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A loss by any other name

It’s amazing how the hierarchy of medical terminology can impact our perception of miscarriage. My first three pregnancies are medically classified as “chemical pregnancies.” Basically: they were lost too early for anything to be visualized by ultrasound in my uterus. Its a minimizing term. Diminishing. It has allowed so many people to invalidate my experience and my pain.

“It was only a chemical pregnancy.”

“Are you sure you were even pregnant?” 

“Chemical miscarriages don’t count as recurrent pregnancy loss. You can’t really say you have recurrent loss.” 

“It’s just like a period.” 

Whether it’s a friend, a well-meaning loved one or a doctor, those words hurt.

When my 4th pregnancy progressed to the “clinical pregnancy” stage I felt… relieved. It was official. At 5 weeks, 3 days we saw a perfect gestational sac, measuring on target. Proof that the pregnancy was really there. Proof that our baby existed and was growing in my uterus. Clinical sounds so much more official than chemical. My baby wasn’t just a chemical reaction gone wrong, but on its way to becoming a person. I assumed we’d have another loss, but I knew this time it was far enough along to “count.”

When the pregnancy hadn’t progressed enough to see a heartbeat and fetal pole by 6 weeks, 3 days I feared it was just an empty sac. A “blighted ovum.” Such an ugly term. It sounds like a medieval curse of some kind. Like I’d angered a wood nymph and been fated to barrenness. Maybe our baby wasn’t in there after all.

When we saw a heartbeat at 7 weeks and 1 day, too slow to be truly viable, I was relieved. I hated myself for that reaction. We found out that our baby was still going to die and I felt relieved to learn that there was something other than an empty sac to mark its existence. That the pregnancy wasn’t a blighted ovum. That it was a “missed miscarriage,” a pregnancy that was ending, slowly, but that my body hadn’t quite caught on yet.

Missed miscarriage. That didn’t seem quite right either. With all the early monitoring of an IVF pregnancy the miscarriage hadn’t been *missed* at all. I was graphically aware at every step that our baby lived and when it started to die. As if the betrayal of my body was a betrayal of my baby’s life too. That I’d “missed” their passing without a hint. I didn’t miss it, I lived it.

After the D&C I needed a rhogham injection because my blood type is RH-. They handed me a card for my wallet in case I ever needed verification I’d received it. On the front of the card there is a list of reasons for getting the shot. “Pregnancy termination” was checked. In my online insurance portal my claim for the procedure read “missed abortion.” My diagnosis quietly and officially changed in my medical records to “habitual aborter.”

No one thought to warn me about these changes. Each time I noticed this harsh language I’d cry. (Sometimes I still do.)

Let me be clear: it isn’t that I don’t want to be categorized with those who have terminated electively- the procedures we usually classify as “abortions.” But my story is different from theirs. Using the same words to describe them, no matter the medical accuracy, feels wrong on a visceral, emotional level.

So I cling to the words that feel more right: pregnancy loss, miscarriage, baby loss. It’s the smallest comfort, but it feels validating to be able to define what happened to me on my own terms.

Category : Meredith , Volunteer Bloggers

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Giving Thanks

Being thankful and grateful can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with profound loss. It’s often easier to live in the land of what could have been—I wish my grandson had lived, I wish I could have borne children, I wish I didn’t have congenital heart disease, I wish my husband wasn’t handicapped…

However, in this time of giving thanks, I try to pause and consider that I am truly blessed and have much for which to be thankful.

I am thankful that my husband and I were able to adopt two beautiful children when they were infants and that they become loving, caring adults.

I am thankful that my son and daughter-in-law live close to us. We were there to be present and support them when they lost Liam.

I am thankful for modern medicine and the surgical team that undertook my complex open-heart surgery almost five years ago.

I am thankful for my husband of almost 35 years. It wasn’t always easy, but we’re still together.

I am thankful for my granddaughter. She brings such joy and laughter to our lives.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

I am thankful I can still be physically active. I may be slow, but I go!

Finally, I am thankful for organizations such as Through The Heart, which provide comfort and support for those grieving the loss of a child.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers

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What’s in a name?

Genesis Kerrah. I had already picked out her first and middle names. Even though it was too early to confirm, I am very sure I was carrying a girl. This was confirmed by my stepdad’s dream of a little girl running towards him in the playground. Happy. Carefree. Identical to her older brother. We were so excited to meet her. But at 10 weeks I miscarried and the dream was the only proof of a life not yet lived. Since then I have welcomed my second son Roman and I cannot imagine life without him. He fits perfectly into our family. It’s an alternate universe I never imagined for us and I am overwhelmed with joy and love.

