Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss - A Silent Grief

Have you ever wondered what the statistics are on miscarriage?  If you've never been through one, there's a good possibility the thought hasn't crossed your mind.  Or it did briefly while you hoped for the best during the early weeks of your own pregnancy.  I know for me, it seemed like there was this magical line to cross and all of a sudden, once you were past that week, you were safe.  No chance of a miscarriage.  Right??  You know that's just not true, right?

I did some looking around on stats.  According to the American Pregnancy Association:

There are approximately 6 million pregnancies every year throughout the United States:
  • 4,058,00 live births
  • 1,995,840 pregnancy losses
Source: American Pregnancy Association

Of those nearly two million losses, here is what they say:

  • 600,000 women experience pregnancy loss through miscarriage
  • 1,200,000 women experience pregnancy loss through termination
  • 64,000 women experience pregnancy loss through ectopic pregnancy
  • 6,000 women experience pregnancy loss through molar pregnancies
  • 26,000 women experience pregnancy loss through stillbirth

Source: American Pregnancy Association

According to the U.S. Census of 2010, the population of Houston, TX was 2,099,451.  That's only 103,611 higher than the number of pregnancy losses {1,995,840} per year!  I lived in Houston for over 10 years and I can very easily visualize the magnitude of that number.  Any other Houstonians {current and former} out there??  Are you with me here?  Imagine a city almost the size of Houston just disappeared each year.

Now imagine if no one noticed.

Can you even wrap your head around that??  Almost two million people disappear and no one notices??

For many women who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or infant through any means, that's what it feels like.  It can be a very isolating and very lonely experience.  Many women grieve their losses alone.  Maybe they grieve with their partner.  But many times, the grief is kept silent from the rest of the world.  Perhaps it is by choice - and that is ok.  Perhaps it is not by choice.

The subject of miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, and so on seems to be so taboo in our society.  I don't understand it.  Having been through a stillbirth and a miscarriage, I've seen it over and over again.  People don't want to hear your tragic story or stories.  People certainly don't know what to say.  People often try to listen but they can't sympathize with what you're going through unless they've been through it themselves.  I guess it's just easier if they avoid the subject altogether!

It's sad that many in society don't appreciate these losses as real.  So many people just don't understand that the grief associated with these losses is absolutely real and is worthy of necessary time to heal.  So many times I encountered people who felt like I should just "get over it".  Get over it??  Why, yes, I'll just stop crying right now and get over the loss of a life that I carried, even if it was only for a couple months.

I think women choose to grieve silently because they're tired of hearing all the standard lines from everyone who has no clue what to say:

* It wasn't meant to be.  or  Everything happens for a reason.
* It probably wasn't going to be healthy anyway.
* At least you have other children. or  At least you can still have children.
* At least it was early on.

Ever hear any of these??  Let me tell you from personal experience - NONE OF THESE is helpful!!

Women who have experienced losses need to grieve.  They should be afforded the opportunity to do so - at their own pace.  Not within a certain time frame established by "society".  These losses shouldn't be shoved under the carpet because it's not comfortable for "society".  You know what??  EXPERIENCING the loss of two children wasn't exactly comfortable for me either, so let me go through what I need to go through to process the loss!

I believe that the silence must be broken.  Women should be allowed to share their feelings and their stories.  They have stories to tell and they need someone to listen.  Even if you can't understand or relate to what they've been through, you need to at least try to be an ear to hear or a shoulder to cry on.  Just be there as a support.

I want to be a part of helping to break the silence.  I want for there to be dialogue here among women with shared experiences.  Let's all help each other!  I want to focus this month on National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month by writing meaningful posts on the topic.  If there is any topic you'd like to see covered, please comment below or send me an email!

~~~~~

This month we remember all our babies who have died during or after pregnancy.  October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Please join Salena from {A Little Piece of Me} on the 15th as we link up and share our stories.  Please feel free to grab a button to help spread the word!

A Little Piece of Me

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