Today is Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Awareness day. Why is this so important? Because for too long miscarriages have been swept under the rug and treated like they never happened. I personally have not experienced a miscarriage but my mother has. I have a little sibling in heaven looking down on me. When asked how many kids she has my mother responds with "Seven and one in heaven!" That response always throws people for a loop.
When my mom looks back at that time she tells me that, aside from my Dad, there wasn't much support for what happened to her. She said everyone around her was overly cheerful and acted as if she hadn't just lost a child. People shrugged it off and gave her looks of pity. No one seemed to have the courage to ask her how she was dealing with the loss. No one offered any kind of help. No one wanted to deal with it.
I was a freshman in high school when it happened. I remember getting up for morning practice the next day feeling like I was in a dream. My coach asked me what was wrong and I broke down. Through some very ugly crying, I told him that my mom had lost the baby. He gave me a hug and let me cry it out.
Sadly, after that, I never gave my little brother or sister much thought. We would visit the burial site (which most babies don't even get after a miscarriage. If it happens in the hospital the remains are "disposed of") and place flowers but other than that, we continued on with life. I'm not saying the loss of a sibling through miscarriage should have stopped us from going on with our lives, but perhaps we could have done more to recognize that small time on earth with us. I don't know what... but just something more.
The beautiful thing is that we have had many little miracles happen to us as a family. Little miracles that have the fingerprints of that little baby all over them. Many of them are very personal but there are two I want to share.
When I was a junior in high school I was at a sectionals swim meet. I was shaved and tapered because this was my big meet of the season. It was the last day and I had the mile (1650) to swim still. All my other races had been personal bests so I was pretty happy. I really didn't like the mile and for some reason I was super nervous. As I waited to get marched out to the starting blocks I suddenly thought of Francis (that's what we named the baby). Out of the blue I thought of Francis and felt at peace. I then went on to have one of the best swims of my life. I surpassed my first national time standard. Suddenly I was bound for Indianapolis (where nationals were being held that year). I know that Francis was cheering for his big sister that entire mile.
My mom had always felt that the baby was a boy. We didn't know for sure but we all just trusted in my moms instincts. Last year Andrew and I were living close to where Francis was buried. On the anniversary of his death I made a trip to the cemetery with flowers. When I got out of the car and went to place the flowers in the vase I noticed that it was filled with little Tonka trucks. No one in my family claimed to have put them there...So yeah Francis was all boy!
I share these stores with you because they need to be heard. Women who have lost children in a miscarriage should be able to talk about what happened. It's time to stop shushing them and telling them to just "try again". These women need time to heal and society needs to let them.
*Featured Image is baby Peter at 2 months*