Genesis. I love this name. It’s commanding. “In the beginning…” I believe in the power of one’s name. I believe it contributes to your life’s purpose. At first I feared having a girl because of my personal insecurities and damaged past, so I needed to believe that she would be a ground breaker in whatever she was designed to be and do in this life. A seed was planted within me once she started growing inside me. And it has never left me. She did prepare us. She was destined to exist not for me, but for Roman.

Roman is a little guy with a big presence. He is very daring and adventurous. Literally I pray not for one, but an army of guardian angels around him. “God wrap him in spiritual and physical bubble wrap!” But God did something better. He gave him Genesis to be with him always. How do I know this? Roman seems to carry himself like he has his own personal guide. Someone who is in his ear and by his side. He shows no fear. He struts around with so much confidence. I know that he does not get that from me with my worry bee self or his big brother who is shy and sensitive. And even though he is the youngest, I know he will be the one to protect his big brother because he has someone watching over him at all times. I know she is here with us. It’s a feeling that warms my heart and spirit.

It is just recently that I have started referring to my little angel as Genesis. I realized that I was holding on to her name. Her name is not just for me, but for her and embracing her rightful place within our family. She is more than a sonogram on my desk. And even though the little angel figurine provides a tangible and visual comfort, “Genesis” gives her power to exist beyond the dream. When the boys get older, I want to share with them that they do have a sister named Genesis and she is with them always. They can truly believe that they are never alone. They can find comfort in praying and speaking with her because they got a heavenly insider. They can refer to her by name and so can I.



Category : Tracy , Volunteer Bloggers

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Tis The Season For Thanksgiving

As we head into a season of joy and cheer, sometimes it becomes a hard pill for us women of angels to swallow. I get it. I’ve been there…..I am you….

Sometimes I scroll through social media and see family pictures of moms, dads and their children and my heart stings a little. This is when I close my eyes and count my blessings. And that’s what I want to encourage you to do today, count your blessings. When an ache comes out of nowhere, remember WHOSE you are and that God is FOR YOU!

I know it’s easier to think about what we don’t have as our hearts ache for the loss we have endured, but when we stop and look around we can see what we are so blessed to have. I also take time to thank God that my friends have such beautiful families. I don’t wish this pain or emptiness on anybody, and when the green monster starts to poke his ugly head in – I remember to be so thankful that my friends and loved ones might not have to face this empty feeling. As I see smiling faces of a family all together, I remember what a blessing children are and it helps the sting to be less piercing.

Thanksgiving is more than just passing the turkey around the table, but it’s truly a time to remember the blessings we DO have and share in the true joy of this season!

I pray this season that you are overwhelmed with thanksgiving and love!

Category : Cryssie , Volunteer Bloggers

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A woman held hostage by her flesh

It never seems to fail, we grieve and then when that grief continues, people wonder why we just ‘can’t get over it.’ We sometimes begin to wonder why we can’t get over it too. Some days are easier to adjust and manage, other days it just looms on us like a bad odor or horrible razor burn. Said people that have never endured the death of a child at any stage will never truly grasp this level and type of grief, no matter how descriptive we are or how long they try to console us through those bad days. People that have never understood how their body makes decisions for them. ultimately holding them hostage, will never understand the grief and trauma of someone who has – unfortunately.

I learned this the hard way after the death of my first child, Emerson. We were told there was no heartbeat at a routine appointment during our second trimester. I was alone because there was no reason to believe I needed that additional support that day. Why would I have ever assumed that I needed to pull my husband away from the deer stand on the first day of gun season? Hello, I am a strong woman – I got this! Nope. I didn’t have this at all. I was completely and utterly traumatized. This traumatizing event was just the start of my body deciding my fate.

The death of my first baby changed me and led me down a path I wasn’t sure I would ever make it back from. I tormented myself on a daily basis on what I did wrong, what could have been changed, how I didn’t sleep enough, I did too much, and the list goes on and on. Even when I conceived and gave birth to my rainbow baby a little over a year later, I still believed the death of our first baby was solely my fault, a fault caused by my body’s inability to perform its one sole job. This is a guilt that still holds me hostage, nearly 5 years later.

In October 2017, I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my third pregnancy, with twin girls. I was in the stages of engaging in memorial activities on a daily basis through the month of October, during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I memorialize Emerson at any chance given. I was attempting to create daily Instagram posts, complete writing activities daily, and other things that were outlined by different organizations to help those of us surviving the death of their baby(s). In mid October of 2017, I came home and realized I was bleeding. The week prior during an ultrasound, we discovered one of our twins was no longer viable. So with gut wrenching anticipation, the bleeding began and so did my return of trauma, tenfold. On October 24, I experienced the miscarriage of my daughter Luna. And now, this is another day that I am only reminded of my failures and how my body couldn’t do the one job its meant to do.

