Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness 2018

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pregnancy infant loss awareness thissideofif jalina king #pregnancyloss #stillbirth #miscarriage #sids

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October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month here in the United States, with October 15th being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in several countries. I’m not going to give you the statistics on pregnancy and infant loss because these women are not numbers. They are people who have lost people. Many of them suffer in silence. Some may feel they aren’t allowed to mourn a baby no one else got to see. Some may be afraid of what others will say in response to their loss. Some may not know how common this type of loss actually is or know anyone who has experienced it and so they suffer silently, not even realizing the person sitting next to them is silently suffering the same pain. <— This actually happens. That’s how common it is, yet it is a taboo subject in our society. It’s time for a change. Here, 14 mothers of angels speak out about their losses, how they honor their much-loved babies, and what friends and family can do to help someone who is grieving the loss of a little life. Whether or not you’ve experienced this type of loss, there is a message here for you.

If any of these mamas resonate with you, please be sure to check out more of her work on the site linked next to her name.

STEPHANIE | Lady Eleanor & Co

IT’S OKAY TO TALK ABOUT!

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, somewhat.

Why or why not?
I want my daughter to be remembered.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
That it’s okay to talk about!

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
We remember her each year on the day she was born.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
A bracelet that a nurse in hospital made for me.

MOLLY | Exploring Through Life

I HATE THAT IT’S SUCH A TABOO SUBJECT.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
I think it’s so important to share so that people don’t feel so alone. I hate that it’s such a taboo subject. (haven’t written about it on my blog yet, but plan to do so)

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Pregnancy loss can feel extremely significant. I often had people tell me “You’ll get pregnant again” or “at least you have one baby” (I lost my son’s twin while pregnant) and I felt like it diminished the worth of that child by thinking that he could be replaced by his twin and/or future babies.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
I commemorate the day of his loss every year in our family, I also try to talk to and comfort as many people as possible who are experiencing loss.


 

 

EMILY | Emily Frigo

AND REMEMBER THAT EVERY LOSS IS A BIRTH.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
Society needs more real and honest stories surrounding the childbearing year – pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and especially, loss. Sharing our stories has the power to help us process, heal from, and honor our journey. When we share our stories, we open spaces of bonding, inspiration, and conversations about the variety of our unique experiences. By telling my personal journey through losses, I have been interviewed on media platforms such as People and SELF, where thousands and thousands of people felt safe to come forward and openly share their stories of loss… how powerful. Our stories are powerful.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
When someone we love suffers with a loss, most of us don’t know how to respond. In attempt to break the awkwardness, we may say cliche sayings such as “it was meant to be.” Please, don’t say that. To support them, hold the space. Tell them you love them, tell them you wish their baby was still with you all. Call their baby by name. And remember that every loss is a birth, so support them in their postpartum healing by cooking meals, assisting with chores, etc.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
Because of my losses, I specialize in herbalism and healing arts for bereaved parents. I combine my education and experiences to walk with people in all stages of their loss. That is how I honor my sweet babies. My favorite quote is “there is nothing little about the light you shine” and I truly feel that every single day, there is nothing little about the light of my losses. Their light lives on.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
This is a great question, and our society is definitely lacking in books/ resources focused on loss. For items, a journal helped me tremendously. It was a safe space to write it all down… every bit of anger, of sadness, of anxiety, of feeling I couldn’t go on anymore…

MALLAURY | Life of a Babe

IT’S HARD AND NOT JUST SOMETHING EVERYONE CAN JUST GET OVER.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, somewhat.

Why or why not?
I have in passing but I haven’t fully opened up about the 2 losses my husband and I experienced. I’m not sure I’m able to say why exactly because I really don’t know but if I had to come up with an explanation I’d just say that I’ve moved on from them. There are times when I wonder about my angel babies but I just hold the little bit of memories I have of them on my heart and that’s all. They were both early losses.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
That it’s hard and not just something everyone can just get over. A lot of complex emotions are involved and sometimes it’s all very hard to describe and just to talk about in general, so it’s best if you just listen and not ask too many questions unless the individual is open to answering them. I’m a Christian and to me, prayer and a listening ear is enough. But everyone is different.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
I didn’t do anything. I just remember them in my heart and I know that one day I will meet them in heaven.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
Prayer is what helped me…And God just working on my heart and giving me hope for the future.

