Every day in the month of October, I posted some kind of thought pertaining to pregnancy loss, infant loss, or infertility. As someone who has experienced several miscarriages, this is a topic I am passionate about. It is a rather lengthy post (constituting 12 pages in Word), and the grammar and sentence structure may be less than perfect in some areas (please excuse). Some of my thoughts focus on the more emotional aspects of the subject at hand, and others come from a more informative standpoint. While some of my thoughts are for the sufferer, others are geared toward those who know someone who has been through infertility, pregnancy loss, or infant loss. My goal is to try to help as many people as I can who are dealing with this nightmare and feeling like nobody understands.
For those of you who are not aware, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared the month of October to be National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Many who have been through it suffer alone because it can be hard to find people to talk with about it. Many suffer alone because they don’t want to talk about it. It is my hope that something I say will somehow help someone else who has been through this nightmare. Having had five or six miscarriages myself, I am very passionate about spreading awareness. I am planning to share a different thought or something informative about the subject (mostly miscarriage because that’s my experience) for each day this month. I would also like to include infertility as part of the awareness. After all, those who long to have a biological child of their own and can’t, truly experience loss as well.
Thought for day #1 of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: “Why are you crying, it’s just a fetus?” Those horrible words were actually spoken by a local doctor to a friend of a friend who was having a miscarriage. Really…just a fetus? Does it magically turn into a baby nine months later? As if somehow a fetus isn’t a baby human! As I like to say, a baby is a baby no matter how small. With that said, they don’t call pregnancy, “expecting,” for no reason. Once a woman sees that positive pregnancy test, she dreams about and expects to be holding a live baby in her arms nine months later (at least those who want the baby do). She wonders if it will be a boy or a girl. She mentally calculates when her due date will be. When that dream ends in miscarriage, the grief is not just for the little life that was there for a short time inside of her. The grief is also for what might have been…all the firsts that will never be, all the memories that were never made, all the unique details about this little person that she didn’t get to experience. It is disappointment at its ultimate worst. One day you’re expecting, and the next day you’re not. Add fluctuating hormones on top of that, and you have a really big reason to cry! I have to admit that in the past before I had children, I never thought much about how big a deal a miscarriage was. It can be hard to understand the emotional ramifications that are involved with a pregnancy loss, or even worse, an infant loss, if you haven’t been through it. The experts say it takes six months to two years to recover emotionally from a miscarriage. Why does it seem that in our culture, it is taboo to grieve over a miscarriage? Why is there such a tendency to think, it was “just a miscarriage?” For those who have experienced a miscarriage and have felt the need to act like everything was okay because people would think you’re making too big a deal out of it, I’d say, it’s time for a change in perspective. It’s time for people to understand that this is a real loss. For those of you who already realize this, God bless you! (I also want to add that I wrote this from a woman’s point of view and don’t want to forget the men. The grief of loss can be just as great for the man who loses his unborn child, but men seem to grieve differently and sometimes might get over it quicker. There are some things men can never experience such as carrying a live human inside of them or the fluctuating hormones that go along with it, but they do often grieve too nonetheless.) Below is a link that a friend sent to me for a blog of a woman who recently lost her baby at 32 weeks. She expresses it well when she says there is no wrong way to grieve.
