Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can you Keep a Secret?

Chances are, a Mother of Loss can.  Chances are, she suffers silently and privately.  Chances are, she holds her loss in a quiet place and doesn't talk about it - not because she doesn't want to, but because it's so very hard to find an accepted place in our society for it.   
Now, as you can see, I have not taken that silent approach, but that doesn't make it any easier.  I know a handful of people visit my blog regularly - my close friends and family - and I know I have a few other followers whom I have met along this journey.  But, I am always thinking twice on whether or not I should post something on my Facebook page, whether or not people will really want to hear what I have to say.  I mean, how long can I really expect everyone to keep paying attention to my grief?  "Oh, there she goes again.  We get it.  She's sad."     I don't think it's a feeling of annoyance from people, but I know the more often I post things relating to this journey, the greater chance I take of making people's eyes glaze over with over-stimulation.  And there are times I want to talk about Kenley, but I don't because I realize that it is not really the right moment, or I am not around the right people.

In general, people don't know what to do with someone who is grieving. They know it is happening, but they don't feel equipped to handle it appropriately, so they move along.  Not out of callousness, but out of feelings of incompetence.  These feelings are compounded when it is a baby that dies.  The death of a baby is unlike any other grief.  It is not just the loss of life - it is the loss of possibility.  Nobody knows what to do when a baby dies.   They just want to make things better.  They want to soothe the wound, but they don't want to acknowledge that it is there.  And then, they want to pretend that this is a one time event that will never happen again.   Well, maybe not in your general life it won't - but it will happen to others.  Countless others.  And there needs to be a place for our grief.   

It saddens me when I hear stories of women who haven't talked about their baby for years.  Because it was too painful to think about.  Because everyone else moved on and told her to do the same.  Because the complex emotions that entangle you when you lose a part of yourself can often be suffocating.   
Because she felt guilty smiling when she thought of the happiness she felt towards her own child.   It's not fair that she has to suffer this loss and can't even find a comfortable way to deal with it.   It is wrong.

Women who lose their baby not only want to mourn them, but they want to celebrate them.   We need to be sad and angry.  We need to work through the countless negative emotions that come with our situation, but we also need to be able to be joyous in the life we created.   The beautiful and wonderful life that grew inside of us for however many months.  We are proud of that life, no matter how long it was on this earth.   Fiercely proud.  We want to share these feelings of pride and joy and wonder with you, but we also don't want that happiness to be misconstrued for lack of grief.  We will always grieve.  Until the day we die, we will grieve for our baby, but that doesn't mean we don't want to talk about them.  There needs to be a place where we are allowed to be sad without someone uneasily patting us on the back.  A place where we can cry without hushed whispers and sideways glances.  But also a place where we can glow and sparkle when we talk about the way our baby's hair fell across her forehead, or the way she loved to spin inside us without people assuming we have moved on and are fine. Because we are not fine. There is a duality to our situation that doesn't fit into this world.  Square peg, round hole.  For the rest of our lives, we will be full of both sorrow and joy.  The showing of one does not mean the other is no longer there.  

There are many organizations that are trying to break the silence about stillbirth and infant loss, and I applaud them.  Still Standing MagazineThe STILL Project, and the movie Return to Zero, are all trying to bring a voice to the voiceless.  They are talking - publicly - about what no one wants to.  They are giving women who would normally stay quiet the ability to make noise.  I make noise here on One Pink Balloon.  I make noise on Facebook and among my own circles.  I will make noise as long as I live - and I hope one day every woman who has to endure this pain will make just as much, if not more. 

The STILL project has a tagline "Say It Out Loud", which means talk about your loss.  Say your baby's name.  Tell people about your child and what they meant to you.  I have been doing this from the very beginning, and I am now convinced it has been an enormous part of my healing.   If you are a mother of loss, Say It Out Loud in the comments.  Let the world (Or at least the people in my tiny corner of the world) know how proud you are of your baby.   If you have not experienced this loss, share this post with someone who has.

Let the secret out!


  1. I am proud of my neice - Kenley. I am proud of her mother. I am a proud auntie to an angel.

    Love you forever and always.

  2. I will be sharing this.. you are right to many mom's are hush hush about this.. Some times they have to pretend to be happy on the outside when really they are hurting on the inside, and I know some who won't open up because they think, "oh they don't want to hear about this again" I too am proud of you and I never met you, lol this is a great thing you have started and I can tell you Im here to stay, support, anything.. even if you want to just chat about Kenley, Im here to listen. I know you have people closer to you but I just wanted to tell you.. I look for your new blog everyday. What you have been saying has connected me in some way. I hope you feel comfortable enough to post anything you want! weather it be here or facebook.. you have a right to speak your mind just like anyone else...

