Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Category: stillbirth (page 1 of 3)

Use of a Fetal Doppler in Pregnancy

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor or midwife if you have any questions regarding this information and opinion on the use of a fetal Doppler in pregnancy.

I want to address this fear-mongering article from Bustle. In the article, This New Pregnancy Trend Among Millennial Women Could Seriously Harm Unborn Babies, the author makes some “serious” claims. First, I want to pick apart the title. “New Pregnancy Trend,” “Millennial Women,” “Seriously Harm Unborn Babies.”

This is not a new pregnancy trend. Unless “in the last 15 years” is considered a new trend. When I was pregnant with my now 14-year old, home monitoring devices were around. Back then, it wasn’t easy to find a fetal Doppler to use at home, but I had a home monitoring device called Bebe Sounds Prenatal Listener. I could listen to my baby’s heart, record it, and also play music to my baby. It came with headphones and an adapter for my mp3 player or Walkman. We have really come a long way in the last 15 years!

I remember thinking it was odd that no gel was needed to hear my baby’s heartbeat but once I was far enough along, I could certainly hear him in there moving and the little thump of his heart. It probably was far into my third trimester before we could hear anything. Fast forward 10 years.

I had experienced one miscarriage before I became pregnant in 2013. I knew how easy it was to rent a home fetal Doppler and I wanted one. I didn’t want to rent one so I bought one on eBay ;the Sonoline B. Guess what, Walmart now sells them and they are cheaper than the one I bought on eBay five years ago.

This is hardly a “new pregnancy trend.”

The next claim in the title is that this is by millennial women. I am NOT a millennial and many pregnant women in my age group (35-45) are not millennial either and they use fetal Dopplers. In fact, many of my millennial friends would never and have not used a fetal Doppler. I dislike the authors use of a generation.

Just plainly say “women.” Does this mean that only millennial women are so ignorant they could not figure out how to use a fetal Doppler?

And finally, the author’s fear-mongering statement, “Seriously Harm Unborn Babies.” Wow! That’s a catchy title and unfortunately, it’s click-bait. In the article, there wasn’t a single bit of information proving that using a fetal Doppler causes “serious” harm. Yes. I purposely removed the word, “Could” from my picking apart because I guess ANYTHING “could” cause harm. This article was meant to scare women from using the fetal Doppler.

This Pop Sugar article calls it a new “fun” trend, so not fear-mongering. It’s also almost a cut and paste of the Bustle article.  For me, it certainly wasn’t fun although there may be women who use a fetal Doppler for “fun.”

Do I recommend women use a fetal Doppler in pregnancy?          NO

Why? I don’t think every woman needs or should have one.

But to scare women from using one is a disservice. Elizabeth Hutton, CEO of Kicks Count UK, even has a petition to ban the private sale of Dopplers. I love Kicks Count and I utilize their brochures, cards, and documentation in my childbirth classes. It’s important to assess your baby’s fetal movements and this can be a very bonding experience for the parents. I don’t agree with banning a tool, where if a mother is trained properly, she has a tool which can help her immensely.

Let’s talk about training, because in the article This New Pregnancy Trend Among Millennial Women Could Seriously Harm Unborn Babiesthe author claims that women are untrained and speculates that no woman can or should be trained. Instead, the article warns women not to use this tool because it can cause stress which is harmful for a baby (due to not finding a heartbeat) and it can cause reassurance when there is actually something wrong (because the mere finding of a heartbeat does not signify health of baby).

If the author is mistakenly referring to ultrasound Doppler or even fetal heart monitoring on a strip, then yes, there is more training that takes place, but not years of training as the article states: “Midwives and doctors train for many years to interpret what they hear through a doppler.” I took a weekend class on reading and assessing fetal heart tones as a labor doula.

If stress is going to be cited as harmful for the mother and baby, raised blood pressure for mother and premature birth (which is a stretch to say the least), what about the mother who has chronic anxiety in her pregnancy because she is a loss mother and is in a constant state of worry over the health of her baby?

If a mother couldn’t find the heartbeat on her home fetal Doppler, she would have acute stress and need to see her OBGYN or midwife for reassurance (this is a good thing). Once the mother receives reassurance that the baby is okay, her stress would diminish. Many pregnancy after a loss mothers are under chronic stress. Chronic stress would more likely lead to raised blood pressure and potentially, prematurity. If a woman had a tool which could potentially reduce that chronic stress, wouldn’t we want that available to her? Now you are saying that doctors should then prescribe a home fetal Doppler. I will agree with you there.

The final concern is that a mother may “think” she hears the heartbeat when it’s actually placental flow, her own heartbeat, or hears the fetal heartbeat but there could still be something wrong and she is reassured when she shouldn’t be. This is the biggest concern for me and I have experienced this first-hand (although my baby was fine).

