October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I became aware of this in 2014 after two miscarriages. That year I attended a balloon release with my husband and my dear friend Cherise. I remember crying as I wrote love notes to my children and attached them to balloons and released them into the air. Two blue balloons for my twins who I believed with all my heart were boys and a white one for my 3rd angel baby whose sex I never quite decided on.
I wrote that I would always love my babies, that I would think about them every day and live a life worthy of them. I asked them to forgive me for spending all my time with them complaining about morning sickness and other trivial things. I remember reading my husband’s notes to our children and thinking that he deserved this even less than I did. And I remember my friend hugging me and telling me that she loved me. And for one day, I felt a break in my overwhelming grief.
In the 4 years that have passed I’ve done many new things. I’ve written a couple books, I’ve made a few new friends and I had 2 children and the truth is I don’t think about my angel babies every day anymore. Often yes, but not every day. Since then, I’ve loved and laughed with my other children and there are days that I feel consumed with guilt over that fact.
What kind of person breaks a promise to her dead babies?
I know cognitively that grief can’t last forever. I know that part of healing means learning that I have enough love in my heart for all 5 of my children. I can reason that love would never demand that I mourn endlessly but I still wonder…have I grieved enough? Did I get over my loss too quickly?
Honestly, the answer is no. I still love and miss my babies. Having a million babies would not change that and I know that I may never get over my loss but I have learned to live and love along with my loss. So even if I don’t think about them every day, or wear my grief around me like a cloak, I carry them in my heart. I celebrate them with my life and one day soon I will tell their sister and brother all about them.
Recently another angel mom asked me when will it stop hurting and the truth is it still hurts, but today it hurts less. Today I can see twins in the mall and smile. Today, I can talk about my babies and even if I get really sad, I don’t have to lock myself in the bathroom and cry it out. Maybe that’s not saying a whole lot but it’s a whole lot.
Every October I recognize Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. I do it because in that first year, having this time of recognition saved my sanity. Meeting other women like me and other families like mine was the one thing that made me feel less alone. So even as I feel grief give way to something else, I will recognize what this month means because it gives women like me and my friend a chance to find community. And just like I needed to see women who have survived their loss maybe someone needs to see me where I stand today.
Back then, at the balloon release, I remember watching the balloons sail up to the sky (and I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this) but as they rose higher individual balloons stuck to each other until almost every balloon was part of a huge, colorful mass of balloons. A mass so big that it blocked out the sun. Each of our individual balloons created a single community of survivors. And that’s exactly what Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month will always mean to me.