Her name was Hattie.
The first baby I lost: her name was Hattie. She changed me from who I was into who I am, top to bottom and inside out. She’s a constant on my brain, I think about her every day. Every single day. Just like any of my living children.
But I don’t get to talk about her.
That’s not really true. I get to talk about her and I do, on the regular, but mainly on social media. Because on Instagram, I can’t see if my words make you uncomfortable. You see, moms who have lost babies know that the minute we comfortably speak out loud about what’s normal to us, we make you uncomfortable. And then when you get that understandable look on your face – the one where you have no idea what the normal response is, then WE get uncomfortable and then everyone just feels weird and someone suddenly says, “Oh my goodness…did you see that it snowed yesterday?! It’s just too early…” And the chance for us to talk about our babies, our normal – the normal we didn’t even want, has passed.
The thing is that a lot of people will say that they don’t feel it’s permissible to talk about their lost little ones. A friend of mine lost her baby when he was 2 months and 22 days old. Which means that in a room full of new people, she knows eventually someone will ask how many kids she has. The answer is three. You might only see two with her on the daily, but there are three. But when she says three and then they ask follow up questions and she has to explain? Then it gets uncomfortable.
People just aren’t sure how to respond to us. The ones that are or were sad. The ones that represent what many women are afraid of. The ones that carry the losses on our sleeves. The ones that speak it out loud. And if people aren’t sure how to handle us, the outspoken ones, just imagine how lonely those that aren’t able or ready to speak out loud about their losses and pain and quiet little ones feel.
How can you help?
When someone says they’ve lost a baby, or they tell you about Hattie or Leo or Hannah, Grace, Abigail, Alexander, Eleanor, or anyone they lost, do your best to calm your face. It’s okay to have feelings when someone says they lost their baby, and it’s more than okay to feel like you’re not sure what to do next, but those little facial flinches you show when we share are what tell us if it’s safe for us to keep talking. When it’s safe for us to keep talking, we finally get to be our real selves. The moms who have more kids than you can see. The moms who miss their kids every day.
My daughter’s name was Hattie. She is buried with one of her brothers in a Catholic cemetery on the north side of the metro. We are neither Catholic, nor do we live on the north side of the metro, but we found a place where our babies can rest and be known, even if they never took a breath. Their names are etched on a wall full of loss – that wall is both heartbreaking and breathtakingly beautiful.
My daughter’s name is Hattie, and I would love to include her in more conversations than I do. I would love to be able to say, out loud, that she would have been in Kindergarten this year. That combined with her overwhelmingly loving and exhausting 7-year-old sister, I’d look like a zombie most days. I’d love to tell you about how I envision her in our family pictures, dream of her coming to the doorstep to tell me it was all a bad dream. That I picture her as we run through the mall and play at the playground, or swim in the summer.
My daughter’s name is Hattie. And I am her voice. I make sure she’s not forgotten. But I do need your help. I need people to let me speak about her without making me feel like I’m making them uncomfortable. Please don’t read that with any tone other than one of a desperate mom who does not want her child forgotten. Truly. I am not alone in this and there are plenty of us out there, who really just want to speak their names and have you be okay with it. We need your help so that we can live our normal like it IS normal, because it is.
The stats say “1 in 4,” but the truth is that one in THREE women will experience either miscarriage or the loss of a child. One-third of us want to speak our normal and we’re asking you to walk alongside us in it. Help us normalize our normal.
When someone lets me comfortably talk about my experience, I feel safer, more confident and, actually, more normal. Let’s be women that allow that space to become more comfortable, to speak and to hear.
It became incredibly important to me that the lives of my lost little ones were marked and it was important to me to find a way for you to mark the lives of the children you have lost. We have a Forever Loved wall where you can do just that. Know that we stand with you in your pain and your loss and in remembering the baby you will never forget. To add your baby to the Forever Loved wall – click the photo below.
Baby loss may not be your struggle. If you’re walking through something different, we have a number of articles where our writer’s share what they’re going through, in various ways. You can find those in the post linked below.
Most importantly, if your struggle feels like too much and you’re not sure where to go with that, please look at the list of resources linked below and reach out for help. Admitting a need for help is a courageous act, and often, we just need to know where to go for help. Find that guide by clicking the image at the bottom.