BRE | The Complex Mom

ALTHOUGH OTHERS DID NOT GET TO MEET MY DAUGHTER, SHE EXISTED, IF ONLY INSIDE ME.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
Although others did not get to meet my daughter, she existed, if only inside me. She deserves to be remembered. She taught me many lessons and changed who I am, I feel it’s my job to keep her legacy alive.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
My daughter was born still at twenty weeks. By that point we had started shopping and making room in our family for her. The loss was devastating. People were afraid to talk about her as if talking about her would upset me. Instead the silence surrounding her was hurtful. I needed her and I to be acknowledged. Subsequent pregnancies can be just as hard. I’d highly recommend finding a Pregnancy After Loss (PALS) support group. Their friendship and support from woman who understood and weren’t afraid to to talk about it, got me through the emotional rainbow pregnancy following my loss.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
Every year we visit the cemetery on her birthday. My living children get a cupcake and a few balloons to let loose. I also began volunteering with our local March of Dimes chapter. Helping plan the event to include more for angel moms and raising money for the cause gave me a feeling of accomplishment knowing through her memory, I was helping others.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
The MISS Foundation – “Dear Cheyenne” by Joanne Cacciatore


TASHEENA | The Cinnamon Mom

I FELT PRESSURED TO RETURN TO WORK AND RESUME MY REGULAR ROUTINES.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
I think it’s important for women and families who experience the loss of a baby to know that they aren’t alone. When it happened to us, I’d heard so few stories from people I knew personally and I wanted to share my story to offer reassurance.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
I felt pressured to return to work and resume my regular routines. I would suggest that loved ones allow a woman or couple experiencing a loss to have time to recover physically and emotionally. Just be available for whatever they need, whether that’s listening patiently or helping them around their home. This is particularly important if they have other children who might require attention and care.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
My biggest regret through this experience was that I did not grieve properly or do anything to honor our loss.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
Sadly, I had none.

NICOLE | Resting Mom Face

EVERYONE MOURNS DIFFERENTLY AND EVERY STORY IS DIFFERENT.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
I needed support while going through my miscarriage. So many people came to me after I had my miscarriage to tell me they had also gone through a loss, but no one talked about it before. I felt so alone when it was actually happening and I wished I had known that so many of my friends went through it also. I tell everyone about my story so that the next time someone I know is going through it, they don’t have to do it alone and they know they can call me for support.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Everyone mourns differently and every story is different. Also, never ask anyone when they are having children. I was asked this by an acquaintance as I was going through my miscarriage and it was the hardest thing to process and respond to. It’s none of your business if/when anyone else is planning on having children.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
Not specifically, however we were able to conceive a rainbow baby several months later and the loss made me appreciate every moment of pregnancy and motherhood (even the not so glamorous ones.)

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
I found the most help in personal stories. Blog posts about loss helped me learn how different everyone’s story was, but also how common it was. Sometimes I would smile while reading them and sometimes I would cry, but I would always feel supported.

TIFFANY | The Crazy Shopping Cart

DON’T TRY TO FIX IT; JUST SHOW LOVE.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
It’s in my nature to be open. I have severe Crohn’s disease and have been admitted to the hospital close to 40 times in the last 7 years. I’ve always been open about it, so to also be open about something else that affects my body (three miscarriages) was part of my healing process.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Don’t try to fix it; just show love. Just be there to hold them and cry with them. Keep reaching out and letting them know you’re aware of what they’re going through. Try to remember anniversaries, if possible – those are always the hardest.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
I have a beautiful rainbow baby, and that helps. I also wrote a blog post with a list of music that I listened to that helped me process my feelings.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
When God Doesn’t Fix It” by Laura Story

JOYCE | Celebrate Moms Forever

I WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT MISCARRIAGE IS ACTUALLY VERY COMMON.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, somewhat.

Why or why not?
I am open to talking about it if people ask so they can see how common miscarriage is.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
I would like people to know that miscarriage is actually very common. I see a lot of women experiencing guilt and saying they feel like they could have done something different.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
After my first miscarriage, my partner gave me an angel necklace in memory of our baby who passed away too soon and is now in heaven.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
I didn’t read any miscarriage books, but what I found extremely helpful was having a solid support system around me. I recommend that women seek support of loved ones who will be there for them and not judge them in this time of mourning.


