sharing your stories and remembering your children
By Emily Carrington EPLA President
For the last few years there has been a growing trend of commercial brands allowing their customers to “opt-out for Mother’s Day.” This allegedly means they would not receive all of the Mother’s Day themed marketing emails that flow to our inboxes during April and May.
For example, Kay Jewelers offers an opt-out option, saying, “We’re here to inspire love and happiness, but we know Mother’s Day can be a challenging time. If you’d rather not receive Mother’s Day related emails enter your email address below.”
Other stores have shared similar messages with their customers and subscribers, acknowledging Mother’s Day is not easy for everyone.
My first Mother’s Day following my first miscarriage was surreal. I didn’t know what to feel and honestly, that one wasn’t the hardest Mother’s Day for me. The feelings had not yet settled yet. It had only been a few days since my D&C, and I was simply trying to exist.
It was later that my own identity, or lost identity, as a mother started to sting. I wanted that baby to hold. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to do mom things. I felt left out of the club. It was because I had placed so much value on my own motherhood that I grieved it so deeply.
I think Mother’s Day is a beautiful time to honor our own moms, to reflect on our own motherhood, and to hold up the women who have done so much for us.
But for many it comes with pain.
At EPLA, we know deeply that Mother’s Day is hard for some, and we’re glad to see that companies are starting to see it, too.
By Maria Servold Hope Blooms Editor
Last month, the Early Pregnancy Loss Association hosted its second fundraising gala. Even though it was windy, raining, and cold outside in lower Michigan guests gathered with the spirit of the coming spring.
We were delighted to fellowship with about 50 guests - new and old friends committed to caring for the women and families suffering miscarriage.
A cash bar, hors d'oeuvres, and beautiful live plant decor provided by EPLA board member Katie Stockdale set a chic and cozy scene.
Throughout the night, we promoted a Miscarriage Care Kit sponsorship drive, and more than 40 generous donations were made that evening alone!
“The gala reminded me how important it is to come together,” said EPLA Executive Director, Emily Carrington. “While the tone of the gala was joyful, people also felt safe to share their own stories. I also think it was important for many who attended that they had an outlet to support others grieving early pregnancy loss.”
Support from friends and donors has helped EPLA expand.
“It has been amazing to watch this organization grow,” said Maria Servold, EPLA Board President. “When we first began this organization in 2016, we did not imagine we would be able to provide more than 1,000 kits to women across the country each year.”
EPLA is so grateful for those who were able to attend the gala, those who generously helped sponsor the event, and those who sent donations in lieu of attending.
“The gala was a huge success and a testament to the necessity of the work we are doing. We were thrilled to see such an outpouring of support,” Emily said.
The Gala is the first of two special fundraisers for 2023. This fall EPLA will host another Fall Bulb Sale featuring tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs.
If you are interested in ongoing support for EPLA we Miscarriage Care Kit Sponsorships are always available or we invite you to join us as a Monthly Donor.
By Nick Carrington
Hope Blooms Editor
Alexander Ludwig, best known for playing the ruthless Cato in The Hunger Games, and his wife, Lauren Ludwig, are expecting a baby after suffering three miscarriages. The couple recently announced the pregnancy on Instagram, noting that their previous losses taught them about themselves and each other.
The couple had the same message in May 2022 when they announced their 3rd miscarriage. Then, Lauren stated some of the same truths that we espouse at EPLA:
“I want to help others realize how common miscarriages are and how they aren't something to be embarrassed about. Going through this has made me realize, I definitely am not alone. It's so common and yet, I feel it's not talked about nearly enough. If more of us talked about these things, maybe we would feel less alone and at fault. Information is power and I want to start sharing more of it."
Neither Ludwig has abandoned those principles. In their pregnancy announcement post last month, they continued to express empathy for those who, like them, have suffered miscarriages, reminding them that they are “not alone.”
We celebrate with the Ludwigs and wish them good health as their child develops. And we applaud them for reminding us that those who suffer through miscarriages are not alone.
Hope Blooms Editor
We at EPLA were happy to see this week that the founder of Frida products (like the well-known NoseFrida and Frida mom postpartum products) are launching products designed specifically for women suffering pregnancy loss.
