Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Category: pregnancy after miscarriage (page 1 of 2)

Pregnancy After Loss – Bargaining

Day 1 - miscarriageWhen you pee on that stick and see the positive, you are elated…usually. Even in pregnancy after loss, there are moments of excitement which appear immediately upon seeing the positive test but it isn’t usually long until the worry and anxiety sets in. It’s almost as if entering pregnancy after loss means restarting the stages of grief.

Bargaining!

We will do whatever we can to ensure this baby will come home. That includes delivering early either by c-section or induction. I’ve been there, begging my OB to induce just so I could bring my baby home alive.

Hiring a doula – Some women will hire a doula immediately after peeing on the stick…as if to say, “there, now the baby HAS to come home alive with me because I hired a doula.” We know this isn’t true, but absolutely feels like this can be a sure way to ensure a living baby at the end.

Testing – Some women have as much testing as possible and others refuse all testing.

Ultrasounds – Extra ultrasounds, one each week or more is another way to “bargain.” If I see the baby more often, I might be able to pick up on something that is wrong earlier and hopefully correct it.

Creams – Progesterone creams or other hormonal treatments can be another way women bargain with the universe to keep their baby.

Herbs – Special herbal remedies were definitely something I explored. I remember trying False Unicorn Root during my pregnancy with Ruby. I just KNEW I would get to keep her because I was taking it. She died only a few weeks after starting it.

Prayer – If I pray more, go to adoration more, attend church more, etc…God will give me this baby.

Heck, I would have hired a drummer to come into my home and drum on a daily basis if that would have guaranteed I would bring my baby home. But we know, nothing can guarantee that.

Sometimes it’s about rituals; appointments at the same time and on the same day of the week.  Or still others have avoidance rituals:

Never returning to the same doctor/hospital/clinic.

Not purchasing anything for the baby until they are here.

Not announcing the pregnancy until very late in pregnancy or not at all.

These are all forms of bargaining. It’s a way for us to feel a sense of control. We desperately need to feel in control. We need to feel that we can do something, anything to bring home a living baby because the opposite of that is so extremely painful we feel we won’t survive again. Another loss feels as if we would surely die.

I think deep down we know that it’s still out of our control but we really need to feel a sense of control so we do things. Things that can confuse others and sometimes even ourselves. It’s not wrong to do these things. Some of them may help but at the very least, they help us feel better and as long as we are not putting ourselves or our babies at risk, then why not?

How Far Along Are You?

early pregnancy testWhen a woman discovers she is pregnant, the inevitable question is immediately asked.

How far along are you?

I will say that we had known for weeks before we shared with a few select people and waited even longer to share with the rest of our close friends and family. Some, were kept in the dark longer. I really enjoyed keeping the secret and once it was out, it was a bit disappointing. The pressure also began. The pressure to be farther along than I was so that this baby would matter if this baby died.

The constant question “how are you feeling?” by the people who knew brought on the anxiety but the question, “how far along are you?,” would stop me in my tracks. I had to think about it for too long. Sometimes adding days or weeks to the gestation, just so the baby would mean something to the person asking.

It’s an innocent seeming question but for someone experiencing pregnancy after a loss, this is a loaded question. In all honesty, it feels judgmental.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are “really” pregnant.

I assure you, there was a second line on the test, I am pregnant.

How far along are you means, I want to know if you are far enough to in the safe zone.

There is no safe zone.

How far along are you means, is the pregnancy far enough to be a considered a baby yet?

It was a baby from the moment of conception (for me anyway).

How far along are you means, you are trying to legitimize my feelings of grief should this baby die too.

My grief is legitimate no matter how far along I am.

How far along are you mean,s that the farther along I am, the bigger the baby, the more worth the baby has.

My baby has worth no matter how small or early he/she is.

As I get bigger, how far along are you, takes on a different meaning.

I am closer to delivery yet still not quite there. Will I make it with the baby alive?

I know the question, how far along are you, seems innocent. It seems like an inquiry and a supportive question but it’s not. It’s loaded, it’s dangerous.

Because if I lost the baby, I will have lost everything I have already dreamed of with her. Yes, her, because I imagined the baby to be a girl. So I have already seen pink and purple, flowers and butterflies, protective big brothers, dancing and singing, a love of reading, nurturing of a girl, bringing out my girly side, dresses for her baptism, communion and wedding. And, I have even imagined her children. Oh and yes…her name.

Call me naïve, stupid, crazy for even beginning those thoughts but it’s impossible not to. It’s impossible to pretend the baby, her future, doesn’t exist or will never exist. I am already in love. Her father and brothers already love her. And if she turns out to be a boy, we will love him too, just the same. So if this is only an “inside baby,” this is what is lost. It will hurt. It won’t hurt because of how short or long I was pregnant. It will hurt because I have loved and lost.

So when you ask “how far along are you? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. Because I am pregnant and I love this baby.

This is pregnancy after a loss.

Viral Rainbow Babies Photo

Rainbow Babies - ok.ruSo many of us have seen this set of photos. The Huffington Post wrote an article about these photos entitled Viral ‘Rainbow Babies’ Photo Post Brings Emotional Topic To LightIn that article, author Caroline Bologna shares that Chastity Boatman posted this set of photos on her blog in order “…for women to help support and heal one another. For women to know that they’re not alone in their struggles…”

It is a beautiful photo and I love that it depicts “rainbow babies” which are babies born after a pregnancy loss but…and here’s my butt…it really scares me.

Here’s why.

If people want to emulate this and create their own rainbow babies pictures what if a baby doesn’t make it? Stillbirth occurs in 1 and 160 pregnancies. Women participating in this kind of a photo shoot may experience a loss and then what? What will replace the woman and her intended baby in the subsequent photo?

