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The Right to Grieve

I feel very stuck lately. I should be 30 weeks pregnant, but I’m not. I’m not pregnant at all. And here come the holidays, reminding me that instead of swollen ankles and heartburn, I have an empty uterus and a missing piece in my heart.

I’m a very dramatic person. Those of you who know me on a personal level have just laughed and thought, “Understatement of the year.” I come from a long line of dramatic people. When something small inconveniences us or upsets us, we take it to next level insanity.

Over the past few months, people have unintentionally acted like I am being overly dramatic in regards to the loss of this child. Some people have lost their child at the halfway point of their pregnancy, or even further along. I cannot even begin to fathom the type of pain that creates. I only knew my child for a week before I was in the ER with bleeding, and a total of 9 days before it was confirmed that he was gone.

It appears that some people think that because I was only 7 weeks along, I should be over it at this point. That my tendencies for being dramatic are carrying over into my grief. This isn’t the case. Everyone is entitled to their right to grieve the loss of a child at any time during their pregnancy. I don’t even know if my child was bigger than a grape at that time, but to me, he was a person. In my mind’s eye, he had a life ahead of him that he never got to lead.

I still have family members, whether blood or marriage, that still have not said anything to me. Not one word. They haven’t even acknowledged what happened. And that actually causes my grief to be deeper. Because now, I feel like I have to grieve for my lost child not only for myself, but for them. I want to give him the type of honor and memory so he knows he was loved and was never forgotten.

My well-meaning husband mentioned that we could go on our vacation at the end of May, beginning of June. I had to step back, realizing that he didn’t remember those dates had significance. May 31st was the confirmation of my miscarriage and June 2nd was the day I had my D&C. I was so taken aback that he didn’t remember every single detail of the worst three days of my life.  I guess that goes to show the depth of a mother’s love for her child. In saying that, I don’t mean to take anything away from my husband. He is a wonderful, caring father to our spirited two year old.

Here’s my point to the drawn out post: You, as someone who has lost a child, at whatever point in your pregnancy, have the right to grieve. While we can’t expect anyone else to understand our grief unless we’ve gone through it, we have every right to process and feel it. No one can tell you how long, how strong, and how much to do so. It is your healing, no one else’s. And if someone simply doesn’t understand, tell them you’re grateful that they don’t understand. That you’re so happy they don’t have to experience that type of pain.

Category : Jessica , Volunteer Bloggers


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5 Ways I Observed PAIL Awareness Month 2017 Differently

I’ve been observing Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) awareness month since 2012, which makes this October my 6th one. Each year I’ve done things a little differently; a few years I participated in photo challenges, I went to a memorial event with a friend a couple years ago, one year I hid in bed most the month, and last year I white-knuckled my way through the month just holding on until I could safely hold my rainbow. I always knew if I made it through to my rainbow, observing PAIL awareness would be different. I just had no clue what it would look like. Now that we’re towards the end of the month, here’s five ways my October was different because I’m a loss mom with a living child.

1. I felt guilty/like an imposter

It was a rough month in terms of guilt. I know several mothers who lost children this year, and in some instances I just didn’t know what to do. This has been the happiest year of my life. Having a baby and routine has been cathartic for me. I no longer struggle with the complex feelings of failure brought on by recurrent miscarriage, and for the most part I’ve accepted and am at peace with how my previous pregnancies ended. How do stand with so many other bereaved mothers while I have so much joy in my heart? For the first time I felt like maybe I just didn’t fit in, and it was weird.

2. I reached out to support

In previous years I’ve reached out to women for support. I desperately needed to know I wasn’t alone, and that other women had experienced happy endings. I was terrified I’d never be a mom, much less carry to term successfully. I posted all over social media hoping to hear from women who had been where I was. This year, I was more passive about my posting. Instead, I sat back and read what others were saying. I’d comment my words of encouragement and hope. Where I felt it was appropriate, I used my son’s picture as proof that loss isn’t the end of everything, and that life can continue alongside the grief.

3. I wondered about the future

In past years, the future was this gaping, uncertain, black hole. It was a concept that stressed me and brought me to tears. This month I sat down and seriously thought about what my future might look like. I’d like to try for more kids, and I know that I have a higher risk for miscarrying future pregnancies. It makes me extremely sad to think about losing any more, but having experienced what it’s like to have a rainbow baby gives me strength to face that fact. I may experience loss again. It will be heartbreaking, and I’ll grieve just as much as I did for my previous three. But this time, I know how strong I am.

4. I forgot to light my candles

I almost didn’t want to type this, because I feel horrible… but I forgot to light my candles on October 15 during the wave of light. I had it in my calendar, and I had my three candles ready to go (a large beeswax candle and two scented soy tea lights) and I missed it. It had been a rough day, my son had been somewhat crabby, and I decided to put on a movie with my family and stretch out on the couch. When it was over, I realized it was after 8 pm and my candles had never been lit. I think, though, that this goes to show that loss makes way for life to continue. All day I had been thinking of my three little ones and lighting candles for them. I even took the time to carefully pick out which candles I wanted to use and get them ready. I may have forgotten the day, the time, and the act of lighting those candles, but I certainly didn’t forget my children that day.

