On December 20 of 2010, I went in for a routine ultrasound with a perinatal specialist. I had a history of premature birth. And I was carrying a twin pregnancy that began with triplets. The appointment turned out not to be at all routine, however, when the tech left the room after only a short minute of scanning.
“I’m sorry,” said the perinatalogist, who returned in the tech’s place, “but your babies have passed.”
That was more than two years ago, but typing out her simple, direct words still makes my stomach churn. I’m not ashamed to say that in the days and weeks following that appointment I let myself burn up in the flames of sadness, fanning the embers whenever I felt some part of myself peeking out from within my misery.
I felt like the loneliest mama in the entire word.
But I wasn’t. As much as I tried to isolate myself, my loss was an invitation into a sisterhood of mothers I never knew existed. Messages and calls and cards poured in from friends and colleagues and relatives and even acquaintances who had stories of babies lost, always too soon. After a few weeks of pregnancy or at term. What they felt – or didn’t feel. And of the after-effects, physical and emotional, and the haunting thoughts that may just stick with you for life.
Now I’m one of the ones who calls or sends a message when someone in my circle finds themselves on the receiving end of those same simple, direct words. I am part of the welcoming committee for a club that none of us wants to be in. And beyond that, I am letting people know that loss happens – at a rate so staggering that even though you may not realize it, someone or many someones you know have probably been there.
Of course, maybe it’s not just a someone. Maybe it’s you. And if that’s the case – if you found your way here because you’re hiding away and overdoing it on the wine or ice cream while you google miscarriage stories, I have something to tell you:
You’re not alone.
I promise. You’re not. As much as it feels like a miscarriage or pregnancy loss or a stillbirth is a singular event that thrusts you into the role of the loneliest woman in the world, there are millions of moms out there who have gone through or are going through so many of the same experiences and emotions. I know that’s no balm in the short term, but as time passes, the knowledge that there are women out there who will understand not only where you’re coming from, but also how you were changed by your loss is a comfort.
You may not want to talk today or in a week or a month or a year, but someday you might. You might even find that you need to. When that day comes, the sisterhood will be here.