"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The many facets of pregnancy loss

In December, it will be 7 years since we lost our little Levi. 7 years! That's just so crazy to me because sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. And here we are now, with 3 more boys, and I can't help but wonder how life would be like with Levi here too.

I've said before that pregnancy loss changes everything, and it really, really does. Everyone knows that losing a baby is hard, whether they've lost one or not. But it's not until you actually experience it that you really know how hard it is.

Two of my best friends had miscarriages recently. It was the first time for both of them.  On the one hand, I'm grateful that I have a glimpse of what they're going through. But on the other hand, I'm at a loss because 1) their experiences were so different from mine; 2) I'm so far removed from my experience while they are still very much in the midst of their grief; and 3) I've come to realize that everyone deals with loss differently, so what helped me might not help them. It can be complicated.

As more and more of my friends lose babies, I'm becoming more aware of how many facets there are of pregnancy loss.
Some women suddenly have bleeding while others find out at the doctor's office that their baby has no heartbeat. 
Some deliver and/or have a D&C in the hospital while others pass the baby at home.
Some women get to hold the body of their baby while others don't.  
Some women knowingly carry around their lifeless baby until their body gets the message, while others experience cramping/preterm labor before knowing anything was wrong.
Sometimes a woman doesn't have any kids yet while others have several at home. 
Some conceived after struggling with years of infertility while others weren't exactly trying, while still others were just letting “whatever happens,” happen.

I'm not saying any of these situations are harder than the other, because I know that pregnancy loss is hard no matter what. I used to think my experience was one of the worst, and maybe it was short-term... because it was my first baby, we thought we were in the clear since I was in the second trimester, it was really unexpected, the hospital experience was the worst night of my life, we struggled to get pregnant again, etc. 

However, now I think I have it easier in the long run. Mainly because I don't have those lingering questions like: Was the baby a boy or girl? What did he look like? What caused it? I know all of those things, while some people still struggle years, maybe decades later, wondering about the little baby they lost so early in pregnancy.

But I also know that it's easy for me to say that now that I have 3 more boys. Some women are unable to conceive again, and I don't blame them at all if they are still very much struggling – I know I would be!

How can we possibly know what to say to a woman when everybody has such different experiences and circumstances? I struggle knowing what to do when a friend miscarries – sometimes I've done nothing because I was so paralyzed by the possibility of doing the wrong thing. Sometimes I've gone overboard and probably annoyed my friend because I wanted to do too much (perhaps there's no such thing as doing “too much” but there is such thing as being overbearing). 

So what do we do? How do we support each other during these difficult times when dealing with such an avoided topic? One thing is for sure, we are not alone. I know more people who've experienced pregnancy loss than haven't. 

I'm not going to try and pretend I have the answers (I don't! I wish I did), but I do want to just share a few things (okay, just 3) you could do for a woman experiencing pregnancy loss that I know I appreciated and that my friends have appreciated after losing a precious baby. 
Do something. Bring her a meal, send her a card or something to remember her baby by, tell her you're praying for her. Just do something! Chances are she's already feeling so lonely so avoiding the topic altogether isn't exactly helpful.  
Talk about her baby. Use the baby's name if she gave one. Sometimes you just want to know that someone cared about your baby just like you did, no matter how long the baby lived.
Pray for her. A lot. And tell her you are!
Even though it has definitely gotten easier over time, I'm still surprised at how much more I think about Levi whenever I'm pregnant or holding my new baby. Aaron is just so sweet and adorable and chunky, and I can't help but be so incredibly sad that I missed out on this with Levi. Yes, I'm so, so, SO blessed with my boys now, but they don't replace Levi. He was his own person, my first son, the only one I've been pregnant with while blissfully unaware of what it felt like to lose a piece of my heart. 

So that just goes to show that these sweet babies are never forgotten. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter if it was your first baby or your 10th...these babies we say goodbye to far too soon are always loved. 

To anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss, know that I'm praying for you!

P.S. Hey! I've missed you! I don't think I'm fully back from my break yet - just couldn't let October (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month) go by without writing something. But hopefully I will be back with a life update in November!


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