5. I cried

This one is a bit of a cheat, as I’ve cried every October since I lost my first. My due dates were in September and November. With October being right in the middle, it’s a tough time of year and I tend to feel a lot of self pity. This October, I didn’t cry for myself. I did cry for other parents who are experiencing the pain I went through, and who are still on the path to healing. I cried for my son, who barely has a connection to his older siblings. This year I was able to look beyond myself and feel empathy for others. After 6 years of being so hurt, and so focused on my own pain, it was a freeing experience to feel for others.

Right now, I’m in a really great place. I understand grief and life are fluid, and next year may not be like this. Loss has taught me to be gentle with myself when I struggle, and to fully take advantage of the times I’m doing well. I hope I’ve been able to take the kindness and support shown to me throughout past Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness months and pay it forward.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Separation of Church and Medicine

Five years ago today, I found out I was pregnant for the first time.

I was naïve. I didn’t know very much about miscarriage or other types of pregnancy loss and I knew even less about infertility and procedures such as IVF.

Then I went on a journey I never expected to take, one I still find myself in the middle of all these years later. I’ve learned what it’s like to be told your child has chromosomal abnormalities. I’ve learned what it’s like to go in for an ultrasound only to find out there’s no heartbeat. I now know what it’s like to sit in the waiting room of the reproductive endocrinologist’s office, sick to your stomach, because you feel like you’re broken.

I know jealousy, anger, pain. I’ve shed many, many tears. I’ve questioned why – why me, why us, why anyone?

Several weeks ago, I reached out to my church to see if it would be possible to include Through the Heart’s upcoming PAIL events in the bulletin, as they often highlight local nonprofits. After some back and forth, including discussion about possibly working with the school’s students to fulfill their community service requirements, I was told earlier this week that the diocese did not approve our organization. The reason? Somewhere in our materials we mention IVF and the church does not believe in the procedure.

My initial response was anger. I’ve never gone through IVF myself, but I came very, very close. I absolutely believe in the procedure. I believe that anyone should have the chance to have a biological family, not just those who have been blessed with fully functioning reproductive systems.

I started having flashbacks to when I found out that there were problems with our first child. It was too early to know the specifics, only that something was wrong. People said things to me like “The doctors don’t know anything, God will take care of it.” Really? I believe in God but I also believe in medicine and science.

Faith is difficult for me at times. I am probably not what would be considered a “good” Catholic because I don’t fall in line. To me, faith is about your personal relationship with God. It is about praying in a way that makes sense to you. It is not about doing things because you’re supposed to.

I sit through most Sunday masses not knowing the right response. I recite the Our Father, I share the sign of peace, I go up for communion. But to me the most meaningful and important part is often all those times in between. Those times when something during the homily strikes a chord or the sound of the opening music causes me to break down in tears. In those moments I am allowing myself to be vulnerable, to just let go. Those are the hardest moments, but also my favorite. To me, that is faith.

My husband and I were married in a Catholic ceremony. We vowed to accept children and raise them in the Catholic religion. At no time was it indicated that the children had to be given to us in a certain way. I have a hard time believing that my God would deny so many people the ability to be parents. People like to say “What Would Jesus Do?” Well, I think Jesus would believe in medicine. I think he would believe in biological parenthood, in families and in happiness.

Religion, like everything else, is not perfect. I accepted a long time ago that there are parts of the Catholic faith that I just do not agree with and never will. And that’s ok. But times have changed, society has evolved, and medicine has made so many amazing accomplishments possible. It’s time for the church to evolve too.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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TTC: Am I Ready?

It’s been 4 months since I delivered our first child, a beautiful baby girl. I returned to work about a month ago. No I wasn’t ready to return.  However my maternity leave ended, and my therapist suggested that returning to a regular routine would likely be helpful, and it was. Getting back into a regular routine helped give me a new perspective.

I realized that I had to do my work: Most important, understanding I was not created to worry, and that worry symbolizes I have control, but trusting God, prayer and devotional time; giving myself time; allowing myself to have bad days, but not getting stuck; going to therapy weekly; realizing that work is not that important, yes it pays the bills, but it can never replace family; speaking up for my self when things become uncomfortable instead of being angry or stressed; volunteering, I realized that serving people gives me peace; participating in exercise at least 5-6 times per week; and working on positive thinking, it is a process.

My health: During my 20 week OB visit, 5 fibroids were found on my ultrasound. Most were small with the exception of one. After I delivered Aryia, the doctor asked that we wait a few months before TTC again so that she could assess the location and size of the fibroids once my uterus shrank. I had an ultrasound in August for possible surgery.  My concern with surgery was that scar tissue would develop causing implantation issues in future pregnancies.  I also considered that we conceived naturally. The results were reviewed by my OB, the fertility and high risk doctors. They determined that the fibroids were not related to the Ariya’s stillbirth, and removing them would do more harm than good. After much prayer I was beyond grateful.

