Ignoring Our Embryos

Review and Giveaway!

Important note: there is no ‘one right way’ to grieve, or to interpret your own loss.  This giveaway challenge is specifically for the parents who have had early losses, who also feel that something has been missing in their grief journey.  If you’ve ever felt you wanted to share more about your loss but didn’t, perhaps you might be encouraged by this opportunity.  This challenge is certainly not meant to discredit your feelings if you are, in fact, OK with the ways you’ve shared or with your – or others’ – interpretation of your loss.  It can be very scary to reach out and reveal more about ourselves or to seek to change things for other loss mothers after us, but if you have ever felt a nagging desire that things were different in your own experience, know that you aren’t alone, and we can do this together.

“Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth.  To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.”

~Kathryn Miller Ridiman, Midwifery Today 1997

Although much improvement has still to be made in regard to providing compassionate, comprehensive care to families who’ve lost children to stillbirth, even more is lacking for families who’ve experienced the loss of our children through miscarriage.

Miscarriage is quickly dismissed, even among the most pro-life, religious, and even the most compassionate of people.  Why is this?

It is because of a number of things – a few of which, though, actually lay right at the responsbility of the families who’ve lost these children.  That’s right – even I take responsibility.

Have you done any of the following:

  1. Waited to share the news of your pregnancy with others until you “knew” things would be more official?  Was there a pregnancy week or developmental milestone you wanted to make sure the baby reached before sharing the news?  Was it so that you didn’t have to burden people with the awkward news of taking the joy back?  Was it so that, just in case things “went wrong”, you wouldn’t have to explain it to anyone?  Setting up your support system by telling the good news to even just one trustworthy person places you in a position of receiving the care you deserve – in case things do “go wrong”.
  2. Kept the news of your miscarriage quiet?  Did you move on into “silent grief” believing that others wouldn’t understand what you were enduring?
  3. Shared the news of your loss by saying that it was not a loss at all, but some other clinical, non-emotional event such as an “incident”, “accident” or “medical issue”?
  4. Shared the news of your loss by saying “I had a miscarriage”?  This immediately – and very incorrectly – gives the person you are speaking with the impression that it was an event – a sudden event – that occured in the past and is now over.  They do not interpret this news with nearly the amount of the emotional, spiritual or even the physical reality that takes place.  Did you know that there are more validating ways to explain what happened?  Try one of these instead:
  • I gave birth to my miscarried baby last April.
  • My miscarried baby was born last year.
  • I have five children; four in the house, and one in heaven.
  • I gave birth to five children – one by miscarriage.

5. Shared the news of your loss by saying “I had a stillbirth?”  Particularly if you had a “late miscarriage” that was closer to the earliest stillbirth weeks (say, at 17 weeks on or so), referring to your loss as a stillbirth as opposed to a miscarriage may allow you to receive a little more of the support you deserve, but it doesn’t do anything to help out other mothers who’ve lost their children by miscarriage, and in short, you really are taking away from your own care, because it ought to align with the reality of your own unique experience.

6.  Told how many children you have – without including the miscarried one(s)?  Some mothers are completely confident in the truth that they gave birth to a miscarried baby without feeling reservations in not sharing it with others – and that is fine.  But this challenge for this giveaway is for mothers who do feel a sting, an awkwardness, a pull to share, when they hesitantly refrain from telling others about their losses.  If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable about not including the total number of children you have, perhaps now is a time to consider just trying it out.

I gave birth to my miscarried son on April 19, 2011.  Stillbirthday is in fact, his legacy – because I realized in all certainty through my experience that a pregnancy loss is in fact still a birthday.  It is still a birth – I labored, I prepared to meet him, and he was born.  It is still a birthday – it is an event that is marked in my life annually and permanently.  His birthday nears and I don’t go shopping to wrap books and toys in blue paper with green ribbons, but his stillbirthday nears and I reflect on the short time I was given with him, and what being pregnant with him meant – personally and eternally, holding his life, nurturing his tiny body as his baby heart flickered and his tiny toes developed and his tiny features changed in supernatural magnificence that only God could be the author and designer of.  Yes, my son mattered, and my son matters still.

