October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I became aware of this month in 2014 after two miscarriages.
That year I attended a balloon release with my husband. I remember crying as I wrote love notes to my children and attached them to balloons and released them into the air. Two blue balloons for my twins who I believed with all my heart were boys and a white one for my 3rd baby whose sex I never quite decided on.
(Please note that the organization hosting the release paid keen attention to ensuring that every aspect was environmentally friendly from the balloons to the strings and paper that we wrote out notes on.)
I wrote that I would always love my babies, that I would think about them every day, and live a life worthy of them.
I asked them to forgive me for spending all my time with them complaining about morning sickness and other trivial things. I remember reading my husband’s notes to our children and thinking that he deserved this even less than I did. And I remember my friend hugging me and telling me that she loved me. And for one day, I felt a break in my overwhelming grief.
In the 6 years that have passed, I’ve done many new things. I’ve had two children, written a couple of books, experienced highs and lows, and the truth is, I didn’t think about my babies every day. Often yes, but not every day. Since then, I’ve loved and laughed with my other children and there are days that I feel consumed with guilt over that fact.
What kind of person breaks a promise to her dead babies?
I know cognitively that grief can’t last forever. I know that part of healing means learning that I have enough love in my heart for all 5 of my children. I can reason that love would never demand that I mourn endlessly but I still wonder…have I grieved enough? Did I get over my loss too quickly?
Honestly, the answer is no. I still love and miss my babies. Having a million babies would not change that. And, I know that I may never get over my loss but I have learned to live and love along with my loss. So even if I don’t think about them every day, or wear my grief around me like a cloak, I carry them in my heart. I celebrate them with my life and one of my greatest joys is hearing my living children talk to each other about their siblings in heaven.
Every October I recognize Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
I do it because in that first year, having this time of recognition saved my sanity. Meeting other women like me and other families like mine was the one thing that made me feel less alone. So, even as I feel grief give way to something else, I will recognize what this month means because it gives women like me a chance to find community. And just like I needed to see women who have survived their loss, maybe someone needs to see me where I stand today.
Back then, at the balloon release, I remember watching the balloons sail up to the sky, as they rose higher individual balloons stuck to each other until almost every balloon was part of a huge, colorful mass of balloons. A mass that was so big that it blocked out the sun. I am sure that there is a perfectly scientific explanation for this, but I like to think that each of our individual balloons created a single community of survivors. Passersby might have thought little of a single balloon but a community of balloons cannot be ignored.
I have felt this community on more than on occasion. Last October while scrolling through Instagram, I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of women wearing pink and blue bracelets that were identical to mine from The Cooper Project, and complete strangers would thank me for taking part in the Capture Your Grief Project 2019. And that’s exactly why we need to keep observing Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and why this month will always mean so much to me.