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Saturday, October 31, 2015

a miscarriage story : dealing with the silence

In the beginning of a miscarriage, most women want silence. They want to be alone, with partner or just solo dealing with the loss, confusion, anger, disappointment. Eventually there comes a time when they are ready to deal, open up, receive support and help. That is when they find that people close to them react in different ways. Some are asking you how you're doing a lot, frequently checking in, sending cards, offering help. Others don't say a word, pretend it didn't happen, act like nothing changed. Some moms who go through miscarriages want everyone to be quiet, not talk about it, others appreciate the open dialogue. It's a hard situation to be in for both sides of the experience.

Before going through a miscarriage myself, I wondered why moms didn't open up about it. I thought it must be because of guilt, embarrassment, or that it was a taboo topic that they didn't feel they could open up about. I've learned through this that sometimes that is the case, but more so many women don't feel comfortable opening up because they are sad, not wanting to share, or feel like they don't have anyone who would understand. I wrote more about this here:

Image from

What I've been trying to understand now is how others respond, not the one going through it, but the ones around the person going through a miscarriage. The ones who are close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family members, etc.

I've found personally that some people talk openly about it with me - sharing their own experiences of miscarriage, saying they know a little of how I feel, relating to me. While others don't open up, don't share their experience, it's too hard and painful for them to relive that so they stay quiet.

Others go the extra mile sending food and cards and texting often, reminding me I'm not alone - similar to any death one goes through - flowers coming in, words of encouragement. While others say nothing at all besides one first text initially to say they are sorry to hear, then the phone stays silent.

I've talked to a lot of moms who've gone through this. Some get very upset, disappointed, sad, angry, lonely being on this receiving end of nothing, of silence, of not acknowledging. It's hard to go through a life-changing, traumatic experience... and have your closest friends and family say absolutely nothing or not hug you at the least. I understand why women feel this way. They want someone to get it, to understand, to make them feel better because it's so incredibly painful and they want something to be OK again.

But after going through this, I have come to realize a few things that I think all women who experience a miscarriage should try to remember in these difficult moments, when others are not responding to their loss in the ways they hope they would. I hope these ideas bring you comfort if you're going through this.

Remember: you're entitled to FEEL however you want. I've felt this way, too, wondering why some don't say a word to me, not understanding it, not feeling important to them. Feeling is good, processing that, talking to someone you trust about it is helpful. Responding though may not be positive... so check yourself, be patient, step back and try to remember these things about why the person may not be talking to you about this pain.

Why others remain silent:

  • It's not you, it's them. Perhaps they have gone through a miscarriage and to open up to you about that is far too painful, they aren't ready to share their news. Perhaps they are pregnant and cannot imagine going through what you are going through, so they turn a blind eye and don't want to even entertain that discussion. Maybe your experience is their greatest fear and they don't want to believe it's possible, so they pretend it's not happening. Maybe they are in a happy season of their life, pregnant or with a new baby, or just married or something else good going on, and it's too hard to focus on something bad, because they fear it could happen to them. 
  • They don't mean you harm. I truly believe that even the stupid comments aren't meant to harm you in any way. People aren't smart sometimes. They say what they think too quickly, impulsive. They don't take a breath or a moment to think things through before saying it. However, I truly believe that people mean well, they just don't have the skills to express what they want to you. So yes, you'll hear stupid things, mean things, rude comments that make no sense. But try to take those things with a grain of salt and believe that they really are just trying their best to make you feel better but they aren't doing a good job at it. Try not to respond, that doesn't help anything. Just perhaps don't open up to them again, to protect yourself. 
  • People are busy. Life doesn't stop just because your world is at a standstill. This is the cold truth, I realize. It's hard to accept, but it's the truth. Your colleagues at work may not say something when you're out of work for a few days because it's just busy there, not because they don't think of you. Work goes on, school happens, children keep them preoccupied. Moms especially are SO busy, never a minute to think or stop or time or money to do what they wish they could. Some have no clue it's been three weeks, when you've been counting the days and moments since it happened. Try not to hold this against other people. Think to yourself that if they didn't have a job or young kids or commitments, you know they would be there with you in a heartbeat. They'd shower you with gifts and love and food if they had all the money in the world. If these are not the type of people you have in your life, then perhaps it's time to reflect on who is in your life... but in most cases I do believe your friends and family adore you and wish they could help more. Life just gets in the way sometimes. It's not great news, but it's reality. 
  • Everyone deals with sadness or tough times in very different ways. Some people talk openly, write about it, ask questions about it, share with everyone they know. Others are very private, quite, don't want others to talk about it. Some need others to get better, to talk, to open up. Others need to be alone and only confide in one or two people. Sometimes they are responding to you in the way they would want to be treated if this happened to them. If they would not want anyone bothering them, then they aren't going to bother you by asking how you are. If they have gone through it and someone did something to them that didn't help, they are less likely to do that for you. It doesn't mean they don't care. Some people, especially guys, don't talk about it. Some people ask your partner how you're doing instead of asking you directly. Don't be offended. Just be grateful they are asking about you at all. 
  • They aren't sure, are confused, don't know what to say or do. They are waiting for your lead.  If you find people are silent around you, not supporting you, you need to speak up, ask for what you need. Some are waiting to hear from you, not wanting to bother you or impose or make you uncomfortable. Some are afraid to bring it up for fear of upsetting you. Some think you'll go to them when you are ready. This doesn't mean they aren't thinking about you. It just means they are trying to give you space and respect whatever it is you are going through and whatever you need. Some think they are helping you by giving you that space, by not bringing it up. 
  • It's confusing to know what to say! What helped them isn't the same as what helps you. This is the biggest one that I've come to realize. For me, it helps for me to say out loud and for others to tell me "everything happens for a reason." But I know TONS of moms who hate hearing that, that it did not help, made it worse. For me, prayer and God helps, for others they are mad at God feeling like He did this to them. For me, talking about it helps tremendously, for others, talking makes it worse. So naturally if it's confusing for us who go through this experience, it's going to be difficult for our loved ones who haven't gone through it or who have and have different versions of what helped them than what helps you. Be patient with this. It's one of those things that there is no solution for... besides perhaps you opening up when you're ready. 
How to deal with the silence:
  • Talk to those who understand. Turn to those who are opening up, who are checking in with you. Rely on them instead of wondering why the few people are staying silent about this experience. 
  • Start the conversation, open up those lines of communication. You take the first step. Be the first one to talk about it to them, lead them in the dialogue if it's important to you. 
  • Remind yourself it's not you, it's them, and that's not a bad thing, they don't mean any harm to you. Be patient. Try to be positive, because anymore negativity in an already difficult experience is not helpful to anyone, particularly you. 
  • Write to the person if you can't talk to them. Tell them how you feel. Tell them it's OK, you're ready to talk if they are ready to listen. 
  • Realize how grateful you are to have some people who really understand you. That's a beautiful thing. 
It's OK to feel angry or disappointed in how people react or their lack of reaction to this huge life changing experience you're going through. That's certainly understandable. I just hope that in some cases you take a step back and realize that most of your friends and family do love you, do care about what you're going through, they just may not be very good at knowing what to do or say. Be patient, understanding, and when you're ready, ask for what you need. 