I take this challenge with my fellow sisters and friends of heartbreak – those who’ve lost children by miscarriage.  Let us change the language we use and let us honor our children even better.

If you saw yourself in any of the above six examples, please, step out now and boldly proclaim that you will make a change.  Leave a comment at the end of this article, sharing what you will do differently.  You don’t have to go into personal details – just say “Today, I am going to (do this differently).” Those brave mothers (and fathers) who step out to determine to speak differently about our losses will be entered to win an amazing book by author Elizabeth Petrucelli.  This giveaway contest will run from May 1, 2012, to May 31, 2012.  The winner will be announced at our Facebook page on June 1.  Please enter a valid email address.

All That is Seen and Unseen” is a raw, intimate account of a mother facing the most important and critical crossroads of her entire life – attaining her professional dream, or, embracing the gift of new motherhood for the second time.  Elizabeth – a mother and a doula – takes us through the most personal of her experiences to show us the universal truth that a pregnancy loss – at any stage – is still the death of a child.

In this book, Elizabeth shares some of her most intimate journal entries as she recounts the events that surrounded the discovery of her pregnancy, the fears she harbored, the concerns she had, and the feelings she experienced.  She takes us back to her childhood and the obstacles she faced with PCOS, including depression, terrible side effects of treatment, the challenges from her insurance company, the struggles within her marriage, to, after five years of obstacles, the birth of her first son, Joey.

Elizabeth poignantly shares her most intimate thoughts through her first trimester pregnancy and loss:

Would she kill this baby with her regret?

Underneath her regret, she expresses that there was something even more pervading – fear.  Fear of connecting with this baby – fear of losing this baby.

She shares about the pride and astonishment (both hers and her husbands) at the victory of obtaining a pregnancy without the use of fertility treatment.

Would the baby be able to rekindle what was lost in their marriage?

Would she be able to have the homebirth she dreamed of?

Sensing that her baby was in danger, Elizabeth desperately and passionately strived to provide her baby with everything she could to increase the likelihood of survival.

She believed others would think she was irrational if she shared her fears with them.

How would her son, Joey, handle the news of the death of his sister?

This amazing, powerful, personal book shows that a mother bonds immediately with her preborn baby, even when the mother faces a crossroads and is challenged to her core at the news of a positive pregnancy.  It shows that everything about the mother’s life is impacted when she discovers she is pregnant: she makes changes to her environment, her health, her workplace, her dreams for her future – everything in her life is touched by the reality of the presence of her tiny, growing baby.

Through her pregnancy and loss experiences, Elizabeth shows us what is gained in pregnancy, and what is lost when the baby dies – even when the baby dies in the first trimester.

This book also covers:

  • how fathers are also immediately impacted at the news of pregnancy
  •  the difference between grief and depression
  • the difference in grief reactions from men and women
  • the impact of grief on physical health
  • the challenges to marriage that pregnancy loss can bring
  • the impact of pregnancy, and loss, on children / older siblings
  • the short term and long term positives and negatives of miscarrying naturally versus giving birth via D&C
  • the employment / professional challenges that mothers can face from a pregnancy loss
  • the secret feelings that a newly bereaved loss mother may face toward herself and others
  • the challenges to faith that pregnancy loss can bring
  • the impact of pregnancy, and loss, on extended family / relatives and how they react
  • the importance of taking care of your emotional health through the experience of loss, including helpful tips and ideas
  • the emotional, spiritual, and physical long term effects of pregnancy loss

If you would like a chance to win this book, you can do so by participating in our giveaway opportunity! If you saw yourself in any of the six examples at the very top of this article, please, leave a comment below, stating the opportunity you have found today to speak differently about your pregnancy or your loss.  You don’t have to go into personal details – just say “Today, I am going to (do this differently).”

Examples include:

“I am going to find at least one special person I can trust to share the news with about this pregnancy, even though it is early.”

“Just today, I am going to share (maybe post on my Facebook page or some other way), that I gave birth to my miscarried baby on (date).”

“Today, I am not going to say that my loss was a stillbirth, but that I gave birth via miscarriage.”

