Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
A lot of my friends are “celebrating” by remembering and reaching out with and for support. I love that they’re talking about it. That kind of intimate loss leaves a dark stain on our hearts, and it’s really good to show it to others. It’s not unusual, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and we learn that by making a community.
I think I’ve talked about the grizzly math of being a woman before. In obstetrics, we refer to women’s pregnancy/delivery history as “G’s” and “P’s” or their ‘gravidity’ (# of pregnancies she’s had, regardless of outcome) and parity (# of pregnancies that she carried to a viable term and delivered).
Your Gs and Ps can say a lot about what you’ve endured. I’ve known a G8P1 who had had so much death inside of her, so much blood, so much hope swallowed up by grief, before she finally got her daughter to survive pregnancy. I’ve known a G2P0 who had two traumatic, terrifying pregnancies in fallopian tubes instead of the uterus, and with her pregnancies, she lost those tubes, and almost her life, from sudden massive blood loss. I’ve known a G8P4 who has four, healthy, amazing children, who are probably hanging off of her right now in happy chaos, but she also carries around her neck those 4 losses, like a heavy locket she can’t remove.
I’ve known G1’s who have G’d all the way up to nearly full-term and then too early, too small, deliver a baby who could not survive. I’ve known a G1P1 who lost her tiny infants to SIDS. This baby she had been hoping and planning for, and whom she’d just met and fallen in love with. A would-be life. I’ve known women who have lost one or more of the twins/triplets in a pregnancy and have to forge on with optimism for the potential baby who remains alive inside. And I’ve known G0’s, with years of failed attempts, and each failed month seeming like a tiny death. I’ve known those who have had adoptions fall through and felt the pain of that loss like something was stolen out of their bodies.
I want to quickly point out that all these women I know not only survived these horrible traumas, but are fucking killing it today. You’d think that having death inside of you or pain that severe might leave a person empty, bitter, unbalanced, or non-functional. You’d be wrong, because we’re talking about women. Women can somehow both handle all the weirdness and wildness of life inside them, but can survive the death of someone so intimate and precious. I don’t know how. It must be evolution or something, because we’ve been losing our babies since the beginning of time and somehow are still able to run businesses and families and go on to love the snot out of our other children.
It helps to lean on each other. We’ve coined membership in this club, “the crappiest sisterhood of all.” I hope anyone reading this who’s not already a member, never has to join. But if you do, we’re here. We’ll help you walk when you think you can’t. We’ll help you figure out how to put your shoes on and hug your dog and your spouse and your other kids and we’ll hold your hand until you feel steady on your own feet. And you will, someday.
I’m a G4P2, with 2 early miscarriages and 2 live, full-term (thank you, Jesus) deliveries. I had 2 babies who survived pregnancy, and I had two tiny deaths inside me. I’ll never forget my 4 pregnancies. I’ll never forget crying in my driveway after the OB appointment that confirmed that i was officially empty. I’ll never forget being certain that I would never have a pregnancy that ended in a baby. I’ll never forget picking apart everything I’d done during those ill-fated pregnancies trying to find the blame that was surely mine. I’ll never forget being terrified every day during my two successful pregnancies, that it so easily could slip out of my fingers. Of course, I’ll never forget when my two wonderfuls were born and that when they were out and healthy, I realized finally someone else was on the hook for helping to keep them alive. If you want to read my experiences with the losses and fertility efforts, go back to my posts in 2009 and 2010. My first successful pregnancy ended in birth in June, 2011.
If you’re grieving, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you have this ache, this emptiness. You’re definitely not alone. If you’re brave enough to talk about, and I encourage it, you’ll find shared experiences, other members in the ‘crappiest sisterhood of all.’ Suffering like this leaves a stain, a mark, and you can usually find it in their eyes.
You will survive it, one way or another. These beautiful G’s I was talking about earlier have all gone on to biologically conceive and/or adopt amazing families, and they are stronger, bigger, bolder women for their time dragged through hell.
All my love.