October was pregnancy & infant loss awareness month - and I am 1 in 4.
I spent a lot of time last month reflecting on the four year journey we were on prior to conceiving our daughter, and the monthly losses we encountered during our rounds of IUI & IVF. During that time in my life I was in a very dark and lonely place. Although I was surrounded by loving support from my husband, family and friends - it was still a very emotional and trying time. I developed anxiety, fear and worry around things I could not change - and knowing that these same feelings are felt by so many other women and families around the world breaks my heart.
The career path I am on now is never one I had ever imagined. Supporting moms and families, and helping them get the rest they deserve while navigating infant and toddler sleep battles is a true passion I have developed since having my daughter, but because having a family was never guaranteed for us - I couldn’t have ever imagined being here today. We are currently expecting baby number two this month (November) - the same month we did our second round of IVF and the successful egg retrieval that brought us our daughter, Romy. So this full-circle moment brings on a lot of emotions, fears and also insane amounts of happiness. I share this information in hopes that it builds your confidence and lifts your spirits if it is you who is struggling with a personal journey of your own. Struggling to expand your family, struggling to start your family or maybe life just isn’t where you thought it might be - but either way I want you to know, that you are not alone with whatever tough life season you are navigating through right now. You will get through this, and you will find that rainbow.
1 in 4 women is a very high statistic. Meaning that chances are - you can relate to this post in some way. I want to share some ways you can support a friend or family member who may be struggling with a recent loss, recurrent losses, or infertility:
Avoid advice, Input, or opinions
Acknowledge the loss - usually you will be able to tell if the person wants to talk about it with you, but regardless it is so important to acknowledge and support what they went through instead of avoiding.
Help out with chores around the house - don’t ask what they need or what they want you to do, just do it. No one is going to tell you or ask you to do something. Just put yourself in their shoes and help them out if you can.
A small meaningful gift is often appreciated - a close friend of mine gifted us a really cute butterfly ornament for our Christmas tree, and it is something I will cherish forever. Comfort boxes are also a great gift. You can find pre made ones on Etsy or other shops if you are unsure what to add to the box.
Continue to include the couple. Even in things children related. There is nothing more upsetting than to not be included in certain things because you’ve experienced a loss. Let the couple decide if they are able to join or not - and if they choose not to join that is ok too! It’s best to invite, rather than to assume they wouldn’t want to come.
For families who are currently struggling and looking for local support, here are some wonderful resources that were provided to me by a friend:
The Relationship Centre: https://www.therelationshipcentre.ca/
Hospice Quinte: https://hospicequinte.ca/portfolio-items/bereavement-support/
Bereaved Families of Ontario: www.bfo-kingston.ca
Tracey Kennedy Shaman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisis Intervention Centre: 613 969-7400 Ext 2753, or 613 310-OPEN
Butterfly Run Quinte: https://www.butterflyrunquinte.ca/
Quinte Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group (Facebook Page): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1705177246386025
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network: https://pailnetwork.sunnybrook.ca/, Request for support: https://sunnybrook.ca/extras/pailnetwork/support-request-form/ (peer led support at no cost to the family)
They Were Still Born By Janet C. Atas
After Finley By Mel Scott
Life Touches Life By Lorraine Ash
Still. By Stephanie Paige Cole
Health Your Grieving Heart After Stillbirth: 100 Practical Ideas for Parents and Families By: Alan Wolfelt
Miscarriage Mom By Kristy Parisi
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart By Deborah Davis
When Bad Things Happen to Good People By Harold S Kushner
You Are the Mother of All Mothers By Angela Miller
When you’re ready - this is how you heal -Brianna Wiest
For those with empty arms - Emily Harris Adams
Didn’t see that coming - Rachel Hollis
Why not me - Mindy Kaling
Books for Children:
We Were Going to have a Baby But had an Angel Instead: By Pat Schwiebert
Someone Came Before You: Pat Schwiebert
Return to Zero
Remember to take all of the time you need to heal, and for friends - be patient and kind. I am not a medical professional in this field, but I have been there. I am always here to share our story, provide support, guidance and referrals as needed - so please feel free to reach out at ANY time.
- Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant