Elizabeth Petrucelli

Author, Blogger, Educator

Tag: miscarriage (page 2 of 4)

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

Celebrity Miscarriage Announcement

CBS News Laura Benanti

Courtesy of CBS News

Well, if this is so common, then why do we only speak about it in whispers, if we speak about it at all? If this is so common, why does it feel like the Voldemort of women’s issues?” Actress Laura Benanti made this statement today regarding her personal experience with miscarriage. She is not alone in these thoughts. Miscarriage is so common yet it’s talked about in whispers and not as openly as women should hear.

It’s not about inducing fear, it’s about inducing awareness. Miscarriage Happens! Why not share these things happen? If we continue to remain silent about this, then women will continue to suffer in silence and feel alone in their very real grief. Yes, Zuckerberg announced he and his wife experienced three miscarriages before they became pregnant with their current baby which they hope to bring home but his statement was more focused on their current pregnancy rather than their losses. I shared those thoughts in this post.

Laura shares that she and her fiance were in love and that their love created a person. They saw their baby’s heartbeat but the next day she learned their baby had died. Bleeding and cramping had begun which is a sign of miscarriage.  This experience can be completely devastating. Often, women are left to keep moving and functioning yet it’s so hard. I know stories of women delivering their babies in bathrooms at their office, in their home, on the fields of a war zone, on planes, on movie sets, and while on business trips.

If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, you might not know all the detail of that experience. When we think about delivering a baby on an airplane, it seems scary and risky, yet mothers do this all the time with their miscarried babies and no one bats an eye. Why? Is it not as risky or scary? Is the difference between life and death? Should these stories of delivery remain silent? I shared the story of The Homebirth of Evelyn Rose a few weeks ago and the responses received were astounding.

“This is birth!”
“I feel so bad that she had no support for her birth.”
“I can’t believe she was prescribed a medication and sent home to deliver alone.”

Those who read the story, knew the intimate details of miscarriage at home and learned how dangerous that can be at that gestation. Evelyn’s story was not silenced and it is used for training purposes regularly. If a woman wants to leave a legacy for her child and share their birth story, it should not be any different for a living baby vs. a baby who dies.

Benanti’s statement, “Why, if my neighbor sees me looking sad and asks me if I am okay, is it perfectly acceptable to tell her my aunt passed away, or I lost my job, or I had to put my dog down — but if I tell her I experienced a miscarriage, I am somehow inappropriately oversharing?” is so completely true. Benanti speaks the truth of what we all know and feel during loss. Why should she keep that information silent?

Who is being protected when sharing that information? I participated in a Webinar last night with the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death, and this topic was discussed. By keeping this information silent, are we furthering that silent stigma and the shame of miscarriage? Are we protecting society from hearing about a taboo subject that is too painful for them (death of a baby/child)? Is this something to brush under the rug so no one knows it happens? In many cultures, this is more of an expected experience and for a child to be brought home alive means everyone can take a sigh of relief. In our American culture, we expect to bring home a living baby, not the opposite.

I can almost guarantee that if Benanti shared that she had to put her dog down that she would receive more empathy and support than if she shared she experienced a miscarriage because her baby died. Why is this? Can we speculate that part of this is the controversial topic of abortion? If we recognize that a miscarriage and the grief experienced is because we lost a baby vs. lost a pregnancy does that change the experience of abortion? I am not here to debate abortion but we cannot discount that abortion may play a role in society’s opinion that we should keep miscarriage silent.

Not every woman wants to speak about their miscarriage though and by speaking about it, we may bring about shame and guilt for those women. It’s okay if they don’t want to speak about it but those who do want to speak should not be silenced either. They shouldn’t feel shameful for sharing their experience and they shouldn’t feel they are “oversharing” when they do talk about their miscarriage.

It is wonderful that celebrities are sharing about their miscarriages. Somehow, that gives all of us more strength to share and helps us see that it’s okay to share. It helps to break that silence on miscarriage. It brings more empathy and more clout to our experiences. Beyonce also shared about her miscarriage. Her first child with the man that she loved. Her words, which are so true, can be heard here along with the song she wrote for her child.