  3. Rebecca,
    I do not know you personally, but I know your husband. Losing a baby is by far the most hardest thing to do in life. I have lost a few, but have only made it it 13 weeks was the longest lost. (I say it that for I now have the most amazing baby)I was told when I lost the 5 growing little peanuts, you weren't far along you will be okay....but to me it may be harder the farther you get, but there is still the huge void...what if? what if I did something different. What did I do? All these questions that I just kept to myself because I was told you were not far enough to understand a true loss....but once you know you are expecting no matter how far long you are you grow an instant bond with your baby, instant....then it is ripped away with out your control. It is by far the hardest thing! You are doing what majority of the parents that have been through this are to scared to do, just like you said.... is it the right time? Do they want to hear this? I stand up and I applaud you! I thank you! Please keep posting you are taking something that was negative, that was hurtful and painful...and your turning it to something positive and helpful. You are being the voice that only some of us could dream to be. Chin up, what you are doing is AMAZING! Thank you.

    1. Thank you for that comment. It makes me feel better knowing that I have a small part in helping others. I appreciate your support! I really do!

  4. Your story strikes a sad note for me and my wife. Many years ago she was dating an evil man. It’s unfortunate she didn’t know how evil he was until it was too late. This evil man got her pregnant and talked her into getting an abortion. He made her pay every dollar for it. She reluctantly went through with it, because if she didn’t have the support of her partner what was she going to do? How could she manage it alone? She was terrified. She went through with it, with a heavy heart. He accompanied her to the clinic; he watched her take the pill that would end her baby’s life. He agreed to stay with her through the terrible pain that would follow when her body expelled her baby. But he was nowhere to be found. She was sick from the entire situation, physically and emotionally. When she did find him that day, she found he was having breakfast with his buddies while her gut wrenched in pain and blood ran down her legs. He was supposed to be with her. She asked him to come and help her. He agreed, but only after he was done. He agreed to have them drive him over. When he arrived, he invited them in as though it was okay for them to hang out while she was doubled over in pain. Months later he was moving out of his mom’s house. She was helping him pack and came across a picture of this evil man sitting next to a girl. She asked who this girl was, the evil man replied, “Oh that’s my daughters mom.”  She was confused. “Your daughter?” His brow furrowed and he said, “Oh! I didn’t tell you about my daughter?” He went on to tell her the most heartbreaking story she had ever heard. When this evil man was very young he dated a girl and got her pregnant. She told him she was pregnant and he told her she should have an abortion. He was “kind” enough to pay for it. He pulled money from his savings and gave it to her. She called on a later date and told him she had gone through with it. But she didn’t!! She kept his money and she kept her baby! Of course, the parents found out and intervened. He labeled her "crazy". She delivered her baby and the baby was adopted to a nice family in the mid-west. It was an open adoption. He gets to have contact with his biological child. He went on to describe how smart, pretty, and wonderful she was. And I’m sure you can see how this is all heartbreaking. My wife lost her baby because she was con-ed by a coward. He made it clear he wanted NOTHING to do with a baby. He made her pay every penny and went with her to the clinic ONLY to ensure she went through with it because the last girl didn’t. Once he was certain “the deed was done”, he didn’t give a sh*t anymore. He got what he wanted. And he already has a child!! He gets to feel that love that every parent feels, because they are magically tied to another human being. He is the father to a smart little girl who gets to live a fantastic life. Her life is even MORE fantastic because he is NOT her Dad. He gets to talk about her with such hope and positivity even though he tried to have her aborted. Even though my wife doesn’t speak of the situation I know she was forever hurt by this. She lost her first baby because of a man with NO character. Knowing his lack of character, she doesn't regret the situation as much as she could, she says. "Hindsight is 20/20 and who would want to reproduce with such slime." (But it's still sad no matter how you hash it out.) All the spaces he could have filled in his being with goodness, compassion, and love were already filled up with cowardice and selfishness. Because she is my wife, her losses are my losses. Her gains are my gains and vice versa. We have 2 beautiful children that we thank the universe for every day. I believe the universe has a plan for us all. I also believe in Karma. We know in our hearts that this evil man has gotten just what he deserves in life. He reaps what he sews. You are brave. You are smart. You are funny. You are kind. You didn’t deserve any of this. You DID deserve that little girl, Kenley. And she deserved you! I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. That is a heartbreaking story as well. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it.