Hugs. You are not alone. 

a miscarriage story : encouragement - things that help

A miscarriage is a very emotional, exhausting, sad experience. It can be lonely. Some aren't sure how to talk about it. Some don't want to face it. It's hard to figure things out through ups and downs of emotions. It's different for everyone. However one processes this tough situation, it's good to have friends and family to rely on and feel loved by.

I'm sharing some ideas below, hoping that whoever reads this could either seek out some of this encouragement for themselves or for a friend.

In the beginning for me, it was staying home, comfort foods, snuggling with my children that helped me out. Physically it was very painful, I could not do much.

After a few days, I got stir crazy but couldn't do much, so we walked around in the yard picking up acorns. This picture above reminds me of hope and how little things grow into big things... We went to the pumpkin farm up the street, spent 30 minutes there just walking slowly outside, breathing in fresh air. That helped me feel like I wasn't ignoring my kids.

Indulging is something else that helped me tremendously. We are taught not to indulge or to be selfish, not to take what we want when we want it, to instead put others first, particularly as a mother. Through the last three weeks of this miscarriage process for me, I've taken and accepted help more than ever. I've eaten anything and everything I wanted. I have waited to exercise again, without guilt, knowing I was not ready yet physically. I have taken naps and slept in longer in the mornings. I've sat around and ignored chores unlike I've done before.

I've been sad when I needed to be sad, and angry when I was disappointed, and then happy laughing like all was well in the world. The ups and downs of emotions is the craziest part- you're all over the place. But I've accepted that's OK.

For me as an Italian, food is my thing. It's comforting because it means I'm surrounded by lots of family, laughing, talking loudly and about hilarious stories from the past. It's helpful. I am a counselor who knows we should not always relate food as comfort, it's not a coping skill. However, sometimes it just is helpful. So that's something I've learned through this process: do what works for you. If your Dad's famous Italian soup helps things get better, then ask for it. I did and it was amazing.

Indulging when we feel like crap is a must. I've had all of my favorite foods in the last three weeks - some people made for me and delivered, others I was invited to their home for dinner, a work friend delivered me a delicious chocolate cookie treat that just honestly made life sweeter in those dark days in the beginning. I'm so grateful to her for thinking of me instantly. She delivered us a meal too in the first few days we were stuck at home. We ate that for dinner, and then I packed it for lunch. A nice reminder that someone loved me, but also comfort food heals the soul!

And then when you're ready, you re-enter the world at some point. Returning to work, play dates, parties, pumpkin picking, etc. For me, focusing on what I HAVE versus what I lost helped a lot. I can see how that would be tremendously harder for a woman who had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy. I have two beautiful children who keep me busy and preoccupied so this part is easy for me to see what I have and know how lucky I am. But for those who do not have what they want yet and they lose it, I am sure this stage of acceptance and gratitude for things around them could take a lot longer.

Be patient with yourself. However you grieve is OK and normal. 

After the second week, when I stopped bleeding, had gone at least two days without crying at a time, and overall was feeling a little more like myself (aka hormones subsiding!), I was at a conference for work and then decided I needed some ME time. I had planned to leave right away and get home to put my kids to bed. But instead something just said I needed an hour to myself. So I called home, wished everyone sweet dreams, and went shopping. I never ever go shopping for me. Ever. Like ever. And on this night I ended up getting one small Christmas gift for my brother, but otherwise it was ALL ABOUT ME. When is the last time you've done that?! It felt amazing.

I ended up getting running clothes, because I'd been feeling down about not running or even walking in the last few weeks (after exercising daily for 4 months, a huge accomplishment!). So finding some inspiring quote shirts helped me feel better emotionally and like I'd get back there physically again, once I was fully healed on the inside.

I even sat and ate some chili by myself. If you haven't gone to dinner solo, you MUST try it. It's liberating and relaxing.

We all need time alone. #momMEchallenge

I found that in the beginning I wanted to be surrounded by my husband and kids and text messages from friends. But then I just needed a break to be ME again.