According to this article, founder Chelsea Hirschhorn first developed the popular items in her baby and mom lines even though other manufacturers thought the baby/postpartum space was “too small to disrupt.” Unsurprisingly, the well-designed products became near-essentials for new moms. If a mom-to-be doesn’t have any Frida products on her registry, you should buy them for her anyway!
Hirschhorn said she decided to create products for pregnancy loss after suffering two miscarriages of her own:
"After losing two pregnancies during the pandemic, I realized that I needed many of the same products as I did postpartum, but without the sentimental marketing that's usually attached to these items. Pregnancy loss is an emotionally delicate time, and until now there have been no products designed for it."
Since our inception, EPLA has prioritized physical resources when providing for women suffering pregnancy loss. The physical side of a loss cannot be overlooked, even if the emotional side feels like it demands the most from us. We have curated miscarriage care kits for losses both after a D&C and for anticipation of miscarriage at home.
The new Frida Mom incomplete pregnancy supplies are a welcome addition to the miscarriage care world.
EPLA Executive Director
Among the chatter and clutter of “New year, new you,” I have seen a very helpful admonition floating around social media: leaving 2022 doesn’t mean leaving the one you lost behind. For once, I think social media is right.
It can be hard when the new year doesn’t feel fresh, and especially when you don’t want it to. What does fresh mean? Does it mean we forget, get rid of, or move on from all that we had?
For women who suffered miscarriage last year, 2022 might hold many highs and lows and the only evidence of your baby. For many women, the entirety of their little one’s existence is limited to just a few months in 2022.
Some women might be ready to move on, move forward, and get out of their grief. This is the way I felt. 2014 was a year of hell. Between February and October I conceived and lost two babies. 2015 was a welcome relief. I was tired of death, and I needed something different. I was not mad to say goodbye to 2014.
But 2014 was also a year of life. Those babies lived inside of me, even if it was only for a few short weeks. That is something I should have done better to honor. Both for myself and for my babies.
While I might have failed in this way - one thing is true: I have not forgotten about these children, nor have I “left them” in 2014. They are part of everything I do - even when I am not consciously aware of it. In their short lives they shaped me and my family, and their impact ripples through our community in so many ways.
If you are struggling with hope as we enter a new year, know that your memories of a lost baby will not go away. The flipping of the calendar page does not erase their existence, nor does it speed up your grief process. But the coming of the new year does indicate that time passes and that can be hard to accept. Use this time as a marker to take account of where you are and how you are feeling. Know that their lives are still real. Know that moving forward in grief is not a failure.
By Nick Carrington
Hope Blooms Blog Editor
As Christmas celebrations fade and New Year’s approach, many of our readers may be remembering loved ones they’ve lost this year or during the holiday season in other years. This time of year can be particularly difficult for those mourning the loss of a miscarried baby.
The Understanding Heart, a blog and social media page dedicated to sharing stories of pregnancy loss, imparts some wisdom about dealing with miscarriage and pregnancy after loss during the holiday season:
Pregnancy Loss: A Holiday Survival Guide
Trying to Conceive: A Holiday Survival Guide
Emily’s Story (losing a baby conceived during the holiday season)
If you are struggling after a miscarriage, take some time to explore The Understanding Heart’s page. It’s full of helpful information and beautiful, comforting words to help you through this particularly difficult time.
EPLA Blog Editor
The Christmas season often elicits memories of family and friends, traditions, and new beginnings. It’s a time where we come together with those we love and sometimes, remember those who are no longer with us.
Growing up, we always went to my grandparent’s house for Christmas. We went to church as a family on Christmas Eve and got Buffalo Wild Wings afterward. My grandmother made cinnamon rolls, and we watched either A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life. On Christmas morning, we opened presents and then ate an enormous breakfast of eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, toast, and orange juice. Almost every Christmas memory I have as a child involves my grandparents, how they cared for us, and how they made life better.
Now that they’ve passed, Christmas is also a time to remember them and their love for our family.
At EPLA, we talk about remembering children quite a bit. Because family is such an important part of the season for many, Christmas is a wonderful time to show loved ones that you remember and care about their children.