“More often, I am going to include all of my children when asked how many I have.”

“When I speak about my loss, I will utilize opportunities to validate that it was a birth and a death, not an incident or procedure.”

“I am going to (finally) tell someone that I have given birth to a miscarried baby (I’ve never told anyone about it before).” *

*Please know that stillbirthday is a safe place to share your experience.  Just use our Share Your Story link for details.

 Those brave mothers (and fathers) who step out to determine to speak differently and help shift the paradigm surrounding miscarriage will be entered to win this amazing book by Elizabeth Petrucelli.

Click here to learn more about the book and the author.

~~~

This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you, each of you, ladies, mothers, for sharing such intimate and important parts of your hearts.  The winner is Lisa Dunn.

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19 Responses to Ignoring Our Embryos

  1. Sara says:

    My miscarried baby was born in February 2006. I was just about 3 weeks pregnant. I had no official positive test, but I knew. It was quite possible the worst time in my life to have been pregnant. My husband had just left me and our 4 children to move to another state with another woman. I was a wreck. I was worried and afraid. But at the same time I was happy, no matter the situation on the outside, a new baby was coming. I resolved myself to to the best I could for my children being a newly single parent. But one night I started to bleed. I was devastated, my heart was breaking. I hadn’t told anyone about the pregnancy due to the timing, it was still so early, earlier than most people even notice symptoms. (I’m lucky to have very early pregnancy symptoms) I did not go to the hospital at first, I knew there was nothing they could do anyway. But there was so much blood loss I began to feel dizzy. I called my mom over and I went to the hospital. I was treated very kindly there and was kept for a day, I was () this close to needing a transfusion. When I was released I threw myself back into my new life of being a single mother. I kept myself busy to keep the grief away. I have told very few people about this baby. I did not want to burden them. But I carry that baby in my heart to this day.

    So today I am sharing my story with everyone here at StillBirthday.

  2. Lisa Dunn says:

    I lost my first baby aged 17. Although I was shocked and heartbroken everyone else seemed to think it was for the best. I got no sympathy and I felt ashamed for being so upset. As my miscarriage total began to mount up I felt ashamed of my body and less of a woman. I didn’t even tell my husband and tried to cope alone. I began to feel ashamed that I was creating babies that I knew were probably going to die. But I couldn’t stop. I needed a child I could hold. I now have 3 children I can hold but I still feel guilt and shame for the 13 I never got to hold but that I loved dearly from the very second I knew they existed. I had a ” friend” who I supported through her later loss ( she was 17 weeks and I never got past 10). She told me that my babies didn’t count, that I hadn’t had to give birth and at least I’d had so many I was used to it by now. God that hurt and still does.

    • Kristin says:

      My sister has said the same to me. They simply don’t understand the immediate love and devestating loss nor the hurt they’ve inflicted. I’ve forced myself to pray my sister be spared from the pain she doesn’t understand and so casually dismissed. Although her view may not be changed it has helped my heart.
      Bless you for all you’ve entrusted to the Lord. You are the first mom I know that has lost more than me,,,but let us remember how great is our reward in heaven!!! We are blessed beyond measure!

  3. Alison Phommachanh says:

    I will include the brief time my twins were with me when people ask about my children–six short weeks in my womb, with not a single heartbeat, but with all the hope and wonder that pregnancy brings.

  4. amy says:

    I have had 3 losses. I loss my 3 babies between 13 years old and 16 years old, each due to rape. I was so ashamed and scared that I have held this secret for over 25 years until this past February when I shared it here on Stillbirthday. So I guess I did #2- Kept the news of my miscarriages quiet.
    What I am doing differently is I told Stillbirthday, and a few other people. I am finally allowing myself to grieve thier loss, even though the pain is more than I can bare.
    One thing I really want to do differently to honor my precious babies is on Mother’s Day at my church they ask all of the mothers to stand up and all the children of the church give flowers to all the mothers. I want to have the nerve to admit yes I’m a mother by standing up, no matter what problems, looks, or pain it could cause me.

    • Kristin says:

