(SNN) I got a tattoo recently to honor the life and death of my daughter. The potential of her. The possibility of her. The scarred grief of her that tore up my heart.
The fact that she was not born alive did not alter my love for her, nor her realness to me. I felt her life inside me. I had hopes and dreams for her. I have memories of her: the moment when the weight of her father’s body first became too much to bear and he complained because it had never bothered me before; morning nausea that sent me running from my dining customers to the latrine in the coffee house where I worked; the moment her heart first started beating and it woke me from my sleep—and I knew, I somehow knew, I had life inside me and I cried with awe and joy; the feeling of her body barely twitching in my womb; the god awful cramping waves of labor and anguish as my water broke and I knew I was losing her; and more. …
I had named him Moses Lee if he was a boy, and her Miriam Leah if she was a girl.
There is no place in this world for mothers to grieve the death of children who die before they have lived long enough to be remembered by others. There is only the heart to carry these scars and others that cannot be talked about because no one wants to hear about them, no one wants to know: the hurt of the child who is abused physically, mentally, sexually, or all three, especially if by a relative or a parent; the hurt of a rape victim; the hurt of a woman who has endured years of gender discrimination, or sexual harassment, or sexual abuse, or all three; the hurt of anyone who has endured years of racial discrimination; the hurt of anyone enduring discrimination or abuse because of sexual orientation, or of being transgender; the hurt of anyone enduring discrimination or abuse because of their religious beliefs, or because they are atheist; the hurt of the soldier who has endured moral injury. …
When these scars stay inside the heart they continue to damage us. And the only real way to heal is to get them outside of our selves, to share the burden, and thereby to lighten it. Some do this within a therapeutic environment, some by being lucky enough to find kindred souls who have been through similar, if not the same, circumstances and sharing with each other. Some by having friends and family, or caring community members, who care enough to listen with compassion, even if they haven’t been through the same things, even if they find it hard to relate, even if they find it hard to listen to.
For some reason it has been socially taboo for women to talk about our miscarriages. Yet 15-20% of first trimester pregnancies, 1-5% of second trimester pregnancies, and less than 1% of third trimester pregnancies end in stillbirths, according the March of Dimes. This is presuming no domestic violence or other trauma is involved. That’s a whole lot of pain and heart scarring. Don’t you think it’s time we changed that? It’s time to stop silencing women who have miscarriages. It’s time to stop silencing women period. For that matter, it’s time to stop silencing people who hurt.
I got my tattoo to symbolize moving my scars from the inside to the outside, where they do less damage. Who’s next?
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