Thank you Laura Benanti, for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for your loss and hope that you received the love and support you deserve for the grief you are experiencing. Thank you for speaking out for all women who have suffered this loss. I appreciate you sharing what all of us loss mothers know, our grief is real and we have the right to share.

– 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.

The Monthly Miscarriage

What is The Monthly Miscarriage? Is this really such a thing? For many women, especially women struggling with infertility, it absolutely is a thing and it can be devastating. I have experienced it myself although not monthly as my cycles were not that close together but it is a horrible experience to say the least. So let’s talk about it.

The miscarriage begins. It begins with that “inkling” that there may be a baby brewing within your womb. The place where you aren’t quite sure but think you might be. We question every twinge, cramp, emotion, or feeling and try to place it as an early pregnancy symptom. Desperate to know, yet scared to confirm. All the signs could merely be the beginning of the next cycle but they also might be the beginning of the rest of your life.

For here, there is where your life changes. You may pee on a stick. You may hold your breath as the stick holds your fate. Will there be celebration or the feeling of defeat? Will there be excitement or fear? What will this little stick share with you?

So you put it off. You wait and hope for a particular outcome. Maybe delaying the test will give me another day of hope? But what if you don’t really want to be pregnant again? What if you don’t really want another baby? Yet you know you will feel utter disappointment when you pee on the stick and it reveals you are not pregnant.

Those feelings and emotions can also be very confusing. You thought you were done or could no longer have children. Maybe you were planning your family and it’s not the right time but it seems a life may be desperate to get here and you have been chosen. You have been chosen to carry this new child.

But you still haven’t confirmed it. This is where it starts. Those hopes and dreams; that possibility of your life changing. You begin to imagine. You begin to plan. “If I am pregnant, I will…” “If the test is positive, I want to…” “I will tell my husband by…” “I will share with my children when…” “I need to purchase…”

You visualize the pregnancy, your life within you, and can see this child after they are born. You wish, you hope, you pray. Then, you pee on the stick. It was time. You needed to confirm it. You could no longer hold out for what you know is coming. If you are not pregnant, it’s better to find out this way then to see the redness on the toilet paper.

The blood is a sad reminder of what isn’t going to happen. You would rather a stick tell you. So you pee on it.

You hold your breath. You wait. But you can’t not look. You watch and hope to see a line. But nothing comes. You put it in the trash and say you won’t look at it again. That all those signs and the thoughts in your head weren’t real. That the disappointment you feel is silly and shouldn’t be felt. “I don’t have the right to grieve what I never had”, you think to yourself.

But later, you return to the stick in the trash. You look. You stare. You hold it up to the light. You take pictures of it. You reverse the pictures digitally, hoping it will reveal a line. But you can’t see it. You share the picture, desperately hoping someone else will see a line, but they don’t.

You are sad. You mourn. You are angry. You grieve.

Because what you really see is “Not Pregnant.”

Negative Pregnancy Test

Then it comes. The red on the paper. The monthly miscarriage. Your devastation confirmed.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

My Wanted Pregnancy – Aborted

miscarriage in ultrasound roomFirst I want to state for the record that this post is NOT ABOUT ABORTION. It is about abortion terminology and the topic will still be quite controversial in nature.

Should the word abortion be used to describe miscarriage? I touched on this point in my book It’s Not Just a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook, because the term miscarriage is not actually a medical term. In my book, I explain this to my readers so they understand their chart and the words used by their care providers may not reflect their feelings of miscarriage.

When we lost Gus, the diagnosis was “missed abortion.” What does that really mean anyway? The term abortion is often associated with negative connotations. When performing a search on Google with the keyword “abortion” the first ad on the page which took up the entire right side was for Planned Parenthood. The first definition that appeared was, “Abortion is the ending of pregnancy by removing or forcing out a fetus or embryo from the womb before it can survive on its own.”

