Written by Malinda Just Tuesday, 18 October 2011 15:33
Have you noticed the large quantity of “awareness” campaigns taking place on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? For the benefit of this column, I did. And let me tell you, Wikipedia has quite the list.
For instance, did you know that only January and December (according to the list) are void of awareness events? Or, that on top of Women’s History Month, March is the host of five other campaigns, including National Brain Injury Awareness?
Did you know that autism awareness is in April and Social Media Month is in May? Did you know that fathers not only have a special day in June to celebrate, but the entire month?
July is National Tickling Month, August promotes spinal muscular atrophy awareness, September raises awareness of childhood cancer and November celebrates an event called Movember. (At first, I thought this campaign was something like “Biggest Loser” but I was wrong. Movember is actually the combination of “moustache” and “November,” and it is a month-long event of growing moustaches.)
But the fullest month, by far, is October. Fifteen U.S. campaigns are brought to the forefront during October, the most well-known being breast cancer awareness. Last year in my column, “Pink: The Color of Courage and Hope,” I wrote about my grandma, a survivor of breast cancer, and about Chrissy, a victim.
I encouraged people to “don some pink-knowledge” and take care of themselves and their loved ones.
Pink-knowledge is spreading. Even the NFL wears pink during October. Awareness is being raised.
But another campaign of October isn’t nearly so prevalent.
In fact, even though I fit in this group, I didn’t even realize—until a couple weeks ago—it held a “national” spot during October. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
One in four women will experience pregnancy/infant loss in their lifetime.
I am one in four.
Each year, more than 700,000 women experience pregnancy loss.
My baby was one of 700,000 never to be held.
This past spring, I lost a baby due to an ectopic pregnancy. I was 28, healthy, with two normal pregnancies behind me. Miscarriage wasn’t supposed to happen to me. But it did.
I am the face of loss.
After losing my baby, I felt ostracized. Most of my friends didn’t know what to say, so they stayed quiet. Even on occasions when asked how I was, I said I was fine…even when I wasn’t. I didn’t want to burden anyone. And I didn’t want to cry…again.
So I suffered. Alone.
I am the face of grief.
Hundreds of thousands of women go through the death of their child every year through pregnancy or infant loss, yet no one talks about it.
I am the face of silence.
But despite the darkness of those days, there was a stirring. I felt compelled to share. In May, I broke the silence in Lipstick & Pearls. Even though writing was therapeutic for me, I never expected the impact my story would have.
For weeks after my column appeared in print, I had many women, some I knew, some I didn’t, thank me for writing about my loss. A woman shared about her ectopic pregnancy she had a few months before mine, and shared of the loneliness she felt because of her experience.
Women twice my age shared their own stories of miscarriage. Even an 85-plus-year-old woman shared her loss of two pregnancies.
Losing a child is not something ever forgotten.
All the stories made me realize that the women who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, no matter how it is lost, want an outlet to share. They want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like they are understood.
That is why I am supporting the I Am The Face campaign (iamtheface.org), organized by Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, an online support organization for survivors of miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.
It’s time to shatter the miscarriage taboo. Even if you haven’t experienced the loss of a pregnancy or an infant, chances are you know someone who has. And it’s time to let those one in four women know they are not alone, and make them feel as though they have a supportive community behind them.
I am the face—of loss, of grief, of silence. But I am also the face of hope.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.