Written in honor of pregnancy loss and remembrance day this October 15.
Almost a month after my sweet baby was born sleeping, I was encouraged to join a baby loss support group. At this session we met a mom nurse who lost her precious twin boys at the very hospital where she worked at. One of her babies was stillborn and the other sweet boy passed away a few days later. She then went on to recount how her employer, a local hospital, had denied her paid maternity leave due to certain constraints in the FMLA. This is an open letter to you sweet mama and all other mamas who have been in your painful shoes.
Dear loss mama, your story and your words were seared into my heart that night.
I felt and understood your pain and anger intimately. After my own loss I took half a year off and honestly couldn’t fathom going back to my job. I was lucky to have been a business owner who could take much needed time off to grieve my baby boy. During those three months after losing him I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t go a single day without falling apart into tearful episodes of grief and anger. How can a mother in our situation possibly go back to the world of the living so soon? How can you be expected to interact normally and appropriately with others and your surrounding environment? I don’t blame you for not wanting to see people, for not wanting to care about their problems, nor for not wanting to return to the real world for a while.
Dear loss mama, I know you have a lot of work ahead of you on your path to physical recovery.
Just like the mama who delivered a beautifully live baby, you also experienced weeks of postpartum pain and discomfort. Physically it took you many weeks to regain your strength. You may have even experienced a bout of mastitis since your milk came in but there was no baby to suckle. You may not have a newborn’s cry to keep you up all night, but the Dr. prescribed sleeping pills for a reason. I know you took a dose of those pills each and every night, just to get one or two hours of sleep and rest from the pain of empty arms.
Dear loss mama, I know the journey toward emotional healing is longer still.
This is a slow process that nobody can rush. This is a path that will involve learning and accepting the new you. Through this journey you will learn ways to remember your precious baby with love, hope and acceptance. At first you will have to force yourself to enjoy things again but over time when you are ready, faking it will no longer be necessary. It is at this point where you will realize how much stronger you have become to be able to feel a pain so deep, a love so true and a hope you never thought you could feel again. This is why you deserve that maternity leave equally as much as our more fortunate fellow mamas, no matter what the FMLA has to say.
I challenge all employers to use common sense and dignity when executing parental leave benefits. I also want to thank my husband’s employer for their exemplary care and detail in dealing with our recent pregnancy loss. Take action today by sharing my letter and singing The Farley-Kluger Initiative to Amend the FMLA. Read more on my personal healing journey at Sweet Julian.
In honor of the little ones that were taken too soon, we have created the Forever Loved memory board. If you or a loved one has a name you would like added, please contact us at any time.