October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Written by Jennifer Canvasser, Founder and Director of the NEC Society
“How many kids do you have?”
“Are they your only two?”
“Do you have other children?”
These are easy questions. I have three children. It’s my answer to the next set of questions that’s harder for people to hear. “Where is your other child?” or “How old is Micah now?”
Micah died just before his first birthday on December 11, 2012, from complications of necrotizing enterocolitis.
I will not lie about my children to make someone else feel more comfortable around me.
My honest answer morphs blissfully cheery faces into looks of panic as if they just said or did something terribly wrong. I reassure them that I love talking about Micah. I tell them about Micah’s bright smile, thick wavy hair, and dark blue eyes.
By sharing Micah’s story, I keep him close. I’m not looking for pity or sympathy. I am hoping for some sensitivity, though. Recognize my loss. Say Micah’s name. Realize that I will always have three children. Don’t say I was meant to direct the NEC Society. I wasn’t. Micah wasn’t supposed to die from NEC.
Here’s what I appreciate hearing…
- Do you have a photo of Micah you can share with me?
- How can I celebrate and honor Micah with you?
- I’d love to learn more about Micah.
There is no “moving on” after child loss. We just become better at coping. I hate that Micah is gone. I will hate it every day for the rest of my life. Yet, I have found peace because while Micah is gone from our arms, he is not gone from our family.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. On the surface, my healthy, happy family looks perfect. Our years of infertility, our miscarriage, and the death of our firstborn son are invisible. There are thousands of families who share our story. Help us honor and celebrate our babies by:
Life’s most amazing blessings and all the happiness in the world can never replace Micah. Micah is not physically with me, but he is always with me. He is always my child. I am always his mama. Death and the passage of time can never change that.
I have three children – one in my heart and two in my arms – and I love being their mama.