This is where a little bit of training would be beneficial on the use of home fetal Dopplers. In addition, doctors and midwives who know their patients are using them, should have serious discussion about fetal Doppler use and when to be seen. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, “If you feel like there is something wrong, or your baby has reduced movements, come in.” Let’s not forget that there are plenty of You Tube videos out there to show women how to use a fetal Doppler.

I would have been in the doctors office every day, all day. 

It’s really not feasible or realistic for women enduring pregnancy after a loss. And with my insurance, after hours requires a visit to the ER as no urgent care is available for pregnancy so once 5-o’clock hits, it’s ER time or suck it up until morning (which can be fatal for a baby).

How about training women how to use the fetal Doppler. I know I have said this before. Instead of avoiding the conversation because you don’t want the mother to use the fetal Doppler and if you talk about it you will encourage her, have that difficult conversation and help her to know when something isn’t right and she needs to seek care.

It didn’t take much training for me to learn what I was hearing; my baby’s heartbeat (fast or about 130 beats per minute in my last pregnancy and 165 in my second living pregnancy), placenta (more of a whooshy sound with heartbeat), and what was my heartbeat (much slower or around 60 beats per minute). I was always sure I heard the heartbeat but just because I heard it, didn’t mean everything was okay.

We can teach women that just because they hear the heartbeat doesn’t mean everything is okay and that they should also seek care if there is a concern such as reduced fetal movement or their intuition tells them there is something wrong. I surveyed labor and delivery nurses, who work in different parts of the country, on how much training they received on the use of the fetal Doppler. It ranged from “on-the-job” training to “I don’t remember being trained in nursing school,” and “we had training in nursing school and on rotation.” Nurses did have a competency to complete each year while on labor and delivery.

The article implies that women are not trainable, nor should be trained on how to distinguish their baby’s heartbeat from their own or the placenta. I disagree and believe that fetal Doppler’s can be a very effective tool at lowering chronic stress in pregnancy after a loss or in any woman who is experiencing chronic stress in pregnancy related to the unknown of the health of their baby. Women should be directed to visit their care providers with questions on fetal health, with reduced movements (COUNT THOSE KICKS!) and if their intuition tells them something is wrong.

If we can combine the use of a fetal Doppler with the instructions women are already given in pregnancy on when to see their care provider, the use of a fetal Doppler can be helpful for the woman.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor or midwife if you have any questions regarding this information and/or concerns about your baby’s health.

They lost a child for goodness sake!

It isn’t called a miscarriage, it’s called a stillbirth. They lost a child for goodness sake.

Miscarriage vs. Stillbirth

This is a very interesting statement and it implies that a woman experiencing a miscarriage, did not lose a child. If she didn’t lose a child, what DID she lose?

For me, the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I believed I was pregnant with a baby. Some do not believe this and that may be the right choice for them but if anyone called my baby an embryo or fetus, that was offensive to me. Because of this, when my baby died, I felt I had lost a child. There was so much our family lost when both Ruby and Gus died.

I recently attended a workgroup in Houston, Texas where we discussed how to effectively manage miscarriage in the emergency department. This is an area I am working hard to change because many women are sent away from the emergency department with little to no support or options.

While at the workshop, important leaders within the medical community met with leaders in perinatal loss which included members of PLIDA. We talked for four hours about what we can do to best assist families through miscarriage and we came up with some great ideas, but I left sad. The reason was because one major thing needed to change or none of what was presented would change either. That was the language that was used.

Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage, products of conception, embryo/fetus, baby/child, etc. While these words were used, I watch the faces of the medical professionals when someone referred to their “products of conception” as a baby. They cringed. And one woman called her baby a fetus but when a doctor heard the gestation of the baby, she became upset that fetus was used because the term embryo should have been used instead.

Even though we discussed language was a big factor in how miscarriage should be managed within an emergency department, if the medical professionals don’t want to change their language to what the family is using, our efforts will be fruitless. This will certainly be a challenge.

So let’s talk about the comments in the thread of the picture above. This was in response to a woman whose baby had passed away near term. I remember the story and the person is a celebrity. The news reported the loss as a miscarriage; however, the term was incorrect and in fact, the baby was near full-term which is a stillbirth.

But that first comment is one of the stigma’s surrounding miscarriage and can make women confused about whether or not they have a right to grieve. If society does not accept that a miscarried embryo/fetus is not a child/baby, then what it is and is it acceptable for a woman to grieve that loss?

The thoughts and prayers are certainly wonderful but the responses above are really trying to compare miscarriage and stillbirth. Comparing loss serves no one.

 

 

 

Surviving the Holidays After Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage OrnamentIt’s the holidays. Notoriously a happy and gleeful time of year yet can be the most painful time of year, especially following pregnancy loss. If you have experienced a loss this year, I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry that this will be your first Christmas without your baby. I don’t know your pain, but I do know my pain and it hurts. I would be holding a new baby this Christmas but instead, I hold him in my heart. Here are some tips to help you through these holidays.

It’s okay to say NO.