A dear friend (or really Facebook stranger who now I'm calling a dear friend because she's been SO supportive to me!) told me to go do something just for me, something like get nails done or hair cut or something big just to spoil myself and make myself feel better. It was amazing. I highly recommend doing something like that or a massage or just a girls' night out with wine. Do something to help you feel alive again.

I also found throughout this process, and still do find it to help... finding quotes online and images on Instagram. Reading words that mean something to me, that make this process and experience make a little sense, that was so helpful. This one below made so much sense to me. I found it randomly scrolling Facebook on the first day I was returning to work after I'd been out a few days.

In the end, I was pretty lucky to have the job that I do as a school counselor, where others need me, rely on me, ask me for support. In giving help to them, I helped myself. It helped give me a purpose. I had a huge work event exactly one week after the start of the miscarriage. I wasn't sure I'd even be able to be there. Then randomly, that morning was the first day I felt physically better, and the event went amazingly well. I was so proud and on cloud 9 for the first time in a week. It was good to focus on something positive for once. It didn't mean I was over it or healed, but it meant that for one morning I could be happy again. That gave me so much hope.

I'm not saying you have to get on stage or present something huge at work in order to feel like you're getting better or helping. The point I'm making is that it's good to find a purpose in reentering the world. If your purpose is to drive your child to school again after taking days off, then that's perfect. Or if it's to go to Target to pick up that last minute costume or birthday idea, or to run to get a few groceries to feel back to Mom normal, then great. Do one thing that helps you feel a little more human again. Wait until you are ready to do so, but when you are, it can help you feel better.

This quote below really gave me so much comfort.

So many friends sent me prayers and quotes as well. Those helped me a LOT.

My friends and family did so much to support me through this process. They still are supporting me. And that's really important: in the beginning everyone is there, just like any other bad experience or death, and then they trickle away and see that you are posting pictures on Facebook like you are fine and happy again, you must be just fine, nobody needs to bring it up anymore. That's not always the case. It's good to move forward, but it's also important for closest friends and family to check in with you to make sure you're still moving forward, not stuck.

Here are a few things people did to support me:
  • Hugs - One coworker just hugged me without words, and it was one of the moments I just sat and completely broke down. So many people don't know what to say to you in these experiences... but a hug helps you realize they're thinking of you. 
  • Texts or Facebook messages - For the first couple of weeks I did not want to talk about this out loud. It was too painful. But texting and Facebook messages were easier to do randomly and without a start or end to a conversation, just random thoughts. Having friends understand that I was not ready to verbally talk was helpful. Random messages from friends saying "love you, thinking of you, hugs" helped.
  • Sending me quotes via Instagram - I had a few friends tag me in things that just made me smile. 
  • Sending me clothes - One friend was cleaning out her closet and said she's sending me clothes as a pick me up. I love this. It's random, girlie, but something. Doing something is helpful. 
  • Offering to go shopping with me - My mom offered to take me out shopping for a girlie afternoon with our favorite lunch spot. I wasn't ready for this at the start, but I hope to take her up on this soon. Something fun, distracting and yet comforting is helpful. 
  • Bringing a meal - My husband picked up all of my favorite meals from takeout places, coworker brought meal and dessert - having something sweet around was perfect. 
  • Thoughtful cards - I only received a couple of these, but they were enough. They were perfect. It was a nice distraction to receive something thoughtful in the mail instead of just bills. I found that despite people saying they had no idea what to say to me... they had the exact words I needed: from the heart, kind, supportive, I'm here type words. A lot of friends sent me prayers, which helped me. 
  • Necklace - My good friend sent me a necklace that means the most to me from all of this experience. It has my kids' initials and then a cross and an anchor. It represents the lost pregnancy, the grief, and the strength and courage and hope to get through this tough experience. It gave me SO much comfort, still does. I rub the charms daily, and it's just a reminder that yes, this happened, but that I am getting through it and someday perhaps we'll have a happier ending. This has made me feel so much better. I'm so thankful for this. I've heard of others giving charm bracelets with the color of the birthstone of the due date of the baby lost. That's a sweet idea, too, or a Christmas ornament to remember that angel baby. 
  • Grab bag of cheer up treats- One friend wrapped up individual items in tissue paper, put into a gift bag, with a sweet card telling me that it's ok to do something for me through this, and these are little things to make this hard process a little easier. I was so grateful for this. Things like chocolate, jewelry, makeup, lotion, etc. It was so sweet. I definitely think this is one of those simple things that just lets your friend know she's not alone, that she'll get through this. 
  • Help at work - picking up my slack for a while - I didn't tell everyone, only my closest coworkers. They were amazing though. Work wise, they picked up the slack, took things off my plate, offered help. I also had to ask for help, that was important. Remember that just like any other sickness or experience, when you're down, they can lift you up and help out until you're ready again. Be patient with yourself. You can't possibly go full speed emotionally, mentally or physically after a miscarriage. 
  • Offering a girls' day to not talk or to talk - Several good friends offered to take me out, to hang out and either talk and talk, or NOT talk at all. They offered to go shopping, to dinner, get drinks, do whatever I wanted. This was so sweet. I haven't done it yet, but think I'm almost ready to go and have some girl fun! Again, it's a good thing to offer when you are not sure what to say to a friend.
  • Picture of a sunrise - One friend sent me a picture of a sunrise and just said "thinking of you." That was it. So simple, yet it made my whole day better. Receiving little things like this made me feel less alone... and this experience is such a scary, lonely, sad one. It's good to have little positive moments like that. 
  • First time people saw me after the tough time - This one was something I was dreading. I'd texted with everyone... but actually talking or seeing them the first time, I was dreading. I thought they'd look at me differently, expect me to fall apart or be fine. I wasn't sure what to expect, would they say something or not? What did I even want? When I first saw some family, my sister-in-law instantly got up and came over to me. She said "I haven't seen you since…" and hugged me really tight, telling me she was thinking of me. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed. It was perfect. I felt relieved, less alone, and loved. 
  • Strangers checking in - This is so helpful. Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone you don't know, for some reason. If you read in a discussion group about a mom going through this, tell her you're thinking of her. That's all you need to say. Maybe she'll want to open up to you. I'm becoming friends with a few strangers on Facebook who reached out to me... who I am feeling so comfortable talking to. It's helpful. 
  • Flowers - I recall a friend going through a miscarriage a few years ago and being unsure what to do or say. I'm a counselor, I felt I should know what to say... but I had no words. I tried my best with words, but with actions I wasn't sure what to do. I wondered about sending flowers, but thought perhaps she would not want them. Then I had a miscarriage and my mother-in-law brought a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and bright white flowers to me in a wonderful vase. It was just what I needed. Although they faded at least a week ago, I just tossed them out this weekend. They were something pretty in a dark time. They were a reminder that people love me and support me. They made me smile. It was definitely a thoughtful gesture. 

