One in Four: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Month

I remember the feeling of cold. My body physically shaking, my soul defeated, the space seemingly void of warmth. It was 6AM and I was in a large room surrounded by others who were hopeful about the day; their knee was getting fixed, their broken foot restored to whole. Separated by only a sheet, you couldn’t tell who was there for which procedure, and the treatment was the same no matter your situation.

Same Day Surgery. In and out, and done.

Yet there I was – alone, scared, and completely heartbroken. I wasn’t getting my arm fixed. I wasn’t feeling hope or a slight trepidation for my minor procedure, anxiously awaiting a quick recovery to head home. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I didn’t want to go home to an empty room that was waiting for him. Because today? Today was the day my sweet baby was being removed from my body. That whole week I carried him, knowing his heart was no longer beating, yet praying for a Lazarus story – just one more flutter, one single beat of his heart – and it didn’t come. It was my fourth quarter moment and my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. And yet it was…in a way…because my womb desired to keep holding onto him. My womb protected him, cradled him, tried to provide him a home even when he no longer needed one. 

Same Day Surgery. In and out, and done.

I heard cries muffled by a pillow near me. I gently pulled back the sheet and saw myself in her eyes. 

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Have you been here before?” 
“No,” she choked out, “this is our first baby and it was so hard for us to get pregnant. I just don’t know what to expect. I’m scared.”
“I’m scared, too.” 

I reached over and grabbed her extended hand and we bonded over our shared experience and the fact that we realized we lived just eight blocks from each other. Common ground, our homes and our babies, and the warmth of her hand was a welcome gift in that lonely, cold space.  A few minutes later she was taken back to her operating room, I followed soon after. 

Same Day Surgery. In and out, and done.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I saw my husband sitting by my bed, tears in his eyes. 

He died, didn’t he?!” and my husband silently nodded his head. 
I’m so sorry, honey, I got the text when you were in surgery,” he said. 

I laid my head back on the pillow and welcomed the sobs that erupted from my wounded heart. Sobs from a deep, deep place of longing and remembrance. My sweet Grandpa, the only grandparent I’d ever lost, took his last breath at literally the exact same time my son’s body was being removed from my own. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to him as it was too dangerous to make the long trip that week in case my body went into labor. My biggest comfort in that moment was the gift of understanding from the Lord; that my Grandpa Vern and my son, William Vern, left together and met for the very first time in Heaven. There they will spend forever together. 

I wish it wasn’t this way for so many women – but it is. Your neighbor. A sister. A dear friend. Your mom. Your mail lady. The clerk at the grocery store. Your doctor. The woman who cuts your hair. A woman you meet laying in a bed at the hospital. 1 in 4 women (25%) have experienced a miscarriage. And 2% of women experience a later-term miscarriage. I was one of the 2% and was told it would never happen again. Three years later I had an early miscarriage at home. The following year, another later-term miscarriage, this time delivering my son in a bathroom and needing emergency surgery after hemorrhaging. 

1 in 4.

While many of these stories turn out beautifully redemptive in the end, laced with healthy births and lively babies, some don’t. So I honor YOU with these words today, mama. Those of you still waiting for your family to grow. Those of you who have been told you won’t ever carry a child naturally. Those of you hopeful to adopt but not yet chosen. The journey to motherhood can be a simply laid plan, seemingly perfectly orchestrated every step of the way. Or it can be a breadcrumb trail, full of twists and turns and unlikely scenarios that eventually lead you to one of the greatest gifts of your life. But it is a journey nonetheless, and when you suffer a miscarriage, no matter if the numbers are 1 in 4, it is your journey to wade through. 

While I’m certainly no expert, I do know what brought us some comfort, sometimes in big ways and sometimes in the tiniest gesture, for each of the three losses we experienced. In sharing them, my hope is that one might ring true for the friend you are walking alongside who is on her own journey to motherhood:

  • Acknowledge the baby – if she does. Everyone processes differently so read her cues. Check in, ask her every once in a while. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen or feel uncomfortable asking. That mama’s heart grew ten-fold the second she saw those two pink lines. 
  • Time can be a tricky thing – while it does seem to help heal wounds – they never fully go away. The more time that passes, sometimes the deeper the grief for some. If you think of it, send mama a note every six months, on the date she lost the baby, or pop her a text on baby’s due date to remind her someone else is thinking about her baby, too. 
  • Bodies all respond differently to loss but there’s always a physical healing that needs to take place. Offer to make a meal, or send a gift card for the couple or family, to take some of the weight off.
  • Dads. I get choked up thinking about the dads who are often forgotten about. They need support and healing as well. Women and men process so differently and those can be difficult days of strong emotions. Make sure someone’s checking in on dad, too, and giving him a listening ear or a guy to grab a beer with. 
  • If your friend has named their baby, say the name out loud! All she may want is for someone to acknowledge baby’s existence and that they had started to have hopes and dreams for their child. Buying a personalized Christmas ornament, necklace, or a garden stone, might be a beautiful remembrance. 
  • Whether 24 weeks or 6 weeks, a loss is a loss. Please don’t minimize someone’s pain because it “isn’t as bad” as someone else you know. A mother’s heart is a mother’s heart and this is a personal journey that everyone will process differently. 
  • When we lost William, we already had two sons at home who were just as excited as we were that baby brother was going to be joining our family. I had a friend send them a package of fun little activities and a sister that took them out to lunch. That kind act made a huge impact on them in their little grieving hearts. 
  • Finally, lighting a candle in honor of your mama friend or family member’s loss during the Lights of Love International Wave of Light* on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (October 15th) is a great display of support and love to remind them they are not alone in their pain. 

One in Four: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Month | Twin Cities Moms Blog

*Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes, however is not limited to, miscarriagestillbirthSIDS, and the death of a newborn. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed on October 15 of each year, The day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle-lighting vigils, concluding with the Lights of Love International Wave of Light, a worldwide lighting of candles and campaign illuminations, that circumnavigate the globe beginning at 7:00 p.m., in each respective timezone.

Jacquelyn Senske
Jacquelyn has a deep appreciation that life // grief // hard // joy is most often NOT linear and there will, undoubtedly, be growth + beauty somewhere along the journey. She has had a less-than-normal life and yet full and redemptive in its' entirety. She's a creative at her core; writing, building accent walls in her home by herself, and photographing + documenting her 4 sweet babies bring her the greatest joy. She married her college sweetheart and has a huge heart for adoption, authentic motherhood, pursuing and daily choosing your spouse, miscarriage/infant loss, and valuing others' stories and the journeys they are on - because, aren't we all?! You can follow her + her family on Instagram.

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