I am your friend.
Your personal trainer.
You see me at the grocery store with my kids. My baby swaddled up to my chest, my two older kids hanging off the cart I push around. You comment on how full my arms are. I smile on the outside. On the inside, I cringe. The truth is, no matter how many kids I have in my arms, I know they will never be full enough.
You see me in my work. I’m the last one out of the office, and the first one in. I never leave early, or request time off to attend field trips. Sometimes you comment on how much easier my life must be without balancing work AND family. You think I’m childless. I know you are wrong. Living without my children in my arms is anything BUT easy.
I’m a sophomore in high school. My teachers say I’m one of their star students. The guidance counselors tell me I have a great chance to get into my colleges of choice. Few people knew about the baby. Those who did told me it was a blessing the baby didn’t make it. That it was easier this way. Some days I believe them. Most days, I don’t.
I’m a grandma. My hands are worn and thin, my face marked by decades of laughter and worries. During the holidays, my home bursts at the seams with my children, my grandchildren, and soon, my great-grandchildren. No matter how full the table, I know there is a place setting missing. The baby I lost. The one they wouldn’t let me see after I gave birth. The one no one ever spoke about again. It’s been 60 years. But every night before I sleep, I whisper my child’s name. They might have taken my baby from me. But they’ll never take away her memory. Or my love for her.
I am successful.
I am struggling.
I look like I have it all.
I radiate positivity.
I just secretly filled my prescription for anti-depressants.
You see me at my child’s grave. I leave flowers, stuffed animals and small toys. Sometimes people take my child’s gifts, and those days my tears are extra bitter. It’s hard enough that death has snatched my child. Does someone need to take my meager offerings too? I lay on the ground and stroke the gravestone. There’s only one date under his name. The day I said hello, and the day we said good-bye. It was the best day. It was the worst day. It was the only day we had.
You see me at my child’s soccer game. I look smart, put together. The mascara stains that ran down my face earlier in the day have been neatly wiped away, and replaced with a fresh layer of foundation. I forgo the eyeliner and mascara this time. It’s just easier that way. I cheer as my child scores a goal, and another cramp comes. A reminder that my body hasn’t finished what it started. It’s been weeks since our baby’s heartbeat stopped. But my body, like my heart, is having a hard time makings sense of the loss. I turn my attention back to the game, and hope you didn’t notice my fleeting expression of pain, or the tear that slipped down my cheek unchecked.
You see me at my child’s appointment. You think I’m overprotective. My child has the fever, but it’s my brow that’s covered in sweat. You try to reassure me, but your words never touch the anxiety wrapping its tendrils around my heart. I’ve seen the worst happen. I’ve watched my baby breathe in, and breathe out — for the very last time. I know nothing is safe, and my child’s life is not so sacred that death cannot touch it. I am vulnerable. I am scared. You think you understand. But you don’t.
I will always wonder “what if?”
I will always remember the anniversary. Even when my mind forgets, my body can’t.
I will always struggle to number my children when asked by a stranger how many kids I have.
I will always wonder how I could love and want the child in my arms as much I want and love the child in my heart.
I will always be grateful I won’t have to choose between my children. I will always know I wanted them all.
I will always take special notice when I overhear someone use my child’s name.
I will not grow weary remembering.
I will not stop wishing for just a little more time.
I will not apologize for not moving on.
I will not withhold my expression of love and grief just because others don’t understand.
I will not stay silent.
I am the face of pregnancy and infant loss.
I am 1 in every 4 women who has experienced both the miracle of her child’s life, and the horror of her child’s death.
My loss is a part of me, but it’s not all of me.
I’m still the mom, coach, friend, business owner, coworker, and professional you knew me to be.
But today, I’m choosing not to be silent. It’s time you knew . . .
I am 1 in 4.
Are you 1 in 4? If so, my friend Stevie from Mama B’s Sweet Peas is giving away a $40 gift certificate toward a memorial pea pod necklace or earrings. To enter, simply click here and fill out the form on or by October 15. She will pick one winner. Everyone who enters will also receive a 25% off coupon! Be sure to share this post, and giveaway, with any of your friends who are also 1 in 4.
A very big thank you also to all of my beautiful baby-loss mama friends who shared their photos with me. I’m so proud of you each, and thankful for your friendship and support.