Me Too {Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness}

It was May 2012 when I joined the strangest of clubs.

It was then that I lost a baby. You can call it a fetus if you’d like, an embryo even, but to me—it was a life. I had started to think of names, to wonder if we would paint pink or blue. I had started to envision how this little one would fit into our family, and even bought a Big Sister t-shirt for my toddler.

And then. And then. And then. My happy secret stole away in one angry red flash.

It was before the fog of shock had cleared that a dear one drove me to the ER and said, “Me too. I’ve been here, too.”

Pregnancy Loss - Shannon (2)Me too. Those simple words count for quite a bit among the smattering of “It’s all for the best” and “It just wasn’t meant to be” and “Stay positive! You’ll be okay soon.” The well wishers who try so hard to say the right thing, to give advice, to bandage you up and fix you—they are nice, but there is nothing that blows refreshment into the face of grief like “me too.”
The doctors sent me home after a few hours and an empty sonogram.

I cried in the shower by myself, the water drowning away the sound of my sadness. I didn’t want anyone to hear. After all, this happens often, right? 10 to 20 percent of the time, right?
I felt that this private grief was, well—private. No one else had fully experience the dashed hopes, the ruined plans. No one else felt the glow inside extinguish, only to be replaced with a crash of postpartum hormones.

I allowed myself one solid cry, and then turned off the water and toweled on my “I’m fine” face.

I went in for a follow-up with my OB. Three sonograms and a few arm pricks later, it was confirmed. My little baby, that little life, was growing where it could not possibly thrive, and thus started my six-week long journey of medicine and blood testing.

Slowly, my initial self-strength began to exhaust. I started to look for answers to the ever-lurking “why,” but found nothing. It was then that a friend whose kids are grown pulled me aside at church. There I was, walking tall and steel, but she came with a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of the hand and a gentle “me too.” This story, this family let me see clearly the other side. I knew her kids, their stories. And so, I saw that there is a next time, a next chance, and that there would be happiness to come.

As my guarded walls came down, out came my story. As I started to tell it, I heard so many others. Each woman with a slightly different tale, but all came with those knowing eyes, that tighter hug. The ones who know just how gossamer delicate is that tiny life growing round in a mama.

I started walking through the wilderness where the brush was thick. But there was a friend who not-so-coincidentally had a story the mirror image of mine. She came alongside and said, “Me too.”

Pregnancy Loss - Shannon (1)So, we found the way out of the brush together. We sat in the park with our toddlers swinging and jumping, and we laughed together over crazy hormones and asked each other about pain and wondered about the next babies.

I started walking where the brush was thick, and another friend called to say, “Me too.” A year before, she had experienced a different type of miscarriage. She knew I wasn’t then ready to move on. She knew how to let me grieve, but also knew to tell me how to look ahead. Pregnant with the one she calls “Little Pumpkin,” she told me of sad and told me of joy and told me of hope.

I started to collect these tales like little shells. I put them in my pocket and ran my fingers over the broken edges and felt peace.

Because these stories represent the ones who had been where I was. They are the ones who get it. The ones who humbly show you how to look forward when all you know is what you lost. The ones who did not try to fix it. Because no one can fix it. But they come to bind up your broken heart—because they know how.

There is community in heartache, and comfort in community.

I will say that I also found community in the ones who could not say “me too.” So, here is a word for those who do not know what to say—the ones who watch as friends, daughters, wives, sisters name themselves Grief. To say “I love you and I am here for you” is a balm as good as empathy.

To those for whom Pregnancy Loss brings a silent sting, I encourage you :: Open up your story. Vulnerability feels terrifying, but it is the way to community, to healing.

And so—this is my story. I tell it not because it is uncommon; on the contrary, I tell it because it echoes the stories of so many others.

My friend, I say, “Me too.”

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, we are dedicated to remembering the little ones who were lost too soon and raising awareness within our community.  Please join us all throughout the day as several local moms bravely open up and share their stories with all of you.  To read more and show your support, please click here.


Shannon Bio 1About Shannon O.

Shannon lives in West Houston with her husband, Lee, and two daughters, Avery {4} and Kate {8 months}. She loves staying at home with her girls; she may eventually go back to teaching High School English, but for now really enjoys doing cliché stay-at-home-mom things like taking spin class, wearing yoga pants, and scoring the small race cart at HEB. She is a Longhorn, a bibliophile, and a coffee addict. Shannon and her family are actively involved at Houston’s First Baptist Church.

 

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2 Responses to Me Too {Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness}

  1. Avatar
    JPB October 15, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Me too. Twice. The first miscarriage was 12 years ago & the second was 7 years ago. I still think about those babies & wonder what they would have been like. I never say it out loud, but I’m really a mom of four-2 on earth & 2 in heaven. Someday, I’ll get to meet my babies in heaven.

  2. Avatar
    Janice October 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Shannon, I so appreciate your honesty and transparency. I, too, have lost two babies in the early stages of pregnancy but they were more than 40 years ago. At the time most people said the same things to comfort me, like “It wasn’t meant to be.” and “You’re young, you have time to get pregnant again.” I wasn’t a Christian then so these terms seemed to make sense. I guess I just got on with life and after having two wonderful daughters, didn’t really give the two miscarriages much thought. It took me going to the memorial service for a dear friend’s stillborn daughter for me to realize that those two babies did count and that their little souls were in heaven waiting for me to meet them when I get there. The pastor at that service asked everyone who had lost a child, either during pregnancy or after birth, to stand so they could pray for us. I hesitated but finally stood and it was like a fresh wind blew over me and I grieved for those babies. Since that day I’ve thought about when Jesus takes me to my reward and I’m able to see my loved ones, which include those two sweet babies. And, I’m also more able to comfort other moms when I can say with sincere sympathy, “Me, too”. Bless you for sharing this post that will surely remind and comfort lots of moms like me and you.

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