If you don’t feel like spending time with friends and family, it’s okay to say no. Be gentle with your dismissal of their offer, “Thank you for inviting us but we won’t be able to attend,” is an easy way of declining. You don’t have to give the reason. If you feel like sharing, go ahead but don’t feel obligated. Know your limits and don’t push yourself.

You don’t have to “fake” it.”

There is this feeling of guilt we have if we bring sadness and despair to holiday parties and gatherings. You don’t have to “fake” a smile. It’s okay to be authentic and be the person you are in this moment. I remember one Mother’s Day just sitting on the couch away from the entire family. I knew I couldn’t say anything nice and I couldn’t participate in all the festivities so instead, I just sat away from everyone. I gave my hubby permission to indulge and have fun and I didn’t resent him for it. I just decided that I couldn’t fake it so this is where I felt the best.

Remember your little one.

Purchase an ornament and decorate it, buy a gift, make something, participate in an Angel Tree/Wreath. Even if your little one isn’t here, there are many things you can do to remember them or donate in remembrance. We have ornaments for both our babies and every year we pick a child who is the same age as our Ruby would be and purchase gifts for them from the Angel Wreath at our church. This year was particularly fun as Ruby would have been 5. The 5 year old girl we picked wanted a red party dress.

Red DressI didn’t realize how much fun I could have picking out that dress. At first, I was kind of sad, but as I searched through the many red dresses available my heart filled with love over how happy the little girl was going to be when she opened her present revealing the red dress. There were many to choose from but I ultimately chose this one.

Know someone will say the wrong thing.

“Be happy with what you have.”

“When are you going to try again?”

“It’s God’s way of saying it’s not meant to be.”

“There must have been something wrong with the baby so you are better off.”

These comments can be very hurtful although the sender usually is trying to give bring comfort in these words.

Choose your battles.

There will always be someone who just “won’t get it.” It’s up to you if you want to “educate” them or walk away.  This goes along with the above, the person likely isn’t trying to cause you pain or to be insensitive but the comments or lack there of, can still be infuriating.

Someone will likely ignore you, the situation, and/or be silent. 

This can be just as painful as hearing insensitive comments. I have been told often that someone, a family member, relative, or friend, said nothing. Wouldn’t it be nice if they said, “Remembering your little one(s) with you today.” It can be as simple as that and it is so comforting to hear someone recognize your little one.

Don’t feel guilty or shameful for feeling happy.

It’s okay to enjoy yourself. The holiday season is a time where we see relatives we haven’t seen often enough and it’s okay to smile, laugh, and have some fun. This does not mean you don’t love your baby or have forgotten them.

Find comfort.

Support groups, therapists, counselors, mentors, friends, online and in person groups, can be a wonderful source of comfort as you navigate the holidays. Clergy, priests, pastors, and church services can also be a way to seek comfort. If you feel you are depressed, please seek the support of a licensed therapist to help you.

Stop Silencing Us

Many of you saw it, the CNN news cast about Nicholas’ School Project where he shared his family, all of the members of his family, which included his brother Noah who was born still. A teacher at the school, Old Brooklyn Elementary and Middle School, refused to accept Nicholas’ project, stating it contained inappropriate content and that he needed to resubmit his family pictures. Many of us are appalled and outraged. And we have a right to be. The teacher is basically saying that Noah, is inappropriate, that a picture of him is appalling and that the other kids being exposed to his picture, will see that death exists.

Apparently, the school wants to hide the fact that death exists. 

thantophobia

In a world full of violence, murder, and school shootings, what is this school teaching their children? In my son’s elementary school, they learned about lock down. They learned how to hide during an active shooter. Is this school teaching their kids what to do in the event they experience this type of violence? If so, what are they telling the kids the reason for the drill is? I remember having bomb drills in elementary school, hiding under desks and sheltering in the classroom. Tornado and fire drills are a part of every school protocol, but what does this mean? Are we discounting death?

I am not off topic here, I am making a point. Death exists. Evil exists. To shelter children from it, only makes it more scary. To shelter children, makes them unaware. To shelter children, hurts the children who are the unfortunate ones who have had to experience it.

Nicholas is carrying grief. He loves his brother and sharing him helps him. It helps him to cope and process his loss. It helps him feel good when his parents are crying and grieving. Sharing a picture of his stillborn brother, HELPS HIM.

Noah is not something to be disgusted by. He is not something to be afraid of. Noah is reality. The reality that 1 in 160 babies are born still every year in the US. The children who would see Noah’s picture, will most likely see him for who he is. A baby. Only the teacher brought in the death. Only the teacher and the principal brought the fear of death into the situation.

This was an opportunity for questions, for awareness, for supporting a hurting student. As a parent, I would not be offended at all by this but the sad reality is, we know that parents are offended and they may be upset. But Nicholas was never given a chance. Instead, his voice was silenced. Instead, he was told to “hide” his brother. To “change the picture.” That is family didn’t fit societal norm. He was asked to show people a “fake family.” If both of his parents were women or men, would he have been asked to change the picture?

