(Edit: I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. It’s been months since I typed this up, but it’s still true. It still hurts. My heart is still broken for these families. And, as October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, I felt it was a good time to remind everyone to send love and comfort to those who have lost. Especially those suffering in silence.)
Have you ever felt just so… broken… for someone else? Because I am feeling that way right now.
Let’s back up a bit, shall we?
Back when G and I started dating, I found an online “support” group, if you will. A group of girls who, like me, were dating guys who were studying at the Military Academy to become the tomorrow’s military leaders. These girls and I formed a bond. They understood what it meant to silently support the man you love while he does his thing. The older girls led the way, and gave advice to the younger ones for how to survive. They answered our questions from attire to visiting, taught us the acronyms, and gave us a heads up for what to expect in the “real Army” after graduation. It was a sorority of sorts, and it was the most helpful thing I had back then. (None of my friends or family had been in my shoes, so no one could prepare me. Except these girls.)
As the years went on, I stayed a part of the group. I became a “big sister” to the younger girls, and helped prepare them for the “real Army” after graduation. But, I also stayed in touch with the original group of girls I’d met all those years ago, the ones who I had formed such a tight connection with, as we became wives, and eventually mothers. Even after Gordon was medically discharged from the Army, and our common bond was effectively severed, these ladies remained a support system.
Now, while many of them are still military wives, they’re also mothers. We still answer each other’s questions, but those questions pertain more to motherhood, and less to the Army lifestyle. After all, most of them have been Army wives for several years.
Needless to say, our common ground has shifted slightly, but the digital friendship is still there.
So, imagine the heartbreak I experienced when not one, but TWO, of these incredible women suffered the loss of their babies.
The first, only weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, lost her child at twenty weeks. One visit, she had a heartbeat. The next, no heartbeat. She was induced and delivered a beautiful, angelic, stillborn daughter. My heart shattered for her. Already hormonal, I fought tears telling Gordon, because I felt her loss acutely, only weeks behind her.
The second I found out about more recently. She delivered her daughter just days shy of viability, and held her in her arms for mere hours before that sweet angel passed. Again, I felt my heart shatter for another dear friend.
The pain that these two, and so many other, women suffer silently is unimaginable to me. I have been so lucky to never have had these experiences. But, I know so many, too many, women who have. Who have lost a baby, whether through early miscarriage, late-term loss, or stillbirth. Who have to bear that burden every single day, for the rest of their lives. Who remember the pain, but soldier on. The strength of these women, these families, is incredible.