Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: miscarriage (page 1 of 4)

Dear Self Magazine: Change on Miscarriage Starts With You

Self Magazine published an article on August 5, 2016 entitled When You’re Having a Miscarriage but Have to Work Anyway, by Zahra Barnes. This article helps bring to light many of the pressing issues women who miscarry face such has social stigmas and having to work through a miscarriage. Many women don’t realize that miscarriage can be covered under FMLA as a serious complication from pregnancy or a serious medical condition. Learn more about FMLA for miscarriage here.

There are many good things about the article which focuses on the miscarriage experiences of Ashley Frangipane (Halsey), who suffered a miscarriage while on tour in 2015 and took narcotic pain killers while wearing an adult diaper while at her work venue. No time to have her miscarriage in the comforts of home or safety of a medical facility, if she stopped working it could have been detrimental to her career. This is an issue many women face.

1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; roughly 10-25% of recognized pregnancies. The statistics are frightening because most women don’t realize how common miscarriage is until they have one. Women are typically silent about their miscarriages due to cultural taboo on talking about miscarriage. The social stigma is that miscarriage isn’t a big deal and when women do feel different than the stigma of the norm, there is shame in those feelings. Women become silent and suffer in that silence.

When famous women come out to share their experiences of miscarriage, the media reports for them. This helps women not feel so alone and that is very needed. It sheds light on the millions of women experiencing pregnancy loss around the world. Articles such as the Self article can be helpful but there is a hidden message in the article Self wrote. I will tell you what that is.

At the end of the article, the author calls for change in the beginning of her final statement when she writes: “Although it will take some time for cultural attitudes about miscarriage to shift…” But instead of helping to change that stigma, the author actually furthered a common misconception about miscarriage, that it’s “like a heavy period.” The author interviewed Dr. Sherry Ross, an OBGYN who stated that miscarriage will evolve into something like “the heaviest period you’ve ever experienced.”

I wonder if this doctor has talked with her patients or better yet, been there while her patients experience miscarriage. A majority of them would likely not describe miscarriage this way, especially if they held their very tiny baby. As a woman who experienced miscarriage twice, I can attest and confirm that miscarriage is nothing like a heavy period. In fact, I suffered through horrible periods associated with PCOS and hormonal imbalances for a majority of my life and I would take that experience over the labor pains I had with my miscarriages.

Another OBGYN, a male I might add, describes miscarriage to women as “hell.” He then explains that miscarriage can be “really heavy bleeding, really heavy cramping, and generally feeling really beaten up.” Before I discovered that Dr. Jacques Moritz was male, I made an assumption that this doctor had a personal experience with miscarriage and maybe his partner had one but he still minimizes the miscarriage experience. The statements by these OBGYN’s further trick women into believing that miscarriage is “no big deal,” “not a serious medical event,” can be experienced at home or work with little complication, and that miscarriage, “is like a heavy period.”

Doctors and Miscarriage

My book “It’s Not ‘Just’ a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook” shares with you how miscarriage is not a heavy period. It’s rarely experienced that way, yet women are told by their doctors that they will bleed like a heavy period and receive little to nothing more. Nothing to help with the pain that shocks them out of their sleep, nothing to catch their baby or remains in, and no real guidance on warning signs. Women are left to go through this experience alone and uninformed. I often wonder how doctors truly understand the miscarriage experiences of their patients when the majority of women are never seen and their pleas for help and guidance are ignored.

The article wasn’t all bad. I know I focused solely on the statements by these OBGYN’s but when Self Magazine calls for change, they should help create that change by interviewing proper professionals or women who have experienced miscarriage. One statement of particular note was when Penelope Trunk talked about how some women might prefer to go back to work immediately and that “there are basically no wrong choices here.”

This is a very true statement and women need to hear this. While some women couldn’t imagine going to work during a miscarriage, there are others who may prefer to go back to work and neither is wrong. Women who don’t feel they can go to work need to be empowered with information on how to manage that, such as through FMLA. Statements like the ones made by medical professionals, minimize the experiences of miscarriage by the majority of women. Because they are medical professionals, society places more trust in their words than in the words of the women who experience miscarriage.

So Self Magazine, if you want change for women; help make that change happen for women.

