Saturday, October 1, 2016

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is a time to remember and honor the babies that were lost before, during, and after birth and to bring awareness and support for those who have experienced such a life-changing loss.
1 in 4 pregnancies ends with a loss. At first, that statistic seemed impossible--until I started to share my story, and so many others began to share theirs.
When people ask me how many children I have, I usually say 1. Sometimes, depending on the person, I choose to elaborate. Every now and then, I may talk about the other two. But sometimes, "one" is a complicated enough answer as it is without adding more to it. 
I've carried three children. 
The first was Ethan. Ethan left the biggest impact on my heart, filled my life with the most love, and shattered me the hardest when he left. We spent months together, while he moved, kicked, and literally did flips inside the womb. I sang to him during the day, Chris read to him at night. I carried him for months until that night when my water broke and we rushed to the hospital. We threw our birth plan out the window, as we didn't have time to make it to the original hospital for our extensive high-risk delivery. I labored Ethan for hours before I was rushed into an emergency c-section. And then he came. Our tiny little fighter, who defied all odds to meet us. I like to think that he was just like his daddy. He was sweet, active, full of joy and always ready to face the next challenge. We spent 93 precious minutes with our Ethan before he drifted asleep and into the arms of Jesus. 
Ethan made me a mommy. He is the one that people hear stories about and see pictures of. There are pictures of him and stories about him, which make him feel more "real" to people who haven't met him. 
After Ethan came two more precious babies. There are no pictures. No names. No time to feel flutters and kicks. Just two lines on a pregnancy test and lots of love. 
The second baby left almost as soon as he or she came. Saying goodbye ripped open the wound that had been created when we said goodbye to Ethan. I grieved what never was. I grieved a dream. I grieved Ethan. 
I learned about the third baby on Ethan's birthday. Talk about emotional. This little one stayed longer and I started to feel hopeful. To push my fears aside. To dream. And then my pregnancy became complicated. Only a few weeks into the pregnancy, I was fast-tracked to weekly ultrasounds, regularly blood tests, and, eventually, our third goodbye. 
As I've opened up and shared my story, more and more people have held my hand and have uttered two of the most powerful words. "Me too."
The barista in the coffee shop. 
The car salesman who rode along on our test drive. 
The 80 year old woman who never talked about it. 
The contractor who installed our kitchen countertops. 
The friend who never told anyone. 
The family member who never told anyone. 
The new friends I meet multiple times a week. So many people who have said goodbye. 

My name is Kristin and I am the face of infant loss and recurrent miscarriage. Let's join hands, hold each other up, and break the silence.

Graphic by my dear friend Jessi, over at Luminous Light Studio.