Continuing the Conversation

I want to continue sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet, so here are three new voices to share.

Miscarriage: Expert gives tips on how to cope with it – A straightforward article out of India about things not to say to a couple going through a miscarriage

Please Stop Saying This To Women Who Can’t Have Any More Babies – An authentic (with profanity) blog post from a mom of three who wanted to have more children but biologically can’t.  This is a part of the community that, at times, I struggled to empathize with because I didn’t have any children, but articles like this broaden my awareness and shed an honest light on secondary infertility.  And some of the things she lists are things that resonate with my situation as well, as well as other parts of the community.

‘Opening the grief of miscarriage’ – BBC article that interviews one woman who shared her miscarriage experiences online and found a community of support.  It has some neat statistics of how the internet has helped and hurt women struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss.

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?

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Continuing the Conversation

I want to continue sharing other people’s stories or articles from around the internet like I did last week, so here are three new voices to share.

How Infertility Feels – The Struggle To Conceive – A beautiful blog about a woman on her IVF journey.  It’s uplifting and positive, but also honest.

‘To my baby that never made it earthside’– An article by a mommy blogger about her 6-week pregnancy loss.  Again, it’s beautiful and open.

Joanna Gaines Helped a Friend Through Infertility Struggles and Got a Sweet Tribute in Return – I love this story about Joanna’s friend and the rose bush.  It’s all about prayer and encouraging others going through struggles.  She had an article in her magazine last year about a friend who experienced pregnancy loss that was so wonderful that I ended up buying a copy at the grocery store (which I never do).  I love how supportive she has been to the pregnancy loss community in her own way.

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?

Continuing the Conversation

One of the things that I am most passionate about is the conversation about pregnancy loss and infertility.  It’s why I share my own experiences.

But I want to go beyond my own experiences.  So, I am going to share links to posts and articles that I have found that are keeping this conversation going.  I encourage you to read these articles, but I will also give brief thoughts or synopsis to each of the links.

How to talk to a friend who is experiencing infertility – An interview with Andrea Syrtash, who launched an infertility online magazine called Pregnantish.  The points in the article are accurate for both pregnancy loss and infertility.  Heavy emphasis on listening and transparency.  Also, I briefly perused the magazine.  It has some basic articles but also highlights families and their journeys through infertility.

Loss of sex drive women: I cried through sex with husband – This is a beautiful, raw, touching piece written by a woman who is struggling with infertility.  It has some language in it and it is adult in nature, but it is very open and vulnerable.  An excellent window into the struggle for a lot of women.

The Importance of Acknowledging Pregnancy Loss – This is a broad article the covers most of the basics about pregnancy loss.  I was surprised to see that abortions made the list for this writer, but I don’t doubt that there are some women who grieve those losses as well.  I just know that it can be a touchy subject and that the pregnancy loss world and the pro-choice world have collided at times.  Still, it is a pretty good article to share with those that have never experienced or know anyone (which they probably do and don’t know it) that has had a pregnancy loss.

Those are a couple of articles to get started.  I share these to get the conversation started, but also to show that this is a common conversation.  That if you have experienced or are experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss that you aren’t alone.

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

What Alice Forgot: A Review

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What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adult contemporary set in the year 2008 in Sydney, Austrailia. The protagonist, Alice, wakes up on the floor of a gym after a nasty fall, having lost her memories for the last ten years. She thinks it’s 1998 and that she is 14 weeks pregnant with her first child, newly married to her husband, Nick. When in reality, she has three children and is estranged from said husband. The story continues as a mystery that slowly reveals the last ten years, through flashes and pictures, strong feelings, and the anecdotes of her friends and family.
What I did not know going into this book was how much of it was also about pregnancy loss and infertility. Alice’s big sister, Elizabeth, is almost a second main protagonist, who is the first person that really shows up after Alice is brought to the hospital after the fall at the gym. She helps Alice navigate through some of those first memories, but finds it hard because it means that she also has to relive a lot of those memories as well. And her story is pregnancy loss and infertility. And it is so accurate from my own story. I related so much to her experiences and her thoughts. I mention this without really spoiling anything as a trigger warning, but I found this part of the story also therapeutic. This is what made the book a five out of five for me.
The writing jumps from three different perspectives. Alice is told in the third person, though we are privy to her thoughts and feelings, they weren’t always dependable and accurate. When trying to piece together the last ten years, she goes down a couple of dead ends. Elizabeth’s perspective is told in first person journal entries to her therapist. Of course, this is also limited by only what Elizabeth actually knows about Alice’s life as well. The third perspective is from their surrogate grandmother, Frannie, who gives a little more insight, but not much. It’s in first person correspondence as well, as her point of view is in the form of letters to an old flame, recounting her experiences in her retirement community as well as what is happening to Alice.
For the most part, the plot moves pretty quickly. The clues and glimpses kept me continuing with the story, wondering not only what exactly happened in the past, but how the future would turn out as well. And there is a lot of character transformation, especially with Alice and Elizabeth. As Alice looks into her present life from her younger self, the fresh perspective helps her evolve, and it also helps Elizabeth evolve as well.

There is profanity in the book, but not much, and I felt like the profanity was there to show how much had changed in Alice’s life – almost for a shock value, but a necessary one.
As far as sexual content, there is mention of sex and there are a few kissing scenes, but nothing really graphic or detailed. Since pregnancy was one of the main themes, I think it was also something necessary to mention and discuss.
And as far as violence, there are a couple of deaths mentioned, but nothing, again, in graphic detail. It focused more on the grief from death or loss.

I would recommend this book with the caveat of the fact that a good portion of it deals with navigating life with infertility and pregnancy loss. But I think it handles that subject really well. I didn’t really know that I would like this book as much as I did when I picked it up, but I’m really glad I did!