I searched the next seven pages looking for anything that related abortion and miscarriage together and found nothing; only abortion support for women who were searching for options on how to end their pregnancy. With 1 in 4 women experiencing “spontaneous abortion,” aka miscarriage, one would hope that through a Google Search, they would learn something about miscarriage and not just the mainstream term used for abortion.

When researching the ICD-10 codes further, if you search “abortion” and choose “legally induced abortion,” you will find pregnancy loss listed as a Disease Synonym, along with complete abortion and complete pregnancy termination. Pregnancy loss is also listed under spontaneous abortion but not under missed abortion. When performing a Google Search for the definition of pregnancy loss; the first definition states “defined as a miscarriage or also known as spontaneous abortion and pregnancy loss, is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive independently.”

Ok. Natural death is a keyword here. Not sure why the ICD codes would place pregnancy loss under legally induced abortion when this is not a natural process. But here is another term that many of my friends fall under. Habitual Aborter (who wants to be called this no matter the reason)? Yet with ICD 10-coding, the name will change from “habitual aborter” to “recurrent pregnancy loss,” which in my opinion, is much more fitting as they would never call someone who legally aborts more than one baby a habitual aborter. There was no such change with miscarriage in the ICD-10 coding. It will remain “spontaneous abortion.”

So here’s the concern, many women do not want to see the term “abortion” in relation to their miscarriage. Abortion is associated with “unwanted” although that is not always the case. The term abortion is so negative; it is associated with less compassion and empathy. Seeing the word on paper might suggest to the medical professional that the woman is experiencing a medical event and nothing more. The woman may not feel as if she has the right to grieve her “aborted” baby which can lead to more confusion and a delayed healing process.

The recommendation is to change the terminology. This article suggested in 1998 that the terminology be changed but this is not a US recommendation. The Dutch and the English have already recommended or revised the terminology used for pregnancy loss and have turned away from the term “abortion” to describe what many refer to as miscarriage. Why hasn’t the US followed suit in changing this medical terminology?

In addition, many other countries use the terms womb and foetus when describing abortion and miscarriage whereas US terminology uses uterus and tissue or “products of conception, regardless of gestational age. Terminology is certainly important as it can validate a woman’s actual experience. Using the term tissue, would be incorrect beyond the first week of gestation. Gus and Ruby were not tissue they were a fetus and embryo respectively. Why does the US not recognize the words fetus and embryo when describing what forms and develops in the uterus after the union of an egg and sperm?

Moving on, I performed another search on Google, “where did the term abortion come from?” Article after article described the process for ending a pregnancy early. Doctor induced abortion, medically induced abortion, mother induced abortion, partner induced abortion, how to induce abortion, laws from centuries ago around abortion as far back as the Code of Hammurabi!

But where was the information on miscarriage? Sure, Wikipedia mentions spontaneous abortion as miscarriage and has a whole page on miscarriage but miscarriage is not a medical term. My chart will forever state, “missed abortion,” as if I “missed” some sort of an appointment. My chart does not reflect much of the emotional experience I had; the devastation of having to say goodbye to another child. It does not reflect “fetal or embryonic death.” It does not reflect stillbirth (the term for fetal death).

Miscarriage does not come with a death certificate or any certificate. No recognition of life. There is nothing; just the term abortion, putting all women who experience the loss of their pregnancy; whether it was wanted or not, forced or not, into the same category. A medical event and nothing more. Should the US medical community change abortion terminology? What are your thoughts?

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Wikipedia is not reputable or scholarly source; however, the general public sees Wikipedia as a resource and authority on what is searched there. Wikipedia was not the only source used for this post, please click on the links provided above. 

Why I am not “Applauding” Zuckerberg’s Miscarriage Announcement

MiscarriageThis post has been modified from the original version. You can access the original by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

I have seen so many families and organizations relishing over Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnancy announcement where he shared that he  and his wife Priscilla Chan have had three miscarriages before conceiving the baby girl they are now pregnant with. The New York PostTodayCNN, and The Huffington Post all carried the story. They and other news outlets used statements such as “Zuckerberg destigmatizes miscarriage…, Zuckerberg is applauded…, Zuckerberg’s revelation on miscarriage…,” blah, blah, blah.

