Category Archives: Volunteer Bloggers

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Aware

Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to be ignorant to what can go wrong (ignorance is bliss) or if it’s better to be aware of the pitfalls.

After my miscarriages, I became aware of what can go wrong during a pregnancy. I learned the hard way why women often wait to share their news until they are ten weeks. The first time I got pregnant I told my immediate family right away. I ended up having a blighted ovum and had to tell everyone the sad news. In retrospect, I don’t regret sharing my joy with my loved ones so quickly. It was hard at the time, though, to bear the bad news. I initially felt like I disappointed everyone, but over time I was able to work through that thinking. I’ve shared the news immediately with all three of my pregnancies. With my second and third however, I did learn to proceed with caution, but overall I couldn’t let fear overtake my eagerness.

Growing up, pregnancy was presented to me as easy. You decide to have a family and then you have one. At least that’s how I understood it from what mothers in my family told me. My own mom had five kids and all her pregnancies were normal. But I didn’t find out until I was older that she had a miscarriage before she had my younger brother. Many women I know never shared their miscarriage stories with me, until I became aware of it through my own experience. I guess that’s when you become more aware of things, when they happen to you.

I think society presents pregnancy as if it is easy. As exciting, life changing, and miraculous as pregnancy is, it can also be a scary, mysterious journey. We have to throw caution to the wind and trust that things will go right. I am grateful I was able to find the support I needed both through family and this website when I experienced my losses. I know there are many, many women over decades who experienced loss and never had the chance to talk about it or vent with others who went through the same thing.

My husband and I are blessed to have our rainbow baby, Lucy. She’s going to turn one in a couple of weeks. We have talked a lot about trying for another. The prospect of going down the pregnancy journey again is daunting now that I am aware of what can go wrong. Seeing my baby grow and learn inspires me to be stronger than my fear. She inspires me to embrace this awareness that I have and use it to be proactive in my healthcare for future pregnancies. If I allowed my fear to stop me, I may have never had her.

During this month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I hold my two losses and my rainbow baby close in my heart. I promise to never forget where I began and I promise to never take for granted what I have gained through my loss. I promise to continue to promote awareness of those who experience loss. I most especially pray for those currently experiencing loss and those having difficulty conceiving. You will overcome your obstacles. Don’t be afraid to make others aware of how you feel. Don’t hide. You should not be ashamed of what you’re going through. It’s not a group you want to be part of, but now that you are, embrace your new awareness and take comfort that there are many others who are aware too.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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This Is Not A Punishment

Loss, especially one that doesn’t make sense, and one that takes away so much potential really leaves you grasping at straws. The danger is grasping onto the wrong straw, the short straw, the straw that tells you that something in your past is the reason why you are experiencing something in the present moment. 

For me, every one of our losses has opened the door to guilt that stems from a decision in childhood.  When I was in 4th grade, I kicked my teacher. I kicked her hard. It was an extremely violent choice. Consequences stemmed from this incident. I was put into a separate school. I was labeled “aggressive” and “bad.”  

I was dealing with an unstable and tough home life. I was still finding the right tools to learn with my Dyslexia, and I was angry, so I acted. 

When I returned back to my regular school after a year and a half, I began hearing rumors about myself. In those 18 months, I changed, my life changed. I was hitting my groove of understanding what I needed to do in order to be safe, to have others around me be safe, and to grow as a young person should. So, hearing the rumor that my actions caused someone to lose a baby, really, really, hit me hard.  My friends, my family, kept telling me to focus and move on from the rumors and eventually I came to terms with them.

With our first loss,  the guilt pushed in. At first,  I rationalized it. I said “Ok, 1 for 1 apparently, ok.”  Then our second loss happened, and it broke me. I felt punished, I felt like I was the reason this happening to us. By our third loss, I felt like it was squarely my fault. I felt like this is on me, this is karma, this is my atonement, this is my burden. 

Recently, I have explored this in counseling and even typing this, it makes me realize how silly it is. Right? I can’t find anywhere in my bible creating such a link. There are other problems in my life that I don’t make such a link…so why does this impact me so? 

I think, because this grief sucks. There is no reason for these losses, but as humans, we need to justify it somehow. We need to blame someone, somehow, and well, our past transgressions fit nicely into that. I think for me, not physically experiencing the losses as my wife did, made me search for physical pain. Replaying how it felt to hurt someone, replaying how that contact jolted my body, really created that feeling, that sullen connection. 

