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  • Writer's pictureElyssa Cottrell

Series 2 - Supporting Loss Moms

I had someone ask me a month after losing Sadler at the doctor if I was going to get an ultrasound. My mom and husband were with me in the elevator when this man, standing next to his pregnant wife, asked me the question. I was a month out from delivering a 4lb 3 oz—lifeless baby. I had less than 10 seconds to react as we quickly approached the 3rd floor. I watched the numbers on the elevator change from 1 to 2. I very calmly looked at him and responded with, "No, we aren't." Seeing my mom and husband's faces drop from the words of disappointment made me want to react more. I saw the number change from 2 to 3 and knew the time was now if I wanted to speak up.

I then yelled out, "YOU SHOULDN'T ASK PEOPLE THAT!" very loudly. DING! We made it to the third floor. I gave him no time to speak back as I quickly brushed past him, leaving my mom and husband on the elevator. I walked off the elevator feeling proud of myself, thinking maybe that would stop him from ever asking that question again. I was hoping this would be a reminder to him that just because we're walking into a facility that is primarily full of pregnant people doesn't mean everyone's situation is a good one. Months later, I feel bad about the reaction. I know that people innocently say things, and they don't have bad intentions. If I were to replay that, next time, I would say, "No, we aren't. I just lost my baby at 33 weeks, and we are just trying to find a reason why." I could have seen myself being in his shoes, asking that exact question before losing Sadler. I am a talker, I'm loud, and I typically speak before I think. 

Do you remember a time that you had a conversation with someone, and the first question asked was, "Do you have any children?" or "How many children do you have?" After losing a baby, questions like this can send you spiraling into an angry, uncomfortable state of mind. They are a reminder that you either don't have any children because yours may be in heaven. Or, you have four, but only three are earthside, and opening that can of worms with a stranger or someone you just met is something nobody wants to do.

After losing Sadler it felt like a community of women who have lost babies came out of the woodwork with stories that would bring cold chills to the surface of your skin as they told them. Women who went through years of infertility just to experience the loss of a baby at the end. Women who held their babies until they took their last breath. Women who have suffered multiple miscarriages and have never experienced a full-term pregnancy. These women are the true definition of resilience, and I held onto their testaments, each giving me hope along the way. 

Many of them shared with me the hurtful conversations they would have with others after losing a baby. Things like...

"You just need to have another baby that will heal you." Will it? Will having another baby truly heal us? We wanted THAT baby; we will forever grieve THAT baby, and until we have another baby, could we ever honestly tell you what our hearts desire.

"Your baby is better off with God." Is He? When you are days, weeks, or a few months out from losing a baby, hearing "they are better off with God" can be harmful even if said with good intentions. We want to believe that our baby is safe in the arms of God, we want to believe that we will see our baby again, and we are comforted by these truths. But, this can be so hurtful after just losing a baby because, selfishly, we would all rather love our babies earthside than wait to see them in heaven for eternity. 

"At least you know you can get pregnant." Of course, we are so thankful we can get pregnant and carry a baby. But we never wanted our pregnancy to end with such heartache, and we will forever fear trying again. "At least statements" don't always go over well with loss moms. 

I wish I had a list of the right things to say to a friend or family member going through pregnancy and infant loss. But, even after losing a baby, I don't have the right words for you to say, as each story and situation of baby loss is different. As you read this, I hope you don't feel guilty for possibly speaking words that could have unintentionally been harmful. Naturally, as humans, we want to fix the problem; we want to use our words as encouragement and don't want those closest to us to be sad. When someone close to you is going through pregnancy or infant loss, it can be hard to know what to do. You don't want to overstep, yet you want to be there every minute to comfort them. You aren't quite sure what to say or how to respond to the devastating news. 

When trying to comfort someone going through the loss of a baby, I think the best thing we can do is show them love. Give them the time they need to process this loss. Write them words of encouragement, cook them a hot meal, bring them a blanket made with love, or just send a text that you are thinking of them. My husband, Turner, and I were shown so much love and support after losing Sadler. From the endless meal train to the many cards with encouragement, to the prayers we still feel today. The kindness of so many around us helped ease our pain as it felt we could carry our burden because others were carrying us. 

As a loss mama, some may still not know your story, and some may not know that the words spoken to you are hurtful because of that. I encourage you to reach out and share your story. You will be surprised by the number of people who resonate with you.

I know facing the public after loss can be difficult, whether people know your story or not. After losing Sadler, seeing people I knew for the first time was nerve-racking. I wanted to fall into the arms of others and be comforted, yet I found myself crying uncontrollably when seeing people for the first time after loss. Living in a small town is something I have always cherished, as the community comes out in full support in both good times and bad. But, it can be intimidating to leave the house as everywhere you go, you see someone you know, and they may know your story. However, the true love and support we were shown was motivating and encouraging for us to keep going, which is another reason why I encourage you to share your story.

We never know the battles that people are facing every day. We never know what kind of loss others have endured that gives them so much empathy towards us. I encourage you to approach your friends or family members with grace. Give them the time they need to heal from this loss. If you invite them somewhere and they cancel, maybe it's because they couldn't stand the thought of showing up empty-handed, or perhaps they just miscarried and didn't want to discuss it. Be kind, love hard, and pray for those around you.

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