Miscarriage deserves awareness

Seven years ago, I approached my Free Press editor, wondering whether I had written too many times about miscarriage. I thought maybe he would agree with me that, yes, a few times was enough. Rather, he told me the topic was important and I should keep writing.

After his encouragement, I have felt free to share many more times about miscarriage, generally publishing those articles in October. Why October? Well, in addition to other important “awarenesses”, the month of October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, with October 15 being the official awareness day.

I would imagine if you haven’t experienced this type of loss for yourself or know someone who has, it’s just another month of the year. But for one in four women, remembering means something. It means something for the fathers, too.

The stories are all different. My two losses weren’t even close to being the same. One was an ectopic pregnancy, bringing with it extra medical complications, and one was extremely early–so early that if I wasn’t paying close attention, I might have missed it. The similarity comes when I say I wanted both of them, and I grieved both of them.

I wrote my first miscarriage column in May of 2011, saying this: “At times, the emptiness seems almost unbearable. I long for the baby I will never meet. I grieve that the only proof I have of this baby is a positive pregnancy test in my drawer–a test I can’t bring myself to part with(…)

“There are many women who share in my experience of an ectopic pregnancy, and even more women who share in my experience of miscarriage.

“Before enduring my own miscarriage, I always felt bad for women who had lost a pregnancy. But I never realized how deeply it cuts. How hard it is to give up your baby, your expectations, your joy and excitement, even for one the size of a sesame seed. How hard it is to know you’re a mother, but have no child to show for it.

“Yes, I never expected to end up here. What mother does? But now that I am, I want to embrace the deeply personal, nearly silent community. I want to educate others that miscarriage grief is real; that hurting mothers need support and friendship. And most of all, I want to be an encouragement to others, simply stating, we are not alone.”

I still believe it’s important to embrace this deeply personal community. It’s one I didn’t expect to be part of. It wasn’t a community I wanted to join. But here I am.

I still believe it’s important to help those outside of this experience to understand that the grief is real, even when it’s possible you don’t think it should be.

I still believe it’s important to spread the message that we are not alone.

And I’m still thankful I had an editor who believed my message, who saw value in it, and who encouraged me to keep writing and sharing. His support helped grow my voice in a time of uncertainty.

I hope that as awareness continues to be raised, more people will join my editor’s example, believing that the voices and stories of grief and loss are important enough to be shared, because pregnancy and infant loss is a real thing, even if the only proof is kept in a drawer.

Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing, including more pieces on miscarriage, visit her blog, www.malindajust.com