October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month (PAIL), I feel like the best way to raise awareness is to chip away at the falsehood that a loss is a punishment. There are so many people in this crappy club and we need to be open to the shame that others feel when experiencing pregnancy loss. We need to support each other and to call it out. Especially us guys in this club. We have to be prepared to not “bro out” but to listen. We need to be more vulnerable with each other, especially when it comes to some of the shame we push down.

I share my story today in the hopes to be vulnerable. I share my story with the hopes that you reading this may feel ok to be vulnerable, too. Because when we feel like we deserved this, it creates a wedge between coming to terms with our grief and moving forward in life with this grief. This is not a punishment.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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In ritual, we mourn

We walked out to a remote clearing in the woods. The sound of birds chattering loudly surrounded us. The wind whispered gently. The brook babbled nearby. The sunlight filtered down through the trees.

In silence, we laid out the things we had brought on a makeshift altar, a blanket we used in our engagement photo shoot and a silk scarf that bound our hands together during our wedding ceremony.

 

Two ceramic birds.

A silver bell.

Stones for four birth months.

A sculpture of a windswept tree.

A candle infused with crystals and essential oils.

An ultrasound photo.

A book of poems.

 

We meditated. Tears rolled down my face. We held each other. We lit the candle.

The officiant who married us opened the space with her words, chosen so perfectly for us in our heartbreak.

We read what we had written, each of us, with tears in our eyes. There are no words big enough for grief; we tried.

I read a poem by Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods.” There in the woods the words captured the moment we created for ourselves and for our babies.

“To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.”

Our officiant wraps our hands in the softest knitted blanket with the colors of the rainbow. Rainbow for pride. Rainbow for love. Rainbow for her hopes for our future – hopes we don’t dare to hold for ourselves anymore.

We sob. The light filters through the leaves. The brook runs softly. The birds whistle their songs.

We ring the bell. Snuff out the candle. Pack our things. We walk back to the road in silence.

In this sacred hour we achieved what we could not do on other days. We created some ritual from our pain. Space to grieve that the world has not given freely to us. We recognized each of our pregnancies, and each of our losses. We honored our babies in our own way.

On October 1st I put a filter on my Facebook profile picture for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Sometime this month I’ll make a(nother) post about pregnancy loss and the fact that it has touched my life. I’ll share our story to remind other people that we exist, and that our babies did too. I’ll light a candle on October 15th at 7pm for the Wave of Light. But those actions have never felt like enough. That lack of “enoughness” is what drove us to design the ritual in the woods for our babies, the space we needed to grieve, in our own time, for ourselves and our family.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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A Loss of Innocence

In a strange way, pregnancy loss is also a loss of innocence. It’s like when you were younger and thought that your parents would be around forever, or that nothing bad would ever happen. Unfortunately, because pregnancy loss is often not talked about, I never really thought about it or discussed it with anyone.

That changed when I lost my grandson, Liam. I had joined a club that I really didn’t want to be in. But I found comfort in sharing this devastating news. I was amazed by the number of women who shared that they too had lost a child or grandchild. I could see that even though many of them had gone on to have other children, the loss left an aching hole in their hearts. I truly don’t know if I would have the courage or strength to try again after such a loss.

We just found out that our daughter-in-law is pregnant. The loss of innocence I experienced with Liam has left me filled with “what-ifs.” I find myself slipping into a dark place. However, I know that my daughter-in-law will be closely monitored during the pregnancy, which gives me some comfort. I can hold Liam close to my heart and honor his memory, but I mustn’t fear for another loss. I need to have faith and hope for the miracle of a successful birth. I recognize it is in God’s hands, not mine. Yes, pregnancy loss may take away our innocence, but we cannot let it take away our joy and wonder at the expectation of a new life.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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Nature

A couple weeks ago, I visited Glacier National Park in Montana with my husband’s family. I had been stressing a lot leading up to the trip about how my 10 month old would handle the flights and being away from home for a whole week. The first couple days were tough getting her oriented to the cabin and the two hour time difference.

One afternoon when everyone was out hiking, I was sitting outside on the deck while my baby napped and my husband watched TV. I let the quiet breeze wash over me. I basked in the warm sunlight. I let my ears focus on the peaceful stream of water trickling in the creek down the hill. 

When life seems to turn upside down and make your head spin, getting away and being at peace with nature can be a powerful remedy. It doesn’t have to be a big trip to a national park. It can be a walk around the neighborhood or a walk through a local park. To be able to sit and embrace the beauty of nature is such a blessing that we often take for granted. During our stay, we were able to do some hikes and see beautiful mountains and waterfalls. A walk through the woods can be a rejuvenating experience if you open yourself up to it and let nature heal you.

