October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
One in four recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. If you're someone who's been trying to conceive for awhile, you know the exact day your period should have arrived, and when it's a few days late, there is a chance that you were pregnant, and miscarried. Miscarriages are one of the most disenfranchised griefs out there. It has been the norm to wait until you're "out of the woods" or into the 12th or 13th week of pregnancy before you even announce. More than 80% of miscarriages will happen before the second trimester, so better safe than sorry. But what does that mean? Better to keep your pregnancy a secret for 3 months, then become isolated, withdrawn, and alone if you miscarry?
The poet J.M. Storm wrote:
October is about trees revealing colors they’ve hidden all year. People have an October as well.
I think October is a beautiful month to reveal and remember your baby. You can take this time to let at least one other person know about your baby to be. Some women like to share about it on social media, others prefer to talk about it with their partner or write in a journal. A remembrance month is an excellent time to practice a ritual in which you remember and connect with your baby. It doesn't have to be perfect, that's the thing with grief. You get to keep practicing. Some parents I see in my counseling practice don't do anything to ritualize the loss because nothing seems good enough. They are right, nothing will ever be good enough. But when parents try to skip an anniversary, and they feel worse that they didn't do anything to remember their child. Start small, knowing that something is better than nothing.
I've known people to write their baby's name in the condensation of a window or mirror, or to say it out loud every day. And if you haven't named your miscarriage, it might be something you want to try. I've worked with parents who never had a name for the pregnancy, which makes the loss harder to recognize as being meaningful. After they let themselves name the pregnancy, whether it be a name they would have given the baby, or something that represents the baby in nature, parents find peace in acknowledging their loss was very real and important.
Your pregnancy began developing and it was always more than whatever week gestation you made it to. Seven weeks or seventeen weeks, you created an entire life for your child in your mind. You knew when she was due, you were considering nursery decorations and saving up sick time at work. You might have even figured out her astrological sign and how old you'd be when she graduates high school. You're not just grieving a pregnancy, but an entire expected future. It's important to know that you are not alone, that nearly every third woman you see has also had a miscarriage. Throughout October, consider the women you know and the grief they may be carrying. On October 15, light a candle at 7:00 pm to remember your baby, and contribute to the wave of light across the world honoring the babies the Earth didn't get to keep.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of Resolve, the National Infertility Association, and American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and completed their certificate training in mental health counseling for infertility. Contact her to start feeling better.