Monday, October 15, 2018

October - Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is a month dedicated to remembering pregnancies and babies gone too soon.  It's a month when you'll see an increase in people sharing their stories of loss.  October 15th is the Wave of Light Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day; it can be a very tough time for people who have experienced a loss.  

Earlier this month I came across a post on Instagram shared by Infertility Illustrated and I felt compelled to share it in my stories because it really resonated with me.  This drawing with the words "well of course that was only a chemical pregnancy".  I explained along with the photo that for a long time I minimized my losses.  I experienced my first "chemical pregnancy" in January 2014 after an IUI, another in December 2015, and most recently this past July.  From what I've always understood a "chemical pregnancy" to be versus a "miscarriage" is that a chemical pregnancy is one that begins to implant, secretes HCG, but no gestational sac ever forms, whereas with a miscarriage, a sac and yoke are most likely present at the time of the loss. 

There were many times over the course of the years that I didn't feel as though our losses were worthy to be be considered a pregnancy loss.  I would minimize it and say to myself, well my beta was only a 50, or a 20, or an 8, so technically I shouldn't consider it to be an actual pregnancy.  When I shared these sentiments along with the illustration, I got over a dozen+ messages from women who felt or were still feeling the exact same way about their chemical pregnancies. 

What it took for me to realize that my losses DID matter and that they were valid and that my feelings along with those losses were warranted was the birth of my daughter.  I know not everyone who has experienced a chemical pregnancy has yet to or ever will get to this point in their journey, but for me, once I was finally able to see the life that was created, I realized that each one of those "chemical pregnancies" could've been a potential child just as amazing as the one I was finally holding in my arms.  With each message that I received telling me that they felt shameful of their loss, or that their loss didn't matter, I told them their loss DID matter, that every loss does.  

There are so many complicated emotions that accompany the loss of a baby at any time.  I think it's important that we break the silence around pregnancy loss and not worry so much about the definitions and terms as much as we do and focus on the fact that every pregnancy no matter how far along (even embryos in my eyes) could have resulted in a life, and that matters!  I don't think its fair to say that because someone was say in their second trimester vs. their first that their loss matters more or is worse than someone who lost their pregnancy earlier.  Along with the stigma around miscarriage and loss I believe there is also a stigma around how we refer to them; we should not be minimizing ANY loss!  

For me, I'd even like to see it be taken one step further to consider that every embryo transferred that fails be considered a loss.  I'm not sure that someone who hasn't experienced an embryo transfer or infertility would agree, but the 1 in 8 of us who have experienced infertility would probably agree.  Every single one of those was a fertilized egg, meaning that life was being created, the first step & several of the other steps necessary for an embryo to progress to the point of being transferred had taken place, to me that should count for something!  Just because an embryo didn't implant doesn't mean that it too wasn't a potential life, just as one that had implanted.  

I may be rambling and taking my thoughts too far, but after the outpouring of messages that I received after sharing this illustration, my mind started spinning as I realized the number of women who have experienced this and have felt the need to minimize their feelings and their grief.  If you've experienced any kind of pregnancy loss, please know that it matters and that you are allowed to be sad about it, you're allowed to be mad, and grieve over it for as long or as little as it takes.  Regardless if infertility was a factor in your journey to get pregnant, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, a stillborn, or the loss of any child at any point in their life is extremely devastating and it's something that no parent should ever have to experience.  Unfortunately, just like infertility, loss does not discriminate.  It can happen to anyone and often times there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.  

What I do see, especially during the month of October are women and couples who gather the strength to share about the loss they've experienced.  Sometimes it's the only they're willing to speak about it, while other share often.  There is no right or wrong way, the memory of those babies live on through their parents, siblings, and family no matter how often their story is shared and their mothers and fathers are constantly thinking about them.  If you've experienced the loss of a pregnancy or a child, please know that you are not alone & that no matter when that loss took place, no matter how brief that life was, it does matter. 

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