Lost pregnancy leaves an eternity of what-ifs

Editor’s note: Ontario will mark the first annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day Oct. 15. Several women have shared their perspectives with CBC News in the hope that it will encourage wider communication. 

I am a statistic. One in four.

I had heard the number before: One in four pregnancies will end in loss. But there was no way that would ever be me.

I am a mother to five children. Five children grew inside me over the course of seven years. Five heartbeats were loud and strong, and five babies were gloriously active and very proficient kickers.

But I am a statistic. Only three babies came home.

My sons, Perrin and Matteson, whose hearts stopped beating at 13 and 18 weeks, respectively, were perfect, wonderful and absolutely loved. Our world stopped with their hearts.

I had no rational justification, no explanation other than the irrational brain trying to avoid processing what would turn out to be one of the single worst experiences of my life.

Being a parent is wonderful and exhausting and miraculous and hard, and it is compounded by the impossibilities of being a parent to children you will never again see, or hold or touch in a society that places faith in the immediately recognizable. If they never saw that baby, then that baby never existed.

They were real. They were here and they will always be ours.
– Jamie McCleary

To me, babies are born in those seconds after a test comes back positive. Their lives are created and woven together in the hearts and minds and homes of the parents who love them dearly. Those babies exist with lives lived in the futures dreamed up for them. But with their passing comes the death of those dreams, those futures that will never be realized.

Parents of lost babies will spend the rest of their lives wondering what their baby would look like at five years old, or if they’d like soccer as much as the kid down the street. It’s an eternity of what-ifs that can never be stopped as long as we love our children. 

Over the years, our lives started up again, slowly at first, with two more baby brothers for our daughter but not without the creaks and groans of hearts that will always have pieces missing.

jamie mccleary

“With their passing comes the death of those dreams, those futures that will never be realized,” writes Jamie McCleary. (Submitted by Jamie McCleary)

The love we have for all five of our children is fierce, and strong and is not defeated by death. It cannot be defeated. We will love them, we will remember them, we will cherish them and we will honour them. 

This October 15th is the first Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, officially recognized by the province.

Look around on Saturday, really look, and see if you can spot the one in four. Then stand together, remember with them, and show them that you recognize their child.

Sometimes the greatest transformation of a grieving heart occurs when something as simple as a child’s name being spoken by another voice. They were real. They were here and they will always be ours.

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