According to March of Dimes, somewhere between one-fifth and one-fourth of recognized pregnancies do not make it to term.
By Ryan and Kristina Andrade
If there’s one thing we all have in common, no matter how many differences may separate us afterward, it’s this: we all came into this world in more or less the same way — we were born. In fact, celebrating one’s birth day is so common that it’s understandable why one wouldn’t even give much thought to the small miracle that they were able to be born at all.
According to March of Dimes, somewhere between one-fifth and one-fourth of recognized pregnancies do not make it to term, resulting in something we call “miscarriage,” or “stillbirth” (if later on). My wife Kristina and I were familiar with this conceptually, but in early 2020 we found out what miscarriage really meant, what it meant for our new baby not to get to share that one thing we all have in common, not to be born.
Kristina miscarried Jan. 16, 2020. She was 13 weeks into her pregnancy, and our then 2.5-year-old son Noah and 4.5-year-old daughter Evelyn were beyond excited — they were going to be a big brother and sister! And yet without warning, Kristina and I were coming home from the hospital and had to find the strength to sit our kids down on our laps and tell them that no, actually they were not going to be a big brother and sister, because the baby in Mommy’s tummy had died. Something was wrong with the baby, we tried to explain. It wasn’t healthy, it needed to come out, so the doctor helped it come out and keep Mommy safe, and the baby was in heaven now. I’ll never forget their little faces as they cried and tried to understand how, understand why, understand these new, big feelings. Miscarriage comes with a lot of big feelings, we found out.
As an early childhood education professional, Kristina turned to books to help the kids process their big feelings. She tried a few, but didn’t love them. So inspired, late one night she wrote her own story, our story, from the perspective of our son who’d wanted so badly to be a big brother. She called it Forever in Our Hearts, and after much hard work through the pandemic, it finally published this past summer. The book addresses and explores in an uplifting, authentic, and developmentally appropriate way some of the big feelings that come with miscarriage, and how one family, our family, has healed together through faith and the grace of God, holding our new baby forever in our hearts.
But our story is far from unique. In the process of creating this book, we encountered countless people with their own experience with miscarriage, but the most surprising thing we observed was how no one really talked about it. Miscarriage, we’ve come to realize, is just not something people talk about very much. All too often parents grieve alone, privately, sometimes distant from their friends and family, let alone young children/would-be older siblings for whom this may be their first exposure to death … It’s tragic, especially given how common it is, and our generation doesn’t want to be silent about it any longer.
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In honor of this and the accompanying Remembrance Day on Oct. 15, we’re holding a book launch, signing, and “Meet the Author” event for Forever in Our Hearts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at BookSmart. Proceeds will be donated to the California Bay Area chapter of HAND “Helping After Neonatal Death” (www.handonline.org), a local nonprofit whose mission is to help parents, their families, and their healthcare providers cope with the loss of a baby before, during, or after birth.
If you or someone you know has experienced miscarriage or any form of pregnancy or infant loss, we’d love for you to consider stopping by, helping us change the way we think and talk about miscarriage, and sharing your own story about a baby forever in your heart.
Kristina Andrade is the author of Forever in Our Hearts, a children’s book about miscarriage, available locally at BookSmart and at www.foreverinourheartsbook.com. After publishing the book, Kristina and her husband Ryan were blessed with a Rainbow Baby (child after miscarriage) in August, Sela Dixie — fulfilling their older children’s dream of becoming big siblings again, but they’ll never forget their angel baby forever in their heart.
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