Category Archives: Pregnancy loss

Things I’m Learning from COVID-19

It’s been well over a month of social distancing so far. There is so much I’ve learned about myself and my family and my community, living in such an unique and unprecedented time in this generation. I’ve seen a few similarities between this experience and the experience of pregnancy loss. It makes sense because both situations contain abrupt, unexpected change and grief. But there are a couple other similarities, as well.

We are all having varied experiences. While there are cases in every state of this country, I imagine that the experience living in an urban city is very different than the experience living in a rural city. Also, different states gave shelter-in-place orders at different times, affecting social and economic communities differently. Though we are seeing more and more loss moving into all sectors, some have experienced it longer than others. Some places seem to have better access to healthcare than others, which affects both anxiety and the ability to recover from the disease

The same is true in pregnancy loss. Women experience loss at different times in their pregnancies. They may experience multiple losses. Even those losses are different from each other. And access to healthcare and support can also be different among women experiencing loss, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of medical problems.

We are all having varied responses. Primarily, I believe, because we have such different experiences and beliefs, and a lot of fear of the unknown. We don’t know how this will all play out in the months and years ahead, how it will affect our economy and our health in the future. There are people who say we aren’t doing enough, while others say we are overreacting. And in all of the confusion, there are hurt feelings and loss on both sides.

This happens within the pregnancy loss community as well. I can’t tell you how many times people had an answer for what I was going through. Whether I wasn’t trying hard enough, or there was something I wasn’t doing right that was causing my loss. Or that I was overreacting about my loss and needed to move on. None of these responses were helpful, and I can imagine they aren’t helpful in this situation either.

How I Navigate It All

Since seeing the similarities between the two situations, I decided I would try to incorporate some of the thought processes and techniques that helped me through pregnancy loss into this experience as well. These worked for me, and they are great reminders, so I thought I would share them. But, disclaimer, they are in no way an exhaustive list, or a how-to list.

  1. I trust the opinions of my doctors over the opinions of my friends. I know this is a controversial idea. It helped that the doctors who took care of me through each pregnancy had also experienced loss and high risk in their own pregnancies. I think the same is true in this pandemic. We are all experiencing this together, and I think doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers want this to be over as quickly and safely as possible, just like we do.
  2. I also gave grace to those same doctors. They are educated and, yet, they are still humans. They don’t have all the answers, but they are making choices in an effort to save lives, whether pandemic or pregnancy. I am willing to sit in the tension and support those that have made their life’s work to take care of the sick and heal them and prevent others from being sick the best they can.
  3. I practice gratitude. I wish I could honestly say I do this intentionally every day. I do it, most definitely, when my anxiety is high. And it does come naturally to me in quiet moments when I’m making food for my family or folding clothes or interacting with my son (okay, that’s not as quiet of a moment). But gratitude has to be more than just being thankful, it has to breed generosity and kindness.
  4. I use whatever gifts or resources I can to encourage others. Again, this isn’t done perfectly. I could do this better. It’s a day-to-day struggle with my tendency to introvert myself into a hole versus keeping my eyes open to the needs of others. But I’m not too hard on myself, there are glimmers of who I want to be sprinkled throughout my day, whether that is checking in on a neighbor, sharing an encouraging word with a friend, or keeping a generous mentality over my resources. Or just providing safe space.
  5. I give space for others to grieve how and what they need to grieve. Our situation is different than other people’s situations. We all seem to be grieving just a little differently, but if I have learned anything from the pregnancy loss community, it’s that everyone has a right to their grief without others belittling it. I may not completely understand their experience, but I respect it and I honor it.

Of course, leaning on God and allowing him to guide me is interwoven into each of the above 5 things. My trust begins with knowing God is in control and sees a bigger picture than I ever will. That allows me to trust others with grace, find gratitude, generosity, and kindness in all things, and give space to others in their own journey. I don’t have it all figured out, and never will, but God is greater than my understanding, and I can rest in the hope of his promises today, and every day in the future.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day

All around the country today, there will be candles lit for babies lost. I became a part of this community in 2013. It’s a community of compassion and welcome, though no member wishes anyone had to join it.

Recently, I was sitting in the OB waiting room, waiting for an annual check up appointment. I saw across the room another woman and her mother, both intently staring into their phones. And I noticed the tears quietly streaming down both their faces. I knew this look all to well.

The woman was approached by another woman in the room, which convicted me to join this small group. It turned out that the woman who was crying was having a 9 week miscarriage. The other woman who approached had also experienced pregnancy loss. Encouragement was shared, and then space and privacy given to the grieving family after her husband arrived.