This silencing has got to stop. Joey was silenced. Many of you have heard him share about his loss of Ruby. Many of you saw him cry over his sister who was born not alive in the first trimester. Miscarriage and stillbirth is real and it is frequent. I can’t be silent over this. I won’t be silent.

Below is a letter I wrote to the principal. The one who “supported her teachers decision.” I urge you to write to her as well. Please try to be civil. It’s okay to be angry. I know I am. I hope we can help her see the error in what was done and help validate Nicholas’ feelings.

CNN Stillbirth

Good Morning Ms. Kaiser,

I saw the video on CNN this morning about the school project where Nicholas shared his brother Noah who was stillborn. As a bereaved mother, educator, and perinatal loss specialist, I found it offensive that your teacher refused to accept Nicholas’ project and that you stood by their actions. According to your media statement, you felt the photo was inappropriate. 
What about the photo was inappropriate? Nicholas held his deceased brother, he loves his brother, he has seen his parents grieve over his brother, and he himself carries grief. To tell him that the picture is inappropriate is to discount his feelings and confuse him. This is one of your students and is a student that is hurting and needs your support. 
Teachers have a profound impact on the children they educate. It is important that Nicholas receive compassion and acceptance for his very real feelings and validate his very real grief. A teacher did something very similar to my son in 2010. He was 6 years old when his sister died and we experienced a miscarriage. The teacher was separating children by number of siblings and when my son went into the group with 1 sibling, the teacher asked him to leave that group and return to the only child group. The reason, “because his sister wasn’t living, she didn’t exist.” 
Because of this experience, my son speaks out publicly about how hurt he was by his teacher and the secondary victimization he felt because of her actions. He feels society should be accepting of young children’s response to grief and the way they process the death of a sibling. Children are the silent grievers when it comes to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Ma’am, you are continuing to spread the stigma that miscarriage and stillbirth isn’t common, isn’t worthy of grief, that families shouldn’t share their experiences, and that children should suppress their feelings about their loss. 1 in 4 women will miscarry, it’s highly likely that you have had this experience. 1 in 160 babies are born still. This is more common than Down Syndrome diagnoses which so many women are worried about in their pregnancies. 
I highly encourage you to learn more about miscarriage and stillbirth. There are thousands of non-profits and organizations that support families through these experiences. It is so extremely common and it is also highly likely that other children within your school have had the same experiences yet Nicholas could have been the first child to express his grief in this way.
I have seen your name smeared all over social media and the backlashing from the loss community. I hope you will come out and share that Nicholas will receive full credit for his project and allow him to display his work. Please stop shaming families who have experienced the loss of their child. Please welcome them and the pictures of their families (including pictures of their deceased baby). 
You can help break the silence. You can be a solution and an advocate. You can help support Nicholas as he grieves and remembers his brother. You can help educate your children that death is real. Noah did not die from violence. He was not murdered. He was born silently. Please reconsider your statement. 
It is our duty as parents and educators to help our children through their grief. We stand with you Cassandra Hess.

Brought Together – October 15th

On October 15, 2015, families from across the front range and Wyoming, were brought together to honor and remember their babies and children who are no longer living. In celebration of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Dragonflies For Ruby held a Candlelight Vigil and Remembrance Event in Castle Rock, Colorado in conjunction with Rock A My Baby Family Enrichment Center. Photographer Ashley Henry was present to capture all the candles and special moments of the evening.

This year, the event had grown so much, volunteers were needed to help with all the preparations and cost of the event. I cannot thank those volunteers enough for helping. We wrote names on each of the tags and placed those tags carefully on the candles. The candles were laid out lovingly by more volunteers which took several hours to place.

There were several unexpected happenings that evening. First, it was how everyone who attended was brought together and loved on by all there. It didn’t matter how early the loss, what type of loss, or how old their child was; the families here understood and loved. People they didn’t even know or had ever met, were embraced and surrounded by with loving arms.

Wave Of Light1

As the event coordinator, it gets easy to become lost in all the preparations. It is also difficult to remember your own children when you are holding up those who have come to attend. There were no silent moments for me to remember my own children who had gone too soon, but I didn’t even realize it until later. It was wonderful to have the support of my family there to help remember and light their candles.

Wave Of Light3

In the past, I have always had a large candle at the top of the heart. It was Ruby’s candle. This year, I did not bring it. I wanted all babies and children to have similar sized candles. I didn’t want Ruby’s to be any bigger as if she meant more than any other baby or child. When Ashley (the photographer) could not find her candle and I explained why, she mentioned that Ruby is who started this whole event and the organization. I had never thought of it that way and I was so glad that Ashley was able to remind me. It was then, that I missed having her candle there but her place was still at the top of the heart.

All our children mattered that evening and it was evident in the faces and hearts of those who attended. Donations poured in like never before. All my prayers for how I was going to afford the event were answered. I had enough to share with Ashley and support her and I hope next year, we will have some funding to support others who help with the event.

