“How many children do you have (if any)?” I stared at the questionnaire as my husband wrote “none”. We glanced sadly at each other before finishing the remainder of the form. How are we supposed to answer that? Guilt overwhelmed me as that single, awful word “none” shone off of the page. I think of my four angels and want to tell those who ask if I have any children about Hunter and Hazel and the other two babies we lost, but how do I talk about them without making them feel uncomfortable? If I told them, they would feel sorry for me and pity me. I don’t want to be pitied. I want to be able to talk about the children I love without making people uncomfortable.
It is hard to know what to say to people who have experienced a pregnancy loss, which is usually why I avoid answering “yes” to strangers about the question “do you have children?” Shortly after the loss of our son, Hunter, I was asked why I hadn’t been around very much. The woman seemed genuinely concerned and interested and we had always enjoyed chatting. I felt comfortable letting her know that I had been pregnant but had given birth at nineteen weeks. She responded with the usual, “oh my gosh, that is so hard. I am so sorry for your loss.” I began thanking her for her kindness when she said, “did he look like a baby or did he come out in pieces since it was just a miscarriage?” I stopped talking and sat there shocked. I felt my eyes begin to burn and a knot formed in my throat. I took a second to try to pull myself together and began trying to think of a way to respond when she continued, “thank goodness it happened sooner rather then later. That could have been really hard.”
Yes, I had “just a miscarriage” and maybe it would have been harder if I had been farther along. I don’t know. All I know is that I was nineteen weeks pregnant and I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and it was completely heartbreaking to know he was gone before he even arrived. He is my son and I would have given my life for him. If there is one thing my four miscarriages have taught me, it is never “just a miscarriage.”
The experience of miscarrying at five weeks, ten weeks, thirteen weeks and eighteen was different in many ways. It has felt like I was expected to just get over our losses because I wasn’t full term, but I don’t think I will ever truly get over losing our first baby, or our second, or third, or fourth. Many think it is easier to lose a baby sooner rather then later because “you don’t really know them”. What they don’t understand is not knowing them IS the hard part.
I had hopes and dreams for my children- All of them. From the moment I got a positive pregnancy test, I began planning and imagining life with a baby. They were never “a blob of cells” to me. They were my kids. Everything I did was to take care of them. They became my priority and I was shattered with each loss.
I know that most people do not intend to say something hurtful. This is a situation where it is hard to know what to say. If you know someone who has lost a baby, before you say anything please remember, whether they lost their baby at four weeks or forty, it hurts. More then anything, they want their feelings to be validated and to know their baby mattered and that regardless of how short their life may have been, they existed.