note: After I wrote this I stopped and looked back at the words on the page. Amazingly I think the title could simply be “what to do (or not do) if a loved one or friend is suffering from _________”. Almost everything written below can be translated to multiple situations.
Everyone means well. I believe they honestly do. I do not believe people do things out of malice. With that said, there are some things that have definitely touched us and others that have stung just a little throughout our journey. The most important thing to remember is that this is a daily battle for those that are suffering from this. Everywhere they look they will see a reminder of “their problem”. Whether it be the pregnant actress on stage at Rock of Ages or the child in the cart in front of them in line at Walmart. And, it doesn’t just go away, either. It never will. This is especially true if they were able to get pregnant and then lost their baby. And, it was a baby to them. No matter how far along they were in their pregnancy, it was a very real baby to them. Please remember this. And, it seems to hurt even more if they never find out why they lost their baby-or if it was a boy or a little girl. Not a single day will go by in their lives that they will not somehow think about their child and what would have been, what could have been. Not. A. Single. Day.
I have overheard people talk about other women like myself (not about myself, praise God), saying things like “she was barely pregnant, I don’t know why it is such a big deal”, or “it is so weird that they named the baby”. Please remember that if you haven’t experienced this, if you haven’t walked a mile in our shoes, all you need to do is simply have respect.
You don’t need to know what to say. There are no words. In fact, simply saying that is enough. But, please don’t withdraw from us. Surround us with your love. Whether it be through a mailed greeting card, a text or a voice mail just saying “hey, I’m thinking of you and love you”. With Lainey there was someone that seemed to always be calling, even though I didn’t answer. They would always leave a message saying that I didn’t need to call back but they wanted me to know that they loved me. Going to the mailbox and finding a card that said “we are thinking of you” means so much. Remember the anniversary day of the loss. Someone sent me a message on December 15 about Noelle. In my little mind, only Adam and I were thinking of her that day so it meant the world that she was real to them, too. Bring them a meal. As I have mentioned previously, just making sure we were fed in those first few days was a chore.
There are other things (that cost money) that you can do also. I received a bracelet after my first baby that had the intended birth month stone, the month of conception birth stone and the month of loss birth stone. It was so touching. After Noelle, I received a necklace from an old patient/friend that was a forget-me-not flower holding all three birth stones of my babies. Beautiful. Send some flowers. It doesn’t have to cost much but it will brighten a dreary spot in their day. Give a book that you think may inspire (or distract!) them. Recently a patient/friend gave us a very simple but very wonderful gift (unbeknownst to her!) and that was a Christmas ornament honoring Lainey. She didn’t even know we had ornaments for all of our other babies. Put together a care package of sorts. Whether it be bath stuff or sweet treats. Any little thing says “hey-I thought of you”.
Pray for us. Pray for peace and guidance and understanding. One of the most beautiful things that we got after Lainey was the post card from a church in Florida that they were praying for us-it meant that someone thousands of miles away was thinking of us. Simply love on us, hug on us and let us cry. Don’t ask what is wrong. Know what is wrong. Sometimes we just need to not be alone when we are crying. Believe me, most of the crying is done behind closed doors but there are times that we just need to be held and allowed to sob.
Don’t say “it happened for a reason”. Don’t say “it will happen when the time is right”. Don’t say “just relax and it will happen-that’s what always happens!”. Don’t bring up adoption….unless we do first. Don’t say “you have lots of time” (to us it feels like we are running out of time). Don’t say “stop trying-that is when it will happen!”. Don’t tell us to pray about it. We likely already are. When we are taking handfuls of prescribed medications to either get pregnant or to stay pregnant, don’t say “are you sure that is safe and what you should be doing?”. We certainly aren’t enjoying choking down these medications.
Be empathetic. Be sincere. Again, saying there are no words or I am sorry truly is enough. I have taken care of dying patients for a dozen years and have learned that when I give them bad news the best thing I can say is “I am so sorry” and hold their hand, hug them and for some, I may even pray with them. Praying while holding their hand that God helps them through this time, gives them peace and strength to get through today. For we are taking it one hour at a time or one day at a time and that is what we need. Peace and strength.
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