Awareness

October has always been my most favorite month of the year.  Something magically changes when October 1st comes around.  The air gets cooler and crisper.  Leaves start changing colors.  It just simply smells different when you walk outside.  I love dressing in hoodies and sweatshirts and scarves (although I have none of those things that actually fit me right now…besides a scarf maybe haha).  It’s just the best time of year.

Until I had my miscarriage, I was unaware that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, with October 15th being the actual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  I have personally suffered two losses.  One from an ectopic pregnancy where my baby was trapped inside my fallopian tube and had to be surgically removed before the tube ruptured and killed us both.  The second was a 1st trimester miscarriage that, for all intensive purposes, the cause is unknown, although we now have a pretty good idea of what may have caused it.  I know many of you have had similar or not so similar losses of your own through this journey of infertility.  October is our month.

We all deal with our grief in our own way.

In November of 2011, I put pen to paper and dealt with a little bit of my grief.  Strangely enough, this was triggered by another person’s grief, a very close friend of mine.

THIS IS YOUR WARNING.  If you are having a bad day or are in a bad place, you may not want to read on.  This post is about loss.  Terrible loss.  Turn back if you don’t think you can handle this today.

A lot of people don’t know that I like to write.  I’m not by any means calling myself a writer.  But it is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.  I put out a LOT of poetry in my junior high years.  I wrote in a journal through most of high school, and I only wish I still had that thing.  I rocked out essays and research papers in college.  I’ve even written my fair share of short stories that I’ve never let anyone read.  But I hadn’t written in so very long, and until I started this blog that was still true.  But in November of 2011, there was something I had to get out.  And this is how I did it.

I’m not sure if you would call this a short story or a diary entry or what.  I’ve taken out the names in it to protect anonymity.  It’s not my best work.  It wasn’t even really written to be shared at first.  There are a few things in it that might be controversial, especially on a place like a fertility blog.  But I figured here was the best place to share it.  All I ask is you take it for what it is and try to withhold your judgment.

Her slender fingers intertwined with mine and squeezed my hand tightly, fearfully. Her pale face that I had known for the past 15 years was almost unrecognizable to me. Dark circles lined her usually bright blue eyes, which were both now lifeless and filled with sadness. Three small worry lines had formed on her forehead almost overnight, causing her to look ten years older than she actually was. 

“She looks like a porcelain doll, doesn’t she?” She looked hopefully into my eyes, which were now brimming with tears. 

I nodded my head gently. “She’s beautiful,” I could barely get out. 

In that instant I wondered how in the world we got here. How could this be happening to someone so close to me? I thought back to when we were kids. About all the things we had been through together. How it never crossed our minds that someday we would be grown women having to deal with things like this. And I thought about how amazing it was that through all of these years, even though we didn’t see each other as much as we used to or talk every day anymore, she stilled called me and we were still standing by each other. 

I was the first person she called when we were 15 and she got to third base with a boy for the first time. I listened intensely over the phone as she gave me all the details, giggling and oohing and awwwing. 

I held her hand in the counselor’s office at school while she cried and admitted what an abusive drunk her father was. I never judged her when she told us that she sometimes wished he would just die. 

A year later I held her hand again when her father passed away. 

When the two of us had failed to get dates to our Junior prom, we simply went with each other. We got dressed up, got our hair done, we danced our asses off, and we had the time of our lives.

She was the first person I told when I lost my virginity. That next morning we skipped class and instead went out for breakfast, where I told her all the nitty gritty details over pancakes and hash browns.

When we started college and she made a terrible mistake, I didn’t judge her for the decision she made. I drove her three hours out of town to the clinic. Past the man with a video camera and signs reading “BABY KILLER” and “YOU’RE GOING TO HELL.” I held her hand as we walked into the clinic together, were patted down by security, and were given the 3rd degree by the nurse behind the bullet proof glass. I was waiting in her recovery bay when she was done. I didn’t agree with the decision she made, and I could never go through with it myself, but in all honesty it made the most sense for the situation she was in. So I was there for her. I was the only person in the world who carried her secret. And I’ve kept it to myself all these years. 

When she met her soul mate some years later and finally got married, I stood up beside her as she took her vows. It was 110 degrees in July, my hair was flat, and I was sweating like crazy beneath my long satin dress, but there was nowhere else in the world I would’ve been except standing up as her Maid of Honor that day. 

A year later when we had both gotten pregnant, we were so thrilled that our babies would be the same age. She was 4 months farther along than I, and had already found out she was having a girl. Of course, she had decided our babies would either get married someday if I had a boy, or, Lord help us, they would be best friends just like us if I had a girl. 

At 9 weeks and 3 days, I miscarried. I was devastated. And my friend was devastated for me. She felt guilty because she was still pregnant and I wasn’t. And it was too hard for me to be around her during the rest of her pregnancy. 

When I got the call that she had delivered her baby girl, I was elated. I was still grieving from my loss, but I was truly happy for my friend and couldn’t wait to see her. Then I received the rest of the news. The news that had to be a big cosmic joke. The news that made my own miscarriage almost seem trivial in comparison. 

The tears came instantly. I was crying before I even realized it. I was crying for my own baby that I would never meet. I was crying for an innocent life that had been taken for no reason. I was crying for a friend who didn’t deserve this, a friend who had been out of my life for the last few months simply because it was too painful to be around her. 

And here we were. Both staring at the tiny ivory casket in front of us. So small. How could they make caskets that small? The life inside of it had never even been given a chance. And for once in our lives, I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say to my friend. I wasn’t sure there was anything I could say. So I held her hand, I squeezed it tight, and I cried silently beside her.  

Her mom appeared at my side, a tear trickling down her cheek. She smiled softly and wrapped her arms around me in a hug. “You’ve always been such a good friend to her,” she whispered, causing a floodgate of tears to be opened as my lips quivered and I tried to choke them back. Because I didn’t feel like I had been a very good friend the past few months.  

My friend and I stood there holding hands, staring at the tiny porcelain doll laying peacefully in the impossibly tiny casket. I wasn’t sure how long we had stood there so far. And I wasn’t sure how long we would stay there. All I knew was I would stand there as long as I needed to. As long as she needed me to.

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