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Monday, October 16, 2006

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day (Children Mentioned)

Though we were supposed to light the candle at 7 p.m., we went an hour early so the kids could be involved in the process. I spent an hour of the afternoon trying to find a small candle holder. In the end, we wrapped one of our Shabbat candlesticks in foil and placed a single candle on the counter.

"Shabbat!" my daughter exclaimed, even though it was Sunday night. "Challah! Eat challah. Light candles. Two candles. Shabbat!"

"Actually," I told her, "it's not Shabbat. We're going to light one candle. It's a different day where we remember something...different."

Thus began an APM--an awkward parenting moment. One of those conversations that you wished would go in a certain way, but you have no idea how to take it there. You wish the words would magically come into your mouth. Or that your children would just understand without speaking the difficult ideas you need to impart. The birds and the bees. Why bad things happen to good people. Death.

"Sometimes," I said, putting on my lightest voice so that I didn't do grave psychological damage to her two-year-old mind, "babies aren't born. You know how you came out of Mommy's tummy? Well, sometimes there are kids who don't come out of the tummy."

"Shabbat!" she called out again.

"And..." I said, turning towards my husband and realizing as he sat there staring at me that I was probably going to be the one doing the sex talk down the line, "we're lighting this candle for those babies. And giving them a voice. What do you think the babies would say if they were born?"

"Waaaah," my daughter informed me.

I looked at my son who nodded seriously. "Waaaah."

"Well, there are Mommies and Daddies who miss hearing their baby cry. And they wish their baby was here like you are so that their baby could cry."

"I say, 'don't cry babies!'," my daughter told me. "Don't cry Mommies. Don't cry Daddies."

"Sometimes Mommies and Daddies need to cry," my husband reminded her. "It's okay if they cry."

"Before we had you," I told them, feeling both like this moment was not going in any direction I wanted it to go AND feeling like this was exactly what needed to happen as my daughter serenaded us with Baa Baa Black Sheep apropo of nothing, "we had other babies who weren't born, so we're going to light this candle for them. And for all the other babies in this world who weren't born. So we're lighting this candle for Zoe. And for the babies who we never named but were lost in the months of November, February, and March. And for the blighted ovum who was supposed to be your triplet."

And that's when I felt my voice started to break. I'm so grateful that we have these children. And I'm grateful that they act like two-year-olds. And I'm grateful that they have each other. But how can you not miss the kids who could have been when you see what was in front of you? Our losses were so early; too early to be named. And, for me, too early to be missed. I was always focused on next, next, next and trying again and figuring out what was wrong. And I was so sad in the moment. I once threw my glasses on the floor because I was so surprised to see the blood on my panties. But after a day or two of mourning, I was thinking about what we were going to do different that cycle. And lighting that candle made me think about those babies that never happened. That never implanted or never stayed implanted or never grew.

After they were in bed, my husband and I were lying on our bed, his head on my chest. "Were you sad tonight?" I asked him.

"Yeah," he answered quietly.

I'm glad there is this day on the calendar that forces you to remember. Because sometimes, we get so goal focused that we forget the people we passed on the path. And I loved remembering them tonight--not the sad moments when everything was over, but the heart-racing excitement I felt when I thought something was finally starting.


Katie said...

This is the most beautiful thing I've read in a long, long time. Thank you for sharing and thank you for pushing through an awkward, but on-so-teachable moment. Your daughter's sympathy of "don't cry babies" made me well up. Precious precious moment.

Leggy said...

I'm glad it was helpful for you to remember and that your husband is so supportive about it. And I think you did well with the APM- I've had plenty of those recently and they are hard to work through. Your kids are adorable with their sympathies.

Piccinigirl said...

That post was so beautiful. I have nothing to add except that I don't want Mommies and Daddies to cry anymore either...your daughter is wise beyond her years.

aah0424 said...

I agree-no babies, mommies or daddies should ever have to cry tears of sadness again!

kathryn said...

This was a beautiful post! I must admit that I purposefully ignored PLAD yesterday. I just didn't think I could handle it. I grieve every year on July 19 (due date), December 17 (no-heartbeat ultrasound date) and December 19 (D&C date), not to mention every time that I see a summer '04 baby. I just didn't think I could add one more day of it. How is it so hard to remember, even years later? Thank you for lighting your candle for those of us who just couldn't do it.

Thalia said...

I didn't even know this day existed, perhaps it's just a US thing? But thank you for sharing this with us, I think the reaction of your children was entirely appropriate.

DI_Dad said...

Mel - I don't think as a DI Dad I could have lit a yahrzeit candle for the embryos that my wife and I transfered which did not take. Like you said we were too focused on the next cycle. We certainly cried a lot and all of that pain was very real.

My reasons for not recognizing the day has to do more with how my DI kids were conceived. I am afraid at these young ages I don't want them thinking daddy and mommmy loved these "bio" children more than them. Perhaps that is not giving them enough credit ( or at least the 4yo ) but the possibility scares me.

I will admit I did say mourners kaddish the first shabbat after each failed cycle and the first yizkor as well but that is all I think I can do. - Eric

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly how I felt about yesterday... We will never be able to forget what was taken from us and born to heaven, but it is important for healing that we have a day for our babies who would have normally by our society be forgotten.

Yes, it was a APM, but a good one at the same time. They will begin to learn in a positive way that things in life do not always turn out the way WE want them to...and there are good ways to remember those things and deal with them.

Anonymous Infertile said...

Thank you for sharing. I think it is wonderful that you were able to share this day with your children. It is so touching the innocence that you can see in your childrens reactions.

Anonymous said...

Ok, if one more blogger makes me cry tonight, I am... just going to cry again, it seems.

That was beautiful.

I'm glad you remembered. I'm glad you're glad you remembered.


shazz said...

Thankyou for a Beautiful read!! We even had this day in Australia too, I lit a candel for all our Angels.

the_road_less_travelled said...

Thank you. Your post made me cry because although part of me wants to forget the pain, I don't want to forget that for a short while my baby was with me.

Celeste said...

I didn't know that such a commemoration even existed. In fact, it's helpful to read this post. I have yet to bring closure to my most recent loss (August) on the way to motherhood. This is a good, healthy reminder - I appreciate that you shared your experience with us.

PCOSMama said...

This is beautiful and I think it is so wonderful that you shared this with your children. I think as they grow older it is things like this that will help them understand just how wonderful and special they are and how very much they mean to you.

BTW, I realize I am way late on commenting, but I just discovered this post today, 5 months later....

Anonymous said...

I just found this today.. and I really love it - not that you had to have the experience that meant you had this one, but how you chose to make a moment with those with you, those you are not passing but carrying with you now. It inspires me to be better about making the rituals I want and need about the good and bad of life.