I came home refreshed and ready to face my every day routine head on.

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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It’s Personal and it’s Political

The irony did not escape me. On Wednesday, June 19th, the day we were supposed to hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, we instead were told that her development had stopped. Also on Wednesday, June 19th, the Reproductive Privacy Act was finally passed and signed into law, enshrining in the Rhode Island legal code all of the protections of Roe v. Wade. When I campaigned for this law I never imagined that it would come to fruition on the day we learned our fourth pregnancy was (also) not to be.

I am grateful that my ability to access reproductive choices allowed me to opt for a D&C procedure to remove our baby from my uterus rather than trying to collect the remains myself at home for testing. Haven’t I been through enough without that added trauma? Insurance paid fully for the procedure. Having access to that D&C is the reason we know that we had a daughter, and why she died. I wish I didn’t have to be grateful for that.

It’s a complicated thing to fight for reproductive choice even as the choices you’re left with to decide the fate of your own family are bleak and hopeless. Even as women with my experiences are left out and left behind over and over by a reproductive justice movement that largely shies away from the most wanted pregnancies of all.

The Reproductive Privacy Act doesn’t include any safeguards for people who are using IVF to (try to) grow our families, technology that would be at legal risk if Roe v. Wade were overturned. I took it up with the Senate sponsor at a house party once and she told me it wasn’t as important as the other protections at issue in her bill because it impacts fewer people. In her (flawed) analysis IVF was not at risk no matter what the Supreme Court decided so there was no point in making those protections explicit. I was annoyed, but resigned. As hard as I fight for the reproductive freedoms of others it seems mine are content to be ignored. I smiled anyways when the Privacy Act was signed, even though my heart had been permanently shattered earlier that same day.

The Friday before I had the D&C was the last day of the 2019 Rhode Island legislative session. A bill near and dear to my heart died that day as the House refused to take it up even after it had been passed unanimously by the Senate. The Rhode Island Parentage Act would have provided updated protections to families who conceive with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and especially to same sex couples who are subject to particularly burdensome processes for second parent adoptions in the state, a process that unnecessarily takes months and costs thousands of dollars. With that bill’s death so died my remaining hope, that small glimmer that by the time our baby arrived we would have heightened legal protections and less arduous hoops to jump through – after all, haven’t we been through enough already?

But our baby is not arriving, and we were again left behind. I’ll keep fighting but I wish we didn’t have to.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers


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PCOS Awareness Month

In honor of PCOS Awareness Month, I thought I would bring some facts and encouragement to ya!

First, did you know that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent, hormone-based condition among 1 in 10 women? PCOS is an imbalance in a woman’s hormone production. The “all over the place hormones” affect the body and cause numerous symptoms to manifest an onset of PCOS. Many women experience abnormal menstrual cycles, body-hair growth, skin issues, heart issues and sadly fertility and pregnancy issues.

Here are some facts about PCOS that can help you understand what is going  on in your body a bit better:

  1. PCOS is the most widespread endocrine disorder in the world today.
  2. Women with PCOS are more at risk if you have Type 1, Type 2, or gestational diabetes.
  3.  PCOS is hard to diagnose. There are many criteria physicians utilize when diagnosing PCOS. Irregular periods are often the first sign. However, this symptom alone doesn’t determine if you have the illness
  4. Early diagnosis is important with PCOS to lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.
  5. Because of delayed menstruation, a woman with PCOS can experience infertility due to abnormal ovulation.
  6. Women with PCOS experience a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or the likelihood of having a miscarriage.
  7. Babies born to women with PCOS are prone to fetal macrosomia, which is when the newborn is significantly larger  than normal.
  8. PCOS can cause sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and diabetes.
  9. Managing PCOS is best served by weight loss, a healthy diet and exercise.
  10. Studies have shown that women who smoke cigarettes have a higher level of androgens in their system. These are the pesky hormones responsible for most of the physical symptoms of PCOS, including excessive hair growth and acne.

I have personally dealt with PCOS since I was a teen. It hasn’t been fun. I have learned to manage symptoms with a healthy diet, lifestyle change and managing my stress levels. Finding a good support system has been key for me as well! I hope some of these facts can help you understand what your body is going through and can help navigate through PCOS!

I’m thankful that there is more research going on to help educate us all on this disorder! If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, please know you are NOT alone and it is NOT the end! YOU GOT THIS SISTER!!!!

Category : Cryssie , 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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