October is well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  October 15th marks a day of remembrance and support.   A few months ago I wrote a post as a letter to my unborn child, and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to put on paper.

I have felt a calling all my life to be a mother, a teacher, and a nurturer.  Decisions I made very early on in my life made a career in such things unfeasible, but I made those decisions confidently as I tried to navigate a situation I was unprepared to face alone, but alone I was.  I didn’t feel like I could tell my family, and most of the friends I did tell thought I was making a terrible mistake.  Still, no matter how terrified I was of what I was about to face, I gave my future, and my heart to a child that many would have cast away as a reminder of violence and hurt.  In fact, it may have been that unborn child that kept me alive long enough to work through the emotional and psychological damage caused by the experience.  When I lost that first baby I lost the focus of all my attention and energy .  Worse were constant comments like “it was probably for the best” and “you’ll be relieved someday when you have a child out of love”.  I didn’t care.  It was still a loss.

A few years later I would be faced with the same fear.  I was in a loving relationship with the father at the time, but we were barely feeding ourselves, and I knew at the time my health was in terrible shape.  At our first appointment there was no detectable heartbeat, and I almost blacked out in the office.  Repeated attempts yielded no results, and the final consensus was that I had a blighted ovum, an empty sack that the body treats as if it’s a viable pregnancy.  For days before my surgery to have it removed I had nightmares of babies wailing, and in the days that followed I got the same ignorant comments as I’d gotten the first time combined with everyone’s refusal to let me grieve a baby that technically never existed.  I still have a tiny pair of booties in a box.  It existed in my heart.

All in all I’ve had this experience five times, and when Hubby and I talk about children there’s a little sting in the back of my heart that knows it might only be a dream.   Our reasons for not trying yet are numerous and mostly logistical, and when we do try we will have a lot to deal with emotionally and physically.   Since the wedding I feel like people are constantly asking if we want children or when we’re going to have them.  My answer is always the same, “when and if it’s possible”.   I keep it short, because my past is generally ignored, and my future as a mother is a rather sensitive and questionable subject.

I don’t write any of this to drag out old wounds or evoke sympathy.  I write it because for many years I felt like I didn’t deserve to go through any kind of grieving process.  Every time I felt sad I pushed it down.  Every time someone told me “it’ll happen when the time is right” I pushed it down.  Every time I felt like it was my fault for one reason or another I pushed it down.  Any chance I had to work through my emotions turned in to a chance to push them to a place where I didn’t have to feel them, and society wholeheartedly supported that behaviour.  It wasn’t until much later when I eschewed that the notion that my feelings of loss were silly or unfounded that I was able to release that weight and really move forward.  So I write this to tell any one, man or woman, who has been in place that it’s alright to grieve.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the situation was ideal or the timing was right.  You have every right to feel your emotions and work through them in a healthy manner.

 

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