Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What do I say when ...

Months ago, I posted a list of uncomfortable questions bereaved mothers had been asked and their responses. When hit with questions like these, a mom in our shoes usually feels stumped, but hopefully these answers will empower you!

Read the post Responding to Dumb-itity here.

Questions that still stump me go like this: When a person knows of my previous losses and they discover I'm pregnant again or trying to get pregnant, they usually ask:

"Well, have you considered adoption?" (read: You can have a live baby!)
"So, how far along are you this time?" (read: Is the baby viable yet?)

What questions have totally stumped you?

The Other Side of the Grief Fence

For years I have felt baby envy whenever I saw a pregnant woman or a newborn gently cradled by his parents. Now, as my pregnant belly swells under my shirt, I may be the one invoking those thoughts in other women!

On one hand, when I meet a bereaved mom, I want to rush in and share my experiences and let her know that the solutions uncovered in this pregnancy came at great cost (the loss of three 24 weekers). I want to over-explain and convince her that I'm really still a member of the hurting mom's club.

On the other, I just want her to know that this child is a blessing and I've worked hard (through the grief process) so that one day I'd be able to turn in my membership card! I don't want the looks of pity. I don't want people to fearfully ask, "well how far along are you now?" ... I just want to enjoy the gift God has given and not feel like I betrayed anyone.

I'm still 100% committed to raising awareness of the effects of infant and pregnancy loss. I'm still committed to comforting hurting parents.


I finally realized that my sad face and apologetic attitude for my "condition" isn't going to take away a hurt that only God can heal. I can be supportive without being apologetic for my miracle.

If there are a few things I've learned from being on both sides of the grief fence it's this:

  • Allow yourself to feel the pain without hating those whose babies have survived.
  • Reach out to those who you have much in common (found in support groups on and offline) instead of fixating on those who can't understand your experience.
  • Write your thoughts in a journal, talk to a counselor ... do something positive to release the pain and anger.
  • Lean on Jesus. Never turn your back on Him. It hurts so much more when you do.
"This too will pass ..."

Monday, February 19, 2007

21 Weeker Survives NICU

I was absolutely amazed by this story and just had to share! I hope this brings a bit of faith validation to those of us whose faith sometimes falters. God is truly amazing and capable of anything!

Share in my amazement as you read about a 21 weeker who is not just alive four months later, but is actually going home from the NICU! Read it here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Seeing Red

What can be more shocking for a pregnant woman than to see red? Not the Valentine's box kind of red, but the bloody type? Despite our painful past (3 pregnancies traumatically ending at or around 24 weeks) I wasn't ready for red. Not even kinda. I had surgery three weeks ago to correct a shortening cervix so, I knew there would be bleeding for a few days after that and, as expected, it went away. But a week later, it reappeared. When I went to the doctor, I lay like a dead woman in the exam room.

It was the day before my 24th week and my heart couldn't forget what happened the last time I went in for a 24 week appointment. I couldn't forget the time before that, or the time before that either. I was in such a zone I couldn't even hear the nurse's pre-admission questions.

At this particular hospital, the staff on the labor and delivery floor knows me very well because I work so closely with their grieving patients and my book, Stolen Angels, is a part of their bereavement package.

My husband was sending me "I love you" vibes from his seat by the bed. The nurse nervously fiddled with everything in the room. The doctor tried to engage us in comforting banter, but everyone was really just waiting to find out what the exam would reveal.

Well, it turns out the bleeding had nothing to do with my surgery or the baby. It was just some old blood that had collected under the placenta and finally decided to drain out. Can you imagine my relief? Probably not, so I'll just say it was beyond any euphoria I can describe.

I learned so much about myself after this experience.

First, I have to emphasize that if you have experienced a previous loss, please -PLEASE - PLEASE - achieve some level of true healing before trying again. It is so much easier said than done, but peace of mind may be a thing of the past if you haven't allowed time for emotional and spiritual healing.

Second, faith truly is an action verb. As a believer, if I tell myself and others that I trust God to heal my body, I must speak it, walk it and live it. To ask for healing then continue to worry and speak as if I’m not healed says a lot about what's in my heart. I have to sometimes block out what my senses tell me, what the doctor says and what friends say and cling to that which I cannot see. That’s how I know I’m walking by faith. Also, it’s important to use spiritual wisdom as my guide, not fear.

Third, just because I experience human reactions throughout my pregnancy doesn't mean I don't have faith. When I do experience fear, what do I do next? Do I pray or do I worry? Do I speak the Word over my body and situation? What types of messages do I tell myself? ("I am healed"; "Help me have faith, Lord"; or "Oh my goodness, my baby is going to die!") At times, I feel completely discouraged, I'm reminded of the past and I break down and cry, but I won't allow myself to stay broken.

Fourth, if I ask God and believe, I will receive - If it is God's will. I'm in a place where I don't keep trying to figure out if it is God's will for me to have this baby before I'll start believing. I won't let the past dictate whether I'm going to trust God with this pregnancy. Besides, I want God's will for my life. Don't get me wrong ... I don't want or like the accompanying pain that can come with God's way, so I have to continuously renew my mind through prayer and study.

Finally, faith is hard work, and I found I can't always do it alone. I have the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer partners that help me when the strength to believe is no where to be found (or so I think).

If you are experiencing a complicated pregnancy after loss, stay encouraged and empowered ... your hope, faith, joy and peace are truly worth working and fighting for.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Miscarriage Misconceptions

In countless discussions with those who haven't had the painful experience of miscarriage or infant loss, I've heard people (even from those who've actually had miscarriages) share common misconceptions.

Because you worked out, had sex, ate poorly, had a drink, had a smoke, lifted a toddler, scared the baby, didn't want to be pregnant, had stress, etc. your baby died.

Recovery from miscarriage is as simple as "just getting over it."

The level of pain a parent feels is dependent on the baby's gestation before he died.

Having another baby will just make a parent simply forget about the pain of her present loss.

The death of a baby is the same as any other loss (death of friend, pet, grandparent, etc.).

A miscarriage that happens before you feel the baby moving wasn't even a baby.

After a miscarriage the grieving parent welcomes any and all pregnancy and infertility advice/explanations (especially if that parent has experienced multiple miscarriages).

Someone is to blame for the miscarriage... it's either the parent or God.

Not many women experience miscarriage.

Women who have one miscarriage are more likely to experience another one.

For more information about miscarriage, its causes, symptoms and treatments visit the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Web site here. Be sure to check out the list of known causes and note that none of the misconceptions mentioned in MM#1 are listed!