Saturday, August 20, 2011

Break the Silence

Day of Hope- "August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened.These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters." ~Carly Marie Dudley~

I started this post last night after my semi-crazy day and just couldn't seem to finish. The words just didn't flow. I am not sure if they will tonight, but regardless, yesterday was the Day of Hope. But honestly, every day should be a day to break through the silence...

The 'taboo-ness' of child loss  is something I have struggled with lately. Struggled in the sense that it really bothers me that it is rare to find someone who does not shy away at the mention or thought that my child has died. Let me go back in time a bit.  My pregnancy and  miscarriage in 2010 was not really known about by very many people. My belly did not grow to show a physical reminder that I carried a child. We wanted to wait until we were out of the first trimester to share our joy.... only to have our joy shatter into a million pieces as we watched our baby float lifelessly on the sono screen at our 12 week check.  About two weeks after we miscarried, someone asked me when we were going to give Spencer a brother or sister. I shared that we miscarried and there was a look of horror on their face and the subject was quickly changed. It was enough for me to never mention it again. I wanted to so badly, but I couldn't handle that look again.  Instead, I cried myself to sleep each and every night for two months. That was how I coped. In silence and tears and alone.

Another year passed and we were going to loose Palmer. Except this time, the size of my belly proved a life was growing inside of me. It was hard to explain to someone that Palmer would die, especially when his life was so abundant. I have a public job and encounter roughly 75  people in person and on the phone on any  given day. I have known the majority of these people for the last 11 years. Some have become like a second family. We share in each others joy and pain. Some days I couldn't handle the questions so I hid at my desk where  my belly was not in sight. I waited to walk down the halls and into the lobby when the coast was clear. But other days, I had to deal with it. When my pregnancy was acknowledged, I gave full disclosure about his condition.  I hate awkward moments. I hate the elephant in the room.  I never wanted the awkward question of "How is your baby doing?" to pop up in conversation down the road.

It seemed that my efforts to explain worked only partly. Some either forgot that he had a terminal diagnosis, didn't pay attention or completely misunderstood me. After I came back from maternity leave, I heard a lot of "How are you?". I learned quickly that there was a small majority of people who actually wanted to hear an answer. My skill at reading body language was honed pretty quick. Quick enough that the word 'fine' became my go-to answer. My heart broke a little each time I uttered this word. Some days I thought that it would be easier if people would just leave me alone and not acknowledge my loss. Occasionally I would have someone ask that truly wanted to listen. They asked to see a picture and verbally said they didn't buy my automatic answer of 'fine'. 

I hadn't heard of the Day of Hope until I saw a posting on Facebook  by Holly, a fellow anen mom. The concept really touched my heart and made me realize we all need to do our part to help bring those walls down. My blanket answer of 'fine' was getting me no where. I was enabling others to slip quietly behind the walls of silence. Silence that is painful and full of rejection ~ rejection of a child that was loved and wanted so very much.  Each time I talk of my miscarriage and Palmer, my grief lessens and those pieces of my heart inch closer together. For that reason alone, my silence ends. I encourage you to do the same. If you encounter someone who has lost a child or loved one, look them in the eye and tell them you are sorry for their loss and that their baby mattered. We often forget how our words and actions can affect someone.  Never make someone feel like their child was not worth living.


Josie said...

Love this!

Holly said...

Yes, the silence needs to be broken. Perhaps if we talk about it more over time it will become less taboo. Thanks for posting!