By Guest Blogger Lori Starling
I’m part of the “one in four.” It’s a club that no one ever wants to be part of and one I never dreamed I would experience, twice.
My entire life, being a mom was what I wanted more than anything. I was 30 years old when I got married, and by then most of my friends already had two kids. We almost immediately started trying to have a family and after some time and a lot of prayers, I was finally pregnant. Life was finally following my plan. I immediately started preparing a nursery, buying maternity clothes and baby items. I was only a few weeks pregnant, but there was so much to do and we were so excited. We waited 10 weeks before sharing the news, that was close enough to that magic 13 weeks to start telling everyone, right? So we announced to the world! But then at 11 weeks, I went to the doctor and no heartbeat. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had a Missed Miscarriage where the baby stopped developing several weeks earlier, but I was unaware and had experienced no symptoms of miscarriage. The next few days were a whirlwind of chaos and emotion of telling my family, having to tell all those people who I had just announced to a week earlier plus a medical procedure to help my body complete the miscarriage process. The grief was indescribable.
Fast forward a year and half later, I delivered a perfect, healthy son. Terrifying after a loss but this pregnancy was textbook. First time was just a fluke, right? My life plan was falling into place.
A year later, I’m ready to carry on with my family plans. Again after much time, prayer and medical intervention, I am pregnant. This pregnancy was more challenging as I was older and chasing a little one but again I was busy preparing for baby. Then at 26 weeks, I realized that I had not felt the baby move for a few hours. The next morning I called the OB and they told me to come right away. I went to Kindermusik first, I was sure it nothing and I was just paranoid (or maybe it was denial). I made it to the OB later that morning with my son in tow. Five minutes into the appointment, my son was being cared for by amazing nurses, my husband was on the way, and my world had turned upside down again. No heartbeat. How could this be happening again and at 26 weeks (and the darn Octomom was on every TV channel with 8 babies – she had 8, why couldn’t I have my one?!). I checked into the hospital that evening and the next morning they started inducing labor. Two days after learning he had passed, I delivered my sweet, tiny stillborn son and held him in my arms. He looked just like his older brother and had the sweetest little toes. I always think about those little toes. He was perfect … only he wasn’t. An umbilical cord accident took him from us. Again, another medical procedure for me to complete the delivery process and this time a funeral to plan.
I’m happy to report that I was able to get pregnant a fourth time and he’s now 8 and has the cutest dimples you’ve ever seen. As the years have passed, the pain of these two losses does not haunt me everyday, but they are always in the back of my mind.
It’s been over 14 years since I first joined the one in four club and here’s what I’ve learned. The grief of losing an unborn child is just different. When my father passed away, friends could relate and they knew what to say. With an unborn child, if you haven’t been there, you have no idea what to say. The best way I can explain it is that to everyone beyond the immediate family, this loss is just not real. They’ve never met the child and therefore do not grieve the loss in the same way. I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past 14 years that someone has reached out to me to talk to someone else who has just joined the club. And from my experience, that’s the best thing we can do. We support the other mothers who have joined the club, validate that their grief and loss is very real, and reassure them that they will survive this loss.
My prayers and hugs to all in the club. Today and everyday.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. On October 15th each year, this day is focused on raising public awareness about the problem of pregnancy loss and infant death. This includes miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, or the death of a newborn. We encourage you to click on the titles below to read some of our blogs on this topic, and visit the websites mentioned within each. They will provide hope, insight, resources, but most of all you will read stories from other moms in the “one in four” club who will remind you that you are never, ever alone.
One in Four: Stillborn, Still Loved
When Life Isn’t Fair
Some Days Are Better Than Others
The Struggle Is Part of the Journey
Our Story of Love and Loss
My Story of Ectopic Pregnancy
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