Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. And, while I support observances for many causes which I hold dear, this one is of particular importance to me.
Not only am I included in the 1 out of 4 women in the US who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or a baby’s passing, but I personally know and love many other women, family and friends, who have as well. Some, like me, have even endured multiple losses.
Thinking of all these remarkable women who share in my grief, I’ve struggled to write this post for two days. What do I say?
Do I share the sad statistics of losses in the US?
Do I compose a heartfelt, tear-jerking letter to the son I lost and the baby who drifted away when I was seven weeks along?
Do I write an uplifting piece on how I look forward to meeting them again in heaven?
Do I go totally crazy and rant about how I feel an angry ache every time someone carelessly tosses around the word “abortion” as an acceptable method of birth control as though the tiny heart in question isn’t a living, beating miracle?
Not a single idea that swirled around in my mind seemed right.
For those who don’t know the pain of child loss, I can’t explain in words what it feels like. It’s deep and unending. There is no “getting over it” or “moving on.” How could a mother ever get over a piece of herself that didn’t have the chance to live, grow and be? How does she stop wondering who that little miracle would have been? Who he or she would have looked like? And, for some of us, if that miracle was a boy or a girl?
I struggled with what to share for a long time, but finally I settled on this:
Not many people have seen this picture in the last eight years. It’s one of my most precious belongings, but it’s bittersweet. You see, the day this picture was taken was the only day I was able to hold my son, Aiden, before the day he passed away…as he passed away.
On this particular day, Brock and I just happened to be walking into the NICU as the nurses were moving him to a “big boy” bed. He was making great progress and while he was still fighting every day, the many medical professionals working as a team to help him along were confident he would be going home with us…eventually.
So, we happened to just be in the right place at the right time, or I’d have never held him with pure hope in my heart. During those 10 precious minutes, a nurse snapped this picture, and now, along with bittersweet memories, it’s one of the few treasures I have to hold on to. Less than two weeks after this photo was taken, our Aiden was gone.
When I couldn’t decide what to say for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I knew it was time to share this image. This family is the face of infant loss. These parents think of this baby boy and love him and his little brother or sister–whom they lost just six months later–every single day.
If I could have any wish in the world, it would be that no other family has to feel the loss of a pregnancy or infant ever again. I’m sending my love, thoughts and prayers to all the families who are sharing in the bittersweet memories and emotions of this day, every day.