Friday, October 12, 2007

How Many Candles?

Update: Many of you asked about the church memorial service. I found out about it through Parent Support of Puget Sound. I know that Resolve also usually lists such things. The memorial service at this particular church is actually on Monday at 7 PM, although I know another local church that is doing one as part of their Sunday service. This is another site that I have used for various ways to memorialize my lost babies. I hope this is helpful to all of you as we approach this special day. As always, thank you for your support.

Monday is October 15th, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Last year, I found a local church that did a memorial service for parents who had suffered losses. It was a candlelight service, so as you walked in, they asked you how many candles you wanted. Last year, my miscarriage count was at four on the 15th.

I asked for four candles, which since my husband was with me, was no problem. One candle for each hand. However, I felt a little guilty asking for four, especially when the lady's eyes widened when I gave my request. She handed me four dixie cups with little white candles poked through the bottom and then walked around the table and gave me a big hug.

"You have been through so much sadness," she said softly. "May God bless you and bring you peace."

I was comforted by her condolence, but I felt like I had asked for too many candles. This year, I am again faced with this question, and now, my loss count is at six. Or is it? When they ask me how many candles I want this year, I don't know what to say. And it isn't because I am running out of hands.

The reason for my trepidation in asking for candles for all of my losses is this: How do I count my losses? You see, only one of my pregnancies has ever made it past the chemical into the clinical state. Three of them were long enough that had I had an ultrasound, it might have shown something. The other three all ended so very early, barely before a period was missed. If I wasn't a POAS-aholic, I might never have known about them.

Doctors have dismissed my pregnancies. Nurses have told me that I wasn't "really pregnant." Friends and family have tried to help me feel better by doing the same. Even I find myself doing it, negating my losses, talking in terms of my "real" miscarriage with Gummy Bear, vs. my chemical pregnancies. I think that part of it is survival. If I really allowed myself to think about how many angels I have lost, I might really lose it.

Another part of it is the simple fact that it was harder to lose Gummy Bear after seeing that beating heart. Seeing the baby flutter and grow, it's little heart beating so strong, then seeing it silent after it had died, was the greatest heartbreak of my life. And that was at 11 weeks. After Gummy died, we went to a local support group and were in the room with three other couples. One couple had had a full term still birth, another lost a little girl at 26 weeks, and the third had a normal birth, but then 24 hours later, the baby was turning blue and they realized that he had a terminal lung disorder. He died at 6 days old. I cannot fathom that pain. To lose sweet Gummy was measurably worse than losing my six week pregnancies. There would be no measure to the pain of losing a baby that far along or after giving birth. I'm reasonably sure that if that happened to me, then my next blog entries would be coming to you via my padded cell and voice activated keyboard, seeing that it is difficult to type while wearing a straightjacket.

Last year, when I sat in that church, with my four candles, I looked around at the other people there. Most held one candle, there was a smattering of couples clutching two or, more rarely, three. There was not one other couple holding four candles. I saw people casting looks of pity our way, and I felt uncomfortable and undeserving of their sympathy. The mother sitting next to me held one candle and a picture. The picture was of a little baby. She saw me looking at it and told me that it was her daughter, who had died at three months of SIDS. When she looked questioningly at my four candles, I told her that I had had four miscarriages. She patted my shoulder, but I felt that my grief was insignificant when compared to hers.

So, my question to you is: How many candles should I ask for this year?


Polka Dot said...

As many as you need to, hon.

I do the same thing sometimes - we m/c at 7 wks, 2 days after hearing its heartbeat. As painful as that is, I can't imagine how it felt to lose a baby at 11 wks or 9 months. I imagine it'd be worse and I always pray to never have to experience it.

But it doesn't negate the pain I have over our loss. It's just different.

One thing I've learned in life is that there is no one-upping when it comes to pain. Pain is what it is and there is no way to measure it.

So ask for as many as you need to.

wanttobeamom said...

If you want to ask for 6 candles, because you feel like you are grieving 6 babies, then you should ask for 6 candles. If you feel like a different number can adequately symbolize your losses, then use that number. For logistical purposes you could take a candle each for you and your husband, and just know what they mean. What ever you do, I just didn't want you to let other people minimize the pain you feel. Yes, miscarriages are a different kind of loss than SIDS. However, both are painful. Most people cannot fathom what it would be like to have 6 m/c's, especially when you don't have any other children. It is a loss of more than "just a pregnancy"...

On another note, I think it's very nice that a church has a service for those experiencing loss. Church can be a painful place for infertile people. There is usually such a huge emphasis on the families with children... I might look to see if there is a church in my area that does something similar.

I hope your experience at the service is healing.

Chris said...

Your heart will tell you how many to ask for. I'm so sorry that you have so many losses to count up.

Debby said...

