: yes. Keeping those photos meant that I would have a tangible article that shows that my baby existed, my baby matters.
I learned very quickly through pregnancy and subsequent loss that pregnancy is variable. I would become annoyed by the articles that state morning sickness is a good sign, that it meant that there was less of a chance of miscarriage. My pregnancy didn’t seem to get the memo as I was thoroughly nauseated day and night and extremely so the day I had my d & c surgery. (I had what is called a “missed miscarriage”; a pregnancy where the baby had died, but for whatever reason, my body did not let go.) Just as each pregnancy is different from what you read and hear, so is the difference in the way people grieve.
As a child one of my favorite movies was Disney’s “Dumbo”. It’s the story of a baby elephant born in the circus. He is made fun of for having big ears. A mouse convinces him that with a magical feather, he can fly. At the climax of the movie Dumbo is performing in the circus and he leaps into the air with the feather. The feather is accidentally swept away, and yet he flies. But long before this triumphant moment, baby Dumbo is taken away from his mother. Just before the two are separated, an absolutely beautiful song in the movie is featured: “Baby Mine.” This song haunts me.
Every day I think of my baby. I think of the milestones that would have been met. I try to decide how to answer people’s understandable questions such as: “Do you have children?” Although it may cause discomfort, I do answer lovingly in the affirmative. I feel that it honors my baby. My baby matters. I realize that it may cause discomfort for some hearing about miscarriage. The truth is, about twenty five percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is a silent epidemic. It is silent because of stigma.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. As I think of where I would be in my pregnancy right now, I think of the families who are grieving the loss of what could have been and coping with what is. Pregnancy and infant loss can take a massive toll on relationships. It strains marriages and relationships with God. It can also be a turning point, to share and to grow. For me it has been an opportunity to speak up: My baby matters.