sharing your stories and remembering your children
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.
By Maria Servold
Earlier this month, we gave another 500 small miscarriage care kits to Metro Detroit Share, an organization we have partnered with since 2020.
For the last several years, MDS has taken 500 small miscarriage care kits at a time to distribute to women suffering early pregnancy loss all over the state of Michigan. Every time we prepare 500 more kits for MDS founder, Angie Winton, to pick up, we are excited - we’re glad to support women across Michigan in such a concrete way.
But, each round of 500 also brings a sense of sadness, because those kits represent 500 more women who have lost babies.
Since our founding, we have known that providing material support to women suffering loss is key to helping them through the grief and pain of miscarriage. We know the pain these women are feeling, and while we are glad to help them in whatever small way we can, our efforts do not erase their suffering.
One Hillsdale mother, Lauren Smith, said she first thought of reaching out to EPLA when her sister thought she may be miscarrying:
“About a year ago, my sister thought she might be experiencing a miscarriage. At the time, it was a real blessing to know how and where to quickly obtain a miscarriage kit for her, thanks to the EPLA's work in Hillsdale County. Fortunately, the spotting subsided, and a healthy, beautiful baby was born a few months later.”
Unfortunately, Lauren herself experienced a miscarrage this year, but said she is grateful for EPLA’s tangible resources found in our early loss kits.
“Earlier this spring, I found myself in the same situation, spotting, cramping, and anticipating a miscarriage at seven weeks. A dear friend (and founding member of the EPLA) dropped off a miscarriage kit on my doorstep as soon as she learned about our situation. Despite the heartbreak of losing a child, I was comforted knowing that I had everything I needed on hand.”
“The kits are prepared by women who have suffered the heartbreak, the disorientation, and the isolation of a miscarriage, and the kits are a tangible reminder that you are not alone in your loss.”
While we wish no one had to suffer miscarriage, we’re grateful for the priviledge to provide kits to women like Lauren all over Michigan and throughout the U.S., who are in need of physical and emotional support during the loss of a child. We’re happy to continue to give hundreds of kits to Metro Detroit Share and individuals, but we will always remember that a kit given is a baby lost.
By Nick Carrington
Hope Blooms Editor
My parents have lived in the same county since before I was born. When I visit them, I see the relics of my childhood. The McDonald’s where we’d stop for milkshakes after church on Wednesday nights, the marina where I would feed ducks with my grandparents, the local burger place that serves patties so small that you must order three or four to get your fill. These places warm my heart, remind me of how blessed I was growing up. I want my kids to understand that history, the way it shaped me for better and worse.
But each time I go home, I also pass a graveyard on a hill. The cemetery rises behind an old country church that couldn’t seat more than 50 people, with a parking lot made for 20. The largest store within a few miles is the Family Dollar, a relatively new addition to an area where the houses look more like emergency shelters than homes.
In that graveyard lie the remains of my beloved grandparents and their two sons, one who died in infancy and another from cancer in his 30s. I have so much to tell my children about my grandparents. My grandmother would rush to our house every time we were sick, taking care of us while my mother worked at the local hospital. She made our favorite dishes and covered us with blankets. My grandfather would pick my friends and I up from the golf course and take us to dinner, paying for the food every single time. He’d then drive us home, about half an hour away.
I never had the chance to know my uncles well. I have only one memory of the one who died as an adult. He was coughing in bed, the room full but filled with silence. The end was near, and truth be told, he already looked like death. His brother, the one he never truly met, was his twin, taken by a condition that could be addressed today.
There are no memories of them to share with my kids. No legacy of kindness and sacrifice. And yet, sometime soon, I will take my kids to that graveyard and stand them in front of those family tombstones. I plan to tell them all about their great grandparents, how they loved me well. How their home felt like my own. But I will also tell them about their great uncles, how precious they were to our family even though they were gone too soon.
My kids will hear about the truck my family owned, once my uncles, and how my mother cried the night someone stole it and crashed into a tree because it was all we had left of him. They’ll hear the tales, as well as I can remember them, of how hard my grandparents worked to save their 9 month old and how their love for him never stopped, even as they grieved his death more than 50 years later. My kids will see how much I wanted to know my uncles, how our family feels so hollowed out, so thin without them.
That cemetery behind the old, white church reminds me that we dignify those we’ve lost because they are a part of our families, our loved ones, and us. To honor them all will do good to my heart, but it will also help my children understand how to honor their four cousins who died in the womb, the ones they never played with. We remember them all, knowing that while gone, they are still our family, still a part of our story.
Emily Carrington, EPLA Executive Director
Ten years ago many women felt like they could not share their miscarriage. The norm was to keep your pregnancy a secret until 13 weeks and then lie about pregnancy loss if it happened. Maria and I candidly tackled this issue in our latest podcast on Hope Blooms. In this episode we see that it is clear that a world that forces women into silence and isolation is not one that respects, honors, and dignifies these mothers - but what are the risks of going too far the other way?
Do you have to shout your miscarriage?
At least we hope not. And that is certainly not the world we envision. We want a world where women are given the proper physical, emotional, and spiritual care after an early pregnancy loss, where the loss of life is honored as a death and where the physical journey is truly protected, not ignored.
Some women may find comfort in sharing their story publicly. Many want to write, talk, or outwardly provide service or care for other suffering women. We see this in the work that has gone before us.
But silence, meditation, and introspection are also dignified. A woman should feel free to wrestle with her grief without the culture heaping on confusion or lies.
Just as we all deal with the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, or any other tragedy in different ways, women will express their miscarriage differently.
What is important is that we love her and take care of her needs as informed and connected support people.
This October we all have the opportunity to join women and families suffering pregnancy loss, and I hope one day we will see a world where we don’t need an awareness month because women are receiving the love and support they need all year round.
If this October you need silence, rest, and introspection - I urge you - please take it. You do not have to shout your miscarriage.