I just realized that I need to add an addendum to the first thought that I wrote for National Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Day. I thought I covered everybody by including those who deal with infertility, but there is yet another group of people who probably suffer in silence more than any other. These are the women who elected to have an abortion and then later had regrets. Not everyone who has an abortion regrets it, but for those who do, they not only go through the same grief that those who go through miscarriages go through, they also often suffer from feelings of regret/guilt. These people deserve the same understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, fear of judgment and/or feelings of guilt and shame are often the reason they stay silent.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #2 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: How many times have you heard, “So when are you going to have kids?” or “Isn’t it time for another one?” And to the couple who has been trying and trying, “Oh just relax, it will happen” when maybe it never can. These seemingly innocent questions and comments can cause a lot of pain for someone who is dealing with infertility or miscarriage. I have heard numerous stories from people who were hurt by such things being said to them. You just never know what someone is going through. Even if a couple has made it known that they are trying for a baby, they might be expecting but aren’t ready to tell anyone yet. Or maybe there are complications going on with the pregnancy. It really puts people in an awkward position when they are asked point blank if they are expecting yet. This actually happened to me a few times. The one time I was asked, my pregnancy with my daughter had been confirmed by a doctor, but there was no way I was going to tell an acquaintance when I wanted to wait to tell my family at that right special time. I forget exactly what I said…something like, “I’ll let you know when the time comes.” I felt like my red face was a dead giveaway, but at least I avoided lying. Just something to think about.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #3 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: It is always a nice idea to make a point of keeping track of the birth dates and death dates (sometimes the same day) of friends’ babies that died. People in these situations really need support, and it means the world to them to have someone remember their little people who were such an important part of their lives. Send them cards or do something special for them on these days. Don’t worry about stirring up sad memories. I guarantee that they will be thinking about the little ones they lost already. The gift or card you give may bring on some tears, but they are the kind of tears that bring about healing.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #4 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Wouldn’t it be nice if OB/GYN offices had some kind of special waiting room for people who are having or have just had a miscarriage or lost an infant and for those dealing with infertility? After my last miscarriage four months ago in early June, I was so emotional when I went in for my followup. I started crying when I saw a never-ending parade of women with big bellies who were called back for their ultrasounds and exams. (And of course, I didn’t have any tissues either.)
THOUGHT FOR DAY #5 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Women go through postpartum hormone changes no matter what stage the pregnancy was in when it ended. You don’t have to be full-term to experience those baby blues and the hormone fluctuation moodiness. Those mood swings can be annoying when we get to keep our babies, so when the babies are gone, it’s a double whammy on the emotions.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #6 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Just for a few days, I am going to switch gears from the more emotional issues that I have talked about to some things that are more informative in nature. Most people are aware that infertility issues can be related to the man, the woman, or a combination of both. What many people may not realize is that recurrent miscarriage isn’t necessarily something going on with the woman. There is, of course, the potential for more things to go wrong with the woman since she carries the baby and so many things have to line up perfectly hormonally. However, in doing research, I found out that, in actuality, as many as 40% of miscarriages can be linked to the man. A bad sperm can still potentially fertilize an egg just the same as a bad egg can potentially be fertilized. Maybe some of you already thought of that possibility. For some reason I never really thought that a bad sperm could “get the job done,” so I found it interesting. So, you’re probably wondering if anything can be done about bad or aging eggs and poor sperm quality. Well, I’m not an expert, but I have done a lot research and will share more about that tomorrow.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #7 OF PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: (Before I give the following information, I just want to say that we can’t do everything perfectly. And, we shouldn’t blame ourselves or our spouses for previous losses. SOME THINGS ARE BEYOND OUR CONTROL. These are just IDEAS to try that may be helpful to someone who has had multiple miscarriages or fertility issues for unknown reasons.) They may tell you at the doctor that miscarriage “just happens” and “it’s nature’s way.” I never accepted that answer. There are so many things that can cause miscarriage. If I have unanswered questions about something, I can’t let it rest. I am a research junky. So, I did research, and in so doing, I found out that 60%-80% of miscarriages could be prevented. However, tests to find out the cause can be costly. Most doctors say that the main cause for miscarriage is that something went wrong genetically. When it comes to genetics, it sounds kind of hopeless—like nothing can be done about it. There aren’t really any drugs available when it comes to fixing bad sperm or reducing the incidence of bad eggs, after all. So what can you do to help yourself genetically? For the most part, the only thing that can be done to help at the cellular level is to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. (There may be a small percentage of genetic issues that can’t be helped, but I’m talking about the majority of miscarriages where “something just went wrong.”) Although my focus is mainly at the genetic/cellular level here, these same dietary/lifestyle changes can also help women who have some of the other issues that