We did some different things this year that I hope to keep as a tradition. First was the large candle with all the babies and children’s names on them. I was so happy to have found a way to keep those who we remembered and had remembered at past events, present with us. It was easy enough to make so I will do this again next year.

Wave Of Light4

We also added some LED balloons. We wrote names on the balloons. Everyone seemed to really love this addition. I will be sure to have the balloons next year blown up with helium that has additive in it so they float longer. Even though I had them filled at 5pm, a few were already struggling at 8pm.

LED Balloons

I really liked the idea of reading the names as the candles were placed. It helped the event move more smoothly. I know that next year we will be in a different location but I think we will still be able to incorporate this. I also hope that next year we have another person to read some of the names. I had four pages of names this year compared to one over the last two years.

Wave Of Light2

I was so honored to read each name; some were harder than others. I will close this post with the message I sent to all those who attended the event.

I want to take a moment and share my thoughts with you about the event. I apologize it has taken me this long to share with you. The morning after the event, I flew to Oklahoma to help my mother who had surgery. She has horses and she is unable to tend to them for a few months. I did not anticipate that they would have little access to the internet so that has delayed what I wanted to share.

I cannot thank you all enough for coming out and sharing your babies and children. I did not realize how important this event really was to so many of you. I know that sounds weird, as I am a bereaved parent as well and I have found events like this healing but as the organizer, I think I get a bit lost in all the planning that takes place for the event.

Needless to say, I was blown away by all of your responses at the event and on this page. Without you sharing, we would not have been able to honor all our babies and children. As we move throughout our daily lives, it becomes more and more difficult to incorporate our children who are no longer with us. Events like this help us take a moment to remember. We may hurt, we may cry, but we are remembering.

We know that society tells us we need to move on, to forget. We cannot forget and we do not move on. We love. Each step we take is one of survival because we hurt and long to hold someone we cannot. We can however, hold them in our hearts and share them with others.

All of us at the event understood that. We came together. We knew what the pain feels like and it didn’t matter when we lost our baby or child, we all held each other that evening.

While I hope this event grows, I do hope to maintain that love and support we had for each other that Thursday night. This is being human and it was so heartwarming to see all of us come together in such a way. Thank you all for that.

Each year, we will expand and if you want to help with the event, I would love to have you. I also want to thank you ALL for your generous donations. My heart is so full. You all have helped to sustain Dragonflies For Ruby, the event, and the support which can be provided to families enduring loss.

We had families from up and down the front range attend as well as a family from Wyoming. I cannot believe they came down here for this event and I hope to help them get an event started in Wyoming next year!!

So, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month comes to an end, know that your babies and children are loved, missed, and remembered. You can light a candle each morning or evening to keep them present in your home or purchase a special candle holder. There are many ways you can keep your children’s memories alive within your home. I am honored to have the candle with all our babies and children’s names on it.

If you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. You will certainly get an email next year about the event. Thank you again and I hope to see ALL of you next year!

heart

Honoring Your Baby

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Honoring a very tiny baby may seem like overkill but it’s important to do something in honor of your baby. Honoring your baby can really help with coping and feelings of closure. Although not all ways may give you “closure” you may still feel a sense of peace when you honor your baby.

Honoring your baby can be very simple or as elaborate as you would like. Here are some ideas:

Naming Your Baby

Some women feel called to name their baby. You may feel push back from friends and family or you may receive positive support when you talk about naming your baby. If you feel called to name your baby, take some time in the quiet to feel out the best name for your baby. If you had a baby very early, you may not know the sex of your baby. This does not mean you cannot name your baby. You don’t even have to pick a gender neutral name, you can still name your baby what you felt your baby was or had picked for your baby.

Listen to your intuition. Many times, it is correct. If you pray, you may also pray and ask for God’s guidance on what your baby’s name is. There is no right or wrong name or way to do this. Names can be simple or elaborate. Some examples are: Baby Apple, Baby Bean, Asher, Neveah, Baby _______ (fill in your last name), or as we named our babies, Ruby Josephine and Augustus Jude.

Baby Book

With a miscarriage, it may be more difficult to have tangible items for a book; however, there are items which can create a wonderful keepsake. Items which can be included in a baby book might be:

  • Picture of positive pregnancy testMiscarriage Remembrance Book - Augustus Jude
  • Lab results
  • Ultrasound photos
  • Notes or journal writings to baby or about baby
  • Poems
  • Pictures of announcement
  • Sympathy cards

It is important to do what feels right for you. If you feel like including something in your book but feel you may be judged by others, it is okay to listen to your heart and place those items in your book. This is ultimately your book and one you may return to when you want to remember.

