Since 1988, the month of October has been considered Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
As many of you know, this is a subject very close to my heart. Recent reports indicate one in four women has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a newborn. While I find that statistic staggering, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s possible that the real number is actually higher. Why, you ask? Because so many women don’t talk about it, especially miscarriage.
Back in June 2011, I wrote a blog called “Encountering the dreaded question.”
It was my plea for people to stop asking women when they are going to start a family or have another baby. That post is one of my highest click-getters. That leads me to believe that many readers identified with the topic of the dreaded question.
I still think the dreaded question – in its many forms – is inappropriate. One of the reasons it’s a bad question is because of women like me – women who belong to the one in four. During the 16 months of trying to conceive Baby No. 2, I was frequently on the receiving end of the dreaded question. After my miscarriage in December 2010, hearing it was as uncomfortable as what I imagine using a Neti Pot would be.
A “New York Times” column addressed the absence of a single word to identify mothers who have lost children.
“Unlike the terms ‘widow’ and ‘orphan,’ no one word describes a woman who has lost a child,” Monica Wesolowska wrote. “Without a simple term, the loss often goes unsaid. Unless you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with your children’s names or tattoo them on your wrist, you rarely speak their names aloud no matter how much you need or want to tell others. And for women who have struggled with pregnancy loss, there seems even less place to mention the love they feel for babies they will never have.”
Asking the dreaded question sometimes prompts women to share that they belong to the one in four. But what if there was a way to identify the women who have suffered such a loss without asking the dreaded question? What if there was another question that didn’t feel like pouring hot water into one’s sinus cavities? What if there was a T-shirt?
Social media has encouraged some women to share when they are part of the one in four. I know not all women are comfortable sharing their stories, and that is OK.
But for me, when I share my story and other women say, “Me too,” it is truly an honor. A high honor that I do not take lightly.
We may not have a single word to label us. One of my friends pointed out that maybe the reason there is no one word for a woman who has lost a baby is because it’s impossible to capture a loss that large with one word. That kind of loss transcends words.
To all my fellow one-in-four mamas, you transcend words. If you are considering sharing your story, I encourage you to do it. You can do it through social media or perhaps in conversation with someone else. No matter how you share, I guarantee you will quickly find another who will say, “Me too.”