Saturday, September 27, 2014

When your only loss doesn't seem to add up

It all started when I broke the news that our baby, Olivia, was gone. She was ectopic ... my tube ruptured ... and she died.

"I'm so sorry you went through this," my friends would console me. "I've never had a loss. But my friend, so-and-so, had three miscarriages."

It was intended for good. The whole, I'm trying to relate by proximity since I can't relate personally.

And still, intended or not, there it was.

The comparison-by-numbers.

I couldn't imagine having endured what I had just gone through once ... Let alone three times.

As it was, I could barely make it through each day. My fabulous, exciting life had instantly turned drab, dark and depressing. A brand-new daughter was replaced by the finality of death. Hope was taken over by despair. And my always-full social life instantly turned very, very lonely.

And somehow hearing that others had endured so much more than me (and were still functioning) made me feel even worse. Not better. 

(Was hearing about someone's horrible tragedy supposed to make me feel better anyway?)

And what I was left with was a funny feeling that there was something wrong with me. With my grief. Why did just one loss leave me so completely, utterly devastated?

As I heard horror story after horror story of multiple losses -- occasionally shared, it seems, with the intent to trump my bad fortune, but more often then not with good intentions -- my heart just cried, "Enough already!" 

I'm already excellent at comparing myself to others. But now I have so much more to compare ... How many losses? How many weeks of gestation? Which trimester? How am I coping compared to her? 

I found myself offering excuses as to why I was emotionally such a mess. As though the grief of a loss of a child is something that requires an excuse. 

"Yes, I was JUST 7 weeks. Yes, our baby was unplanned. Yes, this is my first loss. But you don't understand. I was so happy to be pregnant. I would have done anything for this child. I already loved her with all my heart from the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. We almost lost Maddy at this gestation, so I KNOW what I am missing out on."

The excuses poured from my lips and heart. The comparisons were equally prolific.

And now, I find myself on the other side of the equation. I am the girl that has had four losses in two and a half years.

And yet the comparison-game hasn't changed.

I confessed recently to a small group of gals that I have had four pregnancy losses. Quickly, one of them chimes in . . . "My sister had 22 losses, three of which were stillbirths."

Bam. Instant invalidation. Who am I to grieve four first-trimester losses when others have had 22? And several in late pregnancy?

Women now come to me, saying things like, "I've only had one loss. I can't imagine losing four like you."

And do you know what I tell them?

One is enough.

You don't have to go through 2, 5 or 10 losses to feel the devastation of the death of your baby.

You don't have to be in the second or third trimester for your loss to count.

You don't have to almost die yourself to have gone through trauma.

You didn't have to give birth in order to name your baby.

You didn't have to be bonded to your baby to earn the right to mourn.

You didn't have to see your baby on an ultrasound to know that you did indeed lose a child and not just a pregnancy.

You don't have to let others play the one-up game with you to invalidate your experience.

You don't have to go through infertility before or after your loss in order to fully feel the grief of who you will forever be missing.

You don't have to have to have an empty home to feel the pain of a little life gone too soon.

Yes, there are many types of loss. Yes, we each have our own experiences that shape the way we grieve and mourn our children who have died. Yes, no two experiences are exactly alike.

But that doesn't mean that your chemical pregnancy is any less important than her 22 losses and three stillbirths. 

Every single baby counts.

You have experienced the death of a child. You have paid the too-steep price to be apart of club none of us want to join.

You are now one of us. A bereaved mother. And I want you to know, you are welcome here, even as we all wish you didn't have to join the club.

As you navigate your grief, we promise not to judge you, to make you feel like your grief is less than ours, or that your baby somehow less important. 

We promise to uphold you in your grief, hold your hand when you cry, and help you move forward little by little. 

We promise to create a safe place where you can vent, grieve and grow. 

We promise that we will never make you feel less-than. 

We promise to love you and support you. We promise to remember your baby with you. And while we are never perfect, we promise to always care.

More than anything, we want you to know:  Not only is one enough . . .

It is too much.

We are so sorry you've had to endure the death of your sweet baby. 

We recognize the hole in your heart that is unique to the precious, one-of-a-kind child that you didn't get to keep. 

And while we support you, we promise you: 

There will be no comparisons here.

P.S. I have heard from many of you that this post really touched your heart. I don't often ask for you to share my blogs, but I really feel that there are more women out there who need to hear that their loss counts. If this post spoke to you, would you consider sharing with others? Thanks so much!


  1. Great post. I will be sharing it. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. One loss is just as difficult to deal with than multiple losses. There's no comparing when it comes to grief. <3

    1. Thanks for sharing Cat. I agree, comparison has no place in grief. And while I admit to being excellent at comparing myself to others in general, that's really more of a confession rather than something I am proud of.

  2. Oh, thank you so much for this. I've now lost six little ones in miscarriages, chemical pregnancy, and failed frozen embryo transfers, but you know what? that first loss (a chemical pregnancy of an unplanned baby) was just as hard as all the ones that followed. Competitive suffering doesn't actually result in any winners. You've hit the nail on the head with this. Thank you.

    1. You are so right... Competitive suffering has no winners. Thinking of you and all your babies. <3

  3. I love this so much. Grief is grief, pain is pain, loss is loss. You are so right, one IS too much.

  4. Thank you for this. Another mother shared this on a board I am part of and I'm glad to have found my way to this.

  5. Beautiful - I can't tell you have many times I have read this over & over.

    Beautifully written, exactly how I am feeling right now.

    Thank you.

  6. Thank you for posting this. I cried as I read this as I had a loss of twins in May at about 8.5 weeks, and I'm currently almost 12 weeks pregnant again and things seem to be going well. While I'm excited, I haven't had as much time to grieve and I still worry about miscarriage as I don't yet have a take home baby. I think people expect me to be happy (which I generally am) but it doesn't take away the fact that I should have two little ones in December that was taken away from me too soon.

  7. Thank you for validating my one and (at least so far) only loss. I too was devastated, but found myself in many situations where I felt it wasn't "bad enough" because others had lost more or lost a baby later than my six weeks gestation. But s/he was my baby and very, very loved, and my heart ached last month knowing I would have sent that baby to preschool for the first time. I didn't say anything to the vast majority of people because, well, it was a long time ago and it was ONLY six weeks gestation and so on. But funny how much it still hurt. Thanks for reminding me it's okay to hurt.