On this day, May 11

Memory Box for Miscarriage - Erika Zane PhotographyLast year, he was born on May 11. Silent and still on the ultrasound just days before, we knew his birth was inevitable. It was devastating. Our 4th and thought-to-be last child, gone so quickly. We were so excited to be pregnant with him, naturally and at our age. It was a miracle. But he was not to be. He was not to live on this earth, just a saint in heaven.

That’s what today represents for me. It’s Augustus’s (AKA Gus) anniversary. Today doesn’t feel much different, other than I know how I was last year and all I was enduring physically and emotionally. I think today feels mostly normal because Gus is in my life every day. The entire family talks about him and shares about him.  His candle sits on our table next to Ruby’s and his memory box (which you see to the left) is in our dining room.

Facebook has a timeline memory feature that can be so very cruel when it reminds you of events such as miscarriage, stillbirth or any loss really. When you least expect it, a memory appears. On May 11, 2015, I didn’t post anything about delivering Gus. I was very quiet about that particular day. So I imagine tomorrow my memory reminder will show information about our loss.

I was specifically quiet on Facebook that day. I needed one more day of the world thinking I was pregnant. One more day of me feeling like I was pregnant even though my body had birthed already our baby. So instead of a sad memory appearing in my Facebook Memory Timeline, I saw a post from May 11, 2011.

It was a simple post:

I actually helped save a life today and the person is extremely thankful. I feel amazed to be a part of his life.

It was a chilly morning that day; cloudy and rainy. I was managing the security department at my local hospital that day when I received a call there was a “crazy man” rolling around in the grass in the front of the hospital. Me and another officer went out looking for him. I ran out without a coat, as did my partner. Neither of us could find him and if I recall, my partner returned to the building to get his coat.

I found a man inside a car near the grass. He was hanging out his door but trying to start the car. He was wet and looked disheveled. I asked him if he needed help and he said he was trying to start his car but his speech was slurred. He didn’t look like he felt alright so I asked him to get out of his car and come in to be checked out.

He complied fairly easily but he seemed confused. As he stood up, I realized he was wearing only one slipper. He was also a very large man. Most likely 280lbs and about 6’5″. This was not a man I wanted to fight with but that was what was about to happen.

As I talked with him, he kept walking away. He would stumble as he walked towards the grass. I kept asking him questions but his speech was jumbling and he wasn’t making much sense. When I placed my hand on his elbow to try to direct him, he pulled away and then turned towards me and got in my face. He became aggressive. I contacted dispatch to call 911.

As I attempted to hold him off from hurting me, my partner arrived…just in time. He himself was big and burly and could stand up to him. We both were holding him back and trying to get him to calm down and just talk to us. Finally, I yelled at him, “WHAT’S YOUR NAME?”

He looked blankly at me. He stopped fighting and just looked off in the distance as if he was scared because he could not form the words. I then called 911 and told them to send rescue. This man was having a medical issue. He was not drunk, he just couldn’t be. Something else was going on with him.

As I hung up, I could hear sirens. The police quickly arrived and helped us to get him under control and into custody. The ambulance arrived and assisted him into the truck and drove him to the emergency room. When he arrived, his blood sugar was 22 and it was dropping. Due to the cold temperature, his body was burning off more and more sugar and he was close to having a seizure or entering into a coma.

The hospital administered sugar and instantly this man came back to life. He was such a gentleman and apologized. He explained that he had just seen his doctor and was heading back to his house in the mountains but when he got into his car, he blacked out. He didn’t remember any of what had taken place. He was grateful we found him. He was admitted to the hospital for over a month and I visited him nearly every day I worked. He was such a pleasure and I wished him the best.

I hope he is still alive and well today. I know he had many medical issues that needed to be addressed. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Just like I remember Gus’s birth like it was yesterday. With Gus, the medical staff treated me kindly and were so empathetic to my situation. My husband was there and was so loving and supportive. It was a sad day but we made the best of it.

So today, I want to remember the life I helped save instead of feeling sad about Gus. I feel sad about Gus often, wishing he was here yet accepting that he is not and that I was chosen to carry him…even if for a short while.

If you have experienced a pregnancy loss and had talked about your pregnancy on Facebook, maybe even announced a pregnancy on Facebook, I recommend turning off Facebook memories. I researched “How to turn off Facebook Memories” and found the answer. Visit your newsfeed or “home page.” On the left side of the screen, scroll down to “Apps.” It will be the section under “Friends” but before “Interests,” at least that’s how it was on my screen.

