I began this week talking about something that is quite controversial in the pregnancy loss community, and I guess I’m going to end the week with something that is also quite controversial.
After I lost my first daughter back in 2014, I was invited into a private group for women of pregnancy loss. In the first few weeks after she died, I was in a state of shock, and there was this decision of whether or not to give her a name on the death certificate. For some reason, I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t settle on a name, and I didn’t want to (I would end up giving her a name a few months later as I processed my grief).
About a week after I got home from the hospital, I posted this to the forum:
“It has taken me a couple of days to really get my thoughts together of what to write on this post. Last week, November 26th, I delivered my stillborn daughter. Technically, it was at the 24 week mark, but I know she had passed probably about a week and a half earlier, when I stopped feeling her move. We hadn’t really decided on a name yet, and weren’t sure if that was something we wanted to do. Are there people who don’t name their stillborn children?”
I was met with a variety of answers, although most of the consensus was “If you loved your baby, you would have named her.” And I spiraled. I mean, I slammed my laptop shut and walked away, thinking of how awful of a mother I must be that I couldn’t give my baby a name right then and there. But then, a beautiful woman responded to all of these other comments this way:
“I really prayed over naming my babies but never felt a peace as to what name to give them, I really hope that doesn’t mean I don’t love them as much as my children here on earth with names. A name is a very special thing and if someone isn’t feeling at peace with naming their child of loss then that is between them and God, I doubt anyone who chooses not to does it without a lot of prayer.”
She gave me the grace and space I needed to heal. She listened to the pain and courage in my words without judgment, and I learned that day how I needed to treat other women in this community. Even within the trenches of pregnancy loss and infertility, there is unsolicited opinion and advice everywhere. I know that these words are coming from a place of hope, but more often than not, they land in a place of hurt.
“Have you tried this treatment/diet/medication?”
“You should go to my OB because they are better.”
“Just have faith that God will give you a child.”
“You should do these things every year to honor your child, if you want to grieve the right way.”
“You should do x, y, and z, if you don’t want to regret it later.”
I know all of these are meant to help. Just like the unsolicited comments that we get outside of the community. It’s hard not to want to help, but just because you’ve been through something, it doesn’t give you the right to decide how someone else will go through it.
If this journey has taught me anything, it is to not judge the other person’s pain, suffering, or path. I have realized that no person has ever shared their entire journey with me. But I don’t have to know their entire journey to know that they deserve love and respect. Some parts are too painful to relive. Some are too shameful. But I don’t need to understand the entire person to give them the ability to grieve the way they need to grieve, to hope in the way they need to hope.
Every woman has every right to celebrate their pregnancies in the way that they see fit. I don’t know how long or how rough the road was to get there. But on the other hand, every woman has the right to heal from their loss or their struggle the way that they need to heal. I don’t know what obstacles lay in the path of every woman, but I don’t need to in order to know that they are beautiful, valuable, worthy creations of God. And every road does not end with a healthy pregnancy or a child to raise, but I do know that the faith of these women inspires me each day to live boldly and speak boldly and write boldly.
My friends in the trenches are beautiful, strong, kind, loving, caring women who are grieving while living one day at a time. They are incredible human beings, and I am so, so blessed that I can call them sisters in this community.