cause miscarriage such as low progesterone, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease, clotting disorders, poor B12 absorption, fibroids, etc. Good nutrition and supplementation really can go a long way and do more than many people may realize. As far as lifestyle changes, just for one example, “wearing” your cell phone at your waist or letting it sit on your lap for hours and hours can be bad for sperm, so that could be something that needs to change. (I suppose it would be bad for eggs too.) Even chemicals in cosmetics and cleaners, etc. that we use every day could be problematic. The water we drink can even be an issue such as from unknown well water contamination. Getting rid of all processed food or at least cutting down to a good degree can help if that stuff constitutes most of your diet. The experts say that ideally, approximately 75% of the diet should be raw fruits and vegetables and the rest minimally processed foods. That is a really tough goal for most of us to adhere to, but you get the idea. The experts also recommend eating organic as much as possible to avoid any potential hormone disrupting pesticides and GMO’s which have been proven to cause reproductive problems. Sensitivities to things like wheat, corn, and dairy are very common and can actually cause inflammation in the body that hinders reproduction. Sugar itself causes inflammation in the body. It is important to get exercise which always does the body good. Deep breathing exercises can help with stress management. I could go on forever, but I won’t. I just want to encourage anyone who is dealing with unexplained miscarriage or infertility to do some research about the ways you can possibly help yourself overcome and prevent these things. We are living in a toxic environment, and unfortunately miscarriage and fertility issues are on the rise. Naturopaths who are experienced in fertility can be of great help to guide you. Remember, it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, so it only stands to reason that BOTH parents need to be healthy. BUT, I also want to add that, on the flip-side, making yourself crazy by trying to do everything perfect is NOT a good idea either and neither is assuming you did something wrong to cause your loss. Some people smoke, take drugs, and do everything wrong and still end up with a healthy baby somehow—not that it’s a good idea to do these things, but you get my point. In the end, we need to let go and let God! Again, the point of my advice here was just to give ideas.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #8 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: According to what I learned in doing research, it takes approximately 120 days to improve egg health and 90 days to improve sperm health. Without going into detail about the process, whatever egg happens to be released at ovulation time this month was getting ready for that day four months previously. The sperm of today were being formed approximately 90 days prior. So, if you are trying to improve your fertility with dietary and lifestyle changes like I mentioned yesterday, then you can’t do it for a couple weeks and expect it to have made a difference yet.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #9 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: What to say. Boy, do I struggle with that. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say to someone who just had a miscarriage or lost a baby, especially as time rolls by, and the person is still grieving. Even if you don’t know what to say anymore, a simple phrase like “hang in there” or “I’m praying” is better than nothing. I have a friend who lost a baby halfway through her pregnancy. She was very hurt when, after a while, people told her that she was wallowing in grief and needed to get over it. Another friend admitted to her that she was sick of hearing about it. Responding this way or not responding at all to messages or in conversations when someone says how bad she feels could unintentionally send the message that you don’t care. It leaves the grieving person to wonder if she did something wrong or if you’re sick of hearing about it. Even if you don’t know what to say anymore and are literally sick of hearing about it, it doesn’t take long to come up with one sentence. Sometimes just one short message from a friend can literally make the difference between a day being bearable or unbearable. Ask any grieving person. For a lot of people, talking about it a lot is what helps them get through it.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #10 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Sometimes people try to fix people who are grieving. I wish I could say some magic words or do something to “fix” people when they are hurting too. It’s only natural to want to help those we care about to get over their pain. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, and those who are grieving need to go through each stage of grief in their own time. Within reason, it is not up to us to have a “timeline” for people to “get over it.” As I mentioned on day #1, the experts say it takes six months to two years to really get over a pregnancy or infant loss. Do we really ever completely get over something like that? I’d have to say, not really. It just eventually gets easier. Most of the time, grieving people just need someone to listen and to be there for them.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #11 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Send messages, a card, or talk to your grieving friend often. For most people, the cards, notes, and messages stop coming after the first week or two. Even one day without a message of some kind can cause a grieving person to feel like he/she is suffering alone. The grief does not end after a couple weeks and often gets stronger for a while as the weeks progress before it finally levels off. Obviously, the length of time it takes for the grieving process is going to vary from individual to individual. How far along the person was in pregnancy is also probably going to make a difference too.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #12 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: After I had my miscarriages, I felt two opposite ways at the same time. I didn’t want to be alone and yet I didn’t want to be around people either. Sometimes I just wanted to be around my husband or kids, and the next minute I’d want to be alone again. There were times when I felt like having some one-on-one time with a friend, but I never felt like being around a group of people. Maybe those of you who have experienced a loss can relate to such crazy emotions. If so, it’s perfectly normal, and you aren’t alone!