It was a powerful moment in what can feel like an isolating journey. 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. I guarantee that someone you know has gone through it, even if they have never talked about it. But our society doesn’t reflect these facts.

But October 15th gives us an opportunity to remember. Remember the children we have lost. Remember those precious moments of hope and expectation. The positive pregnancy tests, the heartbeats, the in-womb dance parties. My daughters are as much a part of my story as my living son is. What is the saying? “As long as I have breath, my baby you shall be.”

If you want to take part in today, remember the babies who are no longer with us, light a candle tonight at 7 pm, in all time zones. And if you are grieving your own loss, know that you aren’t alone in your remembering. There is a community here surrounding you in love, thought, and prayer.

Why Is This Still Happening?

I did a series on my blog called Continuing the Conversation about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. As I would research articles online about recent conversations on this topic, I started noticing a trend. A lot of these posts online would start out with “We don’t talk about (miscarriage, infertility, etc) very much.”

Even though 1 in 4 women experience loss , I still seem to live in a world where that statistic is not realized (and that’s the American statistic. One of the most technologically advanced, medically advanced, innovative countries, and we still experience infertility and loss 25% of the time). I still get comments at the store from the cashier or some other stranger who suggests that I need to have another child like it is as easy as picking laundry detergent on aisle 12.

Being on this side of the road now, it’s easy to see the struggle, the tears, the waiting, the dashed hopes, and all of the pain that comes with simply trying to add another member to your family. There doesn’t really seem to be a simple way to do it, despite how much people have suggested all sorts of “easy answers” to our complicated struggle in the past. So, I thought I would take a step back, back in time, to when I was that newly wedded wife who was afraid her birth control wasn’t going to work, and she would get pregnant way before she was ready. The first few times I even heard about a friend struggling with infertility, all the responses that I would eventually hear in my own situation popped into my head, and sometimes even out of my mouth.

I just simply didn’t understand. I thought I did. I thought infertility or miscarriage were things that happened in extreme cases, that all this anxiety may just be an overreaction and that they needed to just relax (I know, I know, I was young and ignorant). It wasn’t until I had the term “unexplained” attached to my own stillbirths that I realized the medical research doesn’t actually have this all figured out. It’s is not a simple cause and effect. It’s a case by case situation. And each case has to be approached with compassion and patience.

But why, when we have all of this evidence, all these stories shared in books and online, do we still have to endure the conversations in the grocery store or at church or even in our own families? And I realized, speaking for myself most of all, that this world is not as stable as we would like it to be, that pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working hard, being diligent, saying the right things, praying the right prayers, checking all the boxes just doesn’t guarantee anything.

Personally, I like structure. I like the routine. I like to know that if I do A and B, then C will always be the result. But life doesn’t happen that way. Kids die before their parents. Loving wives can still be cheated on. “Til Death Do You Part” can happen way before it should. People who love their jobs and are good at them still lose them. Houses, even in gated communities, can still be vandalized. Kids from loving, supportive homes can still make bad choices in their life.

I’m not saying this because I’m just throwing up my hands, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” about it all. But since we all know and experience instability in our lives, we have an amazing opportunity to extend patience and compassion to those who are experiencing it in their own life. To acknowledge that there is no easy answer that will fix things. To listen and be willing to sit in the silence of grief. To understand that I won’t understand every situation completely, and extend grace to those around me who could be having the worst day of their life. To approach every conversation without all the answers.

This is challenging for me. I like being in control and knowing how things end. I don’t like being uncomfortable or have anyone around me that’s sad. I love laughing and having living room dance parties and late-night board game sessions. I love stories with hopeful and happy endings. I like sunshiny days in the garden. I like seeing other people experience joy and good surprises.

But life is both these good things and the bad stuff, too. And it’s healthy to acknowledge them both in our lives and the lives of others. As a Christian, I think it’s a big part of being a follower of Christ. He wept and laughed and got outraged. He felt all the feelings without fear or shame. In all the instability, he is a rock. A cornerstone to all the hope in the world. I want to use that hope in Christ to further my growth in how I interact with others, forgiving the hurtful, ignorant comments because I understand the need for control and distaste for the uncomfortable. And in the same way, I want to watch the words that come out of my own mouth, that they bring hope instead of hurt, silence when it is preferred, and enough compassion to acknowledge that I don’t understand, but I’m still gonna be here anyway.

Mother’s Day 2019

Since I won’t be around this year on the blog for Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a few thoughts.

This will be my second Mother’s day with my son. Though, to be fair, last year was a blur because I was still hopped up on pain pills recovering from delivery. This past year has been a wonderful whirlwind, but I can’t help thinking how past years have been for me. Years of waiting and wondering. Years of loss and grief. Years watching others experience the kind of motherhood I desperately wanted.