Lastly, finding songs of encouragement, hope, even sad songs that made me cry were helpful. I listened a lot to Mat Kearney's song "Where we gonna go from here" and "Closer to love." Those were when I was having a tough moment and needed time to let it out via sadness. The song "Stand by You" by Rachel Platten made me feel empowered, hopeful, like things could get better. 

However you go through this, whoever you lean on - yourself or others - make sure you grieve and find the moments that help. You are not alone.

Stand By You by Rachel Platten

Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open too
Cause I'm gonna stand by you
Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you're hurting, but so am I

And love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine 'til yours can open too
Cause I'm gonna stand by you

Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you
Even if we can't find heaven, I'm gonna stand by you
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you

Yeah, you're all I never knew I needed
And the heart, sometimes it's unclear why it's beating
And love, if your wings are broken
We can brave through those emotions too
Cause I'm gonna stand by you
Oh, truth, I guess truth is what you believe in
And faith, I think faith is having a reason
No, no, no, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine 'til yours can open too
Cause I'm gonna stand by you

Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you
Even if we can't find heaven, I'm gonna stand by you

Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you

I'll be your eyes 'til yours can shine
I'll be your arms, I'll be your steady satellite
And when you can't rise, well, I'll craw with you on hands and knees
Cause I...
(I'm gonna stand by you)

Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through (come on)
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you
Even if we can't find heaven, I'm gonna stand by you
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, cause I'm gonna stand by you
Love, you're not alone
Oh I'm gonna stand by you
(Even if we can't find heaven, heaven, heaven)
Yeah I'm gonna stand by you

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

a miscarriage story : why moms don't talk about it

I've never fully understood why moms don't talk about miscarriages, like it's a taboo topic in our society for some reason. I wasn't sure if it was based on shame, embarrassment, fear of judgment, or just so painful it was too damn hard to open up.

Now that I've gone through a miscarriage myself, I understand a lot more about why this is such a difficult topic to bring up and converse about.

I personally was not able to talk about it openly until weeks after, and only to my closest friends. I opened up within a week on my blog, via texting and online... writing seemed to help me, a lot. But openly talking face to face or on the phone out loud, that was too much for me. It would upset me way too much, I took a long time to open up that way. I would just cry, it was hard to hear the other person struggling with what to say to me. Texting worked so much better because it could be slow, too, I couldn't rush the conversation.

Everyone is very different also. Each miscarriage circumstance is very different. There are similarities in what women go through, which is the #1 reason I want moms to open up about this topic and talk about it. I want moms to know they are not alone. You are not alone. Yet, I'm finding that each women reacts differently to the situation. Some talk a lot, others hide it for a long time. Some are ready to try again to get pregnant soon after, others think that's terrible and want to wait a long time to grieve. Some like when people say "this wasn't meant to be, you'll get pregnant again soon," others think that's the worst thing you could say. It's been helpful to me hearing from so many moms on this topic. What I've learned though is there is no clear answer here... no definite thing that helps all moms. Just time, patience and love.

My hope in sharing these ideas from the moms in the Facebook Mommy Stories discussion group is that it will help others who have a friend going through a miscarriage, so they know more of why the person may not be opening up about it. Thank you to all of the moms who helped me with this piece.

Here are some reasons why moms do not open up about miscarriages:
  • It's too painful to talk about openly.
  • Because people don't talk about things that are painful very openly anyway, regardless of topic.
  • It's too personal, they don't want to share it publicly. 
  •  "I think the overwhelming disappointment you feel personally you think that others will feel the same disappointment and for me, you want to protect your loved ones from that."
  • I don't want to upset anyone who is currently pregnant, or make them afraid this would happen to them.
  • "I never told anyone because .... it would have felt odd to share the end of something no one had even known had started, especially since I didn't want sympathy."
  • It was so painful, I didn't want to believe it to be true. Denial.
  • Not wanting to upset others.
  • Those who did not announce the pregnancy think it's easier and best for all to just keep the miscarriage quiet also. 
  • Shame, guilt, thinking they caused it.
  • No easy way to bring it up in conversation!
  • Worried about insensitive comments.
  • Just uncomfortable.
  • Wondering if their friends and family even want to hear it, talk about it, because the friends and family don't ask them about it.
  • Thought people would just think I was looking for sympathy... but really I did want that, I wanted people to care.
  • It's traumatic and I don't want to relive it by talking about it, I want to move on, not forget but move past it.
  • It's exhausting... physically and emotionally to go through this, so talking to doctors and parents and my husband was enough. Opening up more than that took a lot of effort I did not have.
"Losing a child I think has the ability to force people to confront their deepest fears. Because what is really scarier in the world to a pregnant mother than losing a child? Even the children who are born safely, dear Lord, every day we send them out into the world with a prayer on our breath to keep them safe. No one wants to survive their children, no one wants to face that deep level of grief and anger, it's practically feral it's so deep."