THOUGHT FOR DAY # 13 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: I know women who have miscarried and have gotten the feeling that people think they shouldn’t be so sad because at least they already have a kid(s). Yes, it definitely is a HUGE blessing and something to be thankful for when you have children, but it in no way diminishes the pain of loss. If someone has four children and one dies, we wouldn’t expect that person to say, “Oh well, I have three others, so I’m good.” It’s no different with a miscarriage.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #14 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: “Chemical Pregnancies” and “spontaneous or missed abortions”: The term chemical pregnancy was given to me when I found out at five weeks that my pregnancy had ended. Nothing could be found in my uterus. The doctor told me it could be an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and that I needed to have blood work to see if my blood pregnancy level (HCG) was going down. It wasn’t in my tube, thankfully, and the doctor said it was a “chemical pregnancy,”—that is, a pregnancy that is confirmed by a pregnancy test but can’t be seen in the uterus. What happens is that it simply ends very early. I didn’t like the term because it almost sounded like it wasn’t a real pregnancy or like I was almost pregnant. No, it wasn’t just two chemicals colliding. It was a baby no matter what medical term they give it, and it still caused grief when it ended. No offense to doctors here. I know they need specific terms for classification purposes. My other miscarriages were all “missed abortions.” I didn’t like that term because it sounded to me like I planned to abort the babies but something went wrong. What it really means is that the body did not recognize fetal demise at the time it happened. Also, a “spontaneous abortion” is another name for a miscarriage that happens spontaneously with the death of the baby. The term abortion was around before elective abortion became legal and is just another word for miscarriage that the doctors use. Veterinarians use the term all the time for animals that miscarry. But, for those of you who were upset by the use of these terms, I understand.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #15 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Today is infant/pregnancy loss awareness day, so I am going to take some time to share my experiences. Ask any woman who wanted her child/children, and she will be able to tell you the date that the miscarriage or death of an infant occurred. For me, all my miscarriages except one were something doctors call “missed abortions.” This term always sounded like an abortion gone wrong to me. What it actually means is that the miscarriage did not take place spontaneously when the baby died because the body did not immediately recognize that the demise had taken place. My very first pregnancy ended in miscarriage on March 3, 2006 (March 3rd is my late father’s birthday) after hemorrhaging in the ER. Ultrasound that day, at ten weeks’ gestation, confirmed that the baby actually had died at five weeks. It took my body five weeks to recognize it. I didn’t feel like things were progressing with the pregnancy because I wasn’t very sick, but it was my first pregnancy, and I had no way of knowing how my body would react. It was heartbreaking to hear the news. I don’t know why some miscarriages cause terrible pain and hemorrhaging and others don’t. It might be the number of weeks that your body has to build up tissue or maybe it’s something else. Whatever the case, this was a bad one. I had to have pain shots and almost needed a blood transfusion. I threw up multiple times because my body could not digest food while going through that trauma. For several days after that, I felt like I was going to pass out in the shower. I was weak for three months. I had a very kind doctor in the ER and kind nursing staff who contacted me later to check up on me. They offered grief counseling with the Empty Arms support group. I didn’t go, but sometimes I wish I had.
My second loss would have been sometime in September 2006. This loss is an assumption because I never actually confirmed with a pregnancy test. I had pregnancy symptoms, and then the loss would have occurred at a little over four weeks. (That is why I always say I had five or six miscarriages.) So, my second loss is actually an assumption that there was a little life.
My third miscarriage happened on December 19, 2006 at five weeks’ gestation. This pregnancy was the one that the doctor determined it to be a “chemical pregnancy” because nothing could be seen in the uterus. Fortunately, it was not a tubal pregnancy.
After that, I had my three wonderful children who I thank God for every day! I took the fertility drug, Clomid, for my first.
My fourth miscarriage: On August 31, 2012, I went in for my first ultrasound at seven weeks. There was no heartbeat. I was devastated. The baby was around five or six weeks in size. An ultrasound one week later showed no change. I did not want to wait until my body finally realized I wasn’t pregnant and possibly hemorrhage again, so I elected to have surgery on September 13, 2012.