I look at being “ready” in parts. So I had to ask myself, “Am I ready to expand our family?” That’s a yes without questions. Am I ready for everything that comes with TTC and pregnancy? Yes and no. Every pregnancy is different and filled with new possibilities. In this country and around the world, women die everyday due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth.  The fact that I am still here means God has a plan for me. I’m not sure what else is to come, but I trust his plan to be better than mine. I don’t think I can ever fully “prepare” myself. But I can tell you that I’m ready to have faith and hope that things will turn out for our good, that we will be blessed with healthy babies. 

 

 

Category : Valisha , Volunteer Bloggers


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Talking about our losses with our rainbow baby

People have started to ask me how we will tell our daughter about our losses. At this moment I am not sure but I do know that I don’t want to keep it from her.

Most likely we will wait until she is older and either tell her when she can understand what having a loss means or maybe we will just talk about it and she will overhear and it will just be a normal topic in our household. We have some time to think about it before we need to make a decision either way.

If you have a rainbow baby did you tell them about your loss(es)? And if so, how did you tell them?

Category : Amanda , Volunteer Bloggers


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October: Remembering Differently

If you’re reading this post, chances are you have gone through, or know someone who has gone through, pregnancy or infant loss. I’m willing to bet you are aware of the meaning October has for our community. This is our awareness month; a month dedicated to Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness. I’ve observed a total of five Octobers as a loss mom. Each one has been somewhat different in my degree of participation. Some years I posted a daily picture and quick blurb about how my losses have affected me. Other years I hid in bed. Last year I was in the middle of my fourth pregnancy, so I almost completely ignored it to save my already high anxiety from boiling over.

This upcoming October will be a new experience for me now that I have a baby. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to observe my past losses while mothering a living child. In some ways, this past year has made my miscarriages seem so distant; in other ways being with my son makes those losses more real than ever. I definitely want to include him somehow. I’ve known since my first loss that this would be a cherished family tradition.

Due to his young age, I don’t imagine we’ll do anything extraordinary to mark our remembrance. I’ll light candles on the 15th, as it’s my yearly tradition to participate in the wave of light at 7 pm (All time zones apply and by keeping your candle lit for an hour a continuous wave of light is created around the world). Other than that, I think the best way for us to honor his siblings’ memories will be to live each day to its fullest. It’s finally cool enough in the mornings to walk here in the Southwest, so we’ll spend more time out in nature. Having a little one dictating your schedule almost guarantees no time for hiding under the covers. I’m curious to see if that will be a blessing or struggle this year.

How are you planning to observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month this year? Is it something very private for you or do you include others? I’d love to hear what others are planning to do as I plan my observance this year.

Category : Stacey , Volunteer Bloggers


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Self Advocacy

During this journey, I have learned that speaking up for myself has helped me face challenges along the way. After a 4 month maternity leave (thanks to the maternity leave policy) I returned to work a few weeks ago. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. People can be insensitive, nosy and outright rude. Often people mean no harm, they just don’t know any better. So I asked myself, “What can I do to help me?” After reading a few posts from other women, I decided it would be best to email my supervisor and ask her to speak with our group during the monthly meeting prior to my return. I was very clear about a few things: I didn’t want people coming to my office asking questions, I was not going to talk about what happened, respect my privacy and I didn’t want any special welcome back banners or balloons. I just wanted to return to work and do my job! My transition back hasn’t been seamless, but speaking up for myself ahead of my return definitely helped.

My husband has a friend whose wife was due to deliver their son on the same day as us, at the same hospital. They invited us to their baby shower a few times (I was 6 weeks postpartum at the time). I’m not sure you could be more insensitive than that. This same couple even asked us to come over to hang out with them and their new baby a few times. Finally I took a few deep breaths and told my husband how I felt, that I wished them well, but from this point forward it was best not to give me updates on their family or ask me to accept their invites. I explained that it only caused me more sadness, and it was not helpful in my coping. I told him he was free to do what he pleased in responding to their invites.

I had to learn to accept how I feel….and not feel bad for those emotions. It’s my belief that this is all a part of the grief process, a time to focus on me and whatever raw emotions that come! Suppressing emotions doesn’t help, whatever I’m dealing with at any given time will continue to resurface until I face “it.” For me, that means acknowledging whatever “it” may be and pushing through with my own self awareness.

Sometimes you can explain things to people and often they won’t understand. I’ve learned in this journey, no one will ever fully understand my unique experience, no matter how hard they try. I’ve also learned that it’s not an understanding I’m looking for, but the freedom to express my needs and respectfully letting people know where I am in my journey.

Category : Valisha , Volunteer Bloggers


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If you've come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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