      My heart broke as I read the pain you’ve survived. I continue to pray for you. So happy to hear you can stand up and acknowlege the children the Lord is caring for you. What marvelous riches are waiting for you in the kingdom..for much you’ve endured and much you will be blessed!

  5. Melissa Hart says:

    I have found myself using a phrase that is incorrect and hurtful. Today, I will start using the correct phrase. I had a miscarriage at six weeks in 2010. I have not been able to get pregnant since. In discussions regarding the raising of children, I have said, “I am not a parent/mother, but I would…” Starting today, I will rephrase that to, “I never experienced that with my child, but I think I would have…”

  6. In the past, I have included my miscarried babies in the answer given to the question, “How many children do you have?” But, there have been times that I have not included them, fearing that I would make the asker uncomfortable with my response. Today, I will endeavor to answer more often by saying, “I have given birth to 11 children. Four are with me; seven were born by miscarriage,” or some such wording.

  7. Juliet says:

    In truth the idea of claiming my five children – only two of whom are in this world – brings up a mountain of sadness. But my faith teaches that while I am still in this world I can parent them through prayer to speed the progress of their souls toward God. Today I will pray for all my children’s spiritual growth.

  8. Kristin says:

    At some point, I’ve seen myself in all of those examples. Up until this year, I would boldly proclaim to everyone the very earliest news of a pregnancy. You see my very first pregnancy was lost as a teenage mom. I learned very early, that this could possibly be my only opportunity to rejoice in the LIFE of the baby in my womb.

    The next 16 yrs proceeded with a loss before each live child born. I was blessed with 6 children in my sight and 6 children inheaven. The losses ranged from chemical pregnancies, to second trimester deliveries.

    This last year, everything changed. I lost twins in the first trimester, delivered a son in the second trimester, and loss a chemical pregnancy all in 8 months. I found everyone around me exhasuted with my grief and constant losses. I allowed the last baby to pass so silently, I now grieve it didn’t get to be celebrated. The circle in my world just couldn’t handle more after the birth of my son a few months prior.

    6 weeks later, I conceived the child I’m currently carrying, and like the last – I waited to tell. I couldn’t bear the sad eyes again, the fear of everyone’s dissappointment that I’d ” done it again”. I worried about exposing my children to more pain.

    But this is what I’ve learned. God has created these lives, and doesn’t need the world’s approval. As difficult as it is, this is the family He has given to my children. He knows and can be trusted with their hearts. A chemical pregnsncy and stillbirth, although very different in experience are both the births of eternal souls equally spendid in God’s sight!

    I’ll be sure to acknowlege the LIFE of each of my children when asked, and recognise how gifted I am to be the mother of 17!

  9. andlivingtotellthestory says:

    I am grateful for this opportunity to talk about the little baby I never got to meet.

    I was told years ago that I would never have children. Thanks to modern science, I proved that wrong and had 3 great kids. Despite my joy in having those children, I do remember telling my husband that I wish I knew what it would be like to have a surprise pregnancy, rather than carefully timed meds, inseminations, and all the rest.

    Late spring last year, I got my wish. I was dumbfounded, staring at the test strip. How could this be?? I ran in to show my husband, and we both started giggling madly. We’d done it! We’d made a baby all by ourselves, no need for high tech! We were on cloud 9, and my first beta blood test made it all official.

    It was the second one where our world came crashing down. It didn’t double. Still, we held onto hope. But the third one made it all too clear… this baby was not going to live.

    Very few people even knew we were pregnant. After being mocked on a message board for grieving such an early loss, I became even more tight lipped about it. This child was and is too precious to me for me to allow him to be disrespected in any way. I felt in my heart it was a boy. We named him and had a beautiful carved wooden box made with his name engraved on top, where I keep my pregnancy tests from him and a few letters I’ve written him. (And yes, I know it could’ve been a girl… I think she’ll forgive me if I’m wrong about the gender). I will never forget my angel. Two months later we became pregnant again – again completely on our own – and that child is sleeping a few feet away from me in a bassinet. It’s an odd feeling… if my angel had lived, the baby I hear rustling around in the bassinet would not exist. If only I could have had them both.

  10. Kelli Holcomb says:

