sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Rachel McCormack, CNM
Many wonder why they have had an early pregnancy loss. Why does it happen? Could I have done something to prevent it? Did I do something wrong?
As a midwife, I tell my patients they did nothing wrong. Often, miscarriages happen for unknown reasons. There is a lot of research focused on early pregnancy loss, and a lot of it we still do not quite understand. I wish there was a definite answer as to why miscarriage happens or that there was something we could do to prevent it, but unfortunately for most early losses, there are not. This is understandably hard for a lot of parents to hear. It is hard to lose your baby, no matter how many weeks old.
Early pregnancy loss is defined as a loss in the first trimester. Unfortunately, early pregnancy loss is common and happens in about 10% of pregnancies, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. A little over half of miscarriages are caused by an abnormal number of chromosomes during fertilization. We do not have answers as to why the other half are lost. Many wonder if certain activities or what they ate or drank caused the loss. The answer is usually no. Exercise, sex, drinking coffee, working, etc., are unlikely the cause of a miscarriage.
An early pregnancy loss is usually a one-time event, and most women continue to have successful pregnancies. Those with recurrent pregnancy loss, which is uncommon, can be tested to rule out certain factors, but they can still have successful pregnancies.
The time around a miscarriage is difficult for parents and their families. Health care providers can help answer questions you may have and also prepare you for future pregnancies. It is best to wait a few menstrual cycles before trying to become pregnant again to allow your body time to heal. It is recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise while trying to conceive.
You should also see your doctor at least once a year for an annual exam and to be screened for conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and so forth. If you have diabetes, cholesterol or any other existing medical conditions, follow up with your provider to help in the management of them, for they can also increase your risk of early pregnancy loss.
If trying to conceive it is good to note that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs have been linked to the risk of early pregnancy loss, but the research is still unclear on whether it does or does not (ACOG). Medical professionals recommend avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs in pregnancy to decrease complications that may arise from them.
Support groups can also be helpful by providing a place to hear other parents’ stories and sharing your own story. It helps to know that you are not alone. Although your little one may be gone, they are never forgotten.
My Baby has Wings
Each pregnancy is a joy
A blessing for parents
A time of anticipation and excitement
A time for new beginnings
A time to learn new things
To dream of the future together
But then something happened
My baby is there no more
How can this be?
My baby was just inside me?
I don’t understand what just happened?
What did I do wrong?
I sit with my head in my lap praying for help
Desperately searching for answers
I am alone
Sitting in silence
I feel weak
But then I am told
There is nothing I did wrong
Other women have experienced this loss too
I did nothing wrong
I am not alone
The future brings hope again
I can try again
Even though you are no longer here with me
You are never forgotten
For my baby has wings
Rachel McCormack is a certified nurse midwife serving in Hillsdale, Michigan.
By: Emily Carrington EPLA President and Founder
I didn’t notice her socks. Not until a post from An Unexpected Family Outing showed up on my Facebook feed.
The post starts simply:
“You see those socks on Chrissy Teigen’s feet?
I know those socks.”
I gasped. I know those socks too. I know them well. I didn’t know other people knew those socks.
My socks were blue. I was wearing them when I woke up from my D&C six years ago after my first miscarriage. Only a few days earlier I had been diagnosed with a missed miscarriage at what I thought was 11 weeks pregnant. The baby was only measuring at 8 weeks, and there was no heartbeat. After a very dark week full of research, questions, and tears, we decided that the D&C was the best option.
My husband and I showed up to the surgical center on a sunny Friday morning in early May. The facility seemed to host a number of general low risk surgeries. It felt strange to sit there among the patients waiting for what seemed like unimportant procedures.
They called me back to pre-op and my husband was allowed to come with me. They gave me a robe and asked me to change. Once I was dressed and back in bed they went through all of the typical pre-surgery routines. But nothing felt routine about it. They were going to take my dead baby out. How could everyone be so calm?