My fifth miscarriage: After Thanksgiving 2013, I knew I was probably miscarrying again. I felt like the progression of pregnancy symptoms just stopped right around then. When I would have been at seven weeks, I started bleeding a little. I was not surprised when an ultrasound confirmed that the baby had died between the fourth and sixth week. The doctor thought everything would pass fine on its own considering it was so small. Since the process already started, I decided to try it without surgery. It took ten days. I did not hemorrhage, and I didn’t have pain. However, I was on pins and needles, worrying about retaining tissue. The night before my followup appointment, I finally passed the little embryonic sac. I was very thankful the baby was too small to see. Seeing that little sac was upsetting enough. The next day, the ultrasound confirmed everything had passed. It was December 17th, so I was thankful I wouldn’t need to have surgery just before Christmas.
My sixth and worst loss, which I didn’t even share on facebook, happened just a few months ago. It was the most nerve wracking pregnancy ever. The pregnancy, a surprise, was a very welcome surprise and a scary surprise (after all I have been through) at the same time. At seven weeks, I thought, “here we go again.” My pregnancy symptoms seemed to go away. Then, they returned with a vengeance. I had some slight bleeding off and on, but the baby had a good strong heartbeat at nine weeks and then again at ten weeks. Everything looked great. I had experienced some bleeding when expecting my daughter and everything turned out okay, so I tried not to worry. The midwife thought I was in the clear this time since the babies typically died between 4-6 weeks. The weird bleeding ended. On June 4th, I was almost 13 weeks’ pregnant. We were ready to tell everyone our exciting news, but I told Sean I wanted to wait for one more appointment to make sure everything was okay. I was nervous when I went in for an ultrasound that morning. Mark, the sonographer, who is usually very chatty, was strangely quiet when the baby came up on screen. I didn’t see a heartbeat, but I didn’t know if he had the ultrasound in a “still mode” or what. He said he was taking some measurements and then suddenly said, “I’m not seeing all I need to see. I’m going to go get the doctor.” Right then, I knew it was all over. The doctor came in and held my hand and told me that there was no heartbeat. He said it was a perfectly developed baby but something caused the little life to flicker out, and he couldn’t say what. He assured me it was nothing I had done wrong and that it was “nature’s way.” I heard him say 11 weeks 5 days. I was at 12 weeks 5 days, so the baby had died one week prior. I was devastated to the core. I wanted to get up off the table and run away from it all. It felt like a cruel joke. After all the scares and then finding out everything looked great only to end up losing the baby anyway…this couldn’t be happening! There was not a blob on the screen as in times previous. Now I was losing an almost fully formed baby. The baby had a beautiful face and reminded me of my daughter. I saw perfectly developed little hands and fingers. I could see one of the little hands moving slightly in the amniotic fluid as if waving goodbye. Two days later, I was in surgery. I did not want to wait for miscarriage to start and go through the physical stuff as well as the psychological pain of seeing that little baby possibly end up in the toilet. Upon questioning the doctor, he reassured me that there was no possibility of life or he would not be doing the surgery. Our little baby was due December 14, 2014, and I still think about him/her every day. I have more children in heaven than I do on earth, and I long to meet them. For now, I cherish every day that I have with the ones here on earth and regret all those times I have been grouchy or too hard on them. Life is short! Hold your loved ones close!
THOUGHT FOR DAY #16 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Bills are like a slap in the face for someone who is already down! There’s really no solution for this, but those of you who have had bills related to miscarriage, infertility diagnostics/treatments, or bills related to a lost infant know what I am talking about. Not only are you dealing with the pain of loss, but now you have big bills to pay and no reward for it…no baby to hold in your arms. All I can tell you is, the bills we got for labs, ultrasounds, and for the D&E surgery were more than the hospital bills were to have our living babies. So, I sympathize with anyone who has that extra “slap in the face” to deal with.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #17 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Although I am not saying this is the case for everyone, I felt like the miscarriages I had after I had kids were much more emotionally traumatizing than the ones before I had kids. Maybe my maternal instincts had not kicked in yet when I had the pre-children miscarriages. Once I had children, I think maybe I realized what I was losing at a deeper level. I also felt more of a sense of hopelessness with the more recent miscarriages due to my advancing age. It’s also harder to take the time you need to grieve when you already have children and are so busy caring for them. Anyway, I just wanted to post this in case someone out there experienced similar circumstances and feelings.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #18 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Over spiritualizing: Sometimes I have heard of well-meaning people speaking to grieving people only on a spiritual level and seemingly forgetting the emotional side of the person. If your friend/family member is angry about infertility or a loss, really sad, or maybe even not wanting to go on, don’t assume this person has turned her/his back on God forever and that you need to set her/him straight by preaching or throwing out Bible verses. Sharing Bible verses that are comforting or helpful is a really great thing to do—don’t get me wrong—just so there is an acknowledgement that his person is human and is going through a grieving process. Remember the old saying, “Until you walk a mile in another man’s shoes….”
