I guess we all fall into one statistic or another, but 1 in 4 is one that I didn’t know about and definitely one that I didn’t want to fall into. But, I am 1 in 4. One in four pregnancies will end in loss. I became part of that statistic in 2012 when my precious baby boy, Barrett, was born into this world peacefully sleeping. It only took moments and a few heart wrenching words from a doctor to send my world into a complete spiral.
On that day I lost my son, I lost his future, and I lost part of myself. I lost his first words and first steps. I lost his first day of kindergarten and I lost his precious hugs. I lost his joy-inducing giggles that never got to be heard and I lost the person he would have become. There would be no cap and gown for my son, and every year there is an empty chair in a classroom where he would have sat. I’ll never see his face as his future spouse walks down the aisle to him. I’ll never see him realize my love for him when his own child is born. Instead, I was left here to grieve and always wonder who he would have been.
About a month after he was born, I found out that October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Month. I instantly hopped online to find the closest event for PAIL Awareness Day (October 15th), which at the time was on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We loaded up and drove down to the coast to walk in his memory and in the memory of so many precious babies lost.
It was when I became involved with these other mommas who had become that 1 in 4, that I started to also see what all I had gained through Barrett’s life. I met some of the strongest women I’ve ever met, people I never would have met otherwise. I found people who are more than willing to step into your pain with you because they have been exactly where you are. I found women who know that no matter how many weeks you were when you lost your baby, you lost that baby along with all of the hopes and dreams you had for him or her. They knew that the loss of a child is the greatest pain and because they experienced it, they weren’t afraid to walk through it with me.
Years later, in 2016, I lost another precious baby in an early miscarriage and found myself as a statistic once again. But Barrett had taught me how to grieve and how not to grieve. He had already introduced me to an amazing support system, and when we lost this baby, I had pillars of strength surrounding me.
If you have lost a precious baby, know that you are not alone. The most important thing Barrett’s death taught me was to use my voice and ask for help when I needed it. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Your grief is real and it matters, and whatever emotions you feel, they are valid.
In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
To find a PAIL event near you or to submit an event, you can visit October15th.com.