Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Infant loss. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. By loss I mean death, grief, heartbreak, tears. Can you relate? It’s not what we had in mind when we imagined our motherhood.
We never had it in mind because these stories of motherhood mostly stay in bathrooms, emergency rooms, and the back corners of labor and delivery floors. But this is so many of our stories. It’s important to recognize it and say it out loud. Not to scare anyone or wallow in our suffering but to show each other we are not alone. You are not alone.
Our grandmothers or mothers may suggest that we can be strong and pretend this didn’t happen. They may say it is a common thing, and we just need to move on like they did. But just because something is common doesn’t make it normal or less tragic. In fact, how common it is makes it even more tragic.
Our motherhood stories deserve to be told. Our babies deserve to be mourned and remembered. We deserve to work for healing. There is a lot to be gained by facing our stories and loving our babies even if they aren’t in our arms. There is a lot to be gained by reaching out to our friends and community of fellow moms for support.
My motherhood story first started how I imagined. My husband Daniel and I decided it was time to have a baby, and we got pregnant right away. I had a low risk pregnancy. I showed up to every prenatal appointment, I took the vitamins, I followed all the rules, and at the anatomy scan we found out we were having a perfectly healthy baby girl. We named her Virginia (Ginny) Hope Jones. Everything was going great, so there was no plan for a 3rd trimester ultrasound.
At my 34 week prenatal appointment, my belly was measuring a few centimeters small. The midwife assured us everything was probably fine, but she scheduled a growth scan for a few days later just to double check. I was so excited to get to see Ginny again before her arrival. But when Daniel and I got to the growth ultrasound, there was no heartbeat. Our world came crashing down in that cold dark room. Nothing would ever be the same again.
The next day I delivered her beautiful 3lb 5oz body. We held her, prayed, and wept. Then we had to say goodbye and handed her body back to the nurse. We went home to a completely decorated and utterly empty nursery. The heartbreak consumed our bodies, hearts, and all the space around us.
I was so worried that Ginny’s life and death would always be a dark and painful memory that our family would try to forget and never talk about. That’s not what I wanted for her. But as the months went on and I spent time mourning her through journaling, crying, walking, reading, praying, and talking to trusted friends and family, I realized that our love for her would never fade. Our love for her would actually grow over time! And looking back at her life and death over 4 years later, I do have pain but I also have so so much love! Ginny brought me a new perspective on life. I don’t take things for granted, and I prioritize what is important. Also my heart grew! I have more compassion for hurting people. I have hope in heaven and a renewed faith in Jesus. I have so much more love! And now I am able to share that love and perspective with Ginny’s two younger living siblings. I am a better mom because of Ginny. That is my motherhood story! And I am honored to share it.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to honor and remember our babies gone too soon. No matter if your loss was last week or 30 years ago, please join my family, Auburn University, and East Alabama Health on October 15 at 6pm in the EAMC Memory Garden in a ceremony to recognize our stories and honor our babies. We will be lighting candles at 7pm to participate in the International Wave of Light. It will be a special and healing time for our community. Let’s show each other that we are not alone in our motherhood!
Registration is appreciated but not required to attend. If interested, register here.
Read more of Aimee’s story of grief and hope on her blog at be-still-and-know.com.