The remainder of that pregnancy was haunted, just like the pregnancy with my rainbow baby in 2015/2016. It never seemed to be a happy experience – no matter what I did. I was constantly reminded about the deaths of two babies that my body failed to bring into the world like their other two siblings. I was in a constant stage of grief, guilt and had a looming wonder of their fate. The struggle was intensified every time a friend or family member would ask me if I was ready or excited. If I say no, then I am a horrible person. If I say yes, then I am a liar. If I say I don’t know, then the questions and endless stabbing into my corner of feelings deepens. Their innocent question held a weight they didn’t even know existed. I went on to give birth to Luna’s twin sister in May of 2018. I cried a lot that day. I should have been holding two newborns, not one. Unfortunately, my feelings of failure and sadness surpassed my feelings of happiness and success.

I never learned about PPD or PPA until after my second pregnancy. I knew it existed, but I never realized that it was something I was experiencing until my thoughts of not being present really started to weigh on me heavily. I thought my husband and living daughter would be better off without me. I often wondered at what point my husband was going to leave me because I sucked at everything. The thoughts I put into my head and ultimately allowed myself to believe were true led me down a dark path, they held me hostage and created this person that not even those who have known me my entire life would recognize. On my best days, I still was being held hostage by my mental instability. I couldn’t let my daughter go, I believed no one would keep her safe like I did and no one could care for her like I could.

Side note: I am clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. If you think you are experiencing any of these things, please reach out to local resources and seek a professional’s assistance. Find local moms who can share their experiences. Never feel judged for your mental health!

Due to my mental instability, I felt as though I had one choice at the end of my third pregnancy. I decided to have my tubes done. This would be a decision I was unsure of for many weeks. I was ultimately making a decision to take control of a body that was controlling me. But that decision was being clouded by so much guilt that it made me sick on a daily basis. Why would I give up my opportunity to be pregnant? So many women I’ve met over the last few years would kill to just be given the opportunity to have two successful pregnancies like I have. Why would I do such a selfish thing? There’s women who have endured way more than two child deaths. I kept telling myself in my days of guilt ridden doubt that I was a horrible person. But then on the days when I realized that my grief for the two babies that have died was so incredibly strong, I knew there was no possible way I would be able to mentally tack on another possible death. On those days I knew that my decision was okay, it was mine to make, and I was not wrong for making it. I knew that if I made this decision, it was the only way I could move on to be a good mom to my two living children. I also knew that if for some reason, down the road, I decided my decision was wrong, I had other avenues to get pregnant again should that be something I wanted. So I moved forward, on the day I gave birth to my living twin, and it was completed at the time of my c-section.

The physical and mental recovery was better than I anticipated. I think taking care of two kids, in addition to continuing to live my everyday life and returning to work quickly helped. I didn’t allow much time to reflect or feel anything. As most moms would say, I just kept pushing along. Several months went by though, and I was constantly bleeding and there was no relief. I kept telling myself that my body was recovering and I needed to just let it do what it needed. Six months went by, I maybe saw 3-4 weeks total with no blood. I was miserable and again, was wondering what the hell was going on. What was my body doing now? Is this my punishment for giving up my ability to become pregnant? I should have listened to those looming thoughts about it being a bad idea. This was my body’s way of telling me that I was a horrible person.

I finally was due for my annual exam with my OB. I told her what was going on, and after weeks of testing, we learned that I was experiencing a rare disease and my only reasonable form of treatment was a hysterectomy. My mental health slid into ruin; I was in such horror and defeat. How could my body be such a failure? Why am I being forced to live my life on my body’s terms? I didn’t understand what I had done to deserve all of this. Yes, I am beyond grateful for my two living children and aside from my husband, they are the best things that have ever happened to me.. but I shouldn’t even need to say that. In my heart, I should be taking four kids to daycare every day before work. I should be anticipating my first child to start kindergarten next year, a funny Frozen loving toddler, and trying to toggle two teething twins.