Many of the organizations I am an active part in have come out to thank Mr. Zuckerberg for sharing. Some of my closest friends and bereavement groups have applauded him for saying something but I don’t think he is destigmatizing miscarriage. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that others have come out to share their stories because Mr. Zuckerberg made a miscarriage announcement but in all honesty, I haven’t found his announcement to be all that. Here’s why.

He announced that they experienced three miscarriages and made a brief statement, “You feel so hopeful when you learn you’re going to have a child. You start imagining who they’ll become and dreaming of hopes for their future. You start making plans, and then they’re gone. It’s a lonely experience.”

Oh how true this is. Thank you for saying this. Hubby made a similar statement during our Baby Gus’s commendation ceremony, but I think if Mr. Zuckerberg was bringing awareness to miscarriage, he would have said much more.

He offered up a tiny glimpse of what miscarriage is like for men. I agree it’s lonely despite how many women experience miscarriage (1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage). I am glad he shared his thoughts about his experience but I do not see this as destigmatization or miscarriage. Miscarriage is such a hush, hush topic and society doesn’t deem a loss this early worthy of grieving. I hope his statement will help change all that.

Now lets talk about Sam and Nia. Sam and Nia are vloggers and had just announced their pregnancy on Wednesday. Their video went viral and according to their Facebook page, their video reached over 1 million views. I remember their video popping up in my news feed. Someone else had shared it and I thought this was amazing for a husband to be so excited and come up with a way to tell his wife she was pregnant.

The method Sam came up with to determine pregnancy seemed far fetched but plausible. With vlogging you are right there with the vlogger and I did feel like I was right there with them. I felt the disappointment with Nia when she couldn’t be the one to surprise Sam of her pregnancy.

Although I am sure she was super excited even though she couldn’t surprise him, I too understand the planning of how you will share the news with your man that you are pregnant. I never imagined a man could know before the woman that she was pregnant and I was in awe over this.

Then yesterday, I logged on to see a reply to the video and a friend shared that Sam and Nia had had a miscarriage. In their grief, this is what Sam and Nia did.

Here are two very different ways of talking about miscarriage. Sam, was making an announcement that he and his wife miscarried. Mr. Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife are pregnant and along their journey, experienced three miscarriages. There is no right or wrong way to tell people about miscarriage but I don’t think that Zuckerberg was actually attempting to advocate that. And now people think that Sam and Nia staged the pregnancy and miscarriage entirely.

What makes one loss experience more real than the other? Others have commented that no one should announce pregnancy until at least the 12 week scan; so many hateful and hurtful comments for Sam and Nia but mostly praise to Zuckerberg. Should people blow over their miscarriages and only mention them after they are far along in a pregnancy? This stigmatization of miscarriage must change.

In my opinion, Zuckerberg isn’t destigmatizing miscarriage at all. His words make the statement that it’s only okay to tell others AFTER we are further along in a pregnancy. This kind of announcement feeds the stigmatization that we shouldn’t announce a pregnancy right away. Others in the same situation might say, “Maybe we shouldn’t announce our pregnancy until we are farther along like the Zuckerberg’s?” Implying that there is some magical safe zone or that announcing early may somehow jinx the pregnancy?

Another form of the stigmatization is that there WILL BE a happy ending. That the babies lost along the way weren’t that big of a deal [my words] because this is the baby we get to “keep.” I hate to say this, but there isn’t always a “happy” ending. Some women will never go on to have a living baby.

His statement was really a pregnancy announcement, not an announcement about miscarriage. “Look how far along we are now, we are in a safe zone now, we can announce our pregnancy now.” He just happened to mention his miscarriages.