THOUGHT FOR DAY #19 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: We aren’t God. In effort to help someone, sometimes well-meaning people like to share reasons why they think the miscarriage, infertility, or baby’s death happened. Even if we think we know the reason, we can’t assume anything. It doesn’t really help a grieving person get over the loss to point out why it might have been a good thing or by stating the obvious such as, “Maybe something would have been wrong with the baby” or “I’d be cautious at your age.” I can just imagine infertile couples hearing, “Maybe God didn’t give you children because….” Only pointing out truths in God’s word can help. Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. Why does God give children to people who don’t want them or to those who have trials, illnesses, financial problems, etc.? Why do some people in opposite circumstances remain childless? It’s not up to us to say why. What grieving people need is for us to simply be there for them. Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
THOUGHT FOR DAY #20 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: I know several women who had someone ask them how they were doing after a miscarriage and from there went on to say, “Oh by the way, we’re expecting” or “Did you know so-in-so is expecting?” These women felt that the ones making the announcements were being insensitive, although I’m sure it was unintentional. If a friend or family member has just lost a baby and you are ready to announce your own pregnancy or someone else’s, should you tell that person? That’s a tough one, and unfortunately, it’s a guessing game where you need to use your instincts. I suppose it depends on your relationship with the person and the amount of time that has lapsed since her loss. Maybe it would help to ask yourself if it would cause this person more hurt to hear about it now or would it cause more hurt if she finds out later down the road that she was the only one who didn’t know. If you aren’t really close to the person or you aren’t sure whether or not to mention that so-and-so down the road is expecting, it’s probably best not to make announcements. And if it is a matter where you feel you do need to make an announcement because the two of you are close friends or family members, then don’t expect the one who is grieving to jump for joy. She’s probably happy for you but still hurting too much to really express that. Maybe you could delay the announcement a little if the loss just occurred, but at least make sure she hears it from you. The same holds true for newborns or babies in general. It can be really hard for someone who just lost a baby or who is dealing with infertility to be around someone’s baby. And remember, if you want her to be happy for you, then make sure you take time to grieve with her and give her some time to heal. Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
THOUGHT FOR DAY #21 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Trying again: Trying again can be scary when you have had one miscarriage, let alone multiple ones, or if you lost an infant. What the experts recommend is to take the time you need to get over your loss first. Talk about your fears with your spouse. If you do conceive, whether unexpectedly or planned, do whatever it takes to stay positive and calm. Pray, read the Bible, practice deep breathing, get exercise, talk to your spouse about your fears, join a support group…whatever it takes! Remember, it’s normal to feel happy and scared out of your mind at the same time. As far as how long to wait after a miscarriage, the advice varies. For the most part, doctors recommend waiting three months, although some will say one or two months. However, it usually takes anywhere from two months to as long as a year for the hormones to get back to normal. Every woman is different. Some women conceive right away and are fortunate enough to have a normal pregnancy, but I don’t recommend it. Conceiving right away can predispose you to another miscarriage because it takes a little time for the hormones to rebalance and for the lining of the uterus to be what it needs to be. Also, for someone who had a loss at full-term, the experts say it takes 18 months for the body to get built back up again and to be good and ready for another baby. (For me, it was only 12-13 months until I was expecting after all my children, and I had three with no problems.)
