My heart has been heavy these last few days. With Emilia’s Birthday just around the corner, it is only natural that memories of her fill my days a little bit more than usual. Over this past year, I have learned that my journey is far from solitary, even though at times it feels like such a long and lonely pilgrimage. Babies die every day and roughly 72 babies are born each day stillborn just in the United States. 1 out of 4 women will experience a loss, whether that be during pregnancy or during their child’s first year of life. My story…Emilia’s Story… is just one small narrative among the many babies and families that are affected by pregnancy and infant loss. So why does it feel like such a lonely journey?
Earlier this week, I sat in my home with three other women from my MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) group. We have been meeting for the past two months to a complete a bible study course centered on the idea of learning how to break free from our own personal bondage. I explained to our small, intimate group that this past year I have been learning to break free from my bondage of grief surrounding the sudden death of Emilia. I am always somewhat prepared for people to shut down and for the conversation to grow awkward when I bring up the daughter that I lost, but that morning wasn’t one of those awkward situations. I learned that three out of four of us that morning have one painful thing in common. We have all lost a baby. Whether our loss happened in miscarriage or stillbirth, we had a better understanding of how each felt. This entire year, I felt as though I had been surrounded by women in my MOPS group that had no understanding of my loss. After a little deep conversation, I learned that I am among many others who understand my pain.
My interaction at bible study left me with a strange high. Feeling more connected with my friends than ever before. But I’ve learned that those highs never really last long. Yesterday, I learned that a woman I had gone to middle school and high school with miscarried her second child on the same day I attended bible study. She poured her heart and emotions out onto Facebook as she publicly announced to family and friends the loss of her child. I often have women (many times women that I have known for years) confide in me about their pregnancy losses that publicly have been kept secret for years. I’m always disheartened and reminded of those first moments when our family learned that Emilia died. But this loss announcement on top of the many others, combined with the emotions of Emilia’s First Birthday really pulled at my heart.
These last few days, I have been painfully reminded of how much I miss my daughter. I hate writing these words, as they sound so misleading… implying that I don’t think of Emilia regularly. Truthfully, I stop and reflect on Emilia every day, multiple times a day. There is never a day where I am not missing her and wishing she wasn’t here with me. I suppose when special dates creep around the corner it is only natural for those feelings to intensify. I catch myself reflecting on the moments in the hospital before, during, and after she was born and the weeks and months that followed when we were left to grieve her absence with nothing left but memories.
Our emotions were so raw in those early weeks and months. Simple motions like getting out of bed, eating, taking care of ourselves, and even just breathing become a challenge. No longer involuntary motions, but ones that actually take effort. I remember putting on a good face for the outside world, but inside feeling like I was dying and left alone. It hurts knowing that every day this is someone else’s current life. While I find peace and enjoyment in happier moments, someone else is facing the worse moments of their life. Our world is filled with so much pain and hurt and for the most part, we are left with little support to help carry us through our time of grief.
It is moments like these: when multiple friends open up about their similar losses, when I read another baby’s name in the obituary section of the Sunday newspaper, when a new face appears at my local infant loss support group, and several other situations near and far between that I understand the need and importance for organizations like Emilia’s Wings. If you are one of those women or men suffering from the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss; I welcome you to share your journey with me. Allow me to grieve with you the loss of your child and to remember their life. Pregnancy and Infant Loss is so near to my heart and it would be such an honor to walk this dark, scary journey alongside you. No one needs to feel alone and that is exactly what I hope Emilia’s Wings is able to achieve for other families… a sense of unity and comfort when they need someone to provide a strong support system the most.