I am one in four.
At first glance, you see a mom looking on as her child proudly holds the newest addition to their family. A concentrated look paints a picture of a daughter who has waited what felt like years for a sibling. But this picture-perfect moment is far from perfect.
Only one big sister appears in this photo, but I am a mother to three 7-year-olds…one triplet on earth and two in heaven.
When you look at this picture, you see a mother feeling immense joy at that moment. But what you don’t see is the pain. The pain of holding a child as she takes her final breath. The pain of planning a funeral, instead of decorating a nursery. The pain that lingers, years after that final goodbye.
While it may change over time, grief doesn't go away. Even if you go on to have more children, they will never replace your child who died.
No matter how many years have passed, there will always be a piece of my heart, shattered without two of my triplets. But over time, I have learned how to manage the grief, even tuck that pain away, so it's not visible on the surface.
Because that's what society expects us to do.
People don't want to see me cry. Many people don't even want to acknowledge a loss. For decades, pregnancy and child loss has been a taboo topic. It’s something that makes people cringe and uncomfortable. I’ve witnessed it firsthand when I mention my children in Heaven.
But, here's the thing — chances are someone you know has experienced a loss. Maybe it's a friend or neighbor. Maybe it's your child's soccer coach. Maybe it's the woman you watch on the news.
One in four women experiences a loss — whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.
As you look at this picture, you see a loving moment between a mother and daughter. You see a beautiful baby, just hours old; the final piece of the puzzle in this family’s long, tangled journey.
And while you see a proud big sister, what you don't see is the special bond that child shares with her siblings in Heaven. She may not get to play with them at the park, or walk side-by-side with them at school, but she knows all about her brother and sister. Abby and Parker. Their names are often spoken in our home. They will always be part of our lives.
You may only see two girls in this photograph, but I am the mother of four beautiful children.
I am one in four. And I am not alone.
A version of this originally appeared here.
Related video featuring Stacey Skrysak's family: