The other day I read a post which flooded me with emotions. Sadness for the pain this person was facing because I’ve been there. Sadness and longing for them to realize the things I wish I had in the beginning of my healing journey. All this which brought a rush of crippling emotions as I thought back to the days of feeling like a failure. The days where infertility made me feel incompetent to make my husband a father. Those days only added to the struggles I faced with PCOS, but then to finally feel like you overcame your incompetence by finally becoming pregnant to have it smack you in the face when you add reoccurring miscarriages. As if I needed help in adding fuel to the fire, when not only was I thinking about my failure to make my husband a father and myself a mother, but in also making my mother a grandmother.
When faced with a miscarriage many see the loss as less than. Less difficult to face, less painful to deal with, less of a child because it was so early on. All things which make you feel less than as an individual because all anyone saw was a loss I could replace by trying again. Or how I should be over it because I didn’t have to hold them or have time to bond further. Hearing those words was one of the biggest blows my husband and I faced. Our loss was labeled in such a way that stripped our right as being defined as parents or them them as our child.
In my healing process the biggest turn for me was the day my husband spoke about how hurtful those phrases were; how we couldn’t understand how people could not see how wrong saying those words to us were. When you lose someone you do not just get to replace them; how would they feel if I said after they lost their child (or even a parent or friend) well at least you can try again. Or why could they not see that I would give anything to have held my child, to embrace them, to look at them just once, kiss them, embrace them, watch them grow up and meet milestones. All these moments were stolen from me: no first steps, no first birthday, no first day of school, no graduation, no wedding… so many moments I will never have with them.
This is when we decided those thoughts and views people had were not going to be acceptable any longer. We knew that we wanted to break this stigma and that we were going to have to be the ones to make the change in not only how we viewed our losses, but how others. So we did the best thing we have ever done in our healing process and claimed our right to being a mother and a father. No one could do it for us, and no one would see things differently until we changed how we saw things.
I forgot what it felt like to live without feeling like a failure. I carried the burden for so long it become second nature to deal with it each day. Sadly it became far to easy to fake it through life. So the first time I woke up and didn’t have to carry that burden any longer I cried because it was one of the most freeing moments in my life. I had not realized that the burden of failure stunted my ability to heal after our miscarriages.
We knew there would be a process in changing the view of being a mother and father; as well as our losses being defined as children. The next months and years were filled with differing ways in which we started to change how we viewed things. The biggest one was in sharing with others; making it know was not something that would be easy because we knew not everyone would see it the way we did. However, we were okay with this because the most important thing was our children and how we defined our family.
We took varying steps in this journey to becoming a mom and dad to our children. Things we did:
We got tattoos to represent us being a mom and dad and our journey.
We had a special photo done in which we had our children silhouetted in at the ages they would be. Seeing the completed photo was a day I will never forget.
We chose gender neutral names for each of them because we wanted them to know we saw them as our children, which to us meant they deserved a name. We knew this was the right thing because when we narrowed our list down by the names we liked the best and then looked up the meanings of each the meanings fit perfectly to each child based on when they graced us with their presence in our journey.
We changed the date of loss into something positive and now see as the day to celebrate their birth into heaven.
We chose a stuffed animal to represent each one of them
We find ways to honor their memory through participating in different things such as Wave of Light, and Day of Hope
We talk about them and share our journey
We often find ourselves talking about what they each would be like personality wise or things they may be interested in. This really made our healing come full circle in making peace with the journey of facing infertility and reoccurring losses. Finding this peace was the final freeing step in our journey. While it was not easy to get to the point we are at; it has been extremely helpful in the process. However, finding peace does not mean we do not have moments of sadness or feeling like it can be to much or that our desire to raise a child here physically has gone away. It just means we have made peace with the family we are and the journey we have been given. Doing this has allowed those days of sorrow not consume or overwhelm us. Peace has allowed us to face life a little bit easier when faced with things.
In this whole process I realized if we had not done those things I would not have been able to realize that all this time I had made my mom a grandmother. I use to only see things through the lens of loss, which caused me to see myself as a failure rather than a mother. All this only made me unable to realize I had made my mom a grandma. I remember back to the first conversation of sharing with my mom on how we viewed things now and that we wanted her to know we saw her as a grandma. When I mentioned when we lose someone to death it does not mean we do not see them as a person any longer. Or that we forget who they are to us; whether that be a father, grandpa or uncle for example. We still remember them and acknowledge them for the person they are. So just because I lost my little life didn’t mean they were any less of a child because they passed away far to soon, they are still a life which cannot be replaced and deserved to be remembered. It was in that moment that it clicked. This was one of the few conversations we had that I felt would be the most difficult.
The process of getting others to acknowledge our children as more than just losses has had ups and downs. It has been beautiful to see how many have altered their perception of our children and what they are to them. My father makes sure to mention them and my grandma shared with me how when she prays each night she talks to them and tells them she loves them. My sister makes sure to acknowledge them when I post about them, as well as my mother-in-law sharing about them. All these things have warmed my heart because while I can brush off those we do not know as much not understanding or seeing things the way we do. It is much harder to be dismissed by immediate family.
I have been truly blessed by family, friends and those who've never met me face to face embrace our children and help honor their memory. These moments make sharing our story so worth it because seeing how my children are remembered, loved and acknowledged as nieces, nephews, grandchildren and cousins etc. has brought me so much joy I never knew I needed. While this part of the journey hasn’t always been easy, it has been more than worth taking our stance when it comes to our children. Claiming our right was not about others, but about our family. About us being a mother and father to our children, whom we lost. They were no longer going to be defined and labeled as “a loss”, but as our children. And we want to be the best parents we can to them from here.
I am further filled with joy on days like Wave of Light when I am able to see others sharing their stories and photos as we beautifully honor the memory of our child(ren) I am thankful to be able to see so many others claiming their right to motherhood; no matter at what stage they may have lost their child. There are so many more claiming their right as a mother when they’ve lost their little one in early pregnancy. I am touched by the many stories that are now openly shared about facing loss because it is helping to break the stigma behind loss and how motherhood is viewed. It lets anyone new facing this journey know they not only, as well as knowing they have the right to be called a mom.
To someone reading this and struggling because they feel like I did: a failure at becoming a mother or making their spouse a parent or their parents grandparents; please know you are not alone. You do not need to carry that burden of failure, because you are NOT. You have the right to choose how you define yourself and the loss you have faced. Find the things that help you heal in your journey. Know their is not set timeline to your grief and healing. There is no one size fits all in what will help you navigate your healing process. Be patient with yourself and find what helps you heal in the process. Always know if you need someone to talk with I am here for you; always feel free to message me.