Thursday, January 9, 2014

My continuing struggle

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I've always said thought that the superstition of waiting until 12 weeks before telling anyone you're pregnant is a silly idea. 

First of all, most of it is superstition.  People have thought for years that it's "bad luck" to share early.  And I guess that's fine if you're someone who believes in luck, but if you're a person of faith like myself (and almost everyone who reads this blog) then you're called to believe in something better.

The second argument of "in case something happens" also doesn't seem to hold a ton of water when you really think about it.  What people mean is that if they have a miscarriage, they don't want anyone to know.

This never really made any sense to me because, as I told my cousin when she announced her pregnancy to the family around 7 or 8 weeks, if something does happen you have no support.  I don't really understand why we have allowed women to think that a miscarriage is something that should be a secret.  I understand women who have had multiple miscarriages feeling like they just don't want that to be public knowledge again and again.  And I understand why you wouldn't want to tweet about it to the whole world.

But when one experiences something as devastating as a miscarriage or poor prenatal diagnosis, I think it's really difficult to have to go through that alone or to ask family or friends to go from 0 to 60 in one announcement.  Either it is just your spouse for support in the former or you are having to tell a supporter "I was pregnant and now I'm not" or "I'm pregnant but my baby is going to die".

Thankfully for us, we had chosen to share our pregnancy pretty early for a couple of reasons.  One reason was that we knew I would need to be going for fetal echocardiograms and followed very closely because of certain specific risks due to my lupus.  We didn't want to hide those frequent appointments and we felt the more prayers the better.  The other reason was that we have some family members we thought would get a lot of joy out of having something like a new baby to look forward to.  One grandmother was looking forward to her first great-grandchild and another to having a great-grandchild actually close enough to see often.  We shared our pregnancy as a gift to others--because it made others happy.

I was quite glad that our immediate and much of our extended families knew we were expecting by the time I was 12 weeks because it was much easier to have to share our news.  I only had to say the "I'm pregnant but my baby is going to die" announcement to a handful of people.

And most of these people really stepped up.  They asked what they could do.  They sent flowers (immediately) and cards and e-mails and phoned.  They had Masses said for us.  They put us on prayer lists to the point where we had literally hundreds praying for us.  Many even joined us in praying for a miracle of healing.  When we visited our families at Christmas several people bravely told us they were still praying for us.  They offered condolences.  I know it was hard for some of them, but I really have appreciated the acknowledgement of our loss because it was very real.  I really hate that pregnancy loss seems to be treated as an embarrassment.  Yes, our situation was different, but I still wish women didn't hide it so much and that we as a society offered more support.

So what is my continuing struggle?  I'm not really angry anymore that this happened.  At least not in the way I was when I first drove home from the doctor and screamed and yelled.  But what I continue to not understand and be bothered by is how so much prayer could seemingly go unnoticed.  Our baby was prayed for before he existed.  We prayed nightly for his health and mine every night since we found out I was pregnant.  I spent an entire day praying for him when we visited a shrine in PA with our church group.  I prayed for him constantly.  And so did the family and friends who knew about him.  I prayed so specifically for his health that when I was told something could be so incredibly wrong with his body, I simply didn't understand.

Why are there so many perfect babies born to people who never pray a word for their baby's health?  It still seems very unfair to me.

I'm glad that so many people we love were able to love our baby for his short life.  I imagine that his loss would feel so much more pointless to me if we were the only ones who knew him.  I imagine the support and condolences would not be so heartfelt if others had not gotten the chance to anticipate his arrival before learning of his condition.  We only truly feel loss when we have first felt love.

So thank you to anyone who did something or sent something or offered prayers on Malachi's behalf.  And I hope that others will consider sharing their pregnancies sooner (with those who matter most--I don't mean you need to announce it to everyone on Facebook or tweet it right away).  Share the joy and find ways to be there for families who experience a pregnancy loss.

10 comments:

  1. I don't have any answers for you, but I want you to know that I'm still praying for you every day. It might never make sense, but you aren't alone in your struggle to understand. Much love to you.

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  2. I am really sorry for your loss. As someone who is basically agnostic, I have a difficult time relating, but do understand where you're coming from and can be sympathetic. I never understood shame for things one can't control & I tend to think it's an issue of sexism in many ways. I do see society becoming more open about issues like yours, mental illness, & self image among others, but still think we have a long way to go. Thanks for posting this, as I think it's another small step in the right direction.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful words.

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  3. I feel the same way about announcing a pregnancy. A life is a full life, no matter how short.

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  4. I agree, it is better to have the support than try to deal with it in silence. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  5. I just found your blog through "A Modern Grace". Such a rich community! Thank you for sharing your experience. What drew me to reading your blog was the fact that you have gone through this experience. I'm so sorry for your loss! And you expressed what I have thought in a very real way. I have gone through loss myself and it was hard but in a sense I am grateful that we shared with those close to us when we first got pregnant. Unfortunately, we did lose our precious baby and I'm thankful that we had the support when it happened.

    Thank you again for sharing.

    {HUGS}

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    1. Thanks so much for letting me know you stopped by. The blogging community is indeed rich and I'm not sure that I would have found as much healing so quickly if it were not for this outlet to share. I'm still not at the place where I can fully appreciate what the experience was in a positive light, but I'm making progress.

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