Pumpkin Patch and Pregnancy Loss

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Liz Mannegren -Pumkin Patch Pregnancy3By Liz Mannegren | Twitter:@LizMannegren

[ Trigger warning:⚠️ Miscarriage and still birth.]

As we wade through mud, the soggy earth squelches over the toes of my pink boots and sucks at the rubber soles. Corn ripens in the nearby maze, and the smell of hay and manure mingle with the fresh October air. I breathe in deeply, surprisingly refreshed by the cool, muddy scent. We’re not the only family out today; the farm is quickly filling with smiling parents and wide-eyed toddlers. Decked in boots and scarves, mothers snuggle tiny babies wrapped close in carriers, and fathers snap photos of kids struggling to lift their ten-pound squash.

Together, we are all on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin.

This traipse through the pumpkin patch has become an annual fall tradition for our family. Each year marks the growth of my son as he becomes stronger, braver, and more inquisitive. My son runs ahead to inspect the pumpkins, ever careful to avoid dirtying his hands. The ground around us glows orange in the mid-morning light and we each carry a small plastic bag through the field, looking for a pumpkin to slip into it and carry home. Hauling our prizes back across the field, we climb aboard a tractor loaded with hay bale seats and shake the mud from our shoes.

Our chosen pumpkins arrive home, speckled with drying gray dirt but beautiful nonetheless. Three pumpkins, carved and flickering with candlelight, sit on our dining room table and fill our apartment with their strong, leafy smell. There’s one for my husband, my son, and myself. But I would be remiss if I let you think that there was one pumpkin for each of us. Each year, five of “our” pumpkins are left to slowly soften in the field; a near half-dozen pumpkins are missing from my fall display.

Over the past three years, five little babies have slipped from my womb in flood of blood and tears and pain—four miscarriages and one stillbirth. Five wee ones will always be missing from our Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween candy-romps around the neighbourhood. I will never see these children stomp their way through mud-covered October fields with pumpkins and laughter hand in hand. I will never wrap them up in warm scarves and mittens and let them run through piles of crisp, autumn leaves. There are no October memories with them.

I talk about these babies often. Special dates and anniversaries are scattered across the calendar; days when I feel their loss just a little bit stronger, a little bit more acutely. But this October, I’ve decided to raise my voice just that much louder.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We’ve all heard the statistic: one in four pregnancies ends in loss. But until you join that group of broken-hearted mothers, it’s easy to forget about the sheer volume of women who have been touched by grief.

It’s easy to remember October as a month of pumpkin spiced lattes and warm, knitted toques. But amidst the beauty of colourful fall leaves, let’s not forget about those who have been caught in the darkening, October winds and rain. Let’s not forget about those who are grieving, those who have been pulled tight into a world of shattered dreams and crushed hopes.

For generations, women have had little choice but to remain silent about their loss. It’s only been relatively recently that the voices of grieving mamas have begun to be heard. Standing united, we find the courage to break the silence and we find strength in the stories we’ve been given. No longer will we be told how to mourn. Instead, by sharing our stories, we begin to create much-needed discussions about pregnancy loss. And as we mourn and remember together, we wrap our collective arms around the newly grieving mamas who join our broken community and whisper, “You are not alone.”

If there is one thing I pray grieving families hear this month, it is that you are not alone.

Looking around this muddy patch of pumpkins, I see countless families who have been touched by loss. October may be the month we’ve chosen to raise awareness, but these families grieve year round. Friends, don’t be afraid to reach out to them, to listen to their stories and to their pain, to say their baby’s name, and most of all, to simply be there for them. There is such strength in support, and such love to be shared as we grieve together.

To all the families missing little pumpkins of their own, this month is for you and for your sweet baby. You may have said goodbye before you were ready, you may ache and mourn and cry, but you are not alone. These wee one’s lives were brief, but they were beautiful, and they will never be forgotten.

Dear Grieving Mamas, it’s October, and we are not alone.

___________________

About Liz:

Liz MannegrenLiz lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and son. She is the mother of six beautiful babies: carrying one in her arms and an extra five in her heart. You can read more of her story at www.mommymannegren.com or follow along on Instagram of Facebook.

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  • Thank you for making me aware of this. I have names and faces in my mind right now of the women who need to know they are not alone.

  • My best friend had a miscarriage the same month I was told that if I ever can get pregnant, it’s likely I’ll be unable to carry a pregnancy to term. I cannot imagine that loss x5, but I am so grateful you and other women are sharing about these deep, true griefs. They give me courage. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for inviting us into your story and pain and hope. This is heartachingly beautiful.