Image from

"I also wondered if people thought I was just looking for sympathy, which maybe I was, but I just wanted to have it out there, to open that line, because I knew so many before me that had them but they didn't talk openly about it, which made it weird for me to go thru and not really know what to expect!"

"I would imagine if you are trying to get pregnant and miscarry, to share that experience with people means you are telling the world that you are trying to get pregnant and talk about a lot of pressure... if people are not only waiting to hear if you do get pregnant again, but they are also waiting to hear if you miscarry again, that seems like an awful lot of weight to carry on your shoulders. It's pretty incredible to have a group like this where women can ask anonymous questions and get such an amazing outpouring of support. "

However you are feeling, regardless of your reasons for not talking about a miscarriage, know you are not alone, it's normal however you're feeling. With hormones racing through you and confusing emotions, it's bound to be a lot of ups and downs. Be patient with yourself through those feelings. 

For those who have a friend going through a miscarriage, please be patient, wait for them... but at the same time BE THERE. Don't avoid saying something just because you are struggling to find words. Tell them honestly, "I am sorry for what you are going through. I don't know what to say. But I'm here for you. I love you. What can I do?" Something simple helps and goes a long way. 

My goal in publishing these posts and talking SO openly about my own miscarriage these last few weeks is to encourage those who felt unsure about opening up, that they are NOT alone. I think this is just one more thing in motherhood where moms are sometimes afraid to talk about their experience. My hope is that by talking about it, we can realize we aren't alone, that it's nothing to be hiding or ashamed of, that we CAN support one another through it. Things that are not talked about, not grieved, stay with us longer and deeper, sometimes in harmful ways, if we don't share our experiences. My hope is that at least one mom realizes that yes, someone understood her, someone went through something similar to her, and she's not alone. This is a very lonely process to go through, I've found... but the more I talk about it, the more healing I feel. 

Thank you for supporting one another, moms. You are so strong.

Monday, October 26, 2015

a miscarriage story : Kara Gagnon, molar pregnancy

I am so thankful to know this sweet mom, Kara Gagnon, who graciously shared her story of surviving a partial molar pregnancy. This is a topic few openly talk about, and even fewer understand what a molar pregnancy was. It is a painful thing to go through and Kara so eloquently explains how this felt to her. I know she is going to help someone feel less alone, something I'm grateful for being a vehicle to help that process.

Thank you, Kara. So happy your rainbow baby arrived :)

Images shared with permission from Kara Gagnon, and photographs from photographers kameraimages by Kimberly Morissette, by Felica, Nancy Merrill
smile emoticon

1. When did you experience a miscarriage? How far along were you?
We experienced a miscarriage July 2014, my d&c was scheduled for August 5, 2014. We were 10 weeks along and found the baby passed around 8 weeks.
2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically?
The hardest part for me came in two different forms. First being we had been trying to get pregnant for our second child for 8 months and finally fell pregnant and then to lose the pregnancy at 10 weeks. Learning the baby had died weeks before was devastating. I was mad at my body for not recognizing the miscarriage, not bleeding or cramping. Then two weeks after our D&C we found out we had a partial molar pregnancy. Google became my new best friend and worst enemy. 

A partial molar pregnancy is when two sperm fertilize one egg. A baby and a "mole" on the placenta forms. The baby can only grow so long before the mole basically takes over. These molar cells grow rapidly, allowing your body to feel super pregnant even when it's not. I learned I had to go in for weekly blood draws until my hcg went down to 0. These cells can grow rapidly, and travel throughout your body and cause cancer. So they need to make sure all the cells are gone. My hcg level started at 900, this was mid August two weeks after my D&C, it took another D&C in September and then until the end of October for my hcg level to be cleared at a 0. 
3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider?
With a PMP you learn there is a lot of conflicting information about your care and when you can start trying for another baby. My doctor said 6 months after our D&C, we started trying a month after my hcg hit 0 and got pregnant exactly 6 months after our miscarriage. This emotionally was so hard for me because other women would tell me stories of getting pregnant right after a D&C or a miscarriage, and I knew I wasn't even allowed to try for a new baby. It was hard going to get weekly blood draws, I was always angry at the lab tech and their lack of good words. They just know what they are drawing, and hcg level for pregnancy, they never realized why they were drawing mine. I'm sure the look of me fighting back tears told them it wasn't a happy blood draw. 

I couldn't understand why I was able to have an easy healthy first pregnancy and such a hard time to have a second healthy baby. 
4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience? 

I would describe this experience as devastating, lonely, and a journey with God.
5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same?
When we first noticed there was no heartbeat, I thought there's no way this is happening, the whole room spun out of control. I had to ask my husband to immediately leave with my toddler who seconds later we were showing his sibling to. I was mad for not having a "normal" text book miscarriage. Where was the bleeding and abdominal pain? I told myself that my baby knew I couldn't handle losing this baby so it just "held on". 
6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.? 
I chose a D&C, I was already mad about my body not naturally miscarrying I certainly wasn't going to wait around to see when it would happen. It's a good thing since my pregnancy was a partial molar. I opted to just be put under with medication not general Anesthesia. They offered me a sedative before going into the OR, I said no thinking I wanted to tough it out and not have extra medications. Biggest mistake. Seeing the sad faces of the medical staff, seeing the tools and how they would place my legs. It was so sad and I was put to sleep crying lightly. The only thing that helped me through this was prayer, my amazing husband and family and my 2 year old son who reminded me everyday he was my blessing.