Memory Box

A memory box can be a great way to keep all your mementos together. Even for very tiny babies, you may have items that can be stored for remembering the experience. Items may include:

  • Positive Pregnancy TestHandprints - Rebekah Valerie Anderson - SBD
  • Lab Results
  • Ultrasound Photos
  • Hospital band (from D&C or other pregnancy related admission)
  • Personal journal
  • Pictures drawn by your or your living children
  • Work from therapy
  • Birth or Death Announcement
  • Sympathy Cards

If your baby passed at a later gestation, you could also include:

  • Pictures from labor and birth
  • Lock of hair
  • Handprints and/or footprints
  • Hospital blanket and/ or ID bands
  • Going home outfit that was intended for baby
  • Pictures from baby shower or gender reveal

Tattoos

Many are called to commemorate their baby through a tattoo, either with their baby’s name or some other symbol like a butterfly, tiny footprints, angel wings, or the pregnancy and infant loss ribbon. Some examples might be:

In memory of Hunter Grace

In memory of Hunter Grace

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

In Memory of Mayflower, Poppy, Pickle, Jennyfur Angel, Maybird, Willow, Lovebug, Joy, Rayne, Twinkle, Bluebell, Baby Bean, Glory Michelle, Sweet Baby, Sunshine

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Ethan Nicholas Bishop

Stephanie Joanna

Stephanie Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral or Memorial Service

Regardless of what you choose to do with the physical form of your baby’s body, you can still hold a funeral or memorial service. A memorial can be appropriate and very healing. You may send out invitations or call your friends and family inviting them to the service or event. This can be held at a church, in a garden, or even at your home. You may have flowers, a table displaying your baby’s name, pictures of your baby or pregnancy/ultrasound pictures, as well as other items with which you remember your baby by.

Commendation Ceremony - Ashley Henry PhotographyAt the service you can read prayers, poems or notes that remind you of your baby or were written for your baby. Invite others to share by allowing them to come forward and talk. The service doesn’t have to look like anything specific so trust what feels right for you.

A commendation ceremony is also a wonderful ceremony. It is typically a Catholic ceremony where the baby is commended back to Christ. This can be coupled with a naming ceremony.

Other ideas

balloonsRelease balloons, plant something (flowers, tree, bush), attend a butterfly release or memorial walk, purchase a special candle and light it when you think about your baby, purchase a special item which reminds you of your baby, make a blanket/hat/or other item which you can hold.

The possibilities truly are endless. Since there is no right or wrong way to remember your baby, you can be as creative or as elaborate as you would like. Celebrate your baby’s life, no matter how short it was.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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.

 

11 Ways to Honor a Friend’s Baby During October’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Did you know that? We tend to hear more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October instead of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, so this month is full of fundraising and awareness. As we shed light on pregnancy and infant loss, it’s important to know how you can honor and support someone during the month of October.

  1. Light a Candle. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm in your time zone, you are invited to light a candle in honor of babies and infants who are no longer with us. You could encourage your friend or family member to participate in a local event or you can light the candle and share your candle on Facebook. In the Denver Metro area, the 5th Annual October 15th Candlelight Vigil and Remembrance event is taking place at 7pm and over 300 babies will be honored this year. Join an event and if you can’t join in person, many of these events will still honor babies and children without attendance.Candelight Vigil - Pregnancy and Infant Loss
  2. Send them a card or text message. While it is becoming more rare for people to send cards these days, it’s so wonderful to receive something tangible in the mail in which we can remember our baby by. There is a new line of pregnancy loss cards but Hallmark has some as well. I also love Carly Marie’s Line of Cards. If none of these cards seem appropriate, purchase a blank card and write “Thinking of you and your baby this month,” or “Remembering your baby this month and on October 15th we will light a candle in honor of your baby.” There are e-cards as well and if none of these fit your personality, send a text! The family will not be upset. They are already hurting and they are usually so happy that someone else has remembered their baby. This leads me into #3.
  3. Say their baby/child’s name. In the card, if you can replace “baby” with their baby’s name, they will feel even more acknowledged. Not only did you remember, you also remembered their baby’s name. But even if you don’t remember the baby’s name, don’t let that stop you from sending that card or message. When out with your bereaved friend or family member, bring up their baby/child. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just say something like, “I heard it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I wanted to let you know I am thinking about you and ________ (fill in baby’s name).
  4. Participate in a Remembrance Event or ask to participate with them. I mentioned the candlelight vigil in #1 but October is full of events. LED Balloon Releases, Remembrance Walks, Runs/5k’s, Lantern Releases, Candlelight Vigils and more. You can visit October 15th to find events in your area. And as I mentioned before, with many events you do not even need to be present to participate. It’s so wonderful when we can all gather together in remembrance especially with our close friends and family.
  5. Send a donation to an organization in that baby/child’s name. There are many organizations that support families through pregnancy and infant loss. Some also create bereavement packets and boxes that are given to newly bereaved parents and those boxes have a note that state “donated in memory of ________.” This can be a wonderful way to not only help a newly bereaved family while also honoring a baby/child. My organization Dragonflies For Ruby, provides personal one-on-one support to families enduring loss in any gestation. Services are free and we rely on donations to help keep the organization running. I also like to donate to Rowan Tree Foundation but there are many organizations that are in need of your financial help.
  6. Complete a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK) in their baby/child’s name and encourage others to follow suit. This can be an amazing and fun time. You could even set up a Facebook event page and place that event page on the RAOK encouraging others to share their subsequent RAOK. There are a few organizations that have similar projects but anyone can participate on their own. The Kindness Project has downloadable cards to help you and you can see a list of the RAOK’s others have done to help you with ideas. Some might be purchasing groceries for the person in front of you at the grocery store or leaving a $5 bill taped to a vending machine with a little note that this is an RAOK and where to share their thanks. Let your friend know so you can share in the joy!
  7. Purchase a remembrance sticker and give it to them. There are many places to purchase stickers, car magnets, and appliqués. Many can be personalized. I purchased a personalized car window sticker at Remembering Our Babies and I am in love with it. Even if your friend doesn’t display it, they will be appreciative of the gesture. Remember, it’s about showing them that you remember their baby and their loss experience. You are sharing in their experience when you remember and help them memorialize their child.
  8. A phone call. How many of us just pick up the phone these days and talk to the person on the other end? Just like calling to say Happy Birthday, you can call up your friend or family member this month and say, “Hey, I just heard it was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I wanted to let you know I am thinking about you. How are you doing?” Then share with them all you are doing in remembrance of their baby/child or make the offering to take them out to remember their baby/child.
  9. Take them out, spend time together, or just drop by to say hello. Bring a meal, cookies, or chocolate covered strawberries! Tell them why you are there, “It’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I have some treats!” When someone I know experiences a loss, I bring over Grief Soup. Food is great for the soul! When you share in a meal, you share in so much more. Take the time to talk, mention their baby’s name and remember together.
  10. Facebook Status Update. An easy and cost free way to help remember and acknowledge someone’s loss is a status update, meme, or changing your profile picture to pink and blue. Messages can be simple, “Remembering ______ (insert baby/child’s name) this October.” Here is a great meme you can share!October 15th Meme
  11. Volunteer time or donate goods to a baby/child in need. This is something that is frequently done during the holidays but Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is another excellent time to provide stewardship. Not only are you spreading awareness by sharing with an organization why you are gifting time or goods, you are remembering and honoring someone’s baby/child. You are also giving back and incorporating all I have mentioned above. Be sure to let your friend or family member know what you are doing and why. They will feel the love and compassion in your acts of kindness.