You will find something called “On this day.” Click on that and you can make changes or turn off the notifications. I hope this helps and alleviates some of the cruel reminders that Facebook will notify you of.

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.

 

 

 

What to Consider if you’re Experiencing a Miscarriage

This article originally appeared at The Mighty on January 28, 2016.

1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. Most commonly, miscarriage occurs in the first trimester; however, miscarriage can occur up to 20 weeks. After 20 weeks, a pregnancy loss is called a stillbirth, which occurs in 1 in 160 pregnancies. Women are often left to navigate their miscarriage on their own or with minimal support. Here are 18 points to consider during your miscarriage.

  1. I need to decide on my plan for my miscarriage. It is okay no matter what I choose because I have researched my options and trust my intuition. I know what is right for my body, for me mentally, and for my family.
  2. Researching my options is important. I can read about miscarriage options or download the Miscarriage App. I realize that I don’t know everything there is about miscarriage and my care provider may not be aware of all the options available to me.
  3. I should discuss this plan with my partner and family (if age appropriate). I know that checking in with them is important so they can share what may be important to them during this difficult time.
  4. I should seek spiritual/religious guidance; just to be sure I have taken care of any spiritual/religious needs or requirements of which I am not aware.
  5. I will need a plan for my baby’s body. No matter how early this pregnancy was, I still need to decide what I want to do with their body or remains. It’s okay to flush if that’s what feels right but I can also place my baby in a storage container and put it in the refrigerator until I have found the perfect option.
  6. I know I must begin the experience of miscarriage. If I have chosen medical or surgical management for my miscarriage, I know when things will likely start and end but if I have chosen for things to start on their own, I need to be patient with myself as my body prepares in its own way for this experience.
  7. It’s okay if I feel relief. This is normal and many women feel this way. This doesn’t mean I didn’t love my baby or pregnancy, it’s just relief that this part is finally over and I can begin to move forward again.
  8. I should plan for my physical and emotional recovery. I will need pads, tissues, and time off. I should write down a list of tasks which feel hard for me to complete like meals, doing dishes, walking the dog, and time alone to grieve. I know these are important to me but they feel overwhelming and I need someone to take these tasks on for a while.
  9. It’s okay to need help from others; many women do and it doesn’t matter how early or late the loss was. Support is crucial.
  10. I will allow myself to accept help from others.
  11. I may need to explore outlets for my grief such as writing in a journal, listening to or creating music, crafting, volunteering for a pregnancy loss organization, pumping and donating my baby’s breastmilk, or other healthy outlets.

    You'e gone (Miscarriage)

  12. I will have moments and days where I don’t feel sad. It’s okay that I don’t feel sad all the time. This doesn’t mean my loss doesn’t matter. This also doesn’t mean that when I am really sad after a period of being okay, that I am depressed and need to be saved. I am just having a hard day or moment. Grief has no timeline and doesn’t look the same for each person.
  13. Even though my husband, partner, or children seem to be “normal” or look like this loss doesn’t matter, that doesn’t mean they don’t care and aren’t sad. They have a different way of navigating through their grief. Their way doesn’t have to be my way.
  14. When I feel upset about the way my husband or partner is responding to our loss, I will communicate with them. I will share how I feel, as best I can, so that we can talk openly about our loss.
  15. People will make hurtful comments believing they are helpful. I do not have to be “fake” and smile at these comments, I can choose to say something if I feel the need.
  16. I may lose some friends. It can be really hard or very easy to walk away from them but I need to do what’s best for me and that’s okay. I do not have to hang on to friends who are toxic to me.
  17. I will gain new friends. Some of these friends will become friends for life. Others will be here for moments and that’s okay. These new friends do not have to be friends for life.
  18. I will survive this. Life may look very different and that’s okay. I am different. It’s okay to let others know that I am different.

Miscarriage Series – The Due Date

Last night we couldn’t sleep. Hubby and I stayed up most of the night watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. We needed something restful and something to pass the time. Sleep was just not finding us. We both felt that we couldn’t sleep because we were “laboring.” Our due date was tomorrow. The due date our entire family was looking forward to. A due date, that would come and go with no reward. There would be no crying baby.

