In 2005 I lost a child at 10 weeks gestation. I had no symptoms of anything going wrong. I went in for an ultrasound and discovered that our baby had no heartbeat. They told me this was called "Missed Miscarriage." It was a type of miscarriage I didn't know existed.
In the years since, similar things and worse have happened to women I know -- neighbors, college roommates, childhood friends. And I've learned that no matter how much I hurt for them, our experiences are not the same. I want to help and I want to say the right things -- ideally one exactly right thing that will bring comfort or an ounce of peace.
I would design them all a journal. I would hand it to them, wrapped in tissue paper and string, with a sprig of Forget-Me-Nots. I would say, "It's okay to remember. It's okay to process the loss of your sweet baby, your child, until you have nothing else to say. Until the brutal mourning transitions into a fragile, yet beautiful butterfly that flies free and simply lands on you from time to time, a reminder."
I would lend them my books on miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. I would offer anything at all to ease the grief.
Most of all, I would say, "Please don't think you are alone."
I would say, "Find safe people to talk about your baby with. Find people who will listen and not try to minimize what you're going through."
I would say, "People will tell you, 'At least you have your other child(ren).' Yes, that's true, you do. You have someone else to get out of bed for and to pour your love into and to hold when your arms throb with emptiness. But children aren't replaceable. Your living children do not replace the unique bond you formed with the one who died. You have every right to remember and grieve and miss the one who isn't here. And you have every right to love the lost and carry the memory of your sweet baby in your heart, even though your arms cannot do the holding."
I would say, "Grief has its own timetable. Even when you think you've already grieved your loss, it may come back. It may hit harder two years down the road than when it first happened."
I would say, "Miscarriage is not a heavy period! Miscarriage is the death of a living, growing baby. Your baby."
As much as it's cliche and as much as you might not want to hear it right now, I would tell you, "It gets better. I used to think that perhaps those further down the path of loss -- further healed -- hadn't had as strong of a connection to their baby as I had to my Jordan. But no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times the grief comes rolling back in -- the strongest ocean waves threatening to suck you under -- it will get better."
You will always remember. You will hold that baby in your heart and carry them your whole life. You will not forget. But eventually, after enough tears and hard work to process this huge, huge hole in your life, the memory of your baby will not bring pain. It will bring a tender, sweet joy.
It's okay to do exactly what you feel will bring you healing. It's okay to write down what you're feeling and not mince words. It's okay to crouch in your closet and sob. It's okay to find the innermost part of the forest and scream. It's okay to sleep with a teddy bear when your arms feel so empty they might detach from your body. It's okay, friend, to do what you intuitively know will help.
Maybe that's planning a ceremony. Maybe that's a memorial service. Maybe that's making messy art. Maybe that's buying a baby blanket even though you have no baby to swaddle. Maybe that's starting a blog. Maybe that's training for a marathon. Maybe that's raising money for organizations that fight for children. Maybe that's sponsoring a child.
In our family, there's a day every fall that we call Jordan Day. It's not a birthday and it's not a celebration, but we make a special meal -- always Mexican food, as that's what I craved when I was carrying Jordan -- and we light candles and eat as a family, and we remember and acknowledge the missing member of our family.
Healing will come. You'll never forget. You'll never feel it didn't happen. But healing will come. It will leave a scar, but you will heal.
Until you heal, please know I am crying tears for you and with you. Because I know the depth of my love and longing for Jordan, I can imagine the depth of yours. So when you need me, let me know. I will walk this path with you.
You are not alone.