But even bigger, is that this further stigmatizes that there is a “safe zone” in pregnancy. His own statement even mentions this, “Our good news is that our pregnancy is now far enough along that the risk of loss is very low and we are very hopeful.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of miscarriage is about 25% (although some studies show it is much higher).

Once you see a heartbeat, which occurs as early as 6 weeks gestation, 78% of pregnancies will continue. This article states that after you see a heartbeat at 6-7 weeks gestation, the risk of miscarriage is 5%. At 8 weeks gestation, there is about a 2% risk of miscarrying and the miscarriage risk drops to about 1.5% beyond 10 weeks. Once a woman enters the second trimester, her risk of miscarriage is about 1%.

Would he have shared their losses if they didn’t go on to have a pregnancy farther along when the “risk is low?” Yes, there is a low risk where you are in your pregnancy, but tell that to the 23,000 families who experience stillbirth every year. Mr. Zuckerberg, I am so happy you and your wife are pregnant and have made it this far in the pregnancy but there is no “safe zone.”

So here we have two popular families sharing about miscarriage; first trimester miscarriage I might add. I have been shouting from the roof tops over this particular type of loss. “Miscarriage sucks! It hurts! We have a right to grieve!” This is why I wrote my first book and recently published It’s Not ‘Just’ a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook.

Now we have others who share in it as well and it sucks they have to experience it. It is great that we are hearing about miscarriage in the news and I am so happy others can find comfort and feel that it’s okay to share their miscarriage. But I am not applauding Mark Zuckerberg like my counterparts. It is horrible that he and his wife experienced miscarriage but this was their pregnancy announcement, not a miscarriage announcement.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Yes, this post was edited. To read the original post, please click here.

Announcing a Miscarriage on Facebook

Announcing a Miscarriage on Facebook

I didn’t realize how popular people search “how to announce a miscarriage on Facebook.” I am so sorry for your loss if you have come to this page looking for a way to announce the a miscarriage on Facebook. I too have been in your shoes…TWICE. It’s horrible.

Let’s talk for a moment though about what it means to announce your miscarriage on Facebook. First, it’s awareness. So many women have experienced this same loss. You are not alone. Many of us don’t even know that some of our closest friends have experienced this kind of loss because we are so silent about it. When you announce, you may be surprised when you find out who has experienced a miscarriage as well.

Second, you are not “untelling” something. You were pregnant and your baby died. If we say, “Nevermind, forget what I said about being pregnant,” we further stigmatize early pregnancy loss and miscarriage as something not worth speaking about or grieving. You were pregnant and experienced the most common complication of pregnancy. You did not announce too early. You did not jinx this pregnancy by announcing it. You did not make this happen.

But how do you actually announce your loss on Facebook? You can announce your miscarriage on Facebook in a simple manner or create something very elaborate. Many people simply say, “We regretfully announce that we have lost our baby to miscarriage. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we grieve during this time.” Some also say, “We are having another miscarriage,” or “We were expected our baby on December 7, 2015 but sadly, he was born too early this morning.”

Some attach an ultrasound photo or even a photo of their baby that they birthed. I will warn you though, even though your baby is beautiful, many people are offended when they see a picture of a baby that has died no matter how early or full term your baby was. Some of your Facebook “friends” may even go so far as reporting the photo as graphic and request removal from Facebook which can hurt you so deeply.

In this case, writing out your announcement and saying, “PIC IN COMMENTS” can help people decide if they would like to view your baby. It can also prepare them and doesn’t pop up in their newsfeed to shock them in any way. I wouldn’t be shocked but I am very used to seeing babies in any gestation. The average person has no experience with this.

Here is a screenshot of how I announced my pregnancy loss with Gus.

Facebook Miscarriage Announcement

When you decide to announce your miscarriage or pregnancy loss on Facebook, you may be surprised with how much support you receive. Most of the comments you receive will likely be positive and uplifting but there are people out there that say some horrible things. At least, we think they are horrible while they think they are helpful. Comments such as: “God needed another angel,” or, “at least you know you can get pregnant,” and “Be happy the baby died because there was something wrong with it,” can be very difficult to hear.