I had been cranky most of the day. The week leading up to today was filled with an emotional roller coaster. I learned of many friends who had become pregnant which furthered my grief. Learning about some pregnancies, felt like a stab into my heart. Then there were the ill wishes for some of these announcements. It was such an icky feeling and I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I did.

Teaching students over the last few months has also been hard. So many of them were due on the same day and I had to stand there, seeing them with their glorious bellies filled with living babies they would birth. They were carrying life and all I could carry was death. My womb being silent since May. I was relieved that with my last classes they were all due in January or February. I no longer had to be reminded of what I had lost.

When we finally decided to lay in bed, I cried. I was on the verge of a breakdown when hubby finally nestled in bed next to me. I was wearing an old shirt. A shirt that he gave me and I have worn for the past 18 years. A shirt that is nearly falling apart but I love it because wore that shirt during all four of my pregnancies. I remember hubby took a picture of me in that shirt just a few days before I gave birth to my first child. The shirt is so large, it could accommodate my full-term belly.

Pregnant

I asked hubby to rub my back to help me fall asleep. As he did, he said, “I need to buy you a new shirt.” Then I wept. Through my tears I said, “But I love this shirt.” He was unprepared for my cries. He rubbed my back harder and said, “It’s okay. Why are you crying?”

I couldn’t form the words.

I knew that if I had continued, he would most likely figure it out. So I was silent, except for my cries. All I could think about was how I would not be bringing home a baby tomorrow. I imagined the co-sleeping being attached to my bed and lovingly watching my sleeping baby. It was too painful knowing I would likely never experience that again.

 It took hours for me to finally find sleep only to be awakened early. We were going to visit Gus’s grave for the first time today. The entire family managed to make it in the car in time to get Joey to school. After dropping Joey off, I asked to stop by the store. I wanted to pick up a few things we could leave at Gus’s grave. My stomach was also very upset. It was gurgling and I was having intestinal cramps. I assumed it was my body, being in “labor.”

At the store, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was hoping to find a few blue carnations and a small plastic truck. I settled on a small balloon that said, “It’s a Boy!” and found a metal police tow truck. I knew Timmy would want it but I also knew that when I explained that this was Gus’s truck, he would be fine with leaving it.

When we arrived at Mt. Olivet, we found the grave site easily. I had been there many times before but never to visit my own child. I was comforted to see that there were other names on the grave marker.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

Timmy played with Gus’s truck and balloon. I snapped a few pictures. We even grabbed tissue paper and a crayon to capture his marker.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

Hubby cried. I was surprised I didn’t. Maybe it was because I had been there so many times? Maybe it was because I cried so hard last night? Or maybe, I was just apathetic to the situation? I just held him. It was all I could do.

Timmy was a good distraction. He ran around the graves checking out the toys and balloons around all the other graves. The other graves looked so beautiful as well. We looked at some of the other names on the markers and noticed a few that we remembered at the candlelight vigil this year. I took comfort in that as well.

It’s hard to believe his due date is here. It’s even harder to believe that he is not here with us. This would be his first Christmas. I would wear him. I promised him that I would wear him more than I wore Timmy. I promised him that he would be within arm’s reach every night, that I wouldn’t let him cry-it-out, that I would respond to him quickly, nourish him with my breasts, and adore having him as my final child.

Now I am left with an empty womb. A womb that will likely never carry another child; breasts that will likely never nourish another child, and a home that will likely never be filled with the happy squeals from my tiny infant. Silence returns. Of course, the house is not silent. It is filled with the laughter of a toddler and conversation with his older brother but in a sense, it is devoid of the presence we were expecting.

We love you Augustus. We gave you a strong name. We know we will see you again. I pray for it. I pray to see you in my dreams. I beg you to show me your face in my dreams.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

The Miscarriage Due Date

Gus' Last UltrasoundI have been thinking about you so much lately. Right now, my belly would be ripe and we would be prepared for your arrival. Your due date is only a few days away. Joey was born a few weeks early and Timmy came on his due date so we would have either had you by now or you would be arriving any moment. It’s really hard to believe that you are gone and won’t be joining us this Christmas.

We were so excited to know you were created. God gave us your life and we are blessed for it. I carried you as long as I could, your whole intended life. You were our special creation and meant to be our last child but now that you were not meant to be born alive, we don’t know what to do. We seem a bit lost and go back and forth on whether or not we should have another child.