THOUGHT FOR DAY #22 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: What happens when spouses disagree about trying again for a baby? The first thing to remember is that each of you is entitled to your own opinion on the matter. It’s always better if you can agree on how many children you want to have before you are married or at least come to a compromise. Circumstances can change, however. Sometimes one or both opinions on the matter change over the course of years, and a miscarriage or infant loss can even be the reason for that change of opinion. Whatever the case, if you and your spouse have different opinions, just talk about it. I don’t recommend making any rash decisions for sterilization surgery or, on the flip-side, trying for another baby first chance you get. Give yourself time. Maybe there is a compromise that can be worked out like trying one more time, for example. Pray about it, and maybe in time, one of you will change your mind.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #23 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Men grieve differently. I touched on this briefly on day #1, but I wanted to reiterate the point. It can be easy for us women to think our husbands really aren’t that sad or don’t care as much about a miscarriage as we do. In truth, they do care, they just handle things differently. They may get over it a lot quicker because they don’t experience all the emotional stuff we do. They don’t carry the baby inside them. They don’t have hormone fluctuations either. This also goes for the couple struggling with infertility as well. One person may accept it quicker than his/her spouse for example. Also, a woman may be grieving over having had an abortion in the past where her husband did not experience it with her. That might be hard for him to relate to, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. What is VERY important is talking to your spouse about your feelings. They can’t read our minds, after all.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #24 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: About iodine: In doing research, I found out that recurring miscarriage is often caused by a lack of dietary iodine. Upon further research, I found out that if the loss of pregnancy occurs between the 4th-6th week, then thyroid is the most likely cause. Iodine feeds the thyroid. Synthroid and similar drugs force the thyroid to produce the hormones but don’t nourish the thyroid, so sometimes symptoms remain even while on these drugs. Fluoride and chlorine also deplete your body of iodine. Iodine used to be added to bread but was taken out and replaced by bromide, another substance that removes iodine from your body. Iodized table salt isn’t a really good source of iodine, but I won’t get into why that is right now. Also of note, as far as TSH, anything around 5.5 and under has been considered normal. However, many naturopath doctors will tell you that anything above 2 could actually be considered subclinical hypothyroidism. All my losses (except the last one) ended in the timeframe of 4-6 weeks. Two weeks before getting pregnant the last time, I started taking iodine. Did that help me carry the baby longer? Maybe. I suspect that it did. Unfortunately, something else unknown to me went wrong this last time. Japanese women have a very low rate of miscarriage, and they get 12 to 13 milligrams a day of iodine in their diet. (There are 1000 micrograms in 1 milligram.) The RDA recommended daily allowance is 150 micrograms. That is incredibly low compared to the 12,000 to 13,000 micrograms that Japanese women get! Something to consider. What about people who are allergic to iodine? Usually such allergies are to iodine contrast dyes and not the dietary supplement, although a very small percentage of people have hypersensitivity to the dietary type.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #25 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Progesterone: Estrogen dominance seems to be a popular health issue these days. I think most of us women have heard of at least one person who had miscarriages and then went on to carry a baby with a progesterone supplementation. Did it really help, or was it a coincidence? Hard to say. The whole progesterone thing can be confusing since low progesterone is often a symptom of a miscarriage rather than a cause. In other words, falling progesterone levels don’t necessarily mean that you have a problem; it just might be the natural process of a “bad” pregnancy ending. Doctors seem to disagree about what a healthy level of progesterone is for a normal cycle versus what it should be in pregnancy. There is a lot of variation to what is considered normal. If you think you have a problem, you can ask for suppositories or pills from your doctor. According to my research, suppositories are going to be more effective. This is because not much of the progesterone gets absorbed from the pills since they go through the digestive tract and are then filtered through the liver. I have heard many claims that natural progesterone creams give you more progesterone than the suppositories because what enters your skin goes straight to the blood stream. I have also heard that the body can more readily utilize the natural stuff over the synthetic. However, some of these creams have chemicals in them which are known to have estrogenic effects and could be harmful to the fetus or counteract the effects of the progesterone. I have found one product that only contains coconut oil and progesterone with nothing else in it. It comes in a liquid form to be applied to the skin. That product is called, Progestelle. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. Some people don’t think you could possibly get enough progesterone from a cream or oil that is natural and others say it is way better. Some experts say you have to be really careful and you can get too much. Some say it is impossible to get too much progesterone. It is confusing, to say the least. I would say, do your research and decide for yourself after talking to one or more doctors, midwives, or naturopaths. As far as blood work, once you find out the level is low with a blood test, it is often too late. Some doctors will automatically give supplemental progesterone to someone who has had multiple miscarriages as soon as she has a positive pregnancy test. It is probably going to be most effective if it is started right after ovulation. For me, I used progesterone cream when I was expecting my daughter, but if I had a problem, I now know that I started the cream way too late to help. (I was more than four weeks when I started it.) I didn’t use it at all when I was expecting my boys. Since all my miscarriages were “missed,” meaning that my body didn’t recognize the baby’s death for weeks, I kind of assumed I was okay with progesterone. When progesterone drops, it causes the uterine lining to shed which was not happening. I have not been able to find a doctor to confirm my theory, so I am not 100% sure of this.