I recommend that along with your announcement, you also post ways friends/family can help and what to say/not say. You can locate that information here or you can link to it with your announcement. I realize that seems silly but most people genuinely want to help, they just don’t know how and giving them some direction is extremely helpful for all involved.

While we’re at it, I want to provide you with information on miscarriage as well. The Miscarriage App is an extremely useful tool as is the book It’s Not ‘Just’ a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook. Both of these resources will not only help you prepare, plan, and recover from your miscarriage, they are amazing tools to share because 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.

I hope this post “Announcing a Miscarriage on Facebook” has been helpful. If it was, please share this post with others who wonder how to announce their miscarriage on Facebook. This is such a difficult time and the Facebook announcement can be so hard to write. If you have any additions to this post, please make a comment.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Miscarriage Series – Don’t Think We Didn’t Notice

Left Out2After a pregnancy loss, it’s almost impossible to ignore the pregnancy announcements. We usually have many pregnant friends or friends having babies and we see their birth announcements, first smile, videos of when they first roll over, etc.

Many of us who love hearing about their pregnancies despite how hard it might be. I remember this being hard after I lost Ruby too and I remember a huge sense of jealousy. I also remember wishing pregnant women would lose their babies. After we lost Gus in May, I have been surprised how quickly I have “recovered” and how little I experience these thoughts.

Maybe it’s my line of work and how much pain I have witnessed? Maybe it’s the fact that I know so many women who are carrying their rainbow baby? It doesn’t really matter, I am just glad I am not having those harsh thoughts this time.

But here it is, a common complaint among the newly bereaved and no, not everyone will feel this way but you (our friends, family, etc) will never know unless you ask. Don’t make us feel like the uninvited.

It wasn’t long after Gus passed that I too, became one of the “uninvited.” Uninvited to gender reveal parties and baby showers. Uninvited to anything that revolves around a baby and one that particularly hurt, blocked from seeing certain posts related to their baby.

So here goes. For all of you who think you are protecting us by not inviting us and blocking us from seeing updates about your babies, it actually hurts more. We aren’t sure if you are doing this to save us from some hurt or if we represent everything you are scared of but you are taking away our choice.

We can choose what we want to see and if we want to go but we need to be given the choice. We might actually feel like attending your baby shower. We might actually feel like attending your birth or visiting you in the hospital after bub is born. So please don’t take that choice away from us because you think it will be too painful.

It absolutely hurts that my baby died. We are sad for that death experience and miss feeling and seeing all that you are experiencing but we are also sad because we are being left out. We care deeply about you and want to share your pregnancy and baby with you. We might not be ready but you need to ask. Seriously.

I had a few friends contact me privately to tell me they were pregnant before they announced it to the world. I was very appreciative that they were thinking of me. They didn’t really have to do that but it was most appreciated. It helps because it’s as if she is thinking of me and how I might feel and because of that, my loss feels validated. So help validate and don’t segregate us because you are scared.

While we can’t jump for joy and excitement over your news, we are happy for you and will extend our congratulations to you. If we aren’t ready, we will let you know.

Sincerely,

The Newly Bereaved

When the Bereavement Doula Needs a Bereavement Doula

What is it like when a bereavement doula needs a bereavement doula?

The night before my scheduled ultrasound, I began to panic. Over the last few days, I had become overly concerned with going to this appointment alone. All of my other appointments, up until then, I had the support of my husband and children with me. This appointment; however, was an extra appointment and my husband was unable to attend due to a training class he was attending. His employer had paid for his attendance at this training so there was no way he could get out of it unless it was an emergency. I had no idea my appointment would turn into a psychological emergency.

Due to the anxiety I had been feeling, my husband felt I should have someone attend. I have talked a bit about that in previous posts. For me however, I am so closed and it is difficult for me to let anyone into my life on such an intimate level. Finding the right person was imperative. I had a few select people I considered.

