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I am familiar with grief.
My mother died six years ago, and I still mourn the loss. I realize her sacrifices now, I wish I could share my parenting moments with her, and I long for her wisdom – or just for her ear on the other end of a phone call.
But that is the grief that follows the death of a life well-lived and a woman who was well-loved. It’s a pain formed from memories and moments and knowing exactly the depth of that loss.
Pregnancy loss is something altogether different. It is the pain of potential, a life never known. It is accompanied by a refrain of “what if?” It is an open wound that stings from wonder.
Sadly, I’m also familiar with that form of grief.
My first pregnancy was lost during the first trimester, and I feel that lack even now, years later. It is a hole carved within me, a place where I store all of my wishes and hopes for a daughter that will never be.
I don’t know anything about this child, just that she was mine. I can only guess whether her hair would be thick or fine, whether she would love to draw or read or build a tower of blocks, whether she would be as spirited and smart as her brother. However I always carry her with me, even though she’s gone.
So quickly was her light extinguished, my husband and I never even had a chance to choose her name. But I secretly call her Olive, because olives are tiny things that I love.
Sometimes when my son tells corny knock-knock jokes, I think of her – and I wonder if a tiny part of my son subconsciously knows the sister he will never meet.
As Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day draws close, I’d like to acknowledge this peculiar, terrible form of grief for myself, as well as for the other women who are also mourning a similar and significant loss. There are so many of us, and it’s important to recognize that we are not alone.
I stand with all of you, I light a candle with you, and I mourn your losses too. Our babies' lives were and are meaningful, no matter how brief. Olive you.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.