October 15 is Mother’s Day. Not the sort of Mother’s Day that one celebrates – October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and far too many women across America and Canada will be observing it. It’s likely that you know someone who belongs to this unfortunate sisterhood. Your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, the woman in the cubicle beside you; somewhere between 15 and 25% of pregnancies end in loss. I will be remembering, too.
Miscarriage and infant loss are difficult to talk about. In past generations, when the loss of young children was much more common, it was not something that people shared. It wasn’t until after I lost my daughter at 11 weeks gestation that people started coming out of the woodwork to share their own stories. My grandmother had more than one miscarriage; an elderly friend lost three children in her life; two of my friends shared their losses.
At some point, you will know someone who loses a baby. DON’T refer to the child as “it.” Call it a baby, regardless of gestational age. A miscarriage is a loss of dreams, along with that baby. DO reach out. Let the parents know that you’re sorry and acknowledge that their child existed, is loved, and will be dearly missed.
On October 15, take a moment to think of those of us who miss those children we never got to hold or see grow up, and remember that they might be closer than you think.
Mommy and Daddy miss you, Clara. 3/22/2009.