Wednesday was infant and pregnancy loss day. I lit a candle that night, said a little prayer, not only for my actual miscarriage but also the 15 embryos that were placed inside of my uterus (two or three at a time) and didn't stick.
Apparently, and according to Wikipedia (because let's face it, that where we get all of our information), in 1988, President Reagan designated the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
It was something I hadn't heard about until the last five years. And not just because it was something I experienced. I think that people are more open with their grief, sharing (and sometimes over-sharing) their highs and lows.
Growing up, and in my 20s, I knew no one who went through fertility treatment. Or I should say, I knew OF no one. It wasn't something you talked about. You either got pregnant or you didn't. If you went for treatment, it was all very hush-hush, whether for fear of feeling like a failure or fear of condemnation or something else…fertility treatment, shots, IVF, IUI, sperm banks -- those were all things that happened in the movies or on TV. And even then, with very little realism or detail. (Don't get me started on the episode of Friends, "The One with Phoebe's Uterus.")
But in my 30s, it became a little more OK to talk about. Long before I knew that my eggs didn't mature on their own and that my egg reserve was comparable to that of a post-menopausal woman, I started to hear about people going through IVF procedures. A single birth here. Triplets there. Twins over there. And another set of twins to join the single birth.
And then my own struggles. And more and more people going through it. At last count, I know of nearly 20 kids in my immediate life who were conceived in a doctor's office.
Suddenly -- or maybe not so suddenly, but eventually -- it became OK to talk about the struggles to conceive. And just as that became OK to share, so too did the struggles when conception didn't work. In addition to my baby, who should have turned five this past September, there are another six or seven angel babies in my immediate life.
The year I graduated from high school, Ronald Reagan recognized a struggle that I had no idea would affect me so deeply 20 years later. For the most part, I am "over" what I went through as much as I can be. And that is to say that I have made peace with the fact that I will never be a mother, but that doesn't mean that the little green monster doesn't come out when someone announces she's pregnant, that doesn't mean that I don't feel sad and have a tiny pity party for me when I think about what could have been.
But those moments aren't marked on the calendar, I'm not aware that they're coming. Something little will trigger a moment of sadness. Something out of the blue. Sometimes it's Halloween. This year is was the first day of school as I realized that my baby would have been starting kindergarden. And who knows when someone is going to announce a pregnancy?
And so Wednesday night, I lit the candle because I felt I owed it to the movement of awareness. I had a very conscious thought about the miscarriage and the embryos (though I had to look up how many embryos there were when I started to write this post). But there was no sadness. Not even numbness. It was all very matter-of-fact.
And so maybe next October 15 I will write a blog post, or light a candle or post something to Facebook. Or maybe I won't. Maybe the day will sail right by without me realizing.
I guess because there are enough surprise days throughout the year that remind me of the missing baby, of the lost opportunities, of the lost life I could have had, that I don't necessarily need one noted on the calendar to remind me. But I'm happy that it exists, that women can get the support they need and that lost pregnancies can be remembered for the lost life they represented and not forgotten as a family secret, never to be talked about.