I don’t want to be a negative nelly. I love this photo. I think it’s awesome, although the original photographers did not intend for these photos to depict the “rainbow babies” we have defined here. It certainly depicts all we hope in our pregnancies after a loss. It has been shared all over Facebook in many of the loss community groups. I was overjoyed to see it and thought it was an amazing concept that would bring awareness but…

I held my breath. I became fearful. I wondered if others would try this and where it might lead.

So what would a photographer put in the place of a mother experiencing a pregnancy loss between photo shoots? Would the mother still participate? Would the photographer have “fill-in’s” that would be photoshopped into the original if there was a stillbirth or infant death in between photo shoots? Would they incorporate another image or some other way to represent the mother and her lost child?

I hope we don’t find out. I am sure there will be photographers that will emulate this. I think it’s a wonderful concept and a great tribute to pregnancy after a loss. It just scares me that a baby won’t make it.

 

Naivety vs. Faith in Pregnancy After Loss

Photo credit: Mike Hansen

Photo credit: Mike Hansen

I had an immense amount of faith during my pregnancy with G. When G was stillborn, I lost all that faith. I couldn’t understand why this happened and more importantly, why this happened to us. We were devote Catholics. We prayed for this baby. How could God have taken this baby? So when we became pregnant after G, I struggled with my faith. I couldn’t deal with the feeling that I had no control and attempted to control what I could (within reason). When L was born, I thought my faith might return but it didn’t come back quite like I expected. Am I changed forever? A.M.

What is the difference between naivety and faith? Did A have faith or was she living in the world of naivety which nearly every pregnant woman who hasn’t experienced loss live in? I have blogged about the loss of innocence before and this post really isn’t that different except I am using different words; Faith and Naivety.

Let’s define both.

Faith – Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Naivety – Innocence or unsophistication.

actually had both faith and naivety. Her first pregnancy was full of innocence. Innocence that bad things don’t happen to babies. Babies don’t die. Faith that babies don’t die, that her trust in God will bring her a living, breathing baby. There are both aspects here but something happens when we lose a child or experience great loss. We lose the ability to channel that faith and the innocence is complete gone.

A may struggle to have complete faith again. This is not a lack of trust in God but a lack of trust/confidence that her Divine Father will provide her a living child. Her Father will provide but what will the provision be?

A will likely never enter another pregnancy naive or with that innocence that all will turn out well.

Channeling our faith with subsequent pregnancies can be difficult but we must try. If we don’t have faith in God, if we are spiritual but not religious, if we carry no spiritual beliefs at all, then have have faith in the child within your womb. They are there, present in this moment and we must carry some faith in that living being will continue to grow and be born alive.

Faith does not equal control, nor does faith equal religion/spirituality. Even though faith is most often associated with religion/spirituality, please don’t think that this post could not relate to you or your experiences. It is a belief, a trust, and faith that we will have a living child following our pregnancy.

But let’s return to A for a moment. To answer her question, she is likely changed forever. Most of us who are touched by pregnancy loss are changed forever in much the same way people are changed after losing a child of any age. We look back, we worry, we wonder, we protect, we question, we are cautious.

I experienced something similar as A. I became extremely faithful during my pregnancy with Ruby. Because I felt like I would lose Ruby at any moment, I thought that prayer could save her. I somehow believed that a lack of prayer could result in her being taken from me so I prayed more than I ever had in my life. It was my “control” and if I didn’t pray enough or the right way or even the right prayers, I was not worthy and my baby would be taken.

So when Ruby passed, I was not only devastated but found myself feeling unworthy of God’s love. I prayed, but he took her anyway. I was not “good” enough. I was His daughter who didn’t try hard enough. I wasn’t faithful enough to Him so He would allow her to stay with me and be born alive.

But that’s not what faith is about. Even if we remove the religious/spiritual aspect of faith, merely having it, does not mean that what we believe in, hope for, trust in, will happen. Does that mean we should no longer have faith? No, but it’s definitely more difficult to have faith when faith had been crushed in the past.

So how do we gain that faith back when we journeying through pregnancy after loss? How do we love again? How do we have hope again. Ah, those words.

Photo Credit: Flickr (Andreanna Moya Photographer)

Photo Credit: Flickr (Andreanna Moya Photographer)

We start small. We have to come to an understanding that we don’t have control over much of our pregnancy and how our baby develops. We embrace the things we do have control over (choosing a doctor, choosing a place for delivery, choosing a way to monitor our baby, choosing how many ultrasounds, choosing which diagnostic testing), and we bond anyway. That bonding is oh so very hard but we must try to bond anyway.

It will not hurt less if we don’t bond for we are already bonded. It’s hard to lower that wall of vulnerability, of opening our heart to such hurt if our baby dies anyway but we must try. We must try to show our baby, this new baby, all our love no matter how scared we are and how hurt we are.

I know it’s easier said than done. I have been there. I walked that journey and lost another. But I left that loss journey with better coping and more love for my child than I could have ever imagined. One of the ways I encouraged bonding was I committed to writing a note to my baby every day. I wrote whatever came to mind. I didn’t think too much about it.

I decided I would write the note to my baby on a white erase board. I then took a picture of the note on the board which ended up being our son’s memory book. This is an easy project but you must commit to it. This made me think each day about my baby and what I would want to share with them. It was perfect and if I were ever to become pregnant again, I would do this again.

There are other ways to bond, such as taking a bath, listening to music, taking a walk, getting a massage, etc but when you do these things you commit to thinking about your baby, talking to your baby (even if only in your head), sending vibes/energy to your baby, positive thoughts, etc. It’s not easy and the first few times might feel awkward and forced. This is okay. Just keep trying.

