Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Remember

I didn't realize it has already been a week since my last post. I have been busy lately, but I'll talk more about that at a later date. Instead, I want to talk about what today is- October 15th.

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. In fact the entire month of October is supposed to be dedicated to this, but it is over-shadowed by Breast Cancer Awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness is extremely important and more women should know how to do self-breast exams, get mammograms, and educate others. But they should also know that babies all over the world die everyday just like our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends.

Everywhere you go, you see pink. Pink foods, pink packaging, pink ribbons, pink clothing, pink appliances... But you never hear or read about anything relating to pregnancy and infant loss. Why? Why is it so taboo to talk about?

Before the boys died, I never read anything about babies dying. My older sister was stillborn, but I thought it was just because she was premature. I never bothered to learn more about it. I didn't think it could happen to me. It did. And I still don't know much about my sister because even my mother doesn't talk about it. I thought prematurity was just about being born early, but why does this happen and how can we prevent that? If I didn't ask, I wouldn't know anything. That's really unfortunate.

Back in April, when I went to be with my grandmother for her second surgery, I also went to see my paternal grandmother. I haven't spoken to my Dad in over two years, and I miss him and the idea of having a father, but I'm not ready to make amends. But I did want to see his mother, my other grandmother, my Abuelita. I missed her. My grandmother went with me to help me translate because she mainly speaks Spanish and mine is rusty at best. Once I saw her, all I did was cry. The only thing I said to her, was "I love you". I just sat there and looked at her and cried. I cried because I missed our relationship that we had when I was a child, when I was normal, when my Dad still loved and cared for me. My grandmother spoke to her and told her about the boys when she asked if we had any children. All she kept saying, over and over, was "Que Triste...Que Triste." "How Sad...How Sad." Of course I cried even more because I knew what she was saying. I understood every word she said when she told my grandmother that she also had two losses of her own when she first got married, before her other 6 children came along. And she never told anyone. She said she still missed them.

So why do we expect others (strangers, other pregnant women, our families and friends) to talk about it, when our own families don't talk about it and treat is like a secret? Why do we expect magazines to educate expectant mothers on miscarriages and stillbirths when our own OB's don't even do so? We've had to learn because we are unfortunately a part of this club that we never wanted to belong to. We have to learn because it's our job to educate the world about it. No one else is going to do it.

We can sit around and complain (or blog) about why there isn't more awareness on this subject, but we have to spread the word. Some people may not want to hear it. In fact a lot of people do not want to hear about it. Some people may not want to believe that it happens, but it does. How many hundreds and thousands of us are there hiding and afraid to speak?

I refuse to not talk about my sons. Their lives mattered! They may not have taken their own breaths and some may even argue that they were even "real" babies, but they were. They are. They had heartbeats. They moved. They grew. They had 10 fingers and 10 toes. They had hearts and brains. They had their own personalities. They were perfectly formed, just too little to survive on their own. They were babies and they died. If you can inform at least one person and change the way they view this topic, then together we can make a difference. Educate the public and make our babies lives matter.

Maybe one day we'll all have walks for Pregnancy & Infant Loss. Maybe one day we'll all wear a ribbon or white crew socks with a pink and blue ribbon. Maybe one day, parenting magazines and doctors offices won't be afraid to inform expectant mothers that their babies lives are not guaranteed. Maybe one day we'll walk into the grocery store and buy packaged foods that benefit loss awareness. Maybe one day you'll meet a neighbor or a friend of a friend who had a loss and you can share stories of survival without being ashamed of your status and how others will view you. Maybe one day others won't treat us like lepers.

Maybe one day all our babies will be remembered and acknowledged.

I made a remembrance list last year for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness. Please add your baby/ies to the list. I will always remember them. Always.


The Nanny said...

Before I started reading all of your blogs, I'd never heard of anyone losing babies. Now, it seems like almost everyone I know knows someone who has.

Kristi said...

Thank you posting this, it's all so very true.

One moment that stands out at Ethan's party is when I introduced you & Monica to my aunt & B. The 5 of us standing there - all having lost babies. Did my aunt talk with y'all while I had to go play hostess?

Anonymous said...

I met a few moms here who shared loss stories, but not until I lost the baby. BUT i never would have known otherwise.
this is the worst and best club I have ever been in. you all know why.

and Mon...6 babies after the first 2 losses....thats called hope.