JACKIE | The Supportive Mama

SIMPLY STATING “I AM SORRY” CAN GO A LONG WAY IN HELPING THE PARENTS HEAL.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
During my fertility journey, I felt very alone and struggled with the emotional toll, the treatments, the unmet dreams and the losses. I wanted to let other women know they were not alone and that I could be a person they could reach out to if they were also struggling. I also found it therapeutic to write and speak about my babies, it made them “real” and allowed me to honor each of them.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Losing a baby is one of the most devastating experiences any parent can live through. The most frequent advice I provide to those who are wanting to support someone who has suffered such loss, is to treat the loss as any other death. To the parents, the loss of their baby is very real and it’s harder to grieve when others don’t acknowledge the baby. Simply stating “I am sorry” can go a long way in helping the parents heal. You can also check out my post “10 Meaningful Ways to Support a Friend After Miscarriage” for more helpful ways you can be there for your friends in need.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
I lost 4 babies during my journey and I found that I coped very differently with each loss. After my third miscarriage, I was gifted a beautiful necklace with three pearls in a pea pod. It was perfect. The necklace was close to my heart and I could touch the pearls anytime I missed one of my babies or had a particularly tough day. I found it to be so helpful to have a tangible item to remind me of each of my angel babies. It also allowed me to talk about them to others and help people “see” my babies as well.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
I found an incredible miscarriage journal that included prompts to help with the grieving process. Working through each page was painful at times but allowed me to move forward and begin to see the light while still honoring my angel babies.

miscarriage journal etsy angel baby romans 8 18 Jalina King #miscarriage
Mother of Angels miscarriage journal on Etsy by Jalina King

TINA | The Bourbon Cactus

YOU AREN’T SURE WHAT HAPPENED, HOW TO PROCESS IT, OR WHAT TO SAY.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
No.

Why or why not?
For the longest time, I guess I felt somewhat ashamed. Which is really crazy because my losses were not anything I could have ever anticipated or prevented. Plus, I never wanted the attention of someone knowing we had lost 2 babies. I didn’t know how to grieve and I didn’t want to feel judgement from anyone on how I should grieve.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
I’ve had 2 pregnancy losses. I grieved each one differently. And I really believe not everyone grieves the same way. It’s hard to experience the loss. You aren’t sure what happened, how to process it, or what to say. So, sometimes, support is not talking to the mother about it but listening and just being there for when she is ready to speak out.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
My husband and I never forget. And we keep an ultrasound photo from the second loss (a vanishing twin) on the refrigerator to this day.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
The biggest help was hearing other women’s stories and knowing I wasn’t alone.

 

KATY | Über Barrens Club

I WANTED PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT I WASN’T OK.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
Because I didn’t want to pretend that everything was fine when really our entire world had fallen apart; because I wanted people to understand that I WASN’T OK; because I wanted people to acknowledge my pain; because I wanted people to understand why I might feel the need to withdraw from social events; because I wanted people to recognise that it was nothing to be ashamed of; because I knew that when I opened up, others would share their experiences with me; because I wanted to be brutally open and answer people’s questions, in an effort to challenge misconceptions & educate people. Because I can’t imagine trying to keep it a secret!

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Don’t try and ‘fix’ things or offer explanations for the loss of my baby. Don’t pass comment on why it might have happened or what I might do to prevent it happening again. Don’t start any sentence with the words ‘at least…’. Don’t tell me stories about other people who had miscarriages and then went on to have successful pregnancies – that’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean it’ll apply to my situation, and it makes me feel even more of a failure. Don’t tell me it’s common. Don’t suggest solutions. Don’t offer meaningless platitudes. It’s OK to say “I don’t know what to say.” It’s OK to ask “What can I do to help you?” It’s OK to ask whether they’d like space (and that you’re there for them if they want to talk), or if they’d like distraction? ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ is all I needed to hear. Just acknowledge their pain, don’t pretend it hasn’t happened, and let them know you love them and you’re there for them.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
We light candles for the Wave of Light every year on International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF Failure” – Alan E. Beer: this was a very practical book that helped me understand more about reproductive immunology and the possible causes for miscarriage to explore investigating.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: How to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do” – Sarah Knight: this was great at helping me to feel OK about doing what I needed to do to protect myself

Shit Happens! Swear Words and Mantras to Colour Your Stress Away” – James Alexander: a friend sent me a care package of this sweary adult colouring book and a box of colouring pencils, this was amazingly therapeutic and a great tool to help chill the fuck out!


