Today is the 13-year anniversary of my first baby’s death.
I should say miscarriage because to say death implies a birth and that sadly was not the case. My miscarriages both happened in October and they bookend my fertility journey. I had my last miscarriage 7 years ago after having had 2 children.
When the Halloween decorations go up, an ominous feeling starts to brew. I am constantly caught out by a desire to withdraw when the pumpkins adorn the porches even while I am dressing up to take the children out trick or treating. October comes around and I never give myself the break to just sit and cry.
In fact, I have noticed I have stopped crying about sad things that happen to me. I can listen to music and cry and watch people attain great things and cry, but those life tears have dried up. At 47 I have emotionally hit a plateau, which I fear confuses my family into thinking I am unemotional. I’m not.
I have a high tolerance for physical pain, I can go to that place of zen stillness and focus, particularly when I was miscarrying and thankfully during both of my children’s labors. Maybe it’s not surprising then that through the anniversaries I just do that very British thing of putting a brave face on and making a brew; strong no sugar.
Today, however, my instinct is to talk and share. Perhaps all I needed to do was to cry and stay silent. Loss is confusing though, isn’t it? As I look down next to the bed now I see a feather. Is it my angels with me comforting me with their presence? For a while it feels this way…
You see, I wonder what my daughter, Iris would have been like as an older sister and a middle child. I wonder whether we would have still gone to the US. I wonder if it would have been another boy or girl, what their name would be, if they would have dark hair and various other questions as to how life would be different as a family of 3. Then I feel guilty for not saying 4 because my first ever baby’s miscarriage I am strangely thankful for as it allowed me to have Miles, for he would never have existed had I gone to term. Therefore, I do not talk about my miscarriages because to admit to the sadness and confusion of loss would feel like a rejection of the blessings that have come our way in life; two beautiful, remarkable children.
Surely, today though is the day when I should speak out, if only in support of others who share the experience of pregnancy loss, but just like others, I tend to say nothing. 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage but I don’t hear of anyone who is enduring the pain as it is not largely spoken about. Particularly by those who have children. We would feel too guilty moaning on when we have progressed in our pregnancy journey onto bearing a healthy child.
October is the time of year, I think about the wonderful nurse, who administered pain relief and held my hand though the tears and thinking what an angel on earth she was. I reflect on the consultant squeezing my foot in condolence when telling me pragmatically that there was no heartbeat and I should give myself 6 months. I did. I remember the fireworks dancing in the sky through the hospital window whilst I was contracting high on morphine. I remember how amazing my husband was and how in that moment I couldn’t have loved him more for being at my side.
Ironically, October is Miscarriage Awareness Month and yet I have not been aware of many voices speaking up. Perhaps because others have felt largely the same way as I did, that it is a personal loss one needs to endure privately and that time should have lessened the grief. Well, it does of course, yet in so doing, it feels like a betrayal to your babies you so desperately wanted.
According to Iris, Halloween or All Hallows Eve was when we should leave food out for our dead loved ones to show them that we still love them, as on this day their spirits are able to cross over from their realm into ours -the line between is thinner or something? It sounds like she’s been watching Stranger Things, but how lovely would that be? Instead, we will do what most people do on Halloween, dress up, parade in our costumes and scare people into giving us sweets.
This anniversary, I took my mother to tea. We talked about 13 years ago for the first time since it happened. My throat 5th chakra, got tighter and sore from the familiar feeling of loss. I swallowed the sadness down with my cuppa where it will stay for another year. Tomorrow is another day.
If you are experiencing a recent loss of pregnancy I feel deeply connected to your situation. I would like send healing to take away your pain but not to diminish the memory of your child’s significance. The anniversary is evidence that this happened, that it mattered and that they existed.
Today, I am thankful for that.