It seems trite to name today a “tip” day, although I have included links for more information at the end of today’s post.
October 15th is recognized as the day when those of us who have lost children in pregnancy and infancy honor their memory. It is a day to acknowledge their presence in our lives. Even if we never got to hold them, their passage through our lives leaves us changed forever.
We hardly ever talk about it – especially as Bradley teachers, the last thing want to do is freak our students out with stories of miscarriage. Since it is part of our family story, I record it here for our children to read when they are ready.
I bought hardly anything with our first pregnancy because I bled the whole time. I dreaded our baby showers. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. When we did have a healthy baby at the end of months of “pelvic rest” and bed rest, and I resolved to enjoy my next pregnancy.
We found out we were pregnant a few days before we left on a vacation. I had originally noticed that Puma (then 18 months) wasn’t very interested in nursing – she said my milk tasted salty. Then I took a pregnancy test – positive! We were so excited, we called my mom and my sister right away. We called the doctor to find out if it was safe to travel – they gave us the all clear, and we set a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment upon our return from vacation.
So off we went on our plane trip. About three days in, I started bleeding. Not just brown discharge – red bleeding with cramping. We called our doctor again – they said there was nothing to do. If it was heavy, they suggested we go to an E/R to make sure we didn’t need a D&C. It wasn’t too much more than a menses, and it stopped over the next couple of days…it was clear what had happened. The confirmation came when Puma resumed breastfeeding on her normal schedule because my milk tasted good to her again.
My heart broke! I had taken a risk and bought a little outfit for the baby at our destination (which is still set aside; I never had the heart to put it on our other children). I had signed and mailed a postcard with the name “Baby Bowman”. I had loved this baby already and had let myself get excited. There are no words that can capture the emotions I felt over the next few weeks.
The passage of time has helped. I still wonder what that baby would have been like if it had been healthy and made it to term. It would have been a Spring baby – the one season we are missing in our family birthday calendar.
Seven years later, I can say I have gratitude for the experience. I am so grateful it was a first trimester loss. Since then, we have had friends experience loss after they were showing their pregnancy; after they had felt their baby’s movements. As a birth-worker, there are friends of mine have held sacred spaces with families who lost babies during childbirth. Given the grief I felt when our early-term pregnancy ended, that kind of loss is unimaginable to me. When I was pregnant with Otter, I heard three birth stories that ended with loss…our experience leaves me grateful that we were spared the pain these families felt, and may still feel very keenly.
The hardest thing for me, with any loss, is that life goes on. Inside, I feel torn up – I want to scream with the grief, and about injustice that has been done. Yet the world does not know that there is a hole in my heart, a void in the pit of my body, an emptiness that is so overwhelming that all I want to do is roll up in a ball and just be away, curled up in the dark. It expects me to be sane, normal, kind and reasonable. My children expect to see their mommy just as she has always been.
If nothing else, our experiences with loss, miscarriage and otherwise, have vividly illustrated the platitude that says we should be kind to one another since we cannot know what kind of baggage other people are carrying. They are not just pretty words anymore. That person who doesn’t return your smile – who doesn’t coo at your sweet baby – who can’t be bothered to hold the door – who doesn’t realize they just cut you off. Give them space, whether you think they deserve it or not. If they are being jerks, that is their Karma. If they are truly in pain over a loss they have experienced, your kindness is a ripple of love that may reach them subconsciously – just a little more love to fill their “love tank” in a world where they feel a huge void of love.
I wish all of you that have experienced miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infant loss much peace today. I pray that your spirit will be filled with a “peace that surpasses all understanding”. (Phil 4:7)
While I believe that we are on this Earth to make a difference, and I want to live every day to the fullest, I am not going to lie. I am also biding my time and waiting for the day when I get to meet all these beautiful heavenly children that we never got to meet here on earth.
Do you want to support someone who has experienced a loss? Here are some places to start reading about grief support?
Bereavement and Support Website for Care Providers and Families
“Women who have suffered the loss of a baby are postpartum mothers too. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death leave women requiring not just emotional but also physical support.” This site offers words to share and comfort, healing gifts, and links to more resources.
Owl Love You Forever
Our hope is to create a memorable and positive hospital experience for families that lose their baby before, during, or shortly after giving birth. We provide boxes with meaningful items for the families, including specially designed blanket sets and a soft stuffed owl. Help us fill these grieving mom’s arms by donating online today.
Have you experienced pregnancy loss? Here are some resources that our students have found helpful:
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
They offer the free gift of professional portraiture and remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby. “The NILMDTS Foundation is there for parents and families to help aid them in their Healing, bring Hope to their future, and Honor their child. It is through Remembrance that a family can truly begin to heal.” They feel that these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.
Arizona Perinatal Loss Bereavement Resource, Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road, Mesa, 85202
Provides a network of support for those experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss. This resource gives parents a statewide network of support, current bereavement literature on a variety of topics, educational opportunities and resources in the community, state and national level.
The Compassionate Friends
The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child at any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. They offer a safe place for bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings to meet and talk freely about your child and your grief issues.
The M.I.S.S. Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support to grieving families through community volunteerism opportunities, public polic y and legislative education and programs to reduce infant and toddler death through research and education.
M.E.N.D. Mother’s Enduring Neonatal Death
M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian, non-profit organization that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.
HAND Helping After Neonatal Death
HAND is a resource network of parents, professionals, and supportive volunteers that offers a variety of services throughout Northern California and the Central Valley.
SHARE Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc
The mission of Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. is to serve those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life.
A christian site for baby loss:
Glow In The Woods
This website deals with all kinds of baby loss. There is also lots of helpful advice for things you may have to deal with depending on the stage of loss like stopping lactation, planing a funeral, and how to help others going through a loss.
Picture Book: “We Were Gonna Have A Baby, But We Have An Angel Instead”
Book: Empty Cradle, Broken Heart
The heartache of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death affects thousands of U.S. families every year. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart offers reassurance to parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair after such tragedy. Deborah Davis encourages grieving and makes suggestions for coping. This book strives to cover many different kinds of loss, including information on issues such as the death of one or more babies from a multiple birth, pregnancy interruption, and the questioning of aggressive medical intervention. There is also a special chapter for fathers as well as a chapter on “protective parenting” to help anxious parents enjoy their precious living children. Doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, and other support persons can gain special insight. Most importantly, parents facing the death of a baby will find necessary support in this gentle guide. If reading this book moves you to cry, try to accept this reaction. Your tears merge with those of other grieving parents.
A purpose of this book is to let bereaved parents know that they are not alone in their grief. With factual information and the words and insights of other bereaved parents, you can establish realistic expectations for your grief. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart is meant to help you through these difficult experiences by giving you things to think about, providing suggestions for coping and encouraging you to do what you need to survive your baby’s death. Whether your baby dies recently or long ago, this information can be useful to you.
Book: “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir”
Placenta Encapsulation – Wendy Diaz, PBi™ PES
Her encapsulation services are free for bereaving mothers. Wendy will also add herbs to the capsules that help dry up the milk supply.
Book: About What Was Lost: 20 Writers About Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope
Faces of Loss Faces of Hope
Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss
Angel Baby – Miscarriage and loss