You may not ever feel normal again during pregnancy after a loss. You may not ever return to the innocence that you made it to a “safe zone” and you will bring home a living baby. You may not ever fully have the faith and trust in the pregnancy process but have faith in your child. Have faith that the child within your womb is yours and is meant to be there no matter how long or short that time is. You were chosen to carry your child. That is honorable.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

To Kiss and Untell

You kiss a guy and then run around and tell everyone that you kissed him. That “hot” guy that you had been hoping to go out with. The guy you had hoped would notice you and he did. You are absolutely giddy with excitement over where that might lead you two. As you are sharing the story with one of your friends, she asks, “Did you guys tongue-kiss or just peck each other on the lips?”

Couple Kissing

You think to yourself, “If I didn’t use my tongue, is it still a kiss?” You tell your friend it was just a peck. It was a very nice peck on the lips. You start to justify, “I felt his lips fully against mine. They were so soft and I got tingly everywhere. It was amazing. It was a kiss!” But your friend tells you, “It’s not really a kiss because you didn’t use your tongue.”

You feel embarrassed now. It wasn’t really a kiss. So you explain to your friend, “I guess I have to ‘untell’ everyone.

Let’s talk about the word untell. What does that even mean? The word untell doesn’t exist in any dictionary but I found a definition of it online, here. The word untell means, “to make as if not counted.” It’s a nullification. So in the above scenario, to untell about the kiss would be to tell others it didn’t “count.” In other words, it wasn’t real.

Now let’s relate this to miscarriage. My last post was about announcing a pregnancy early. Many women are scared to announce early because of the chance of miscarriage. It’s definitely a chance but so is stillbirth. Should women wait until the baby has been born alive before announcing? I am sure some women have actually done this and they needed to do it for their own reasons. There is nothing wrong with it but I bet most of you reading this wouldn’t wait until the baby was born before announcing to everyone that you were pregnant and this time the baby made it.

So, in talking with other women about announcing early, some women say they wouldn’t announce early (they would wait until at least 12 or 20 weeks) because they don’t want to have to untell people about their baby/pregnancy. Knowing what the unofficial definition of “untell” means, what is this really saying about our pregnancies?

  • I wasn’t really pregnant.
  • My baby wasn’t real.
  • My baby didn’t count.

Those are just three that come to mind. What comes to your mind?

I first heard the term a few weeks ago at a support group. The woman used the term when she was talking about how she announced but now would have to “untell” everyone again because she had a miscarriage. I cringed hearing it for the first time especially in this forum because I felt it invalidated my own personal experience with miscarriage. I knew she meant no harm. They were merely her words used to describe how she felt about her miscarriage. As I thought about that, I felt sad that she didn’t feel worthy of calling the experience what it was. Someone must have said something to her that invalidated her baby/pregnancy. Maybe the infamous, “it’s just a ball of cells?”

I didn’t think much about it following the group until I heard the term again. Oddly, in relation to my last post. “I don’t want to have to untell people, so I wait.” Not the exact words but pretty close. I was curious what the word “untell” meant to her and probed but never received a response. I returned the next morning to see she deleted her comment and feel horrible that she did that. She probably unliked the page as well and I hope she comes back because I was genuinely interested in discussing the term in hopes to help her feel worthy of her pregnancies/babies.

We often want the language surrounding miscarriage to change. I certainly don’t like the term spontaneous abortion when referring to miscarriage but that’s the official medical term. So let’s try to help others not use the term “untell.” We aren’t nullifying our pregnancies that end in miscarriage. We aren’t “not counting” our pregnancies that end in miscarriage. I am sure each of you can count all of the miscarriages you have experienced and you remember them with great detail.

So let’s call “it” what IT is. It’s miscarriage. “I was pregnant, and I had a miscarriage.” It validates our pregnancy and our baby. It validates our experience. It gives awareness to what we have been through and might be suffering through. We don’t need to continue to suffer in silence and hide our grief because of how others might feel. We don’t need to hide our pregnancies and suppress our happiness because it’s early and we might experience a miscarriage.

We are pregnant in this moment. A line is a line as my last post said. You are pregnant. You are expecting. If it ends in miscarriage, that doesn’t meant the pregnancy/baby didn’t exist (your doctor will certainly count it in your chart). We tell people about our miscarriage. We share our story because that is what will help the next woman who experiences it. When she does, you won’t feel like it’s “untelling.” You will hold her and carry her through this.

Can we change this language amongst our struggling sisters?

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Announcing an early pregnancy

early pregnancy testMany women are hesitant to announce their pregnancy early. Some wait until a blood test confirms. Others wait until they see a heartbeat. Some wait until they are twelve weeks and beyond but why? Isn’t a line a line? Doesn’t pregnant mean pregnant?

Here is an early pregnancy test. It was taken 11 days after ovulation. The second line is faint but there is no doubt a line. The second line signifies pregnancy. It’s a positive pregnancy test. A line is a line right?

Well, that depends. It’s a cautiously optimistic line. This pregnancy test detects HCG in the urine at 20miU. So the line doesn’t determine the “level” in pregnancy, just that the level is high enough to show a line. Some want the line dark and a test the next day may reveal a darker line but it may not. Every test is different. So, a line is a line. PREGNANT.

“I am pregnant,” she announces.

The next response is…”How far along are you?”

Why is that question asked? Does it mean that if I am 3 weeks pregnant that I am not “pregnant enough?” Is 5 weeks along “pregnant enough?” What about 8 weeks? Is that “pregnant enough?” For those of you who are announcing an early pregnancy, did you feel compelled to lie about it? Did you feel compelled to say you were farther along then you really were? Why?

I know I did this. I know I told people I was farther along in order to justify my pregnancy. But what am I really justifying? I think it’s grief. I think we justify the pregnancy in order to justify the grief we could experience should we have a miscarriage. A line is a line.

We shouldn’t feel like we need to justify our grief but we do, because we know we will probably suffer in silence. Announcing an early pregnancy is hard. It comes with excitement and anxiety. The moment we pee on the stick, we start dreaming and imagining a life with this child. But the toilet paper checks begin…immediately.