I'm not glad my Mom had a loss before me, but I am glad that she has and had always been open and honest about it all my life. I didn't realize until i had loss that to most people it's a "taboo" subject. what a load of crap.

Love you Mon...sorry I've been so busy lately.

Hennifer said...

Monica, this is a very beautiful, sincere post. I think it is perfect. I've always known my mother had several miscarriages but never any of the details. She seems to classify them like the majority of society, as babies not meant to be. It breaks my heart.

I've also known since a teenager that my paternal grandmother buried a baby boy just 3 days old. But like you have mentioned it is treated as taboo. I assume the painful quiet around his short life drives home how truly devastating this type of loss can be.

I thank you and all the other moms for sharing your stories. I know with the close circle of friends that this has helped me handle their personal experiences with more care and sensitivity than I would have had I not "known" you mamas!

October is a busy month for remembering/awareness. It also happens to be domestic violence awareness month. Why is Oct so popular?

BasilBean said...

After I lost William I was struck by the number of women who came to me with their stories of loss. Of course there were plenty of women (men, too) who said things like "I know what you are going through, I had a miscarriage, too." That was always hard for me because I hate the term miscarriage because I believe it discounts the life that was lost--he was a child, not a miscarriage--and it somehow connotes that there was something wrong with him (and that this was "meant to be"-- a sentiment that I find, at best, dismissive), rather than the unfair truth that he was simply born too soon and was too small to survive (never mind that technically any loss after 20 weeks is no longer considered a miscarriage). It was hard for me when people said that because I would find myself compelled to share the points that I have just written about and to "educate" them, yet at the same time it felt to me that to do so was also discounting their loss/experience. So usually I just said nothing.

That tangent aside, I have still been struck by the number of women who have shared with me that they have also lost babies. I talk so openly about William, and it seems that it gives them permission (no matter how many years have passed since their loss) to remember their children. While the number of children that die in utero, during or shortly after birth, or are lost because of PTL due to IC or other causes is still far too high, the way that the medical community reacts to loss has greatly improved over the years. It was not too long ago when babies were hidden away and mothers were encouraged to forget the child they lost and move on quickly. One woman I know who lost a son in her sixth month remembers wondering later what had become of him. She agonized over the idea that he ended up disposed of somehow. She contacted the hospital and was informed that he had been buried. This simple fact caused her some peace, but she still carries with her a lot of guilt over not knowing something was wrong when she went into PTL. She had no one to talk to after her loss who understood what she was feeling or who could help her to make sense of what had happened.

While it is terrible that any of us has gone through this, I am so grateful that we have each other. Without my support network I know that I would be in a very different place today. Thank you for writing about this.

Travelwahine said...

Maybe one day others won't treat us like lepers.

This is so true. Now that I'm at work, nobody really brings it up. It's like all of a sudden I have something they might catch. Whereas before, the minute I walked in they were asking about my pregnancy 24/7.

It doesn't matter, I talk about Ethan ALL the time. I talk about his birth story. I talk about my pregnancy, yes it makes me sad but I also find comfort in remembering. Remembering that I was pregnant and had a LIFE growing inside my womb. I will honor Ethan as long as I live.

I said a little prayer for your boys. And I remembered them, Sam and Jack, on Oct. 15th.


Anonymous said...

awww...this is too much. i am just overwhelmed. i don't talk to my dad either and i was just thinking about blogging about our situation and here you go and mention him. Monica, he still loves you. I know my dad, that moron does too. I am so glad you got to spend time with both your grandmothers. How moving that must have been for you...I can only imagine. My grandmother had two miscarriages before my mom and uncle so she understands the pain of loss and longing.

you are so right, we should be more proactive about informing others that this does happen. i never knew that babies died...call me stupid but i didn't. i thought it was either a very early misscarriage or a guaranteed baby. how i wish i could be that dumb again.
beautiful, beautiful post.
"que triste" is right.

JGirl2005 said...

I sent you an email, but I totally understand what you are getting at. My family doesn't even want to talk about it, so how do we expect the media to focus on it.
I wrote awhile back on my blog that I found out there were a lot of losses with my ancesters. We also found out that my mom's mom had lost a child somewhere between her 8 (plus another she lost under age 2)