It was when I had my third loss, a stillbirth that I found my voice in grief. It took two previous miscarriages that hid in the shadows, the subsequent postpartum anxiety diagnosis and the silent birth of my third son to realize that there was no healing for me in the dark.
I lost my first baby the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I cried and felt confused, I had no idea how common miscarriage was after all.
Like a lot of people prior to actually trying to conceive, I assumed that you got pregnant, then you had a baby. I didn’t understand that for so many becoming pregnant or staying pregnant was a struggle.
I lost that baby and was questioned,
“Well, if you had waited a day to test for pregnancy you could have avoided this pain. Why did you test?”
I told my then-boyfriend, now husband. I told my parents and his. I told my sister. That was it. Those were the only souls who knew that anything had even happened.
I almost felt as if nothing had happened, I had nothing but the solitary sadness to indicate otherwise.
I was sort of made to believe that it was supposed to be this way.
Why burden others with the news of loss when the baby was not far enough to even detect a heartbeat?
I thought I understood what it meant to keep this loss of life quiet but that also meant that all my feelings and grief had to be kept close as well.
To the world nothing had happened.
To my family, a sigh of relief knowing I had possibly avoided an accident as an unwed mother.
For me, I was scared. Scared that my dream to become a mother may never be. Scared that pregnancy may not be what I had always assumed, nothing but magic and joy.
I was also sad, sad beyond words that the swell of joy I had for my unborn had turned so quickly to grief. I remember being disappointed, cheated.
I also remember feeling very, very alone as I grieved a baby hardly anyone even knew had been.
My second loss happened when I was married and had a six month old son at home. I remember deciding quite soon after I had my first that all I wanted in my life was more kids. My husband agreed and we were so grateful to have read the words “pregnant” once again on the test.
This pregnancy lasted a bit longer. I remember breathing a sigh of relief when I passed that first day without bleeding. The celebration and began excited talks of how good I felt and how I knew this was going to go well.
I was seven weeks pregnant when the bleeding started. I had not yet announced the pregnancy as I was told to wait until I passed the first trimester.
Why share the news before the safe zone? Why burden others with the news until I knew a child would be coming home?
That’s the message every mother receives. Keep quiet, avoid upsetting anyone until your chances of loss are diminished.
I had an ultrasound done, I stared at the screen and knew that my baby had died. I was angry with the ultrasound tech for her inability to tell me what I knew. The sad thing was, no one ever did say the words.
No one ever did say, “I’m sorry there is no heartbeat.” They just knew I knew and went about telling me what had to be done next. I went in for a procedure and walked out empty-handed.
Empty, without my baby.
My only solace was a snuggle with my boy upon my return and the comfort from the handful who knew.
I felt all the emotions quietly. Told no one. When my world unraveled a few short weeks later when I became overwhelmed with postpartum anxiety that was diagnosed as severe, I had to walk through that quietly as well.
I sat at family functions terrified and literally counting my breaths and stealing away to cry so I wouldn’t have to explain what was happening. The one time someone caught me crying, I said,
“I just don’t think I am okay.”
My comment fell on deaf ears. The alienation of no one knowing only aided my struggles in becoming bigger than life.
It did, however, force me to face my losses. Forced me to learn how to cope on my own.
When I lost my third born son, Lennon to stillbirth, a shift happened. My grief suddenly didn’t have to live in the silence.
Everyone knew my son had passed away.
Everyone knew I was hurting, it made me brazen enough to share. I knew I needed to talk about my grief. I knew I was lost if I had to handle a loss once again quietly, so I chose not to.
Writing became my form of communication, a way to quiet the unrelenting noise that had inhabited me from the moment I learned my son had passed away. I wrote before bed nearly every night at first, then once a week.
I shared my words and my feelings and found that everyone around me wanted so badly to lift me up, to share in my pain and champion me while I was at my lowest. Of course, there are the few who wish I would remain quiet but most are receptive and kind.
I soon thought, these people are not afraid of my grief, why don’t I share with them exactly what I have lived through.
I held my breath and waited after I disclosed my story of loss, of anxiety, of grief that had only been known intimately to a few people and it was met just as my other posts had been, with kind words and encouragement to help heal.
We are often told to take silly precautions about the early days of our pregnancies. We are told to hang on until we reach a safe zone, to not announce too soon or else you will burden everyone if there is a loss, to not get too attached and to know that you can always try again and not to worry until you’ve experienced at least three miscarriages.
These placations are told to us and while some women may choose this as the most preferable route for them, others suffer in silence and are made to feel as if their grief holds less value simply because their pregnancy was lost too soon.
Their child passed on too early. How confusing is that notion?
Why grieve in silence if healing will come in sharing your love for your child who left too soon? We are a society who feels it necessary to share it’s every thought, so long as it doesn’t pertain to a baby prior to thirteen weeks, in that instance, you might as well wait…
Grief doesn’t wait, why should you?
Morgan McLaverty, a world traveler that has taken roots in southern New Jersey where her husband Sean was born and raised. Now, a stay at home mother, she cares for her three living boys; Gavin Cole(5), Rowan Grey(3) and Holden Nash (1). She also is a mother to Lennon Rhys. Lennon was born still at thirty one weeks and five days. His loss spurred on a need in Morgan to write her feelings, share her grief and help others in the process. She hopes her words will help shed the silence and taboo nature of discussing pregnancy and child loss.