Holding On While Letting Go: A 31-Day Journey Through Child Loss

Greetings! This month, I've decided to participate in this crazy thing called 31 Days of Blogging. So I'm basically going to go insane with writing this month and post something every day in October. 

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The thing is, the theme I'll be writing on is rather serious, and near & dear to my heart, as I've been through it. October is International SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month (among other things, but this is the one I'll be focusing on). You may not have been aware 2 seconds ago that there is an International SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. You may be wondering, "What's the big deal? It's not that common to lose a baby, is it?" Because maybe you've never known anyone who lost a baby or suffered a miscarriage. 

Or maybe you have, they just never spoke about it.

For a long time, there's been this stigma around child loss. It's like, because that fetus isn't living and breathing outside the womb, its loss shouldn't upset the mother so much. She should get over it pretty quickly. 

But for a woman who loses a pregnancy, or a child shortly after birth, the grief can be devastating. Oftentimes, even if the woman didn't think she was particularly attached to the idea of having a baby -- even if the pregnancy was unwanted or unplanned -- there are real, physiological things that happen during pregnancy that forever bond a woman to her baby. Beyond the increasing levels of hormones that cause emotions to take off, scientists have actually discovered that fetal cells containing the baby's DNA can transfer into the mother's body, coming to rest in different places like the brain, the heart, and the blood, and they can live there for decades after the pregnancy. (Check out this article and this article for more information.) 

The loss of a pregnancy -- at any stage -- is more common than you might think. According to the March of Dimes, an organization that specifically researches the prevention of premature birth, at least 10-15% -- and as many as 50% -- of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Stillbirth occurs at a rate of 1 in 160 births -- in other words, approximately 23,600 babies die after 20 weeks in the womb each year. Neonatal death -- when a baby dies within the first 28 days after birth -- accounts for about 19,000 deaths per year. These are just a few of the ways a mother can experience loss. 

Over the next couple days, I'll be sharing my personal story of pregnancy and child loss, and then as we move further into the month, we'll talk about different types of loss, the stages of grief, resources if you or someone you know are going through (or have recently experienced) pregnancy or child loss, and I'll close out the month with a week of daily meditations, prayers, and journaling prompts to help you on your own journey through grief.

I hope you'll join me this month as we journey together in empathy and compassion.