It’s okay. A line is a line. Go ahead and announce. Announce it to the world or whoever you want to and if your baby doesn’t survive; if your baby dies through miscarriage or stillbirth, it doesn’t change the fact that a line is a line. You are pregnant, in this moment. It’s okay to share. It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to be anxious. You are pregnant.

UPDATE: This was my pregnancy test, taken on March 27th, 2015. My HCG level was 32.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

 

I imagined.

I was starting to get excited about you. I had been thinking about you for over eight months now but I have been scared to even think about bringing you to life. There are so many risks, after all, at our age. When I think back about how I envisioned parenthood, this is not what I had hoped for. My reality is so much different.

When we got married, three kids was our number. Did that mean three living children or just three children? I have three children but only two are living. But then I think about it more and I know that I envisioned little ones playing with each other, fighting in the back seat of the car, squatting down in the yard playing in the dirt together, and growing up close in age.

My reality is that I was stricken with infertility for over 22 years. We struggled to get pregnant with our first, trying to remain within the boundaries of our Catholic faith and teachings. After three and a half years, we welcomed our first son. We knew we wanted more. He was perfect in every way.

The fear was there that we would have a nightmare of a child but two years apart is what we had hoped for. So we began that journey. We wanted to try a more natural route this time. I knew my body well and I began trying Eastern medicinal techniques. Two years came and went.

By year four, I began combining Eastern and Western Medicine but our efforts weren’t fruitful. As year six approached, we gave up that dream and began focusing on our careers; at least, I did. My husband had his career and it was going well. I just wanted to start mine.

It seemed that as soon as that decision was made, we discovered we were pregnant. Losing her to miscarriage in the first trimester was devastating and changed me in so many ways. I have done so much research and now dedicate my life to serving families during loss in any trimester. Knowing what I know, makes the thought of you even scarier.

Then, just two years after that loss, we discovered we were pregnant again. Yes, we had been trying and we sought some help but the help didn’t work and we were blessed with a “natural” conception. He was born and I told myself I would never have another. The baby blues were horrendous and the loss of personal time was taking its toll. The feeding struggles and my inability to read his cues were even more troubling for me that I vowed that you would never happen.

And then, as Timmy approached his first birthday, you began to sneak into my life. I began to be consumed with thoughts of you, mostly as I approached the newfound ovulation that my body had begun. It became overwhelming for three to four days out of the month but there was so much fear in letting you in. So much fear in imagining you here. So much fear in me as a mother and in all that could go wrong getting you here. And then it happened. I couldn’t shake you. You wouldn’t leave.

Two weeks ago I made an appointment to see a genetic counselor. I wanted to explore the options for you and make a decision.

Then last week a butterfly appeared in our home. It was the dead of winter, where did this little butterfly come from? I questioned if I had an infestation somewhere but so many of my friends believed this butterfly was a sign. “What bigger sign do you need Elizabeth?” is what some people shared. I was hesitant to believe the butterfly was a sign.

I learned that it was a female butterfly. Her species was White Cabbage Butterfly. She was yellow with 2 perfect, black spots on her wings. As I was doing the dishes, I noticed the light flickering above me and I looked up to my left to see her swoop over my shoulder and land on the cupboard. She walked up the door and opened her wings a few times. As I watched her, I finished the dishes.

I thought to myself, if she is still there when I am done, I will snap a picture of her.

White Cabbage Butterfly

She was still there.

I posted the picture to a group on Facebook. This is where I heard she was a sign. I shared the picture with my husband who was at work. He too, believed she was a sign. The sign was, “Have another baby.” Was this our angel in Heaven sharing the best way she could?

Later that night, the butterfly had moved to above the sink near the ceiling. I wondered how long she would stay. I retreated to my bedroom that night and began to pray. I pulled out my Rosary. Something I hadn’t prayed since I lost Ruby. It was surreal, sitting in the same room, saying the same prayers. The Rosary called for “the sorrowful mysteries.” Three of which had specific meaning to what I was going through. I completed my meditations and prayers within 45 minutes and drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I felt refreshed. I had prayed for direction and peace in my heart. I didn’t want to struggle with the decision to have you. I just wanted to leave it in His hands and go with that. But things changed today and here I am, trying to grasp the decision I placed on Him. But I digress.

I DID experience peace and I felt the struggle leave my heart. I felt renewed and began to get excited about your impending presence. When I came home from work that Saturday, my husband and I spent some time in the bedroom and were excited that you might be coming as well.

I felt so blessed to have a husband who wanted you and who was supportive of you. I know many women who don’t have that kind of support. I imagined my growing belly and feeling you move inside me. I imagined my husband rubbing my belly and Timmy kissing my belly. I could see him slapping my belly too and I could see Joey trying to wrap his arms around me again for as long as he can while both hands still touched.

I imagined us in church together, with my swollen belly. I imagined driving with my belly and wondered if my new car would accommodate such changes to my body. I imagined the car seats and where Timmy would sit and where your car seat would be placed. I imagined where you would sleep once you were born. We talked about it that Saturday afternoon. We decided your crib would be placed in our room and Joey would move to the basement in a few years. Or if you were a boy, Timmy and you could share a room.

I imagined me feeling as amazing about my body as I did with Timmy’s pregnancy. I imagined finding time for exercise and how I would manage to keep my weight healthy during your pregnancy. I planned who I would call to have my blood tests taken to ensure I was making enough progesterone and I planned who I would talk with to get supplementation if I needed it.

I imagined you and Timmy growing up together. Secretly hoping you were a girl for many reasons, mainly because your father has such a strong desire to raise a girl. I would love another boy but I imagined you a girl. I imagined breastfeeding you. We discussed what we would do if you were tongue-tied like the rest of the family and if we would choose not to circumcise you if you were a boy.