The first, was unavailable. I was disappointed because I had had her with me in previous pregnancies at appointments but she has some business in her life now that prevented me from feeling like I would have an open space to find relief or experience grief if the appointment went sour. She is one of a few people I have been vulnerable with and allowed to see me cry.

The second, wasn’t sure if I would let her in the way she knew I needed to. She was so perceptive and with her new family, I didn’t want to intrude. As much as I wanted her there, we both would have been a sobbing mess if things didn’t go well. Which we all now know, they didn’t. Looking back, it wouldn’t have mattered if we were sobbing.

Then there was my third choice who in reality, should have been my first choice but we have such an interesting relationship that I didn’t even think to ask her until I did. When I asked her, I also felt like I was intruding but when I explained the nature of what I needed, she didn’t hesitate to be there for me. And let me tell you, with her profession, this was no easy thing for her to do.

I am so glad she was able to be there for me but I am writing to share with you about what I actually did to her that I didn’t even realize. I made her feel inadequate, anxious, and concerned that she didn’t help me at all and I did this without even knowing it. She is not a bereavement doula and I thrust her into that role unprepared and with no training.

It is true that I didn’t know that this appointment would bring on the need for her to be my bereavement doula. Even though I was nervous, I really felt like I was overly prepared for a positive appointment. I was almost certain we would hear our son’s heartbeat. Almost…

When my friend met me in the foyer of the medical office building, she greeted me with open arms but her energy was one of nervousness. I brought Timmy with me and she immediately took on the care taker role which was very helpful. I think both of us didn’t really know what to do in those moments. She also felt like we would hear his heartbeat and she would be returning to work after a small scare but that was not the case at all.

Then there was the ultrasound where I knew almost instantly that things were not good. I went into my own bereavement doula mode of INFORMATION. I needed information, even though I knew it. I was on autopilot. I was looking to my friend for a reaction that would tell me how to react. My friend though, instantly thrust into a role she has never filled nor was prepared for, also didn’t know what kind of reaction to give.

In talking with her after, she told me she didn’t want to break down. She didn’t want to start crying because she didn’t want me to feel like I needed to console her. She wanted to be stoic so I could break down, yet in those first moments, I was being stoic.

Bereavement DoulaAfter moments of silence and a warm touch and expression of condolences from my midwife, I began to shed some tears. Some. Not much. As my eyes began to burn, my friend came over and hugged me. My feet still in the stirrups with my birthing organs exposed. Very few people would I invite into such a private moment.

She held me as I cried but I still held back. Little did I know, she was holding back. She was confused on how to support me. She was confused on how to react, be, provide, and do. I put someone in a horrible position. I brought someone into a sacred space of death. The sacred space of learning about a death. Those early moments that people only imagine what a family would experience, she was experiencing it with me.

This wasn’t what we planned. It wasn’t what I had first asked her to do and even though she was doing it, I was actually wrong in putting her in that role. As a bereavement doula, I had no idea that I needed a bereavement doula and that changes everything.

For all the women who ask their friends to be there for support or go to these appointments alone, they are missing out on support that they deserve. My friend did an amazing job for what she was thrown into. I couldn’t have done that alone. I couldn’t have gone through all that by myself. I needed support but I should have thought enough to ask another bereavement professional to be there for me. I do feel “bad” for putting my friend in that position.

Our relationship has grown and we are closer because of this experience. When she left, she took my book “It’s Not ‘Just’ a Heavy Period; The Miscarriage Handbook,” and instantly began utilizing the information from the book. She was there every step of the way and I believe that book can be so helpful for the care givers who will support families through loss.

So this is what it’s like when a bereavement doula needs a bereavement doula. A trained friend or doula is probably best just so no one feels inadequate but in the absence of a bereavement doula, anyone is better than having no support. I wouldn’t change a thing about how she supported me. I couldn’t have asked her to support me any better. She even came home with me following the appointment and just sat with me which is exactly what I needed and didn’t even know it. Behind the scenes we were both confused about how we should react with each other but up front, while it was all happening, everything fell into place perfectly.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
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