Sharing the story of our 9 miscarriages and 1 stillbirth last Friday threw me a bit. I didn’t expect it to become so difficult and it’s compounded already-present anxiety I have due to a monthly trigger I am still trying to learn to cope with.
I have told our story many times before so when I finally made the decision to share it here on Babble I didn’t expect it to cause so much emotion in me. I knew a larger audience would be reading my story – for that I am very grateful because I am passionate about opening up the dialogue and removing the stigma – however I had reservations about sharing something I find so deeply painful and personal with such a large audience who had not heard our story.
I shared it because it is a large part of who I am. Just as my living children are – the children I never got to see grow up, define part of who I am. What I was not prepared for last Friday was my grief being quantified and calling into question our personal definition of Triton’s loss as a stillbirth – at only 14 weeks gestation.
Grief hierarchy exists. It became very clear to me last Friday. It’s clear in the complete lack of support for any pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation and it is clear with how few people acknowledge “just a miscarriage”.
Since people are curious (or insulted) by our personal definition of stillbirth for Triton and not ‘just a miscarriage’ and why we define our other losses by their medical terms – it is for very personal reasons and is very much because of our history.
Triton’s death came after 8 miscarriages and 2 healthy, full-term children. While I don’t expect anyone outside my husband and I to understand – because we are the only two who lived this – the main factor in our choice to define his death as a stillbirth is because at that time our ‘due date’ was passing 8 weeks. Historically, if our pregnancy passed 8 weeks we were going to have a full-term, healthy child. It was our ‘track record’ – THAT was our ‘due date’ – 8 weeks. To our personal definition our son passed away after his ‘due date’. Medically – not even close – but personally, yes.
This is how we survive it.
Our personal decision has no effect on anyone else – none. Grief is not quantifiable. While I was trying to digest all that had happened, I shared on Unspoken Grief’s Facebook page that you can not compare loss and the greatest loss is whatever the grieving person is suffering. I do not compare my grief to anyone else’s – it is not a competition. It is important to allow survivors to grieve in their own individual way and the space to define it how they feel best to continue their survival.
Triton was born still. He was a stillbirth and this is how we are surviving it.
While my feelings have been deeply hurt by other’s decisions to question how we honor our son – I am going to do my best to not take it personally. I can acknowledge that the hurtful comments are – what I can only assume – a result of deep and unimaginable pain and the need to speak freely about grief because they too feel silenced.
For anyone feeling silenced in your perinatal grief
– we are listening – UnspokenGrief.com