No matter how small your act may be, you are spreading awareness and showing you care. No act is too small or too big. Celebrate a lost baby/child’s life. With 1 in 4 women affected by miscarriage, 1 in 160 babies who pass through stillbirth, and 1 in 2500 babies dying from SIDS, there is no doubt someone you know has been touched by pregnancy and infant loss.

 – Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

An Open Letter – Worthiness Determined

Worthy

An Open Letter to an Undisclosed Person:

Thank you for meeting with me about my displeasure with your organization. I appreciated you taking the time out of your busy day to meet although your heart was not open and we left on the same terms with which we met. At the time, I was utterly exhausted from 36+ hours of work that I had completed and honestly had less than 5 hours of sleep when we met. As you know, my work is very emotionally draining and can be physically taxing but you weren’t concerned with that, just concerned about how you were going to defend yourself and organization.

Let me say that I was not trying to hurt you personally. My displeasure was because of many things. I addressed those with you but your heart was not open. You didn’t hear me, you were only there to defend. If I were a hospital representative who expressed those feelings, you would not have approached me in such a way. You would have been open to hearing my concerns. But I am not a hospital, I am just a person who you berated, threatened and attempted to rip apart her very core.

I wanted to keep the conversation on task by trying to explore the communication breakdown within your organization but you weren’t interested in fixing that organizational breakdown and only offered for me to call you personally when your organization failed to provide. If they failed to provide, you shared you would find a way to provide. You don’t see how that isn’t really feasible and ultimately, not sustainable for you, your family and of course, your organization.

Our conversation should have been about mending a damaged relationship, addressing communication failures, and coming together to provide for families but you did not see that. You came with discontent and hate towards a comment I made on my personal Facebook page. In addition, you felt assaulted because I did not involve your organization with one of my many clients. A client you should have never known I was serving and even though you did, you did not come to me. You expected me to come to you. And when I didn’t, you were offended.

I apologized to you but you did not accept it. You offered no humanity, you remained cold and heartless, ripping apart all I do and comparing my loss to yours. Discounting my children by stating I couldn’t possibly understand your loss and referring to them as blobs. I took it. It’s not like I haven’t heard it before but there was no need to compare our losses during this conversation.  It wasn’t about our deceased children or the grief we both carry for them. This was about your organizations failings and my businesses inability to utilize a service. Then the second piece was my sadness over something I lost from your organization as a bereaved mother.

You lumped them into one big issue and refused to see either side. You were grasping at every straw in an attempt to destroy me. It was wrong and inappropriate. You said I should have come straight to you with my displeasure instead of utilizing your organizations outlet for asking questions and submitting a complaint; instead of posting something on my personal page. But why should I have come to you directly?

