May 17, 2017
This Mother’s Day many of us will be celebrating our moms over brunch, flowers and homemade macaroni noodle necklaces. For many mothers, this is the day to unwind and feel appreciated.
But for some women, the joys of Mother’s Day are suppressed by grief and guilt and it’s just another passing Sunday. This brave group of women, who often choose to go unnoticed, are those whom we need to find the most and comfort. These are women who have suffered the loss of a baby.
Aimee, an alumni of Pierce College, celebrated her daughter’s fifth birthday this April. It was a milestone she was uncertain she would reach, as Aimee struggled for years with infertility.
Surviving four heartbreaking miscarriages, her daughter Addisyn was her rainbow baby, a term used for infants born after the loss of a previous unborn child. Rainbow babies are wonderful goodness that comes after a storm.
The joy of hearing a baby’s heartbeat at 14 weeks, and again, at 27 weeks that makes birth seems unlikely for moms who have lost pregnancy after pregnancy. But for Aimee, motherhood was her calling.
Although every loss was incredibly difficult, she always felt like she was meant to be a mom. After her second miscarriage, while in the emergency room, Aimee found a restored faith in continuing her journey to motherhood.
Aimee’s doctor shared her own personal experience that continued to inspire her. “She lost 10 babies before she had her child. If she did this 10 times, I can get through this,” Aimee said.
Despite their heartaches, Aimee and her doctor never gave up in their journey for motherhood.
It wasn’t until her fifth pregnancy that Aimee gave birth to Addisyn, a healthy, happy baby girl with big brown eyes and dark brown hair. Addisyn is growing up full of charm, slightly shy, beautiful and kind. She loves pink, babies, animals, dresses and gymnastics. She is all girl, Aimee said, and is in love with her.
When she is older, Aimee said she will talk to her daughter about her struggles with fertility and the siblings that have gone over the rainbow. She wants Addisyn to know just how incredibly special she is. She is Aimee’s rainbow baby.
Aimee said she felt alone during every miscarriage, had to silently grieve and felt incredibly guilty.
She said she didn’t know how to cope with her losses. She had a relative who also experienced a miscarriage and they leaned on each other for support.
She said there is an unspoken rule that women don’t talk openly about failed pregnancies and felt isolated in dealing with her situation. Aimee said she felt as a woman, that the burden of loss fell on her shoulders. She was responsible to tell people that she was no longer pregnant.
When Aimee did return to work, people would continue conversations without knowing about her loss. They would comment on her bump and glow, not realizing she lost yet another child. She said she would have to find the courage to share with others that her family would remain as two.
Aimee began to find it hard to share the joyful news of being pregnant because she knew the odds were against her.
“I felt safer when my pregnancies would get to 12 weeks; the ‘normal’ time when couples celebrate with family or friends that they are expecting,” she said.
Aimee said this is part of the bigger problem. Women are often waiting until the 12-week mark to celebrate the news of being pregnant, she said, but what happens when they lose a baby their heart is in love with, and nobody knows? The loss becomes entirely their own to deal with. The grief, anger, sadness and despair remain. There is no one to comfort her, she said, with meals, a new book or just hang out in pajamas on the couch and binge old episodes of “Friends.”
Aimee remembers what it was like for her.
“My husband and I grieved differently,” she said. “He was emotionally lost, too, and it took him time to recover. For me, it was not only emotional but physical, and I was afraid of getting pregnant again because I could just keep miscarrying. It was really tough.”
For Aimee, being a mother is her calling. She felt lost, alone and at times afraid she would never have a baby. She needed support she didn’t know existed.
“When I experienced a miscarriage in the emergency room, no one had even thought to offer me counseling,” Aimee said. “Had they, I may have avoided a long period of isolation and sadness over what was happening to my body and my chances of becoming a mom.”
For a woman, news that she is expecting should be a reason to celebrate. Women shouldn’t feel the need to wait to share the news out of fear it will go wrong. Emotionally, they don’t deserve to go through something so incredibly life changing alone. If not ready to disclose to the public your pregnancy, instead find someone you trust and let them in on the secret. By trusting them with your happiness, it will help later in your sorrows if needed.
For students attending Pierce College, short-term counseling and referral services are available in the counseling department. Visit the Welcome Center at either location to schedule an appointment at 253-912-3602 with with Megan Irby, LMCH (spell out), Fort Steilacoom Campus or 253-864-3115 with Jennifer Wright, LMCH (spell out), Puyallup Campus.
For pregnancy loss support in the Tacoma area, contact the TEARS Foundation at 253-200-0944 or visit thetearsfoundation.org to connect with a peer support companion. For those interested in attending group support, contact Parent Support Facilitators at 425-686-9451 (allow two business days for a return call) or visit their Facebook page, P.S. Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support for a list of events and group meetings.