Three years ago, I had no idea that October 15th had any significance. But now that I am 1 of the 1 in 4 who has suffered the loss of a child, I am more than acutely aware what this day represents to people like me all across the world. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness day. 1in 4 pregnancies in Canada will end in a loss. 1 in 200 of those pregnancies will end, like mine, in a stillbirth. 1 in 200 women will enter a hospital swelling with life and will leave with empty arms and empty hearts.
Days like today are important to families like mine for many reasons, but to a lot of people recognizing October 15th allows us to validate that our babies were here, and that they matter, and most importantly in a world where baby loss is still so taboo, that we are not alone. I didn’t know that those frightening statistics existed until I was a part of them. And now that I am, they define my life. They define the mother I have become. They impact every decision I make. I know how fragile life is, and I know that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. When you hear the words “There is no heart beat” the trap door opens and you fall through to an abyss you never really find your way out of.
A common theme I have heard from parents like myself is that we want to talk about our children. It absolutely hurts to hear my daughter’s name, but it hurts a hell of a lot more not to hear it. She is a part of my life, just as much as my son is. She is my child. I want to speak about her. I want to remember her. And I know many others feel the same. If you’re wondering the best way to support someone you know who may be 1 in 4, ask them. Ask how they are. Ask how they really are. And, to offer support, care enough to listen to their answer. All we really want to know is that you care. Don’t worry about clichés, don’t try to comfort us with tales of how they’re in a better place, or how we can always have more children. You cannot replace one child with another. Just listen. Let us remember. Let us recognize the value of their little lives, no matter how brief.
It has been said, if I lost my parents I would be an orphan. If I lost my husband, I would be a widow. But I lost my child, and there are no words. No words. You don’t just lose a baby. You lose first birthdays. First steps, First days of school, Christmas mornings, loose teeth, sweet 16s, wedding days… you lose a whole life. You just lose it all. It’s ok to not be ok. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, there will always be times when the grief will make it hard to breathe. But we’re here for each other. You’re not alone. Life will go on. And sometimes, that’s the saddest part.
Parents, be kind to yourself today and every day. You and your babies matter. Speak up. Break the silence.