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #26 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: Adoption: The option of adoption possibly runs through the minds of every person who has gone through miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility. There are those people who are ready to beg adoption agencies or unwed pregnant teens for their babies. Then, there are those people who maybe just don’t think adoption is for them for one reason or another. I don’t know much about adoption other than some people seem to have quick results and others wait and wait for years and sometimes never get a child for some reason. I also know it can be very expensive. Keep in mind that suggesting adoption to a grieving person (especially too soon) could be unintentionally hurtful. The person may think you are suggesting that she/he give up hope for a child of her/his own or that she/he should go out and find a replacement for the one lost. However, if you know adoption is a route that your friend/family member would like to take, then I would say to wholeheartedly encourage and give support. There are so many children who need homes.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #27 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: After my miscarriage in 2012, a woman I know who also had a miscarriage told me about a book called, “A Time To Be Bourne.” Compiled by some Mennonite women, this book proved to be a great comfort to me. In the book, women share their thoughts and experiences about miscarriage in the length of a page or two. I read one account per day. Almost every day, I could relate to what the particular author was saying. It was the next best thing to talking in person with someone else in my shoes. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has recently gone through a miscarriage. The book is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/BOURNE-COMFORT-MOTHERS-MISCARRIED-BABIES/dp/1890050946
THOUGHT FOR DAY #28 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: For anyone having a hard time finding a listening ear, check out your local hospitals for an Empty Arms program. Most hospitals have them. It is a support group for anyone who has had a miscarriage or lost an infant. I have never been to a meeting, but I have heard good things about them.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #29 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: For great information on helping fertility problems and preventing miscarriages, check out these websites: http://natural-fertility-prescription.com/ and http://miscarriage-prevention.com/ Iva Keene is a naturopath and fertility expert from Switzerland. I think her information is the most helpful of all the resources I have seen. Check out her videos on You Tube as well. She also has a facebook page.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #30 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: On day #1, I added an addendum to the first thought that I wrote for National Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Day, stating that there is one group of people who probably suffer in silence more than any other. These are the women who elected to have an abortion and then later had regrets. These people n go through the same grief that those who go through miscarriages go through, and they also often suffer from feelings of regret/guilt. These people deserve the same understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, fear of judgment and/or feelings of guilt and shame are often the reason they stay silent. For anyone needing support after having an abortion, check out: https://www.healinghearts.org/ I have heard good things about this organization.
THOUGHT FOR DAY #31 OF NATIONAL PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS AWARENESS MONTH: For those of you who have been through the nightmare of infertility, pregnancy loss, or infant loss, I encourage you to clear your mind of any insensitive comments or unsolicited advice/opinions you’ve heard. The same goes for statistics. Whether you hear depressing statistics about fertility, miscarriage, having babies at a certain age, etc., I urge you to clear them out of your mind. God is in control and is above statistics. I should know. According to some study, I had more of a chance of being struck by lightning than getting married at age 32 to someone who had never been married before. But, it happened. I also conceived all my children on the first try in my mid-thirties and up which seems to be pretty good compared to what statistics say. Most of the time, statistics really aren’t accurate for many reasons which I won’t get into. Unless you or your spouse has known issues that just can’t be fixed, you just never know. I know of infertile couples who went on to have children in their 40’s. One of the most helpful comments I received from a friend after my miscarriages was, “Maybe it just isn’t the right time yet.” There was no, “Well, at your age….” Now, I can’t make predictions about what will happen to any of us, but I do know that it is a lot better to have positive, encouraging comments thrown at you than negative ones. The bottom line is, if you decide you want to try again, don’t give up hope no matter how long you have been infertile or how many miscarriages you have had! Proverbs 13: 12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” When it comes to grief, don’t give up hope that you will ever feel happy again. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Well, I hope that I covered all or most bases relating to the subject at hand. It was painful at times to put such a heavy focus on this subject for the entire month, but it was also very good. If I have helped or encouraged just one person, I will have met my goal. I am typically not a great advice giver, but if anyone ever wants to talk about this subject, feel free to PM or call me. I can at least listen.