One subtle way to celebrate children lost to miscarriage is to hang an ornament in their honor. On our tree, we have ornaments for each of our four children that coincides with a time in their lives. The Thomas the Train decoration no longer holds much meaning for my 8 year old, but it reminds his mother and I of the little boy who knew the names of 50+ trains.
For children lost to miscarriage, we might hang an ornament with his or her name on it, if the parents named the child. Or we might purchase one that is particular to the family and child in another way.
The point is to make that child a part of your traditions, to remember him or her. Children lost to miscarriage are family, and just as we might remember other loved ones who aren’t around anymore, we can remember those children as well.
Over at Hope Blooms Emily, Nick, and Maria have been tackling the challenges that face loss parents, friends, and families during the holiday season. Be sure to check out some of our favorite episodes.
The Shadow of Loss: Due Dates, Thanksgiving, and Babies
Emily's first Thanksgiving after two miscarriages was very hard. In this episode Emily remembers the agony she felt passing her own due date, welcoming her new nephew, and failing to help in the kitchen.
Our Friends and Family Grieve With Us
Emily Carrington sits down with her brother-in-law, Nick Carrington, to talk about walking through miscarriage with loved ones. Nick addresses his own grief watching his family suffer miscarriage while also recognizing his role as a support person.
Be Gentle With Yourself? What Does that Even Mean?!
(Live December 20, 2022)
We are quick to prescribe gentleness in times of grief, but do we even know what that means? Has the command to be 'gentle with yourself' become just one more thing to do in a time of helplessness? How do we understand gentleness in a way that allows for healing and restoration.
Emily and Maria start the conversation digging in to what 'being gentle with yourself' might look like, especially as we prepare for the Holidays.
By Nick Carrington
UK women’s basketball coach Kyra Elzy recently discussed her six heartbreaking miscarriages. In the piece, two themes emerge from her comments. The first is that losing the child in womb is traumatic. Elzy even says she thought about harming herself.
“And then the fourth one [in 2015]... that was the one that probably just broke me," Elzy said. "We went in to get the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat and there was no heartbeat. And at that moment, I was literally like... I thought I was going to die."
Elzy says she was on suicide watch at that moment and couldn't get out of bed or sleep.
Her pain is not of someone who lost hopes and dreams but of those who lost sons and daughters. Elzy and her husband adopted, but the pregnancy loss didn’t stop there. As she discussed two more miscarriages and how devastated she was, the second theme emerged: loss parents too often have to grieve alone.
"The thing about miscarriage, nobody can grieve with you, so it's not like I had a physical baby I could show someone," she said. "If I had a stillborn, people could come to a funeral. It's hard for people to grieve with you, it's like... it didn't happen."
In Elzy’s painful story, we see the reality: miscarriage is traumatic and grieving alone often makes that trauma worse. We encourage you to read the entire piece
By Nick Carrington
Hope Blooms Editor
I wish I knew.
Not that I would have known what to say or do at first, but the shock of it all was a lot. When my friends and siblings started getting pregnant, I couldn’t conceive of anyone losing a child. There were only good vibes and happy endings to come.
It came in waves. Family and friends, a few connections to my students. So many lost children with parents struggling in the wake. Everywhere I looked, there was grief. Before that time, miscarriage was a foreign term, something that happened outside my circle to an unlucky few. Then, in six months or so, I knew five, six, seven families all swimming through pain, trying to make sense of what had happened and what it meant.
I wish I knew.
But now I realize that knowing isn’t enough. Knowing how common miscarriages are would have lessened the shock, but it wouldn’t have taught me how to respond. It wouldn’t have taught me how to play a role, however small, in the healing process for those I cared about.
I wish I knew, but my desire didn’t stop there. With each miscarriage, I longed for peace, a sense of wholeness for my loved ones, even if that wasn’t possible. I wish I knew how to ease their burdens, celebrate their children, and be there for them.
As we come out of miscarriage awareness month, we must remember that making people aware is just the first step, though a necessary one. They also need to know how to care for and love on hurting families. The EPLA exists so that no one has to suffer through the pain of miscarriage alone. As an organization, we can’t address every need for loss parents, but we can prepare others to help their loved ones.
Awareness is key, but it’s not enough. Join us as we seek to build a community that understands the complexities of miscarriage and seeks to lift the burdens of those afflicted.