I was just remarking last night to a friend how I sometimes feel the infertile world is some kind of warped competition. Who has the most losts, who has the longest journey, who has the worst story. I really hate that about it. All of our loss and all of our journeys are equally painful - despite the differences. Don't let anyone make you feel like you've suffered any less because your miscarriages were early. Loss is loss. and you DID have life growing inside you. I know I get maternally attached from that moment i see those 2 lines, and I'm sure you do to. As for the candles, lighting yourself on fire because you don't have enough hands could somehow take away from the beauty of the service :-) I say take as many as you and he can comfortably hold and know in your hearts what and who they stand for.

Out of curiosity, is the service being held on Monday this year? or a day early on the Sunday? I work at a church and think it's a fabulous idea to do something like this.

Fertilize Me said...

Excellent Comment Debby Excellent!!
Katie - I am sorry that you have to question and count your losses. I suggest you do what ever is best for you and your husband. This is a time of honor and healing - do what ever it takes for you to allow yourself to feel comfort and peace. Thinking of you

Tracy said...

You can't compare one person's grief to another. How do you quantify sorrow? One day I told one of my best friends that I felt guilty feeling sorry for myself for not being able to conceive when there were so many other people in the world who had it so much worse than me, and she told me that just because other people suffer doesn't mean I'm not entitled to my pain.

I'm so sorry for your losses.
Thinking of you.

Baby Steps to Baby Shoes said...

I have never lost a baby and I can't imagine that pain. But just because your baby was at a different stage of life than others, makes it no less a baby. With each loss, you experienced the death of those dreams you had for that specific little life.

You ask for as many candles as you feel expresses your pain for each and every loss- whether that is 6 or 1 or 16.

I will be thinking of you and submitting a prayer request at my church for all mothers who have lost babies.

Anonymous said...

I think all of your babies have souls and if you are mourning all 6 of them, by God, you should get 6 candles!!!

BrownEyedGirl said...

My last pregnany/miscarriage was a Chemical Pregnancy and some people around me like to minimize it and tell me that Peanut was not a baby yet. In all of my heart I believe, the soul of my baby was there the moment of conception and that my chemical was my baby as well.

I believe that you should ask for 6 candles and not question yourself one bit on it. You deserve to mourn and remember each little one who has touched your heart and left their foot prints on your souls.


Samantha said...

I don't think I can add any more good advice than already left by the folks before me. Follow your heart and do what's true for you.

infertility just sucks said...

I think that your feelings show what an empathetic person you are.

Even in your private moment of mourning and loss you saw and understood another woman's pain - and even felt that it eclipsed your own - which is impossible as the events should not be compared. They can't be compared.

Have as many candles as you'd like. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone.

Von said...

I agree with all the previous comments. You have as many candles as you feel you need.
No-one can tell another person how much pain they are in or feel. We all have to deal with things in our own way. You don't have to apologise to anyone for that.

Anonymous said...

If you want 6 candles, ask for them. If you want 4985, ask for them. If you and your husband can't carry all 6, maybe you could ask someone to hold one or two for you. The chemical pregnancies aren't any less real. You have lost your children. Period.

I am sorry you have lost so many pregnancies. It just isn't fair.

I do not go to church, but if there was a church near us doing this, I think I would have to go.

Searching said...

They were all your very loved and very wanted babies. I agree, ask for the number of candles that you feel you need. 6 is okay. 1 is okay. Every loss is a loss and each person defines what is a loss to THEM. You HURT. Every pregnancy that never had the chance to be completed was a loss to you. So you grieve those angels any way that helps you.

Maybe even see if you could get 2 or 3 candles in a cup. You know I'll be thinking about you Monday. *Hugs*

lub said...

You need to take as many as you need. Your loss is relative to you. You need to mourn what you have lost and if that is more than 6 candles so be it. I will be mourning along with you.

Kristen said...

I think you need to ask for 6 candles. You were pregnant 6 times and even if the stupid doctors dismiss 5 of those, they were your babies that you need to grieve.

The memorial service is for you and you need to do what you can to help yourself heal these open wounds. I hope that this service is therapeutic for you and that it will help you to commemorate your lost angels. I am so sorry you have so many to grieve.


Searching said...

Thinking of you and all your candles today. *Hugs*

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

Katie, I'm so sorry you even have to ask this question... Having now joined the "miscarriage" group on top of infertility, I have to say it hurts like nothing I've ever experienced before... And you six times over.

I hate that people (drs too!!!! idiots) minimize a chemical pregnancy... What an unfortunate name. There was a baby, that was your child. It lived, even for a short while. Long enough to produce HCG, so that's a few days at LEAST. All 6 were babies. No one can say otherwise and not be lieing.

Light as many as you need to. Your grief is real, and those 6 babies were real, no matter how long the pregnancies lasted.

I am right here w/you, missing my one baby so very much.

Geohde said...

Katie, I do not know the best answer to your question, just what I would do.

But the pain of a later loss, THAT I understand all too well.

Ask for as many damn candles as you want.