My husband was sent to the waiting room with a buzzer, and I was wheeled away. They moved me into the operating room, and my doctor came in and sat down at the foot of the bed. His was the first familiar face I had seen. They started the anesthesia, and I didn’t believe I would fall asleep.
I woke up alone in a post-op recovery area, and a nurse offered me snacks and a drink. My husband arrived within minutes.
I remember the blue socks. Everything was so cold, so routine, so sterile. The blue socks were warm and cozy. The warmest and coziest socks I have ever owned. And they served as the first comfort I had received since my miscarriage diagnosis earlier that week.
I gasped. I know those socks too. I know them well. I didn’t know other people knew those socks.
Once I fully woke up, we left the surgical center and were home by lunch.
I had a strange attachment to those blue socks. I almost felt guilty for liking them; they seemed like a souvenir from an event I never wanted to remember.
Six and a half years later more healing came as I read the post about Chrissy Teigen’s socks from An Unexpected Family Outing. It reminded me that even though my loss was deeply personal and therefore “unique,” I was not alone in my experience, down to the socks on my feet.
“You see those socks on Chrissy Teigen's feet?
I know those socks.
Rubbery bottoms, thin cotton. Presented to you in a sterile plastic package. Somehow they end up on your feet. Maybe it was a nurse, maybe it was your partner who put them there. Not really warm, not really comfy, but still you wear them.
I've literally walked in those same socks as Chrissy Teigen. It's a terrible thing we have in common. Because even though our experiences were different, we know the same heartbreak.
Both of us know what it's like to hold our babies for the first, last, and only time.
Both of us know what it's like to enter a hospital pregnant and leave without your baby.
Both of us know what it's like to wear those socks.
And we're not alone.
Because even if you didn't wear the socks.
Even if your baby died at home.
Even if your baby died at 4 weeks or 12 weeks or 40 weeks.
You still know.
You know the heartache.
You know the emptiness.
You know the heavy, heavy grief of a parent living without their baby.
And because of this, we are never truly alone.
Emily Carrington is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and founder of the EPLA.
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
October is pregnancy loss awareness month, and our culture has come a long way in understanding miscarriage over the last few years. With high profile celebrities openly talking about losing their babies, more people recognize just how frequent it is and are willing to have conversations. Miscarriage is less taboo than it used to be. The Early Pregnancy Loss Association celebrates this progress.
But we have so much work left to do.
Too many grieving families fall through the cracks between organizations or friends that could help, and are left alone to pick up the pieces. Too many careless words are uttered. Too many people have harmful misconceptions that shove miscarriage back into the shadows.
In October, we remember your babies and reaffirm our commitment to our core values.
Early pregnancy loss is the loss of a unique and infinitely valuable life often bringing great grief to women and families as they suffer this loss.
Women and families experiencing early pregnancy loss are carrying the weight of death. In isolation, this weight seems too great for one to bear. But together, when we carry one another's burdens, the weight is eased by making room for peace and hope.
Early pregnancy loss brings anger, confusion, frustration, and sorrow. These emotions can lead to both emotional sensitivity and a hardening heart in order to cope with the grief. To meet their unique needs during this time, women and families should be treated in a loving, nurturing, and respectful way.
Together we can do more. To better bear the burdens of women and families, a variety of organizations and professionals can work together to meet their needs. Medical professionals, counselors, churches, and related nonprofits all offer unique services to help ease the emotional, psychological, and financial burden of early pregnancy loss.
Because of the hushed culture concerning pregnancy loss, many women do not know how to understand their heartache. Everyone grieves differently, and, though common, early pregnancy loss is an intensely personal experience. Whether they choose to grieve publicly or privately, women and families need a safe environment to experience grief. By acknowledging the frequency of early pregnancy loss and recognizing it as a death, families are granted space to grieve.
With these core values, we renew our resolve to educate the masses, grieve with the broken, and foster a community of healing. The EPLA encourages families and loved ones to send us your stories and let us know how we can help you as you deal with your loss.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University.