The Reality of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Among Us
Families are always changing.
What was once a household filled with diapers becomes loud with late night science projects. While some of us work on potty training and first steps, other parents sit in carpool pickup lines or walk through car dealerships with their teens.
This is what we imagine when we consider starting a family – a brief pregnant belly followed by a lifetime of moving forward through milestones and celebrations. We hope each stage is better than the last. We expect more joy than struggle.
The month of October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, calls us to consider an alternate story, one that is not so simple.
All too often parents find themselves left with impossible news. Sometimes pregnancies end. Some children’s lives are too short. Those families are forced to change and grow and move through the world without the presence of their beloved child.
At least 1 out of 4 pregnancies in the U.S. ends in miscarriage, loss before the 20th week of pregnancy.*
1 out of 175 pregnancies end in stillbirth, loss in the womb after the 20th week of pregnancy.**
And thousands of families in our country say goodbye to their children in infancy for a variety of reasons, both known and unknown, every year.
As we gather weekly at playgrounds and pumpkin patches with the Carrollton Early Childhood PTA this fall, we have the privilege of getting to know each other. Our children run around with familiar faces, and we share their recent developmental milestones and setbacks. Our focus is usually on what is in front of us.
Let us be aware that each of us also has a past. For some, that includes the heartbreak of pregnancy or infant loss. For some, there is always joy and grief, hope and worry, the child you can see and the child you cannot.
But what do we say to the grieving mother? What can we do for the devastated family? How do we navigate these waters when we haven’t experienced them ourselves? Our organization, by its nature, must grapple with these questions. For the sake of our grieving peers, we must step into the discomfort of pregnancy and infant loss.
Below are the honest, vulnerable, and wise words of CECPTA members. They speak from their own experiences – each one completely unique – about how their communities supported them. It is our hope that they might educate, support, or encourage others.
I lost friendships due to the experience because people just didn’t know how to interact with me and therefore chose not to speak to me. But then I had acquaintances or even strangers who cooked for me, gave me books, remembrance jewelry, and handwritten letters about their experiences with pregnancy loss. I was extremely lucky to have so much support as I know many women do not. So many people checked in on me even months after it happened. I couldn’t have gotten through that horribly dark time without their support.Emily W., mother to Lydia Anne who was born still at 38 weeks
I think that my biggest regret was not being more open because I probably could have coped better with more support. I had a bit of counseling years later. I’m not sure if I used the resources I was told about, but I really just found comfort in religion and my daughter that was 2 at the time.Anonymous
Sometimes I felt like I was too open and vulnerable about our experience. I appreciated when people were willing to help me find distraction or take care of mundane tasks. But it was also incredibly meaningful to have unexpected people ask questions, check-in, and send tangible letters and gifts. Texts I still receive acknowledging our daughter’s birthday always fill me with gratitude that people are willing to grieve and celebrate with us.Madelyn J., mother to Amelia Rae who was born still at 22 weeks
A friend babysat my daughter so my husband could be with me at the hospital. Many women brought meals. Some closer friends called occasionally to check in on me. One friend offered to come over one afternoon to just hang out, which was so appreciated. It’s important to rest after a miscarriage while your body is recovering, but that also can be very isolating to be at home by yourself a lot.Anonymous
Maybe a future CECPTA mom will remember these words, choose to share her story, and ask for help. Maybe another mom will send a text to their friend who recently lost their baby. Maybe a mom choosing to sit with her grief in silence will know that is okay too. No matter what action we take, the things we do for ourselves and for each other with loving intention are where we must start.
For those that know the tragedy of losing a child, we see you. And for those who hope to be a friend in hard times, we appreciate you.
Below is a list of member-submitted resources we collected to share. Everyone grieves in their own way, and all ways are valid. These recommendations have brought comfort to others, and we hope they continue to do so.
If you are a CECPTA member experiencing a loss, please feel free to let our Sunshine Meals coordinator know so that other CECPTA members can support you with family meals.
Member Recommended Resources
Star Legacy Foundation
The Star Legacy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to reducing pregnancy loss and neonatal death and improving care for families who experience such tragedies.
Still Birth Day
Stillbirthday Global Network is an internationally trusted benevolent organization whose philanthropic mission is simply to doula: to nurture sources of perinatal bereavement, strengthen skills of healthcare professionals and increase healthy engagement of perinatal related needs among communities. DFW in-person support provided.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
The mission of NILMDTS is to introduce remembrance photography to parents experiencing the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture. DFW in-person support provided.
Labor of Hope
Labor of Hope is a faith-based non-profit organization that exists to value and celebrate every life. We accomplish this by supporting and equipping families who have received a critical or life-limiting diagnosis during pregnancy. DFW in-person support provided.
This confidential space is for those who are touched by miscarriage, whether the experience happened recently or years ago. Miscarriage Hurts is a refuge for those who wish to tell their story and begin the process of healing.
M.E.N.D. is here to provide hope and healing through your journey after the loss of your baby. M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian, non-profit organization that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.
Sufficient Grace Ministries
Sufficient Grace Ministries for Women, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, non-denominational organization, was founded by Kelly Gerken in 2004 with the purpose of reaching out to women and families to offer comfort, encouragement and hope.
Push started in 2018 to help other birthers know they are not alone in this. The goal was to have a practice that was accessible to birthing people and mothers so there was a place to get help with the specific issues related to pregnancy and postpartum. DFW in-person support provided.
Soulfully Rooted Wellness
At Soulfully Rooted Wellness, we provide psychotherapy, mindfulness and psychoeducation. We specialize in prenatal and postpartum mental health – including postpartum depression and anxiety, parenting, domestic and family violence and sexual trauma, anxiety and depression, intimacy and connection. DFW in-person support provided.
Dear Cheyenne: A Journey into Grief by Joanne Caciatorre
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Deborah L. Davis
Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise by Larry Barber
When Hello Means Goodbye: A guide for parents whose child dies before birth, at birth, or shortly after birth by Paul Kirk and Pat Schwiebert
Madelyn grew up in Carrollton and still believes it’s the best place to live. When not assisting births as a doula or student midwife, she enjoys occasionally substitute teaching for LISD schools. Her hands are full (at least that’s what everyone at the grocery store tells her) with three girls four and under, but it was her stillborn daughter, Amelia, who made her a mom. She loves deep diving into new hobbies and watching tv with her husband when the kids are asleep.