 

ARDEN | Dreaming of Diapers and Dimples

IT AFFECTS YOU MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND PHYSICALLY AND TAKES TIME TO HEAL.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
We decided to be open about our pregnancy from week 5 because we knew if we were to lose this pregnancy, we wanted to use our voices and share our story in hopes to inspire others to talk about their struggles. So when we found out that our pregnancy would more than likely end in miscarriage, we told family, friends, bosses and close coworkers. We didn’t want to hide behind our loss because we thought that’s how the grief gets overwhelming. I didn’t want to act like I was okay when I wasn’t. And with sharing our loss, so many family members, coworkers, and friends have shared their own loses. Losses we didn’t know about before starting the conversation.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
I would like people to know that pregnancy loss is not one size fits all. It affects you mentally, emotionally and physically and takes time to heal and everyone heals differently. For me, work helps me. For others, being alone at home helps them. The pain differs and how you choose to deal with your loss will be different than the next person. My advice for supporting someone who has gone through pregnancy loss is to give them space but still show that you care. A small care package of feel-good goodies, cooking them dinner, or just being a shoulder to lean on is the best support you can be. I know after my loss, I couldn’t find the energy to cook or do laundry. We had family bring over some food and offer to help us. That meant a lot.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
Our loss is very recent. Right now, I’m not sure what we will do to honor our angel. We have a few things in mind. Just to give some suggestions, we are thinking of a band with the date engraved, framing the photo we took when we got the positive test, or framing the onesie that I bought to surprise my husband. It’s something that we are discussing.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
Blogging is my main outlet for my loss at the moment. Sharing our story in hopes that it helps others makes me feel better. But my favorite book to read whenever something is going “wrong” in life is called “Who Will Cry When You Die” by Robin Sharma. It sounds depressing but I swear it’s life-changing.


JALINA | THIS SIDE OF IF

LOSS IS LOSS, NO MATTER HOW FAR ALONG THE PREGNANCY OR HOW OLD THE BABY.

Have you been open about your loss(es)?
Yes, very.

Why or why not?
I’ve lost two pregnancies. With the first, I was very open because I didn’t realize how taboo the topic was and that as common as it is, no one really knows what to do or say about it. I was more quiet about my second loss because I didn’t want the well-meaning but hurtful comments I received after my first loss. Also, a piece of me was embarrassed for even getting pregnant again so quickly after trying so long for our firstborn. Now I am very open about both of my losses and how they felt because I want people to understand that loss is loss and that my babies existed, no matter how small. I also want to help society gain a better understanding of how it can support couples experiencing this type of loss.

What would you like people to know about pregnancy/infant loss or how to support someone through it?
Whether or not you knew the baby, he or she was very real to the parents. As soon as a couple learns they are pregnant, they imagine having a baby. They don’t immediately imagine the pregnancy or the birth. They imagine how their worlds are about to be rocked by another human. How will they afford a baby? Boy or girl? What color eyes? What texture hair? When will his or her birthday be? What will his or her name be? Immediately, the couple makes room in their hearts and homes for a human with a body and a soul. A human they will raise and love until the day they die. And then the baby dies first. It’s the wrong order. It’s devastating. It’s traumatic. It’s confusing and isolating and infuriating. Have some compassion. Treat the loss as you would the loss of any other human because that’s what it is. If you don’t know how to support the couple, ask, “What can I do to support you?” Even “I’m sorry,” feels like so little but can mean so much. Never start any sentence with “At least.” When someone’s grandma dies, you don’t say, “At least you have your grandpa.” Likewise, you wouldn’t ask how old Grandma was before deciding how upset they should be. Loss is loss, no matter how far along the pregnancy or how old the baby.

Did you do anything to honor your angel(s)?
For my first angel baby, I got a tattoo that says “Romans 8:18” on the inside of my upper left arm, where my baby’s head would have rested if I ever had the chance to hold her. Reading that verse over and over again through my loss at least got me to the point where I could breathe. I’d like to add something to my tattoo in honor of my second angel baby but haven’t been able to yet since I conceived my second son just 23 days after my loss and am now breastfeeding.

What book(s) or item(s) helped you through your loss?
What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty. I’ve listened to the audiobook version several times at different stages in my life. Listening to it through my miscarriage, I was able to relate to one of the characters who had experienced the same thing. It was comforting to have someone to relate to, even if she was fictional. (I just learned this is going to be a movie soon! YESSS!) My Bible helped me through. After my first loss was the first time I had ever turned to the Bible, and it was a turning point in my faith. Physically, Thinx period underwear was essential. #realtalk

pregnancy and infant loss awareness month thissideofif jalina king #pregnancyloss #stillbirth #miscarriage #sids
pregnancy and infant loss awareness thissideofif jalina king #pregnancyloss #stillbirth #miscarriage #sids

 


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2 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness 2018

    1. You are so welcome. It is an honor to feature your story on THIS SIDE OF IF. Clearly, your openness has already had a positive impact on your loved ones by inspiring them to speak out. Now your story can reach and encourage even more people. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

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