    Today, I am doing intravag cytotec to birth my baby who died at 8w4d. This is my second baby to lose in 9 months. I am 42 years old and have 3 living children, 18, 16, and 10. I will consider and speak of this day, as well as July 28, 2011, as birthdays. Not as the “day the baby passed from me”. I will boldly explain to anyone who will listen that these were REAL babies’ lives, despite their brevity. I am not merely grieving the loss of the hope of a baby, I am grieving the loss of a real baby. It is a very heavy, and lonely grief. I have begun to share with close friends the loneliness I feel in my grief. It has helped a little. I will ask today for the help I need, even if it’s simply that I need a friend to sit with me. My husband will be home early afternoon, but I may need a friend in the meantime. I will ask, instead of waiting for the offer to come. I will also pray and welcome the embrace and comfort that can only come from my God, Jesus Christ. He alone can soothe my lonely and broken heart.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I am so sorry…

    • Megz says:

      I pray for Healing for you. I too have had two losses in the past six months. More heartache than I could imagine. Know that your baby is still with you always. The saying “too perfect for Earth” always brings me so much comfort. May it help
      You as well. Sending you healing thoughts

  11. Megz says:

    Today I learned that I should have shared the news of my pregnancy instead of keeping it a secret and then having to suffer in silence. Alone

  12. Kelli Holcomb says:

    Megz, I encourage you to find a “safe” friend or two to share with. I, too, kept this last pregnancy very quiet…only close friends knew. Not even family, except for our kids. I had one friend sort of scold me, saying I should be telling everyone so that people could pray for me. I calmly explained that I DID have people praying for me…about 12 friends who had been helpful to me last time. My friend later came to me and apologized…realizing that I needed to protect myself and baby from people who simply won’t or can’t be helpful to me. I knew she was a real friend and i love her more now for this!! Some people are just cold and insensitive, most others simply don’t “get it”. Good for them…I was one that didn’t get it, either, until last summer. :(. Now that this baby is gone, I find myself slowly telling a few more people…I want others to know my baby existed and had a life with PURPOSE. But at the same time, still being very cautious about who to let in. People can be so judgmental, even, sometimes especially (sadly so) in the church. It is a very difficult conflict within me, wanting to be quiet, and wanting to tell many. In some ways it’s nice for the masses not to know, it is such a private grief. I haven’t even “liked” the stillbirthday Facebook page because most of my FB friends dont know and i dont want to tip them off, does that make sense? But my friends that do know have been such a blessing to me. One even met me at the doc office the morning I had to do the cytotec. I heard her voice in the hall and nearly wept with relief that she had come to hold my hand. What a precious gift is this friend to me!!! I encourage you to seek out someone you can trust. It’s great to “talk” here, but some days you just need a friend in person that can hug you…and then take you for a pedicure..only to leave and take you home because cramping started sooner than you thought, ha! Everybody needs a friend like that! I hope and pray that you have one. 🙂

  13. Loren Curtis says:

    When asked, I will tell people how many children I have – all of them. Including the one my mum is babysitting! ❤

  14. Even given everything I do to speak out for baby loss awareness, I am very guilty of one of those things you listed. I dismissed my own baby as a miscarriage, it was not until I had experienced the validating, memory making time with my stillborn son that I started to question what place my first born baby has and had in our lives. I validated them myself, in my family. I buried the pregnancy test kit at the same time as I buried Finley. I lay flowers for my first baby, one single one, on the grave away from his bunch. I buy two of ornaments. yet there is still a part of me that does not outwardly acknowledge this first baby. When people ask me how many children I have I talk of Twinkle my live daughter, Finley who is no longer with me, but I don’t always mention my first. And if I do mention them I call them a miscarriage.Today I will revisit my first baby, I will write a public letter to her, sharing the lessons I learnt from her conception and birth. I will thank her (my heart knows she was a girl).

  15. Bethany Gates says:

    Today I will learn to talk about how I’m really feeling instead of saying ‘I’m fine.’ Because I’m not. I might also find the courage to verbally mention that I don’t just have two children, I have three, though one may not be on this earth with me.
    Thank you for this post, I needed it so much today.

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