You stated it was because we were “friends” on Facebook as if that gives me some entitlement. Maybe it does, but what about all those who had the same feelings and aren’t friends with you on Facebook? Where do they go when they feel disappointed? I suppose to your special VIP club that no one knows about. I wouldn’t come to you (the owner) no more than a Private would go to their General if they had a concern. I explained this, but you didn’t understand that concept.

You continued to “one-up” me. Any situation I discussed, you presented something worse that you were involved in. Your underlying message was that I couldn’t possibly have an understanding because I haven’t been where you have, seen what you have, experienced what you have and more. We are both unique. We both have stories to tell but you didn’t see that; only defensiveness and hate. That’s what you brought to this meeting.

When I shed tears in front of you because of the sheer exhaustion of my last 36+ hours, not a sign of humility appeared and you continued to thrash about, searching for oxygen to heal a wound you believe I created. No humanity; just defensiveness and continued berating of me and my profession.

“Anyone can do what you do,” you said. “I can do it without any training and slap a credential behind my name,” you blundered. No, “anyone” can’t do what I do just as much as “anyone” can’t do what you do. And this is where you became such a hypocrite and didn’t even see it. I chose for my client to have a personal service, untrained by your “standards” yet trained in her own way and definitely up to serving a special case, but she wasn’t “good enough” for you because she wasn’t trained by your organization.

You said your organization is “premier” with all the training and support that is received and that is wonderful. It does make your organization special. But my organization is special and premier too. It is also unique and came with an intense amount of training. You don’t see that and you won’t, even when I invited you in to share. “I have a friend that serves families the way you do and she doesn’t have training,” you muttered.

Oh, but it is very important that your friend receive training. I explained that it is frustrating that your friend doesn’t have any formal training because there is so much that can be offered. Maybe your friend is offering it but without the training, your friend may not even know. Training doesn’t make one superior but it does help families.

However, I see a bigger issue here beyond all that. It’s worthiness. You and your organization determine worthiness and that is not okay. It’s also discrimination at its finest. What makes someone more worthy than another? You have a manual complete with pictures and statements which determines worthiness. Your statements were sickening and heartless. I was in utter shock to hear you placing humans into worthiness categories, no different than all the scuttlebutt with Planned Parenthood who also determines worthiness.

“You see this? What can we do with that?” = UNWORTHY
“See this here? Now we can do something with this. We can create something great.” = WORTHY
“What do we do with a blob?” = UNWORTHY
“This one is so perfect.” = WORTHY

Looks determine worthiness. Age determines worthiness.

And you still question why I DIDN’T CHOOSE YOUR ORGANIZATION?  I was not going to allow you or your organization to determine the worthiness of my client or any of my clients for that matter. You continued on in an attempt to defend yourself but you really hurt yourself even more. The clarity I had after sleep was so unbelievable. You told me to call you and you would personally find the right person within your organization to help, but that isn’t helpful. It’s a special club; the club where those who were deemed unworthy, become worthy. It’s not enough that they are already in a “club” but now they are in a “sub-club” and can be treated as a VIP; if you determine them worthy.

But what about all those you never deem “unworthy?” Where are they left? What do they get? Oh, they can still get a box, which is much better than a bag, right? But that’s it. They aren’t offered the professionalism, just some random person with little training to fill in.

You stated that this can be too hard for some people in your organization; that they leave because its too difficult. So maybe the training isn’t correct? Maybe they need different training? More training? Have you explored that? Or maybe you tell them about the worthiness and they too feel that some are unworthy, because of your standards. This is not okay.

I asked where you wanted to go from here and you turned it back on me. I shared from my heart where I wanted to go with you and your organization, how much I believe in it, how much I support it but that didn’t matter. There was no thank you, just defensiveness and anger. Your heart never became soft. There was no reciprocation. You even went so far as to say that I performed a major disservice to a particular client. That if I had called upon your organization that you would have been able to provide something I couldn’t. You hit below the belt on this one although my client would not have been worthy by your organizations standards.

When I asked again where we should go from here, you said you asked that question and I didn’t answer which was not true and I again explained and asked what you wanted. “Respect,” is what you said. I had respect for you but how can one have respect for you after learning all these things? You asked for personal respect, which is admiration. But you do not have qualities with which I would want to admire nor emulate.

You didn’t ask for respect for your organization, you asked me to respect you. You didn’t ask me to support your organization, you asked me to support you. But after all that was revealed to me, in an attempt to show me what my clients may be missing, I cannot respect your organization. It is not all inclusive.

You are not the one that determines worthiness. I am worthy. My children are worthy. Everyone deserves VIP treatment no matter how hard it is. And finally, you had the opportunity to make things right, but you didn’t. So I just want you to know. I AM STRONG! I am here and I will provide VIP treatment to all my clients. They are all worthy! I operate with integrity. I do what’s best for my clients and if not using your organization is best, then that’s what I recommend.

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
Older posts

Subscribe to this blog!