7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better?
My husband was my rock, he knew the journey we had taken to get pregnant a second time. He cried, prayed, and listened to my fears. Others helped by just being there, regardless of if I was ready to talk. I cried a lot. I found going to church was helpful, I cried there too.

I have to admit the only thing that I found very helpful was when someone said "I have no idea what you must be going through." 

I found this to be true with a partial molar pregnancy, no one knew what it was and I had to explain a lot.
8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time?
The worst things I heard was "well you didn't want an unhealthy baby" or "you'll get pregnant again right away". Obviously no one wishes for an unhealthy child and you have no idea if or when I'll get pregnant again.

9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember? 
I hope that other moms who have gone through miscarriages understand all their fears and sadness are justified. Even if you miscarry after getting a positive pregnancy test. 

A lot of women dream of a baby long before that positive test. It's hard, sad, and seems like you will never have your sweet baby. Remember this is the beginning of a journey and the chances are you will be holding your rainbow baby giving someone else advice one day.

10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? 
As a friend just be there to sit in silence or listen to an earful of mixed emotions. Bringing dinner or helping clean was a huge help, or playing with her other children so she can nap.
11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience? 
I think moms don't talk because they are worried what others will say, " that wasn't a real baby" "you didn't want an unhealthy child anyway" or "at least you weren't pregnant that long". 

The reality is that so many women experience miscarriages, a loss of a child, or fertility issued while conceiving. Instead of sitting in the dark feeling alone women should open up and support each other. 12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience? 
I have a few special things like a bracelet with my angel's birthstone and Christmas ornament. We had a pregnancy announcement photoshoot before we lost the baby and I put those into a photo book with a brief entry. At Halloween I do a pumpkin for our angel baby. I do a lot of little things that no one would even notice, not even my husband. 
13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother? 

I'm a better mother and friend to moms struggling with loss or infertility. I hold my children closer, I know they are my little blessings from above. 

14. Is there a happy ending to your story? 
I'm holding my three week old happy ending as I type this. I have my rainbow baby about 15 months from our miscarriage. I was able to get pregnant 6 months from our partial molar pregnancy and I now have my second sweet little boy. 15. Anything else you want to share?

Every storm has a rainbow at the end of it, never give up, you're in the midst of your journey.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mom of the Month - Melissa Gilbert

It is with great honor and pride that I share October's Mom of the Month, Melissa Gilbert! 

She is one of the sweetest, most supportive, encouraging, hard working and dedicated Super Moms I know... and yet don't "know," as we've never officially met! I can say she is my #1 Mommy Stories fan, seriously, she has been there from the start of this project and always, always gives me feedback and advice. She's one of my go-to Moms who I ask a zillion questions of, because she'll tell me like it is, always honest and kind. Having her friendship is certainly one of the BEST rewards I've found since creating this blog and discussion group. We definitely have plans to meet up some time soon!

I love her honesty with her motherhood experience, and how she does this whole thing without guidance from her own Mom. Her mother passed away from breast cancer, and so it seems fitting to me that she was chosen as October's Mom of the Month, as it's so important to consider your breast health and remember those who have fought hard against breast cancer and those we've lost.

Images shared from

In honor of Melissa's mother and their family's struggle, please read her story, share kind comments, and more importantly - do something for breast cancer, beyond wearing pink this month. 

Schedule a doctor's appointment. Text 3 friends to do self-breast exams this week. Donate to a good cause. Run a 5k that donates its money to breast cancer or even just any race and wear tons of pink to bring awareness to donating money or self-exams. 

Stop this month to consider your own health and those around you. It's important. 

Donate here:

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your story! You are such a deserving Mom of the Month! 

Images shared from Melissa Gilbert

1. Describe your child in 3-5 words. How did you choose their names? Kind, smart, inquisitive, constantly moving. My husband and I could not agree on any boy names. We had tons of girl names because I think I just assumed I would have a girl. We literally had to comb through a baby book and we both instantly loved "Mason" when we read it. The middle name was easy. We had already decided way back that if it was a girl, we would use my Mom's middle name and if it was a boy we should use my father-in-law's middle name. I love the idea of continuing on "family names". So Mason Thomas it was.
2. How old is your child? How did you tell people you were expecting a baby? Mason turned three in August. We found out about our pregnancy close to Christmas so I gave my in-laws Christmas cards from their grandchild. No one got it at first because they just thought it was from our furbaby (because we were THOSE people) Haha. I skyped my Dad and Sister... I don't think either one was surprised because I had been hording baby paraphernalia for months.
3. How would you describe your pregnancy? How was delivery, birth and labor for you? My pregnancy had its speed bumps but nothing too major. I had gestational diabetes and had a hard time feeling guilty like I was failing my son. I also had round ligament pain from very early on, making it painful to walk at times. I was pregnant at the same time as 6 coworkers and 3 family members... It was very hard not to compare my journey with theirs! I was induced at 39 weeks due to my g.d. and it was a very annoying process. I was admitted on the 30th and didn't go into labor until the 1st. That's a long time to go with very little food when you're pregnant! When my water finally broke, my son went into distress so I ended up having an emergency csection. It turned out that the cord was wrapped around his chest multiple times causing his heart rate to drop. I remember when they pulled him out, it took three of them to unwrap him. I cried the whole time and never stopped until he was laying on my chest. As soon as he was laid on me, his hand reached up and touched my nose. That's when I fell in love.
4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words. Creative, proud, full of love.
5. What type of mom do you hope your child thinks you were someday when he's old enough to tell you? 