I imagined rocking you to sleep and wearing you everywhere. I researched baby carriers for newborns. I began preparing for you and packed up some of Timmy’s old things so that they can be used for you. I wondered if I needed to keep all his boy clothes or hold off until we found out if you were a girl. I imagined how long your hair would be when you were Timmy’s age. Should I let it grow or keep it short? I wondered if you would wear dresses all the time or pants?

I imagined how I differently I would do things this time. I imagined myself a supermom, carrying two babies and making it look easy. I saw a woman struggling in the grocery story with her two young children and imagined myself doing the same. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and there would be rough days. I wondered how I would handle it.

I imagined you in school. I imagined you would love it as much as I did. My brother came to visit the next day. It was a surprise trip and he brought his children with him. As I admired them and his daughter, I couldn’t help but imagine you, again, as a girl. I imagined you would play with my hair the same way my niece did. I imagined you would have some of the same desires as she did.

I know my husband imagined you a girl, hoping you had green eyes like mine. I imagined him twirling and dancing with you. I imagined him loving you in a way I have never seen him love someone before. I imagined him giving in to your heart’s desire.

I imagined you becoming a teenager and even imagined the yelling and disagreements that might take place between us. I imagined me sharing my life with you. I imagined me teaching you about being a woman, about your fertility, and even thought about your wedding.

I wondered if having you so late in my life meant I wouldn’t get to see those things. I wondered if we would do a disservice to you being so aged as you were in high school. I wondered if I could be all you needed and wanted in a mother. I imagined you with your brothers, and of course, being there for us when we got too old to take care of ourselves.

There is so much I imagined but most of all, I imagined our dreams from 18 years ago coming true. Even though I have two children with years that separate them, I imagined the possibility of also having two children close in age. A dream I gave up on many years ago.

Today we visited with a genetics counselor to determine risks. Some of them are high and include an early induction. It’s not the induction that scares me the most, but the thought that you could die before you make it outside that kills me inside. These are the scary parts about me preventing you from coming. This fear has had me in grips for the last eight months. I have been trying to convince myself that I didn’t want you. I find myself doing this even now, even though I bawled while I was singing and rocking Timmy to sleep during his nap today over the thought of you not coming.

I contemplated what that might look like because over the last five days, I have only thought of you. I fell in love with the idea of you. And I imagined, even if we had you, that none of what I had imagined might come true. I imagined saying goodbye to you at some point.

I don’t want to say goodbye. I want to say hello and I want to say that I love you. I didn’t know just how much I wanted you until now. I fought it for so long. But alas, I can only imagine.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage 

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Return to Zero Movie

Tonight, there was a movie on Lifetime Television. A movie that many people won’t watch because of the subject matter. A movie that others will watch to find normalcy. A movie that will break some, heal some, and help some. The Return to Zero movie had it’s premier tonight. As promised, here are my thoughts on this movie.

Return to Zero - Blog Post from All That is Seen and Unseen

First, I am lost for words. The movie focused well on all the parts experienced by parents who have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth. This movie, was based on a true story of the passing of Norbert Krekorian Hanish who was born still on July 12, 2005. I met Sean Hanish (Norberts father) at the annual Walk to Remember last year.

Sean spoke about his upcoming movie and I wasn’t sure if this would ever really make it into mainstream TV because of the content…stillbirth. I took notes during the movie. Notes about how I felt, statements, and the feelings I shared with the main character (Maggie). I shook for the first 15 minutes of the movie. I was numb, scared of what was to come. Scared of the feelings of losing Ruby when she sat in the room and they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The commercial break that came shortly after just brought more numbness. I was relieved to have my online friends in my Stillbirthday group who watched as I watched, cried as I cried, and healed as I healed.

I was impressed with the doctor who called their baby by name (Arthur) while they sat in a room hearing of their options for delivery. I was annoyed by the social worker who began asking questions that—as a bereavement doula, I felt were completely unnecessary for the time in which they were presented. This family had just lost their baby, why was she asking if they had discussed what they wanted to do with their baby? Ugh!

At the memorial service for Arthur, Maggie’s sister said a few words that I thought were wonderful. “Arthur was never hungry, never cold. He only experienced love. For a baby, a day is 100 years.” He was loved. I was appalled by her mother’s response (as I am sure others were including Maggie), “Everything happens for a reason.” We all hear that. It sucks…don’t say it.

I wept as Maggie walked in a field overlooking the city. She was smoking and drinking alcohol, which was something both her and her husband Aaron turned to during their grief. All I could think about was, she is supposed to be holding her new baby, nurturing him, loving him, and here she is…walking all alone, with nothing to hold. Nothing to show of her pregnancy. Nothing to show of her motherhood.

Arthur never got to see everything they prepared for him. There were clothes he would never wear, toys he would never play with, a crib he would never sleep in, and a painted wall with appliqués that he would never see which they pulled from the wall and painted over the blue after the loss.

Aaron gave Maggie a birth present. He had been saving it to give to her following a live birth but didn’t know when the right time was to give it to her so over dinner, he presented her this gift. She didn’t want it stating who would want a gift to remember the worst day of her life. She called her uterus a lethal weapon (as many loss mothers do).

They visit with the perinatologist and are given the results of the autopsy. Once the reason was revealed the perinatologist goes on to state that 1 in 160 babies are stillborn. As Aaron is looking for answers on why the condition of his baby wasn’t diagnosed prior to birth, you can hear a baby’s heart beating on a Doppler in another room.

The movie does well showing how men and women grieve differently. We are so engulfed in our own grief that we have a hard time seeing outside ourselves (if ever). With this movie, you can see Aaron grieving and Maggie grieving. You observe that they aren’t talking to each other at all even though Maggie is a therapist (I think). This brought awareness on so many levels.

