I've heard debate on whether or not we should open a dialogue with people on infant loss and infertility. People defend the way things are because, “No one likes to talk about death. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay. You can like it or not like it.” People don't put it so bluntly but that is what they mean. I usually come back with some remark about how people have gained awareness for Breast Cancer through telling their stories and in that way becoming a beacon of light for the advocacy movement. I mention Breast Cancer specifically because it’s now so prevalent in our society. It went to an overnight boom of advocacy where you could find pink ribbons everywhere in October to today where you can find pink ribbons everywhere all year round. I've always said that is the kind of advocacy I want to see for families struggling without their children. They deserve nothing less.
But let’s put that all aside for one second and ponder death. Are we really talking about our children’s deaths? In a literal sense of course we are. We want the world to hear what happened to them and to us as a result. That helps us to heal. More than that, we are talking about their lives. We are bringing up all the memories of what we had, what was, will never be. We are telling the world that they matter. We are telling the world that we shouldn't have to prove that they matter. It should be obvious to you because it is to us that losing them is the most tragic kind of loss and in that way should never happen to anyone else.
When I used to hear people tell me that I should keep my loss to myself I used to be ashamed. I was ashamed to feel like a Mother. I was ashamed I wanted to share my children. I was ashamed of who I was and how I could never go back to who I used to be. Now when I think of all the women who feel ashamed of the need to share their kids I get frustrated. If we don’t have an open dialogue we can’t ever create a positive environment for these families. What they need is a community who can and will raise them up in solidarity. They need more than just other people who have had similar experiences. They need the empathy of the whole world to see how tragic this loss is and to recognize it for what it is rather than to attach some kind of political agenda to what they have experienced. They don’t want or need people to turn their heads away because they, “don’t know what to say.”
Mostly, when we talk about our children we are not talking about death. We are telling the medical community that we won’t be put on the back burner for “more important causes.” We are demanding that the few times this will happen in the future that there always be answers as to why from every post mortem. This means we find the 26,000 stillbirths, 24,000 infant deaths, and 1 million miscarriages in the US in a year unacceptable. To put this in perspective there are almost 4 million births in the US per year (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/infant_health.htm). We are talking about hope! We are raising the torch for the women who will come after us. We are asking that they have a community of love. We are saying that the next generation will have much fewer losses and that the generation after then will have even less than that until infant death becomes a rare occurrence, not the commonplace one it is today.
Someday the world will recognize the importance of our sacrifice the way they recognize the survivors of cancer. You will see cheesy Lifetime movies and blue and pink ribbons on every corner. We are fighters, women and you don't come between a Mom and her cub. We will see a brighter and better future through our painful advocacy and it will make someone else's journey lighter. It may even save a life.