For a few blissful days in February, I imagined the days leading up to Oct. 15, 2016 would be filled with nervousness, physical discomfort and the anxious energy of a first time mom-to-be. Instead the days leading up to Oct. 15, 2016 are tinged with sadness, but also a desire to want to share our story. To add my voice to the chorus of women who have experienced miscarriage. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
The emotional distress started to make me feel sick all the time and it came to the point that I just couldn't continue like this anymore. I decided that my first step to healing was to talk to people who have experienced the same type of loss, and by doing this it helped me realize that everything I was feeling was normal.
I think we do all women a disservice when we don't challenge the "Disneyfication" of our reproductive experience. Pregnancy is glorified as transcendent despite its many dark elements. Birth is similarly idealized. But miscarriages resist beatification; at best, they are an extremely efficient expulsion of expired reproductive material by one's own body.
The holidays are a joyful time of celebration and coming together with friends and family. But for families who have lost a loved one, the holidays can be especially difficult. Old memories and traditions offer reminders of loved ones no longer there. Families who have lost babies can find the holidays particularly bittersweet.
"What about a miscarriage? What do I look for?" I asked my doctor as I was leaving her office the morning I discovered I was pregnant. She never once brought it up. I almost forgot to. "Oh, right. Yes, that could happen. It does happen." She seemed uncomfortable. "There's about a 20 to 30 per cent chance it will happen. Call me if you have intense cramping with bleeding at the same time. Some spotting is normal, as is some cramping. But they shouldn't happen together." Later when I told my girlfriend how much that stat had terrified me -- 20 to 30 per cent -- she laughed it off. "No, that means there's a 70 to 80 per cent chance it WON'T happen! You have to think of it that way." So I did. I knew friends of friends who'd had miscarriages, but it wouldn't happen to me.
While Mother's Day is a celebration of love for many, it is a day of pain and grief for so many more. There are many faces of motherhood, some less obvious then others. There are mothers whose arms are empty; suffering from infertility, miscarriages or the death of a child. The world doesn't recognize them as mothers but they are and always will be.
While the majority of people haven't found the courage yet to talk with expectant parents about the risk of losing a child, how to survive such tragedies and continue to live, we need to be even more diligent in ensuring that we have experienced specialists in place that are available every time parents are facing the tragedy of losing their baby.