But instead, today as a 29 year old female, I no longer have the ability to bear children. A choice that my body decided for me. I have to endure the selfishness of women who do not know the gift they have when they are pregnant and bring children into this world without a single bump in their road. I have to mull over a fate for which I didn’t get to decide myself and I have to just deal with now that it was made for me. Being held hostage by your body and being forced to endure trauma, grief, and guilt, is debilitating. I am not ignorant to the fact that I should be grateful that I am still alive and breathing for my husband and two living children. I am not discounting my ability to still engage in everyday life and take care of those people. But when you have experienced such highs and so many lows, you cannot help but to feel at a loss. I do not always feel like I have won at anything.

I share my story of trauma and endless amounts of grief and guilt in an effort to allow women who have experienced any or all of the things that I have, to let you know that you’re not alone. Your body is not a temple, you do not have to believe anything that the world wants you to believe about it. You’re allowed to be angry with your flesh. You are strong. Be aware of your body, and its ability to not meet your expectations. Give your mental health as much grace as you can. Be okay with not being okay. Don’t allow your heart to be taken hostage in the seize. Through every scrape or drag, stand tall. Know that there is someone out there giving you grace and sending you love – and ultimately, could use the same in return. Find her. Find me. I am here.

Category : Robin , Volunteer Bloggers

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What Drives Us

Last night we met a family we knew in their neighborhood so the kids could all go around and get some candy. Halloween is my favorite holiday and time of year in general. My mother was a huge Stephen King fan growing up and I had an early appreciation for a good scary story.  As I grew, I started to write some myself and get them published.  There’s a vibe in the air on October 31st, a breeze pushing leaves up and down the street as kids run, laugh, and play.  Porches are lit with various decorations and people smile as they hand out candy.  There’s an atmosphere to it that always pulled me in as a kid and I still love it today.

As our boys walked the block, I talked to the father of this family.  They have four kids to our two, with a baby and younger girl very close in age. We talked about the stress of that time period, about jobs and the coming holidays. We talked about growing up and found we’d had some past experiences in common.  I’d attended West Chester University and some of his first jobs back in the day were working security in a few of the bars in the city.  He told me story after story of fights and conflicts, laughing at the years that were ones of freedom and possibility, before life hit home.

As we were going to bed that night, I looked at a picture that sits on our dresser.  It is of Val and I going to my senior prom, both dressed in black and smiling the easy smiles of youth.  We were young, new to the world and our relationship. That was twenty years ago and, it seemed, an entire lifetime.

We often stand at the intersection of past and present.  We own our stories, from joy to sorrow and everything in between.  We make a choice to what drives us.  This dad I was speaking with talked about his job, about preparing for life with four kids eventually moving through school and into the real world. He knows the story about our loss and, in the moment, it lived in the silence, carried away by the sound of kids’ laughter on a darkened suburban street.

Fear is powerful.  Whether the anxieties of multiple kids close in age, or mourning a loss, it shapes how we look forward.  We can find solace in friendship, in our partners, remembering the past and looking towards a future with different and better things.  Hope is hard. Doubt is real. Pain is deep and we must allow ourselves to feel it.

As we stood on the street, I imagined a third child of ours running around with our boys.  How would they look? Would they run up to me and hand over a bucket overflowing with candy? Would they laugh and chase their brothers down the block, shadows darting past the soft orange lights from pumpkins on porches?

It wasn’t meant to be, and that is okay.  Because maybe someone will read this and get it and that is my hope for you.  For the chance to use this to make things better.  That is what drives me.

Category : Matt , Volunteer Bloggers

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I held a baby boy today. I’ve held baby girls since May 31, 2017, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to hold a baby boy since then. It hurt too much to think of holding one, especially one that wasn’t mine. I thought I’d run out of topics or things to write about, but that’s the funny thing about recovery and healing. You think you’re all put back together and then something happens that either makes you fall apart or snaps that one tiny piece that you didn’t even know was missing.

The baby’s mom had gone through her own loss and she had known about mine as well. Every time she had brought him in to see us at work (or anyone else brought in a baby boy), I’d touch their feet or stroke their arm, but I couldn’t bring myself to hold them. It was too intimate and it didn’t feel like my place. Today, a friend asked, “Do you want to hold him?” and his mom, kind and sensitive answered, “No,” for me. I took a second and said, “No, I think I’m ready.” His sweet little body made its way into my arms and I held his weight on my hip. I immediately fell into “Mom mode” and started making goofy faces and sounds. “Jessica…” I heard his mom say and then she looked away, tears filling her own eyes. She knew how important and emotional this moment was for me.

I wasn’t sad at all. Maybe I will be later. But it was such a big and important step for my own healing and growth and I am so grateful for her allowing me to hold her most beautiful son. I feel more full than I have in a long, long time.

Category : Jessica , Volunteer Bloggers


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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