This is no different than the planning we went through with you and for Timmy for that matter. I know that if I were younger or my life had been different, we would have more children. In mass today, Father Ed talked about life and how we should be fruitful. I know that he wasn’t just referring to children but that is the most common definition of fruitful (be fruitful and multiply. – Genesis 1:28).

I sat between two families today who had small babies. They both had 1 year old boys and an older child. As I watched the two children within the families interact, I began to imagine you. The age difference between the children was about the different you and Timmy would have been. I would have two little ones. Two boys competing for my lap at church. I became sad.

Over the month, I had decided that another child really shouldn’t be in our future. We are approaching an age where it’s probably not fair to that child but when a mother walked down the aisle today with her newborn in her arms my heart just ached. Ached so deeply knowing that I won’t have that. I imagined holding you, carrying you in the Boba, nourishing you, sleepless nights, your crib in our room, and doing things more effectively than with Timmy.

Most of all, I would make sure we didn’t try cry-it-out with you and damage you like we did Timmy. I hurt over that and we only tried it a few times but those few times did the damage as well as keeping him in his own room when I know all he wanted was to be with us. There is so much guilt there.

But I can’t stop thinking about you and what we are missing here on earth. I know I will see you, we will see you, but it still hurts that you are not going to be here with us. We don’t get to kiss you, say hello, see your smile, or watch you grow. Instead, the last six months have been filled with “what-if’s” and “I would be’s” as we wait for your due date.

The due date that will come with nothing to show of it. The due date that seemed so far away yet is now upon us. The due date that needs to come so I can move forward; so I can know that it has come and gone and never will be again. I haven’t been stuck the last six months. I am sad every now and then but these last few days and the coming days, are filled with a deep sadness over your loss and all that we continue to lose because you died.

On Monday, December 7th, daddy and I will make the journey to your gravesite. We will release a balloon and say a prayer. We will probably leave a small toy for you but this won’t bring us what we prayed for. Visiting your grave will not bring you into our arms or make you feel my embrace. It will bring us a small feeling of peace, knowing you are with the Lord and will never experience pain, fear, or evil.

My little Augustus Jude, I love you. I love you so much and I miss you. I miss all you were going to become. I want to see you. Please come to me in my dreams. Please let me see you and know what you would have looked like. I can see Ruby but I can’t see you and I really want to .

You are my son. You are mine. ‘Till we meet…

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!

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October 15th, 2015 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Candelight Vigil - Pregnancy and Infant Loss

This is my son Joey last year, lighting candles at the 2nd Annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Event in Castle Rock, Colorado. It was a beautiful evening of sharing and remembering babies all over the front range and throughout the US. We remembered over 50 babies last year.

When Kelli and I decided we would host an event together every year that warm 2013 summer, we had no idea how this event might go or grow. It started out so small in 2013. We had about 40 babies and children to remember that first year. All of about 15 people attended the actual event as we shuttled into the front office of Kelli’s store and gathered in a circle holding our candles.

Last year we had a room to meet in and we all gathered there with chairs and some music. Families shared stories and talked about their babies and children then went out to the deck to light the candles you see above. One candle went out and Joey made sure to relight the candle. It was a baby, someone’s baby whom he wanted to be sure was remembered.

This year, I have spent several weeks planning for this event. Scheduling, contacting media, writing names, buying candles and other items for this event and being overwhelmed this morning as I see the overflowing inbox of additional names of babies and children people want to remember and share tonight. While I am super excited, this is also a very sad evening. All these babies and children parents didn’t get to hold or hold long enough. It’s never enough.

A fleeting moment, a flicker on an ultrasound that diminished too quickly, a kick or punch which faded away, a breath that emptied too soon. 

No matter how early a baby was born via miscarriage or stillbirth, that child mattered to someone. That child matters today and will matter every day. Tonight we honor those babies and children. Yes, it’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, which President Ronald Reagan proclaimed in 1988 but October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Today is the day we remember, together. In the worldwide Wave of Light. #waveoflight.

No matter where you are, stop at 7pm and light that candle. Light the candle for one of your own children or babies who has gone too soon or one of the many families touched by baby or child loss. I guarantee you know someone who has experienced this. They might be so silent about it but it hurts so many inside.

It’s tonight at 7pm. Don’t forget!

October 15th Vigil

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.

 

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