I was happy (as anyone can be) that this movie focused on the aftermath of the loss and not just on the drama associated with the loss. Maggie doesn’t ever speak the words that her son died, that she has a dead baby or anything that recognizes the death of her son. She attends her sisters baby shower (I couldn’t have done this, I can’t believe she did). While there, a Christian woman approaches her and tells her that this was in God’s perfect plan.

After the woman stops talking, Maggie takes her glasses off and for the first time nearly states that her son is dead but replies “God’s perfect plan was that I would experience a loss so great, so devastating, that I would lose my faith in God?” I could relate to these thoughts and feelings in every way. I too lost my faith in God. While I have it now, I didn’t following my loss. You read about it in my book so you know that I felt this way too. I don’t understand (and still don’t understand), why God would allow such pain to be experienced. I know I was meant to write and share my story and I always say that this is the reason for my loss and for my pain (to bring healing to others) but it’s still so painful. I know in Heaven we won’t experience this pain.

Miscarriage and stillbirth were compared twice in this movie and both times Maggie stated that miscarriage and stillbirth were not the same. Now, I don’t like the way the first person brought this up in the movie and I was appalled by the nonchalant way this woman discussed it but it definitely didn’t help me feel like I have the right to grieve my loss. This is discussed in the Return to Zero Discussion Guide. I am glad they talked about this.

I think the first time I saw Maggie have any real tears was when she was talking with her doctor during an examination and the doctor revealed that she lost her son at seven months gestation. I absolutely loved how she shared her feelings. “You’ll always be Arthur’s mother. Be proud of that. He is.” She also made a statement to the effect of “You will forever be available and treat that child better than anyone ever can,” when talking about a future child. This scene brought up a wealth of emotion.

I was overwhelmed with guilt. I did not feel that way when my son was born. In fact, that is part of the premise of my next book. I don’t think I treat Timmy better because I lost Ruby. If anything, I am scared to love him.

Around six months after the loss, after she finds out her husband is cheating on her, she says, “My baby died.” Aaron also says his baby died too. She asks for a divorce at this point but he doesn’t want a divorce. Maggie discovers she is pregnant again. The movie then flashbacks to the delivery of Arthur.

I wept as she was pushing and Aaron was trying hard to be there for her. Holding her leg as she pushed and suffered with each agonizing push, he held back his cries for her. He tried to be strong for her…he was. I wept as Maggie screamed while pushing, “Come on baby, you can come out. It’s mommy. I love you!”

Arthur was born silent. He was handed to his mother who held him briefly and then she handed him to his father who immediately kissed his forehead and rubbed his cheek. These are the moments I wish for all my stillbirth clients. I wish they would cherish these moments and not be afraid. I wonder if Maggie and Aaron were so accepting of this because the doctor had prepared them and told them to take the time to love him?

They spent an hour with Arthur and had pictures taken but the nurse came in and took him and placed him in a cardboard box. I will never understand that (the box) and I don’t understand why they only had one hour with him. Maggie described that one hour: “Hugging him, kissing him, it was the most beautiful hour of my life. I didn’t want it to end.”

I feel that many women can relate to some of the statements Maggie made about after the loss. “The pain…I love it. I embrace it. I am afraid if I let it go, I am going to lose the last little piece of him that I still have.” “No one tells you about the relationship that begins with them after they die. If I can quiet my head down enough, I can feel him, I hear him.” When she is describing her feelings during her rainbow pregnancy, she says she is afraid to get close and she is afraid of everything. This follows along the lines of the survey I recently took. Many women share these feelings.

Maggie visits her mom and reveals she is pregnant. Her mother makes that dreaded statement again, This was like the eighth time I wanted to kill her mother. She seemed so dismissive of Maggie. I wonder how she feels about this movie in real life? Maggie then makes the statement, “Miscarriage is not the same thing as a stillbirth.” I tried not to tune out and I was surprised at her mothers response. “It’s a loss. It still hurts. It’s the loss of a possibility of what might have been and that is exactly the same.” I just blogged about this as well!

The rainbow pregnancy was treated differently, much like how I treated Timmy’s pregnancy. I didn’t want to do the same things (in the movie she didn’t want to read to the baby like they did with Arthur’s pregnancy). I tried hard to keep things “normal” and be excited but deep down I was scared I was going to lose Timmy. I know this was what Maggie was thinking too and I lost Ruby at eight weeks, not thirty eight!

Maggie goes on to deliver their daughter. This part of the movie confused me. She didn’t hold her daughter. She seemed dismissive and uninterested. What was she expecting? She seemed disappointed it wasn’t a boy. My mind was grasping at straws as to what she was thinking. A visit with the doctor revealed that Maggie didn’t know what she expected. She didn’t feel happy and she didn’t feel sad. She said she didn’t feel anything. The most powerful statement she made during this moment was, “What about joy? When does that come?” She felt she would be a terrible mother.

The movie ends with the new family on the beach and Aaron releases the small sail boat he made out into the ocean. This was his grief journey as he constructed the boat in the early days following the loss.

This movie was so powerful. I am thankful it came to life. It has broken that silence. So many now feel they have the right to grieve. We always have but now society knows. They can see how much this hurts and our babies mattered. They do! Your baby matters! Thank you Sean and Kiley!!!!

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Did you watch Return to Zero? What did you think?

 

Thoughts on Return to Zero Movie

Tonight, there was a movie on Lifetime Television. A movie that many people won’t watch because of the subject matter. A movie that others will watch to find normalcy. A movie that will break some, heal some, and help some. The Return to Zero movie had it’s premier tonight. As promised, here are my thoughts on this movie.