What to Say To Someone Going Through Pregnancy Loss (Stranger Edition)

what to say

I would love to change the conversation surrounding pregnancy loss and infertility.  So many of the women in my life have been affected by one or the other, and there are so many assumptions made about pregnancy loss that manifest in strange comments or bad advice.  My theory is that as a society (whether in sex ed classes or in youth group) we stress so much that if you have sex, you will get pregnant.  While that is definitely an outcome, it’s not the only one.  And since the other outcomes are never addressed, when we get married and are ready to have kids, and then can’t or struggle to, it’s easy to feel ostracized and no one else is really prepared for it either.  Assumptions are made, and hence, comments and advice are doled out.

But the good news is that it’s becoming more of a conversation.  More celebrities are speaking out about their experiences, as are more women in general.  There are so many articles about pregnancy loss, that it’s easy to educate oneself.  And just about everyone I know knows someone who has been through one or the other or both.

I was in a forum recently, and someone asked me what do you tell someone who is going through pregnancy loss, specifically someone you don’t know well.  Maybe someone at work or church.  And honestly, it’s better to go simple than to try to find those perfect words that will make them feel better (which DO NOT exist).

I am sorry for your loss.

I know it sounds cliche, but this simple statement does two things.  First, it acknowledges that there was a loss.  I have read about and known women who have people in their lives that refuse to acknowledge their pregnancy loss as anything more than a setback.  But to many of these women this is a loss of a child, and just having that validation can mean so much.  Second, by not saying anything else, this gives the woman the space to grieve and process how they need to grieve and process.  Maybe they end the conversation right there.  That is absolutely fine.  Maybe they will go into the details.  But it is up to them.

Sometimes people might add, “I’ve been there” or “My (family member/friend) has   experienced pregnancy loss.”  Adding this can be helpful as it can help this person feel less alone, but I wouldn’t recommend going into any of the details.  You don’t know what may trigger the woman in front of you, or even if they are prepared to have that conversation.

And finally, don’t take it personally if they don’t react in a way you expected.  They might lash out or brush you off.  Remember, they are grieving.  Even if it’s been a while since the loss, you never know what milestone or anniversary might be coming up for them.  It could be a due date or the day they found out they were pregnant.  Grace and space are such key terms when approaching this topic, especially with someone you don’t know.

It makes me so happy and encouraged that there are so many people who are willing to ask questions like these.  And, of course, this conversation might be different with someone you know better, someone that you have a closer relationship with.  I’m hopeful that the conversation and the stigma around pregnancy loss will change.  And I’m so grateful to have you all as my community because I know you all want to be a part of that positive change.

Upcoming Anniversary Reflections

Upon reflection of the upcoming anniversaries in my life, I have realized how differently I have viewed each of my pregnancies, based on a number of factors.

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For instance, when my first daughter died, I was in shock for quite a long time.  I didn’t feel the same way other women seemed to feel.  It took me three months at least to name her.  And it took me well over a year to really realize that I was already a mother.  And even longer to finally buy her urn.  I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I never learned how to live in this limbo, how to process this limbo.

It was about a month after I had accepted my own motherhood that I became pregnant again.  And this time, I got to spend a little more time with this daughter.  Because of my first daughter’s death, I was now a high-risk pregnancy, which came with more ultrasounds, including a DVD of a 3-D ultrasound at 20 weeks.  I felt her move more.  I danced with her to the songs on the radio, while waiting in traffic.  When I found out she died, she had a name before her stillbirth.  Her urn was bought immediately.

And I guess that’s why last year’s holidays were so hard.  Everything I lost became so real.  I wasn’t in shock anymore.  I was supposed to be celebrating Christmas with my two girls, and I wasn’t.  No matter how many traditions I participated in, no matter how many cheesy movies watched or presents purchased, the holiday felt empty without them.  It hurt so bad to see everyone else celebrating with their kids, making memories when all I had left of my daughters were memories.

But this year, it’s different.  Now, I’m carrying a new life, a new hope of future Christmases and traditions. Some people celebrate the child’s birth, but the fact that I have this little, precious heartbeat within me during this holiday season for the first time in five years of waiting…this is my true gift this year.  And I thank God every day I get to spend with this little one.

Life is so precious.  Every breath, every heartbeat, every moment.  I’ve never really understood that until now.  So, in the midst of the sadness of remembering and the heartache of those I miss terribly, I find strength in joy and hope.  It will probably always be bittersweet, and this child will always know the sisters that came before.  We will take time each year around this season to remember them.  But in remembering them, we will make strides to embrace every moment as a wonderful gift.  And to always be thankful.

A Brief Comment on This Month

A Brief Comment

Amidst the excitement that my family has currently been experiencing, November is also a time of sad anniversaries as well.  At the end of this month, I will be remembering my first daughter on the 3 year anniversary of her stillbirth.  But at the same time, celebrating the holiday season pregnant.

Which makes this month really weird.

Grief, in fact, can be weird and unpredictable.  I remember the year after my first daughter’s stillbirth that the weeks leading up to that date were a lot harder than the day itself.  And last year, I was mourning not only her death but the death of my second daughter as well.  My second daughter’s due date was just days before the stillbirth date of my first.  Which put me into a depression that covered the entire holiday season.

This year, not only will I be remembering my two precious little girls, I will also be experiencing the joy of the beginning of the second trimester – the renewed energy, the complete lack of nausea, the increased appetite, feeling somewhat normal again.  It’s this happy but sad but happy but sad feeling that leaves everything unpredictable.

But that’s okay.  If I’ve learned anything on this pregnancy journey, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not completely know what’s going to happen next.  To trust that God has a clear vision of the road ahead.  That He’s not going to leave me, but instead, he will guide me safely down this path.