Content Notice: miscarriage, death of a child
It’s October, Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. One month, 31 days of the year, that we honor our lost babies, their mamas, their families. It’s 31 days that I am allowed to grieve the baby I had who never took a breath. October 15th is the designated day that those affected by loss join in remembering their babies. We light a candle. We say a prayer, have a moment of silence, hold our malas, cry.
One day of the year.
She was born at the end of May 1994. She was supposed to be born in October. That’s ironic, to have been due in the month I am allowed to grieve her loss publicly. It’s ironic like when it rains on your wedding day, not a coincidence, but a tragedy.
For a lot of years, I never mentioned her. People don’t like when you talk about your dead baby. They don’t know what to say. They fear they’ll say something wrong. They just don’t want to think about death and loss. It’s all just too much.
It’s one month a year out of a lifetime of pain for those who grieve their gone babies. But it’s just too much for some folks.
People don’t want to hear that your baby died.
I just don’t want to read/see/hear about that.
Why do we have to keep re-living it?
Why can’t people grieve in private?
Why do people have to continue to grieve long after the child is gone?
Why do you care?
I lost a baby girl. It was 23 years ago. I was devastated beyond measure. I am still sad.
I will not ever be not sad. She was my first baby. I loved her. I prepared for her. I waited for her. And she died.
I had not shared her death with people, not because she wasn’t real to me, but because I felt like she wouldn’t be real to them.
For many years after she died, I didn’t talk about her. It wasn’t because I wasn’t thinking about her, it was just because I knew no one wanted to hear about her or her death, the pain I felt after, the depression. No one wanted that to be real; I didn’t want it to be real either. But it was. It is. She is very real to me. But because no one saw her, she was easy for them to forget. It’s easier to dismiss the things you cannot see.
No one wanted to watch me cry or hear her name on my lips. No one wanted to hold me in my grief. She was gone, and I had other babies to think about, other babies to be grateful for.
It was only within the last ten years that I started to say her name. It has only been in the last seven that I light a candle for her on October 15th. It has only been in the last five that I have spoken about her freely.
And you want me to be quiet — because it’s too painful or annoying or triggering for you.
I was quiet for a long time.
I took the pain in stride. I grieved silently in the privacy of my room, kneeling next to my bed, praying that I might know her someday, wishing I had been able to know her here, now. Every year when her Gone-day came, I cried. Alone. Every year when her due date came, I cried. Alone.
I did not ask anyone to share my grief. I did not expect it to be recognized or honored. I felt it because it was impossible not to feel it.
And then one day, I heard a woman speaking about her baby. A baby she miscarried at eight weeks. A baby she wanted desperately. A baby she grieved the loss of.
I realized then that I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve Jordan openly because I didn’t think people would believe she was real. Because I was 21 weeks pregnant when I lost her, but she had died before then. Because she wasn’t viable so she must not have mattered as much to everyone else. Because tiny babies with tiny feet who don’t have any body fat or lungs that function are somehow less of a baby than one who is born and breathes and then dies.
I had not shared her death with people, not because she wasn’t real to me, but because I felt like she wouldn’t be real to them. The thought of her being dismissed was more than I could bear. She never took a breath. She never saw the light or nursed or cried.
She died. She was removed from my body while I slept under the power of anesthesia. I didn’t hold her. I did not see her tiny face or grasp her tiny hand. I only know how big she was because I read a pathology report I wasn’t supposed to see. Her foot: 1.5 cm. 15 mm. So small.
Was she too small to be real?
She was real to me. I no longer care if she was real to you. I have been given the gift of an entire month to say her name. Jordan Taylor. I have been given a day that I can light a candle and weep, and no one will wonder why.
I will not be quiet. I will not silence myself or forget my daughter because you are uncomfortable. Death is uncomfortable. Grief is uncomfortable.
You don’t have to watch me endure it, but you cannot silence me.