By: Marie Kriedman
A pregnancy loss took my breath away before my daughter had a chance to experience her first one.
Like many women, I had no idea what it meant to recover from a miscarriage until I was in the middle of the experience. There were many things I “had” to do, for which I was completely unprepared.
I had no idea what it was like to go through my usual day without knowing if I would experience a triggering moment. Triggers are terrible. I can encounter the exact same situation on two different days, and one day it is a normal encounter and other days it is an unexpected watershed moment.
I had no idea I would encounter so many pregnant bellies in the grocery store, receive unexpected bills related to my miscarriage health care, or make so many trips to the lab for bloodwork to ensure my hormone levels were dropping.
I had no idea I would need multiple follow up visits at the obstetrician’s office for an unusually long recovery, which involved walking through a waiting room full of future moms with happier outcomes. Some days I made it to the elevator before I cried and some days I didn’t. Each event was a reminder of how my future was different than I wanted or imagined.
I had no idea the grief would show up in unexpected ways, or if I had the strength to survive the day, even though I did time and time again.
I didn’t know it would hurt so much that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. There were times I cried so hard that I panicked, afraid I would never stop. There was only one thing that could calm me down. She is still inside of me. Researchers call it fetal microchimerism. I call it comfort. Simply put, a mother retains some of her child’s DNA within her body for years, or even decades, after birth.
“She is still with me. She is still with me,” I chant silently as my breathing slows down and my crying calms. I choose to believe that DNA from Olivia, and all of my children, will be inside of me until my last breath. Although I never held her in my arms, I still carry her. We are still connected.
While the triggers are numerous, so are the opportunities to memorialize significant milestones.
My August baby would have been three years old this month. I envision a force of nature who is smart, feisty, and determined to keep her older siblings on their toes. We will celebrate her as we always have, with cupcakes. Each member of our family also lights a candle and makes a wish on her behalf. We talk about how she is not forgotten, and how she is with us in spirit as we celebrate her and her special day.
Our special way of toasting the birthday girl has spread, and other family members have started to do the same. We are all remembering and honoring Olivia in our own way, together. It’s OK to be sad and hopeful and miserable and laugh, all in the same day. It’s OK to find hope and peace in grief.
About Marie Kriedman
Marie started her journalism career as a copy editor and paginator for a newspaper. She eventually left the newspaper business and has continued as a freelance writer for more than 20 years. She founded Write Away K and is a children’s book author. She published two books to honor her daughter, Saying Goodbye to Olivia and Olivia Had Trisomy 18. Marie and her husband are graciously permitted to live in a house with their cats. They are also parents to two children and one angel baby. Please visit BooksbyMarie.com to learn more.