Before my son was born, I felt like an outsider. And after he was born, honestly, life felt normal again. On the outside, I look like a typical suburban stay at home mom going to the grocery or the library with my adorable son in tow. The pain and grief is still there, but life is much easier to navigate day to day. And sometimes I feel guilty that it got easier. And sometimes it’s hard to enjoy because I keep waiting for the next crisis, the other shoe to drop.

So, this year, I’m giving myself permission to completely enjoy Mother’s Day. To embrace the gratitude and to celebrate the other moms and maternal figures around me. And giving permission is sometimes just what we need.

So, you have permission to love or hate Mother’s day. You have permission to cocoon yourself in on that day or seek community if you want. You have permission to remember babies you have lost or babies you long to have. You have permission to celebrate the children in your life whose lives you have nurtured and loved. You have permission to hide from the kids to read a book or spend the entire day playing with them. You have permission to celebrate the joy of the last year or just the fact that you survived. You have permission to not have kids or desire kids at all and see this day as a day to celebrate other women in your life. You even have permission to celebrate this day with your pets, because fur-babies need love and nurturing, too.

Any way you celebrate the second Sunday in May is appropriate. Even if it is just the second Sunday in May and nothing else. But no matter how you celebrate or don’t, just know you are worthy and valuable for who you are right now, and that truth doesn’t change, no matter what.

Finally, I want to share a few other Mother’s Day reminder posts that I have written over the years. The links are below.

A Quick Word of Advice This Weekend

An Addendum to advice for next weekend

Mother’s Day

Continuing the Conversation

I want to keep sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet this year, so here are three new posts to share.

Couple shares their infertility struggles to encourage others trying to conceive

Beautiful story of the Brattons who had waited ten years before they were able to have their son. And now they encourage others who are waiting. This is part of what the community is all about.

Why Miscarriages Should Be in All Sex Ed Lesson Plans

Yes. This is what I’ve been saying for years, and I’m glad there are bigger voices advocating for this, too.

These Miscarriage Empathy Cards Break Down The Taboo Of Pregnancy Loss

These are great cards for those going through pregnancy loss. In addition to listening and supporting friends through loss, these cards say appropriate things for the situation, in my opinion.

If you have never experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, I can guarantee there is someone in your life who has.  While the above stories may not be the same experiences for everyone, they can definitely open that window to more understanding and empathy for what everyone goes through.  And for those of you who are in the midst of these unknowns or losses, you are not alone.  May these words uplift and encourage you today.

Do you have any posts or articles that have touched you or compelled you to share?

An Uplifting Artist

I’ve shared music with you that has encouraged and supported me through various points in my life, especially the last five years. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with one artist in particular which probably should be no surprise, and that is Lauren Daigle.

I know that she has newer music, but I keep coming back to these three songs over and over again. In fact, when I ask Google Home to play music, it usually includes these songs without my prompting.

Rescue by Lauren Daigle

I like to meditate to this song as a reminder of not just what God is willing to do in our lives, but how we should see people around us and what He is willing to do for them. This song also ignites a story in my head. If I ever get up enough discipline and courage to write fiction, this song is for sure going to be in my playlist

I am Yours by Lauren Daigle

So, back in January, I spoke about my pregnancy loss. When I was working on my speech (actually, I had just finished it), I asked Google to play a Lauren Daigle song, and this was the one that popped up. It starts out with “I see your fingerprints…” which is how I ended my speech! It was kismet, I tell you. Plus the song aptly describes my thoughts and feelings about faith during suffering. Let the rain fall!

Look Up Child by Lauren Daigle

This is the perfect song for when I feel like I’m drowning in everything that is going on in my personal life and in the world around me. This song has also become an earworm that visits every morning when I wake up. Maybe God is trying to get my attention? Or maybe I just play this song on repeat. (I mean, other mornings I wake up with the R&B version of Baby Shark in my head, so I’m not taking it too seriously.)

Do you have an artist that you go to for encouragement?

Continuing the Conversation

I want to keep sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet this year, so here are three new posts to share.

Families mourning pregnancy and infant loss hit with costly bills

Something I don’t see discussed as often is the actual financial cost of pregnancy loss. CBS news did a story on this, and I’m glad to see people speaking up about it. Not just the hospital bills, but at least in my case, we also had cremation bills as well.

Infertility: Other people’s pregnancies

This is a great article written for women going through pregnancy loss. A lot of great advice.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Secondary Infertility

Another great article on Huffington Personal that shares a journey with secondary infertility. Any time I find a story like this, it’s a definite must-share. I know that someone who may read this may also relate to her story.