I hope he remembers the times that I stopped what I was doing to jump in puddles. I hope he knows that I always have his back. 
6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
I'm cool with the messes. I love baking with Mason even if it means flour and sugar everywhere. I let him paint without smocks and play in the mud.

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom? 
Being a Mom without having my own Mom beside me. She passed away 2 years before I gave birth. I have an amazing support system: a very involved dad, my understanding husband, my sister who completely gets what I'm going through and mom friends that are right beside me in the trenches. But it will never replace what it would be like to call my Mom up for advice... And that's a hard pill to swallow on the hard days. 

8. What is your favorite baby/child product(s) that makes your mom job easier? 
Lanolin cream for drooling, Destitin for diaper rashes, sound machine is a must have.
9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother? 

Be kind to yourself. Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. Social media can be an amazing outlet to a new mom but be careful about believing everyone's "perfect" mom moments captured in a single photo. It has a way of picking you apart when you are sleep deprived and covered with old food and spit up.
10. What is a typical day like for you? Sundays and Mondays are filled with work. I'm up at 245 am and out the door by 330. I have an hour drive both ways. On my drive home, I use that time to make phone calls so I can catch up with friends and family uninterrupted.

I'm home by 6 pm so I get an hour to play and hang out before my son goes to bed. On every other day, I'm awake no later than 6. We try not to rush in the morning and spend time on the couch cuddling and watching TV. 

Once breakfast and showers are out of the way, we are either outside playing, running errands for the morning or having a play date. Before lunch I try to cram in household chores while Mason plays by himself. I'm a firm believer that when he naps, I rest, too. Sometimes I will prep dinner or pay bills when Mason sleeps but typically that's when I get caught up on DVR, surf Instagram or read. 

When he wakes up, we will sometimes bake or do a craft together. Then my husband is home by dinner and we have lots of family play time.
11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kid someday, if anything were possible and money no object? Take him to Disney World, Diggerland, Scotland, and go on a couple road trips of his choosing when he's old enough. 
12. What are your favorite things to do in the fall? What are your Halloween traditions? 
I love going to the Pumpkin Festival in NH (used to be in Keene), I love pumpkin decorating and apple baking! I'm a huge fan of all holidays and Halloween is one of my faves. I love dressing up and even though a can't sew a lick, I love making my son's costumes.

13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine. 
Breastfeeding was a total flop for me. Before Mason was born, I had done tons of research. I was convinced that it was the easiest and most natural thing a mom could do. I was quickly schooled that motherhood doesn't always go as planned! 

My son had latching issues, I couldn't produce enough milk, I hated my lactation consultant and I was making everyone miserable around me while I tried to succeed at breastfeeding. After trying everything under the sun, I finally switched solely to formula at 5 months. It was the best decision I could have made for us.
14. What makes you a strong mom? 
Mason. He is what keeps me going when I want to quit. 

15. Anything else you want to add? 
The day I was told that I was chosen to be October's Mom of the Month, I had quite literally the most horrible day as a Mom. My son had, had the most epic meltdown in the middle of Old Navy over pooping, he loudly misbehaved through our lunch in a restaurant and he hit and scratched me while I was trying to put him in his carseat to go home. 

I felt undeserving when I read the wonderful honor that was being given to me. Here I am with only one child and I felt like I was failing that day. But then I remembered that no matter how bad our day was, I still loved him with all my heart. We still ended the day with smiles and kisses and chose to not let those few bad moments define us as a son and mother. 

Being "Mom of the Month" doesn't mean I'm perfect. I'm far from it. But it does mean that I get up every morning and try my hardest. And I'm thankful that I am surrounded by equally wonderful moms (and dads) that have helped shape me into the Mom I am today.

a HOME birth story - Kate Stone

I am so happy and honored to share this beautiful birth story from Kate Stone! She is a very dedicated, sweet mom to three handsome young boys. She planned a calming, relaxing, peaceful home birth for her third baby...  and it turned into her husband and friend delivering him before the midwives arrived! I love how purposeful this all was, and yet it was a big surprise at home in the end! Babies are such sweet surprises in themselves.

Congratulations, Kate, and thank you for sharing your birth story with us!

Images shared from Kate Stone, taken by Jamie Mercurio

1. What made you want to do a home birth? What intrigued you about it?

Ever since my first pregnancy I was interested in home birth. I was intrigued with it because I could be in the comfort of my own home, especially my own bed and bathroom and still have a safe and natural birth!

A little scared and costly to do it the first time so I decided to go with a hospital based birth center (we were living in San Diego at the time). It was a great experience but I was more than ready to go home after being there for 12 hours! With our second, we were living back in Maine, and I heard such great things about the midwives at York Hospital that I really wanted to see them. My experience there was, well.. let's just say I didn’t go back!

2. What about your previous two births went very well and you enjoyed, what was challenging with those? Were those home births?

Both births before were fast, simple, natural, and overall a good experience. I think the hardest thing for me was having to stay in the hospital after. I just wanted to go home and be in my own space. I was confident in my skills as a new parent and didn’t want to listen to all the hospital “rules” (I’m stubborn)

3. What did you anticipate being the best part about a home birth? What did you anticipate being a challenge with a home birth?

I anticipated my home birth as a natural birth at home with my husband, kids if they were awake and wanted to be there, my mom, girlfriends, sister and sister-in-law, photographer, and my midwives. 

I wanted a peaceful setting. I have imaged having a homebirth for so long I just wanted everything to be right and I really wanted to be in the moment so I could remember everything that happened. 

