Those of us who have been through child loss know as well as anyone the power of a moment in time. Grasping those moments with the child you know you may not have long, and trying to survive in the meantime and the after. It’s so easy to slip into a depressive cycle after losing your…
I often feel like a complete impostor in this world. My losses, while huge and defining to me, had so much less of an impact on others. And because they were so early on, I often feel shame for holding onto the grief and sadness that accompany them. We’ve all heard about the Grief Olympics and how futile that exercise is, but when I look at some of my very close friends who held their babies in their arms and can feel that weight each year as their birthday and deathday approaches, I feel silly for grieving losses that had no weight at all.
But here’s the thing. The losses for me weren’t just about the dead baby inside of me. They were about the hope and the future that I had already been picturing disappearing. My plans for a three- or four-child family washed away with only me still longing for them to be real. The worst part for me is that because I hold this secret shame about the grief I still feel, I can easily dismiss my losses in order to acquiesce to the people around me, who make me feel as though my losses don’t count.
Even my husband, who went through the first loss with me and acknowledged the loss of the future and the incredible pain that we both felt, never talks about the loss anymore and certainly doesn’t talk about the most recent loss. He once questioned why I felt the need to name our first loss, making me feel shame for wanting to memorialize her. I don’t think that he means any harm, he truly doesn’t understand why I want to remember, why I never want to forget.
There is something strange about holding onto something that still causes so much pain. It seems silly and kind of stupid to want to remember. It would be so much easier to forget, to wipe it from my memory and move on. But those babies, no matter how small–no matter how early on–they were MY babies. My babies that I wanted so much. My babies that I hoped for, and was filled with a mixture of fear and excitement when I saw the two pink lines appear.
I’ve put myself out there as a miscarriage survivor. I am public about my losses. I have a very visible tattoo that I wear proudly that memorializes both of my living children and both of my lost babies. But yet, I still feel like an impostor. Like a fake.
It’s awful because it is isolating and demoralizing. I hesitate to even type this, but when I had my second loss, I felt a tiny bit less like an impostor because my grief had doubled. This is insane and stupid and so awful, but it is true. The whole idea of other people regulating how you grieve and what can actually be considered something to grieve about is completely asinine. And yet, here I am, doing it to myself.
Related: Why I hate it when you call every loss a miscarriage.
I love the two little souls that were inside me at one time. I miss them, even though I never knew them. I wish that my future was different and that I was managing four living kids right now. I wish for so many things, but my reality is that this happened, and now I am living a completely different life. One that I love and that I am happy in, but nonetheless, different than what I had envisioned. My grief means something to me. I will never forget, I will talk about them, I will write about them, and I will continue to be vocal about my losses, even if it leaves me feeling like an infiltrator into a world that I am only halfway in.
Photo credit: Michelle Maller