If you have never experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, I can guarantee there is someone in your life who has.  While the above stories may not be the same experiences for everyone, they can definitely open that window to more understanding and empathy for what everyone goes through.  And for those of you who are in the midst of these unknowns or losses, you are not alone.  May these words uplift and encourage you today.

Do you have any posts or articles that have touched you or compelled you to share?

When Are You Having Another?

It felt like every week I was at the grocery store. I would pull into a cashier’s lane, load my groceries on the conveyor belt, and pull my cart towards the end. One look at my precious boy’s face, and I got all the coos and oohs and aahs. “What pretty eyes.” “He’s so sweet.” “He’s so cute.” “He’s so good.”

And then the next question inevitably came. “When are you going to have another?”

Even though the question came every week, it still caught me off guard. It took me five years to bring this little boy home. Through unknowns and losses. Getting pregnant, for me, is a gamble. It’s going face first into massive unknowns. It’s a huge leap of literal faith to get to the other side of a pregnancy.

And they are asking me to do it again.

Of course, they don’t know my story. Sometimes, I give them a TL;DR version, impressing upon the fact that it’s scary for me to get pregnant. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it again. It just means that there are a lot of steps between here and there.

Sometimes, that helps. And sometimes it just fuels more uncomfortable questions while I’m trying to type in my member rewards number and pay for my groceries. They are asking me to do something I have little to no control over. But pregnancy isn’t talked about that way. It’s talked about like “if you stare at your husband too long, you get pregnant,” and “if you get pregnant, you have a baby.” When it doesn’t work that way for a lot of women. At. All.

I wouldn’t walk away so annoyed if I didn’t know that there were other things to talk about in the world. Weather. Groceries I’m buying. Even how old my son is or what our plans are for the weekend. Fun trivia facts. I might even delve into politics and religion if it meant avoiding the baby talk.

Actually, most of the time, I’m not annoyed. I know that our culture has made it okay for women to be asked about their reproductive decisions, and that it’s okay to make judgment calls on these decisions. Even though these really aren’t okay, it’s hard to make a big ship turn around quickly.

That’s why I keep writing about this. Because our culture has made these questions and comments common, it can feel isolating when you can’t answer them with the common answers and reactions. But you aren’t alone. And maybe one day, one interaction at a time, we might change the conversation. Even in the grocery line.

Continuing the Conversation

I want to keep sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet this year, so here are three new posts to share.

Women Are Demanding Miscarriages be Part of School’s Sex Education Curriculum

This is happening in Scotland after an outcry that a miscarriage depicted on a TV show wasn’t realistic. And it was actually the outcry that was misinformed. Personally, I would love there to be more of a conversation about miscarriages and pregnancy loss in the sex education curriculum. Even when I took a class in high school on child development from the womb to toddler age, loss was not even discussed.

We Need To Talk About Men And Miscarriage

While I don’t think there is a whole lot of conversation around pregnancy loss to begin with, there is even less about how men deal with the loss. I know my husband grieves our losses, too, and I appreciate studies and articles like this one.

MEN USE THESE 4 METAPHORS TO DESCRIBE MISCARRIAGE

Going along with the above article, this one in particular focuses on how men perceive their role in a pregnancy loss – as a rock, guard, repairman, or secondary character. And that these particular roles show the fact the men feel they have to put their grief and feelings aside for their partner. And how that needs to change.

If you have never experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, I can guarantee there is someone in your life who has.  While the above stories may not be the same experiences for everyone, they can definitely open that window to more understanding and empathy for what everyone goes through.  And for those of you who are in the midst of these unknowns or losses, you are not alone.  May these words uplift and encourage you today.

Do you have any posts or articles that have touched you or compelled you to share?

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter of Mine,

This month you would have turned 4 if you were born on your due date. There are so many things I wonder about how you would have been at this point in your life.

What would be your favorite color? Your favorite food? Would you have a best friend? Would you prefer to go to the library or the park? What would be your favorite TV show? Your favorite song? Would you like to sing or dance?

How would you have been as a big sister to my little Sam? Being the oldest, I can already assume you would be a little bossy if you were anything like I was as an older sister. Would you be trying to teach him words and colors?

I miss you, baby. Every year, I see little girls born around the same time you were supposed to be born and I wonder how similar and different you would be. It seems time just keeps moving without you here, but you are very, very missed. Both you and your sister are very, very loved and missed. I think about you both all the time.

Your brother will know who you are. He will grow up with the reality of his two big sisters. He will know that you love him, because I’m sure you do.

Baby, mama loves you. I know you and your sister aren’t alone. I know you are being surrounded by family and being held by our Creator.

Big hugs and kisses to my precious girl today. Hug your sister.

Love you always,

Your Mama.