sharing your stories and remembering your children
By Emily Carrington
EPLA Executive Director
Fall used to be my favorite season. The pumpkin spice latte, leggings, scarves & sweaters, fall activities, pumpkin picking, Halloween, everything - I LOVED EVERYTHING about fall.
Now as the air changes I feel a sense of dread. The smells trigger sadness, and I find myself in a sense of general malaise.
In some ways, these were all the things I thought I loved about fall. I loved that fall had a feeling, that fall was a rhythmic dying to give way to winter. Fall was a complicated season, and I loved thinking I was complicated.
But that was before my babies died.
In September 2014 I was pregnant with our second pregnancy. I had lost my first baby in May at 11 weeks gestation. But I had hope that this time, everything would be fine.
Everything was not fine. In late September I learned our baby once again had no heartbeat, and I went on to labor at home, delivering our second little one in early October.
As I muddled through the grief of this second loss, I quickly approached the due date of our first baby. We were supposed to have a baby the week of Thanksgiving. Now I had lost two and was buried in grief. I laid in bed, sobbing through Thanksgiving preparations.
The following year, in late August, I learned I was miscarrying before I even knew I was pregnant.
I did not consciously associate my losses with fall. I did not poetically tie together the passing of nature and the passing of my babies.
But now, many years later, my body reminds me. As fall comes, so does my sadness.
But this year I hope to redeem the fall.
Fall brings death, but it also brings rest. While many flowers die, others simply go dormant. While leaves fall, trees rest. Nature takes the winter to prepare for spring. We welcome the rhythm of fall because our bodies need rest.
I want to give myself that rest this year. Rest from grief, rest from worry, rest from dread.
Later this month, I will pass a significant milestone - 10 years since my miscarriage. I lost my first baby at nine weeks gestation on September 29, 2012.
There are certain moments I remember distinctly from the early weeks of that pregnancy (my first) and the miscarriage.
I remember the joy I felt when I saw the two pink lines on a positive pregnancy test, and the excitement my husband and I felt when we told my parents.
… being glad I didn’t have much morning sickness, but wondering if that was a bad sign.
… when I began to have some light spotting while at a mall with a friend on Saturday, Sept. 29.
… when later that night I began bleeding profusely and my husband and I rushed to the ER.
… the doctor who treated me, and how he yawned and seemed disinterested while telling me “you’re probably miscarrying.”
… waddling between the bathroom in the ER and my curtained stall, passing large clots and, I assume, my baby’s body. I was never able to recover it.
… the incredibly kind nurse who saw me crying in the ER hallway and gave me the best, most comforting hug I may have ever gotten from a stranger.
… going home knowing my baby was gone.
… 10 days later when I began bleeding profusely again and had to undergo a D&C.
… the nurse I had in the ER before the D&C, and her cute, pregnant belly. She offered to find another nurse if her being pregnant upset me.
… telling my boss to tell my students that I had the flu, so they wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t teaching for a while.
Most of all, I remember the feeling of emptiness in the days and weeks following my loss.
But - I also remember these things:
…The way my husband took care of me and supported me, even when he wasn’t sure what to do.
…The way my father-in-law (who was in town when I had to make my second trip to the ER) made dinner for several nights, since I couldn’t.
…My aunt telling me I had an angel waiting for me in heaven.
…When I first met EPLA’s founder, Emily Carrington, and how she openly talked about her losses, inspiring me to do the same.
…The first focus group we held in 2016, when we tried to figure out what miscarrying women need and how, maybe, we could help them.
…When Emily asked me to join the board of EPLA and the five of us on the board began building the organization.
…When we delivered our first batches of miscarriage care kits around our city and eventually, the country.
…When we went to a perinatal loss conference and doctors and nurses told us “thank you” for developing the care kits.
Now, 10 years and three live births later, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of that first baby I lost. I’ll never “get over” that loss, nor will I forget some of the painful moments during and after it. But, I also take solace in the fact that I get to help other women through their own losses with the Early Pregnancy Loss Association.
By Maria Servold
EPLA Executive Director
One of the things we often talk about on this blog is the tendency of women and families who suffer miscarriage to feel alone. It is our goal that none of them feel lonely or that “I am the only one” after a loss, and we’re glad to see more and more organizations entering into the important work of supporting women after loss.
Recently, I came across an Instagram page that posts beautiful reflections on miscarriage, called The Understanding Heart, and it’s blog by the same name.
The account’s first post, from September 2021, describes the page’s mission:
My hope is that this account can act as a safe space for families suffering through pregnancy loss of any kind. My goal is always to break the stigma of miscarriage but also to empower the women and families in the throes of grief to know that their pregnancy matters, their baby matters and their grief is as real as it would be had their babies made it earth-side.
I look forward to sharing pieces of my own story with you and listening to your stories of the sweet babies we weren’t able to hold long enough. I hope this page finds you when you need it most.
Even though healing is not linear, we don’t have to heal alone.
Many of the page’s beautiful posts offer words of support, affirmation, and love to those suffering loss. It’s a great page to share with someone suffering a miscarrige. I found it helpful and informative, even nearly 10 years after my own loss.
Another relatively new organization providing support to women after miscarriage is Evermore Blooms. The company delivers flowers to women after pre-20 week loss, thanks to the generosity of anonymous donors. The founder says she received a bouquet of flowers anonymously on the two-year anniversary of a miscarriage, and was inspired to bless other women the same way. What a beautiful idea!
The group also offers other gifts and an online Facebook community for loss moms, called the Flower Patch.
We are so grateful to see other groups that seek to support women after early pregnancy loss beginning to “bloom.”