Return to Zero - Blog Post from All That is Seen and Unseen

First, I am lost for words. The movie focused well on all the parts experienced by parents who have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth. This movie, was based on a true story of the passing of Norbert Krekorian Hanish who was born still on July 12, 2005. I met Sean Hanish (Norberts father) at the annual Walk to Remember last year.

Sean spoke about his upcoming movie and I wasn’t sure if this would ever really make it into mainstream TV because of the content…stillbirth. I took notes during the movie. Notes about how I felt, statements, and the feelings I shared with the main character (Maggie). I shook for the first 15 minutes of the movie. I was numb, scared of what was to come. Scared of reliving the feelings of losing my Ruby when Maggie sat in the room and they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The commercial break that came shortly after just brought more numbness. I was relieved to have my online friends from my Stillbirthday group, who watched as I watched, cried as I cried, and healed as I healed.

I was impressed with the doctor who called their baby by name (Arthur in the movie) while they sat in a room hearing of their options for delivery. I was annoyed by the social worker who began asking questions that—as a bereavement doula, I felt were completely unnecessary for the time in which they were presented. This family had just lost their baby, why was she asking if they had discussed what they wanted to do with their baby? Ugh!

At the memorial service for Arthur, Maggie’s sister said a few words that I thought were wonderful. “Arthur was never hungry, never cold. He only experienced love. For a baby, a day is 100 years.” He was loved. I was appalled by her mother’s response (as I am sure others were including Maggie), “Everything happens for a reason.” We all hear that. It sucks…don’t say it.

I wept as Maggie walked in a field overlooking the city. She was smoking and drinking alcohol, which was something both her and her husband Aaron turned to during their grief. All I could think about was, she is supposed to be holding her new baby, nurturing him, loving him, and here she is…walking all alone, with nothing to hold. Nothing to show of her pregnancy. Nothing to show of her motherhood.

Arthur never got to see everything they prepared for him. There were clothes he would never wear, toys he would never play with, a crib he would never sleep in, and a painted wall with appliqués that he would never see which they pulled from the wall and painted over the blue after the loss.

Aaron gave Maggie a birth present. He had been saving it to give to her following a live birth but didn’t know when the right time was to give it to her so over dinner, he presented her this gift. She didn’t want it stating who would want a gift to remember the worst day of her life. She called her uterus a lethal weapon (as many loss mothers do).

They visit with the perinatologist and are given the results of the autopsy. Once the reason was revealed the perinatologist goes on to state that 1 in 160 babies are stillborn. As Aaron is looking for answers on why the condition of his baby wasn’t diagnosed prior to birth, you can hear a baby’s heart beating on a Doppler in another room. Another true account of how we often are managed during pregnancy loss.

The movie does well showing how men and women grieve differently. We are so engulfed in our own grief that we have a hard time seeing outside ourselves (if ever). With this movie, you can see Aaron grieving and Maggie grieving. You observe that they aren’t talking to each other at all even though Maggie is a therapist (I think). This brought awareness on so many levels.

I was happy (as anyone can be) that this movie focused on the aftermath of the loss and not just on the drama associated with the loss. Maggie doesn’t ever speak the words that her son died, that she has a dead baby or anything that recognizes the death of her son. She attends her sisters baby shower (I couldn’t have done this, I can’t believe she did). While there, a Christian woman approaches her and tells her that this was in God’s perfect plan.

After the woman stops talking, Maggie takes her glasses off and for the first time nearly states that her son is dead but replies “God’s perfect plan was that I would experience a loss so great, so devastating, that I would lose my faith in God?” I could relate to these thoughts and feelings in every way. I too lost my faith in God. While I have it now, I didn’t following my loss. You read about it in my book so you know that I felt this way too. I don’t understand (and still don’t understand), why God would allow such pain to be experienced. I know I was meant to write and share my story and I always say that this is the reason for my loss and for my pain (to bring healing to others) but it’s still so painful. I know in Heaven we won’t experience this pain.

Miscarriage and stillbirth were compared twice in this movie and both times Maggie stated that miscarriage and stillbirth were not the same. Now, I don’t like the way the first person brought this up in the movie and I was appalled by the nonchalant way this woman discussed it but it definitely didn’t help me feel like I have the right to grieve my loss. This is discussed in the Return to Zero Discussion Guide. I am glad they talked about this.

I think the first time I saw Maggie have any real tears was when she was talking with her doctor during an examination and the doctor revealed that she lost her son at seven months gestation. I absolutely loved how she shared her feelings. “You’ll always be Arthur’s mother. Be proud of that. He is.” She also made a statement to the effect of “You will forever be available and treat that child better than anyone ever can,” when talking about a future child. This scene brought up a wealth of emotion.

I was overwhelmed with guilt. I did not feel that way when my son was born. In fact, that is part of the premise of my next book. I don’t think I treat my second son any better because I lost Ruby. If anything, I am scared to love him.

Around six months after the loss, after she finds out her husband is cheating on her, she says, “My baby died.” Aaron also says his baby died too. She asks for a divorce at this point but he doesn’t want a divorce. Maggie discovers she is pregnant again. The movie then flashbacks to the delivery of Arthur.

I wept as she was pushing and Aaron was trying hard to be there for her. Holding her leg as she pushed and suffered with each agonizing push, he held back his cries for her. He tried to be strong for her…he was. I wept as Maggie screamed while pushing, “Come on baby, you can come out. It’s mommy. I love you!”

Arthur was born silent. He was handed to his mother who held him briefly and then she handed him to his father who immediately kissed his forehead and rubbed his cheek. These are the moments I wish for all my stillbirth clients. I wish they would cherish these moments and not be afraid. I wonder if Maggie and Aaron were so accepting of this because the doctor had prepared them and told them to take the time to love him?

They spent an hour with Arthur and had pictures taken but the nurse came in and took him and placed him in a cardboard box. I will never understand that (the box) and I don’t understand why they only had one hour with him. Maggie described that one hour: “Hugging him, kissing him, it was the most beautiful hour of my life. I didn’t want it to end.”