I think a challenge is to totally trust in the process with no medical intervention right there by my side if I need it.

4. What preparations did you make to help this birth go smoothly at home?

My midwives gave me a list of things I needed to have, pretty much everything a hospital would supply a room with, that I had to buy and have at my house. We talked about it a lot with the kids and just my husband and myself. As I said before both previous births were pretty fast so we just wanted to be prepared if it was the same this time.

5. How was preparing for this home birth different than preparing for a hospital birth? What different things did you have to consider?

When you have a hospital birth all you need is yourself, your partner, and your bag… I had to buy everything to have at home, things I never even thought of before! I also had to prepare myself, in case anything did go wrong, what hospital we would go to, how we would get there, who would come etc. etc.

6. What 5 words would you anticipate using to describe a home birth?

Exciting, anxious, nervous, happy, loving

Midwives and husband above, friends and mother below

 7. How did you hope this experience will be? What were you picturing, imagining, looking forward to?

I hoped that everything went as planned and there was no reason myself or baby would need to go to the hospital.

I hoped everyone that was supposed to be there was there. I hoped my kids would become as involved as they are comfortable with. I wanted to fully trust in my body. 

I pictured all my family and friends’ surrounding me as the baby is born bringing him into this world with so much love. 

I was looking forward to holding him and taking a few minutes to pause life and really live in that minute that I will never get back. I just wanted to live in this moment as my precious baby is born! Also having a birth photographer, I always imagined having these beautiful pictures of the process and then pictures of right after!

8. Who was at your home with you during the home birth?

Husband, mom, sister, sister-in-law, friends, and photographer

9. Where in the house did you anticipate laboring most?

The bathroom, the toilet is just the most confortable place for me to sit.

10. Is there anything you were nervous about or worried about as you anticipated the home birth?

Just that everything went as planned and there were no needed interventions.

11. As you expected your third child, how were you feeling in general? What things were you most excited for adding this new person to the family, and which things were you worried about?

I always wanted 3 children and for some reason I always knew I would be a mom to 3 boys. Even though I thought for a while this one was a girl because my pregnancy was so different for the first two. I’m excited that this little boy will have 2 brothers to look up to. I can’t wait to nurse, snuggle, and love on another baby that’s mine! I’m not sure how I will handle 3 kids but I’ll figure it out! I have the best group of friends that I’m sure I will rely on A LOT…

12. Any words of advice to other moms who might be interested in a home birth?

Talk to other people that have done it, Facebook me, I’m happy to share my experience with you!  Definitely find a midwife that you are comfortable with.

13. Any good books, Web sites, organizations of people you have worked with, etc. to prepare you at home?

Ina May’s Guild to childbirth is great. She also has a documentary called Birth Story, which is great… I would recommend it to anyone that is pregnant. 

Contact my midwife if you are in the Maine/New Hampshire area. Seacoast Midwifery- Cilia Bannenberg

14. Share with us how the birth story went. 

Well since it has taken me 5 ½ months to get this to you, I'll share my birth story with you… May 3, 2015 I had been feeling queasy all day but nothing out of the norm for this pregnancy. The past week or so I had been having really bad pain back contractions every night so that started happening again. 

We had just put Noah and Elijah to bed for 8:00 and I climbed into bed with my husband to watch a movie. He fell asleep almost immediately and I started feeling worse, not in pain, didn’t feel like contractions, I just felt sick so I got up to use the bathroom. 

Went back to bed about 5 minutes later and our middle child, Elijah was wanting to get into bed with us. I told my husband he had to go bring him into his own bed and lay with him in there because I wasn’t feeling well. 

Another 5 minutes pass and I’m in the bathroom again. This time I start feeling some contractions look down and what I thought to be a head was right there. Oh no!!! I started screaming for my husband who was once again sleeping with Elijah. Finally he came into the bathroom took one look and said, “what are we going to do, he’s coming, did you call the midwife, your mom, ANYONE.” 

I handed him my phone and told him to call, as soon as he hung up I sent a text to my mom, photographer and friend Ashley, COME NOW this was at 10:46 pm. 

Aaron, my husband, was pacing back and forth, trying to hold it together! Our midwife lives 45 minutes away so he was pretty much telling me to hold the baby in until she got here or he was putting me in the car and taking me to the hospital. You all, well most, know how that goes! 

Ashley arrives, comes upstairs to see that I’m still sitting on the toilet; she told me that I had to get up. If her and Aaron were delivering the baby it wasn’t going to be on the toilet because he would probably fall in. She convinced me to get up and when I did, what I thought was his head, popped and ended up being my bag of water. 

I slowly made it to my bedroom, pretty much hold the baby's head up with a washcloth. My midwife had been there earlier in the week and had set everything up in our room. 

As soon as I got in there and sat on the birthing stool, (husband) Aaron and (friend) Ash knew they had to deliver this baby! No turning back now! 

Ash called the midwife and she told her what to tell Aaron to do. I was the most relaxed out of them all! Right as his head came my mom walked though the door. So thankful she made it just in time! It was just crazy and it all happened so fast. 

River Wylie Stone was born at 11:09pm and was just perfect! And the most crazy thing was my husband delivered him! It was such a special moment, crazy, never want to do it again, but AMAZING moment! 

My midwife didn’t show up for another 15 or so minutes so I just laid in bed holding my new little guy, nursing, with no distractions. 

Our photographer, Jamie Mercurio didn’t make it in time but she arrived about an hour after he was born. It was perfect! Ashley had also video taped the birth but had to put the camera down so it's just a video of my closet doors but the audio is great! We had a good laugh listening to it back later that night.

The older boys slept through the whole thing!