today, October 15th, from 7:00pm-8:00pm (19:00-20:00) local time, there will be thousands -- maybe hundreds of thousands? -- perhaps millions? -- of candles lit in households all across the globe to remember babies who were lost before they were born. in the United States alone*, it's estimated that every year, at least 1 in 4 (if not more) pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth -- that's over a million. this also means that almost 20% of the adult population of this country has personally experienced the death of a child (which includes miscarriage by an adult child).
what do these statistics mean? it means that chances are, you personally know someone who has experienced the pain and grief of a pregnancy ending without a living child — maybe it’s even you. it may have happened recently, or years ago, but for many, there is still a need to remember and honor their precious baby. because of the suffocating code of silence surrounding pregnancy loss, and in spite of or because it is so tragically common, many parents of lost children don't feel comfortable acknowledging the reality of their silent grief or even that they are parents. that’s why this day was designated years ago to allow a simple way for them -- and anyone that loves them -- to recognise their loss without any apology or shame.
merely hours ago, as i was dropping L (Tummymuffin IV) off at preschool, another parent asked me “is he the only one you have?” and you know what? i choked. i stumbled for an answer - “uh, well, yeah, uh, he’s my first born.” i said, and turned away.
at first i was so upset with myself — that on this of all days, i’d be reticent about talking about my other three children?! what was wrong with me?! then i felt defensive — L started school a month ago and i’m just getting to know these other parents; preschool drop-off is not the right context to share something personal; given the semi-chaotic circumstances and my relative lack of sleep, i didn’t feel like having to explain through the other three and respond to whatever she would say...etc. sigh. i still don't know how i feel about this. right now, i’m still trying to make sense of my conflicting feelings — sure, i am usually quite up-front that pregnancy loss is part of my story, yet all the reasons for not talking about it this morning are quite valid. i guess i should just be thankful she didn't ask "are you going to have another?"
i am telling you this to show you just how unbelievably difficult it is for people who have lost a baby to miscarriage to talk about it openly. i’ve been talking about it publicly for the last six years and i tell you, i will still hold my breath and have a moment of hesitation before i click “publish.” every single time i post to this blog, i have that pause of indecision: to share or not to share? losing a child before he or she is born makes seemingly simple questions so diabolically complex.
so today, on (inter)national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day, if you want to finally start talking about it, this is your time to do so. start with those you trust -- maybe even just your partner, or maybe a close family member or friend. if it feels more comfortable talking to someone you haven't met, please contact me; my email information is under "about" at the top of the page. if you just want to anonymously post your would-be child(ren)'s due date(s) in the comments section, know that i'll remember them with you. we always have more than three candles in the window on our "Tummymuffin Remembrance Day" since we hold memories for several friends' babies, and we would love to honor your child too.
and what if someone you love has experienced a loss? please give them a safe, non-judgmental place to express their sadness. say you love them. say you're sorry for their loss. give them a hug. and if it's appropriate, ask about their lost child. find out how old they'd be now. find out if they had a name. being willing to remember their child with them can be one of the most meaningful things you can offer. you can find posts here and here about other things to say and not say.
today i also especially remember with gratitude all of you who have come on this journey with me, and have offered your love & support. thank you for continued encouragement to keep talking and writing. thank you for your strength.
*statistics courtesy of March of Dimes