Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
A friend recently asked me if I was going to do a walk or anything else to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which is today, October 15. Even though I had five miscarriages, for some reason I can’t seem to bring myself to “celebrate” this day. I think we are supposed to light a candle at 7 pm. I guess it’s just not my style.
It’s not like I am “over” what happened to me. Not by a longshot. So why can’t I take the time to remember? The truth is, I don’t need a day to remember. I remember it every day of the year.
My losses live inside me like a parasite or tumor. I have held it at bay so far, using my writing as a medicine to keep it in check. It’s always there, though, in the back of my mind. It’s present in how I parent.
So when someone tells me to light a candle, it’s just not something I care to do. If it works for you, that’s great. It’s just not my thing.
Coincidentally, my most traumatic loss, the miscarriage of my daughter at 17 weeks (it seemed like a stillbirth to me, but that label isn’t given until 20 weeks) occurred in October as well. October 28. I don’t remember the dates of my other miscarriages, just a vague recollection of the time of year it was. But October 28 stays with me. It was a couple of days before the freak October snowstorm, which I wrote about last year in The Huffington Post.
The next year, thankfully the only year afterward that I remained childless, I did not want to do anything depressing to mark the day. Some people have a cake, but that seemed too morbid to me. But neither could I handle doing nothing — I couldn’t stand to be alone with my thoughts. So, I had to do something. I decided, against my more pessimistic nature, to try to uplift the day by doing something fun. So I planned a night away in New York City for me and my husband. I found a deal on a room at the Waldorf Astoria. In the afternoon, we drove in and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I needed to be surrounded by beautiful things, priceless things that didn’t know time or place. Things that had existed before me, before my loss, and would exist after I was gone as well.
They gave me perspective.
If you ever visit the Met, be sure to check out the rooftop bar, where my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine and a gorgeous view of Central Park before heading to our hotel. The Waldorf is another timeless New York institution, where all manner of famous people have stayed. A pianist played in the lobby bar at a piano that once belonged to Cole Porter. Once again, this was someplace that was bigger than my own little life.
We checked in to our luxurious room, fairly sizable for a NYC hotel, and got ready for dinner. We went to a swanky Greek restaurant, crowded and noisy and full of life. I was smiling. I was not depressed. It was amazing.
We made our way home and prepared for the big storm that was to hit the next day. Hurricane Sandy. One year after the freak snowstorm, another weird weather incident was about to happen. The coincidence was unnerving. But this time, instead of it being the worst day of my life, I was buoyed by our weekend away, a reaffirmation of our life, our marriage and the goodness of the world. I felt that life was still worth living.
Two months later, I conceived our son.
A year later in a sleep-deprived haze, I looked up from breastfeeding my newborn and asked my husband, “Do you know what today is?” “Yes,” was all he needed to say. I felt a twinge of guilt that we hadn’t done anything to remember our daughter on the day she was born. But I knew that I hadn’t really forgotten. Maybe, thanks to my son, I had simply found a way to move on.
Fellow miscarriage survivors, how do you deal with your grief? Will you do anything to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day?