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In the 1940s, between my grandmother’s fourth child and my father, she experienced the premature birth of a baby. Family history doesn’t say how far along she was, just that my grandfather buried the baby in the basement of the house I would later grow up in.

This was never something I heard my grandmother talk about, and it was a shock to most of us when we read her history. However, I think it’s indicative of what women for generations have done. We have buried our grief and not talked about the losses we have experienced in losing children through miscarriage and stillbirth.

A couple of years ago, I bought my friend Jenny Albers’s book, Courageously Expecting when it came out to support her. I planned to write about it on social media and help her get traction to sell more books. I got about 20 pages into the book and had to put it down. Not because it wasn’t a beautifully written book, but because it is. The book was about expecting a new baby after a stillborn birth, and how hard that was. I put it down because I hadn’t dealt with my own trauma and loss going through a miscarriage myself years earlier.

RELATED: Sometimes Pregnancy is An Act of Courage

A few months ago, I was talking with my mother about losing my premature sister, Jennifer, and how that happened in a set of three circumstances as my own did. I was in the hospital for a montha one-year-old seriously ill with staph pneumonia. I recovered from that only for my mother to go into premature labor and deliver my sister. The choice my parents had was to keep her connected to tubes for the rest of her life or let her go. They chose to let her die peacefully.

Next, my mother’s grandmother who helped raise her, died of cancer because the doctor who treated her kept pumping her constantly full of chemo drugs, never giving her a break from it. This struck me hard and I found my throat closing off as I remembered my own circumstances of three.

Over Thanksgiving 2004, my husband was home on military leave from his deployment in Iraq when I became pregnant for the first time. He returned home from his 16-month deployment in January of 2005. Reunions are wonderful things, but they are a big adjustment for everyone. They are glorious. But they are hard.

The next month I experienced a miscarriage. I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone. It was too personal, and I didn’t have any role models to speak about it, my mother had never spoken openly about her miscarriages. But I also felt like I couldn’t. My husband didn’t take the miscarriage well as he had just left an environment of death and returned home to yet another death. How could I compare my loss with that?

The next month, we dealt with the devastating loss of my beloved 13-year-old brother drowning. This was a really difficult time in my life and to get through it, I boxed up the pain and grief of my miscarriage, put it on a shelf, and tried never to open it again.

RELATED: The Miscarriage I Had Decades Ago Is Still a Tender Wound

Recently my daughter discovered that miscarriage before she was born. She was upset she had never known about it. She grieved the loss of what could have been. She has a brother with special needs and growing up has been tough for her. The thought that there could have been another sibling who could have helped with that struck her hard. She wanted to know, “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Why didn’t I ever tell you? Because I come from generations of women who do not talk about their child loss. My mother experienced multiple miscarriages but did not talk about it. My own grandparents buried their baby in the basement and didn’t talk about it. It is something we deal with, in silence and pain.

I’m choosing to try to break this generational ban by writing about my experience with loss. I’m in school to become a therapist, and I know that one day, someone will walk into my office having dealt with a miscarriage and needing to work through that trauma and loss, and I will not be able to help that woman unless I deal with my own trauma and loss. Instead, I’m telling my story like my friend Jenny, so other women will know they aren’t alone. That there are millions of other women out there who have experienced the same loss and can help them through. So there will be no more babies buried in a metaphorical basement.

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Calleen Petersen

An Ordinary Mom who believes in standing up, speaking out, and sharing her truths. A student of psychology. I write about disabilities, parenthood, life, and my thoughts. You can find me at An Ordinary Mom's Musings.

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