I feel that many women can relate to some of the statements Maggie made about after the loss. “The pain…I love it. I embrace it. I am afraid if I let it go, I am going to lose the last little piece of him that I still have.” “No one tells you about the relationship that begins with them after they die. If I can quiet my head down enough, I can feel him, I hear him.” When she is describing her feelings during her rainbow pregnancy (pregnancy following a loss), she says she is afraid to get close and she is afraid of everything. This follows along the lines of the survey I recently took. Many women share these feelings.

Maggie visits her mom and reveals she is pregnant. Her mother makes that dreaded statement again, This was like the eighth time I wanted to kill her mother. She seemed so dismissive of Maggie. I wonder how she feels about this movie in real life? Maggie then makes the statement, “Miscarriage is not the same thing as a stillbirth.” I tried not to tune out and I was surprised at her mothers response. “It’s a loss. It still hurts. It’s the loss of a possibility of what might have been and that is exactly the same.” I just blogged about this as well!

The rainbow pregnancy was treated differently, much like how I treated Timmy’s pregnancy. I didn’t want to do the same things (in the movie she didn’t want to read to the baby like they did with Arthur’s pregnancy). I tried hard to keep things “normal” and be excited but deep down I was scared I was going to lose Timmy. I know this was what Maggie was thinking too and I lost Ruby at eight weeks, not thirty eight!

Maggie goes on to deliver their daughter. This part of the movie confused me. She didn’t hold her daughter. She seemed dismissive and uninterested. What was she expecting? She seemed disappointed it wasn’t a boy. My mind was grasping at straws as to what she was thinking. A visit with the doctor revealed that Maggie didn’t know what she expected. She didn’t feel happy and she didn’t feel sad. She said she didn’t feel anything. The most powerful statement she made during this moment was, “What about joy? When does that come?” She felt she would be a terrible mother.

The movie ends with the new family on the beach and Aaron releases the small sail boat he made out into the ocean. This was his grief journey as he constructed the boat in the early days following the loss.

This movie was so powerful. I am thankful it came to life. It has broken that silence. So many now feel they have the right to grieve. We always have but now society knows. They can see how much this hurts and our babies mattered. They do! Your baby matters! Thank you Sean and Kiley!!!!

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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Did you watch Return to Zero? What did you think?

 

Baby D

I received a call today from a friend of mine who I haven’t spoken with since Timmy’s birth. I know…I know…must not be a good friend right? Well, we ARE good friends and we have a spiritual connection on so many levels. We rarely get to see each other and talk a few times a year but we love each other and it’s all good.

This call though, was a sad call. She had sent me a message on Facebook asking that I call her when I woke up. She couldn’t sleep. She had lost a baby in October and is still struggling. My heart ached for her. I never expected her to have more children but that didn’t matter. She had a miscarriage, around 11 weeks (the first trimester), and she was hurting.

I called her once I got up and could hear the pain in her voice as we talked. It seemed she wanted to “catch up” first so we had some idle chat but before the silence could hit, I asked her. “Tell me your story.”

She jumped in, “Well…blah, blah, blah…” Basically, she began by telling me about the wonderful man she is with right now and they unexpectedly got pregnant but right as they were entering the 2nd trimester, she woke up in blood and knew she lost the baby. She said she went to the doctor to confirm that everything had passed and then she moved on to other parts of her story, which were completely unrelated to her loss.

After I listened for a short-while, I returned to the loss. However, why did she brush over the loss? She knew I had one and should have felt comfortable talking about it yet as most mothers who had an early loss, she found herself brushing over the topic. I accepted it but needed to get her to open up about her loss. Her baby mattered and she knew the baby did.

“Did you have a feeling if the baby was a boy or a girl?” I asked. She began to cry. “Yes,” she said. ” A boy.” Did you choose a name for your baby boy, “Yes,” she replied. “We named him  ______ (Baby D to preserve confidentiality). She was crying heavily now. She hurt.

I know it hurts,” I replied. She told me she knew I knew. I encouraged her to journal. She thought it would be too hard. “It will be hard,” I shared with her. “He had a life and we want to document that life just like any other life.”

Her story was compounded with the fact that she is again…pregnant. Unexpectedly with a small complication that puts her baby at risk. She has some tough decisions ahead of her but she wanted some peace. “I am so anxious,” she said.

Then I told her what she already knew but didn’t want to hear (I am certain). “I don’t want this to scare you but the anxiety usually doesn’t get better with the passing milestones,” I stated. “You know what it is like to lose something so precious and it will always weigh on your mind. The innocence is lost.” “Yes it is,” she replied.

I wanted to hold her but distance separated us. She is just beginning her loss journey and in addition she is now beginning her pregnancy after a loss journey. I encouraged her to be a guest blogger here and share her story. I really hope she does because I would love to be a part of that imprint of her baby.

We talked more about her boy that died and the baby she is expecting and how to be sure she passes on good, loving energy to this new life inside her. She was scared that the grief from her lost boy would be bad energy for the baby. I get that, I really do. I just experienced it but hindsight is amazing. The advice I gave was, “Your baby already knows your grieving. Share that grief but let the baby know that this grief isn’t about them. Send positive vibes about the new life and recognize the vibes from your grief. The baby will understand and know the difference.”

It is so hard but I am here to help you walk this journey. Baby D, you were loved from the first moment.

We all need to share our stories, especially of those babies we have miscarried in the first trimester. We cannot pass over their stories like they don’t matter. Your baby has imprinted on your heart, why not share that imprint with the rest of the world? If you would like to share your baby’s imprint, no matter what trimester, please contact me. We will post your story here as a guest blogger and share your baby’s life with the world!

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
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