The Pregnant Therapist

A quick middle of the week post to share a great article–I really enjoy reading Dr. Jessica Zucker’s writing, and this one was especially interesting to me, so I thought I’d share.

I’ve posted the first paragraph, but please head over to the NY Times to read the rest. You can follow Dr. Zucker on twitter: @DrZucker

April 28th, 2015

“Olivia sat across from me in my sunlit office, shadowed in grief. She’d been trying to get pregnant for years, and had been coming to see me for nearly all of them. After three miscarriages and two unsuccessful IVFs, she spoke softly of her strained marriage, wringing her hands in her lap. I shifted my weight from one leg to the other, listening intently; she shifted her eyes toward the window. But no amount of diversion could hide what sat between us: my unmistakably pregnant belly.”

continued…

What You Should And Shouldn’t Say To A Friend Who Miscarried

by Jennifer Oradat

The first time I had a miscarriage, I remember my phone ringing off the hook. I was swamped with condolences and well-meaning messages.

I had never felt more alone.

I appreciated the thoughts and support from friends and family, but what I wanted was to vent. I wanted to be angry. I wanted someone—everyone—just to listen to me.

What I got was unsolicited advice and commiserations (with a few notable exceptions).

I learned something valuable during those days. When a friend is grieving the loss of an unborn child, there are things that you just shouldn’t say. Here are a few things that should never come out of your mouth towards a friend who miscarried, and some pretty good alternatives.

DON’T SAY: “I’ve been there.” Well, hooray for the Miscarriage Club! Seriously? No, you haven’t been here. Maybe you had a miscarriage, too, but you’re not living my life. You have no idea how this will affect me.

SAY THIS: “I remember when I had my miscarriage…” It’s a gentle lead-in, and allows you to share your experiences without encroaching on mine.

DON’T SAY: “It’ll get better.” You can’t promise that. Maybe it got better for you. And maybe “better” is subjective.

SAY THIS: “It got easier for me.” I really do want to hear that it got easier. I want to know what you did to recover from this loss. I want hope that I’ll eventually find some semblance of normal. Just do it without making empty promises, because I can’t handle that.

DON’T SAY: “You’ll have another baby.” Gee, thanks! I had no idea that babies were so easily replaced. Had I but known that this baby shouldn’t mean so much to me, I’d have stopped crying immediately. WHAT THE HELL?

SAY THIS: “…” That’s right. Say nothing about having babies in the future. I’m still dealing with the one that just died inside my body. My future has collapsed around me. Focus on the problem at hand and stop borrowing trouble.

DON’T SAY: “You weren’t that far along, so it’s not like it was even a baby yet.” Hey, asshat, guess what? You don’t get to decide when I become emotionally attached to the child in my womb. The split second that I became pregnant, I became a mom.

SAY T
HIS: “I’m sorry for your loss.” That’s what it is. I’m grieving the loss of a child that I never even got to hold. I’m grieving for the family that will never exist with that little person in it. I’m grieving, not just the pregnancy, but the birth and the birthdays, the life that will never be.

Women handle miscarriages in a variety of ways. The best way to help them is to listen, first and foremost. If, after that, you still feel the need to speak up, be empathetic and loving, and remember what not to say.

Jennifer ispotlight-Jennifers Editor-in-Chief at http://MomBabble.com. She’s also a stay-at-home mom, military wife, fount of useless knowledge, and the best recipe follower in a .01 sq. mi. radius. You can find her and Mom Babble on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Dads grieve too.

From The Telegraph–By Rachel Halliwell

July 22, 2014

In the aftermath of losing his child to miscarriage, Terry Maguire recalls his wife getting dreadfully upset about his apparent lack of emotion.

“Caroline thought I didn’t care,” he says.

“She was in pieces – her emotions were so raw and obvious that there was no mistaking what she was experiencing. While on the face of it I was just getting on with things and appeared very quickly to have put the upset behind me.

“Caroline just didn’t know what to make of that and so, as you’d imagine, it caused arguments.”

But while Maguire might have appeared to have sidestepped the terrible pain and despair that his wife had been plunged into having miscarried their first child 13 weeks into the pregnancy, this was actually far from the truth. In fact he was experiencing equal turmoil.

His feelings, which he kept hidden, tally with the findings of a major new study into how partners experience miscarriage. It found that they are unable to talk about it with their wives, or girlfriends, and feel sidelined by a lack of professional support.

“I was struggling to sleep, had this terrible sense of emptiness and deep sadness deep inside of me, all combined with a constant churning sensation in the pit of my stomach,” agrees Maguire

“But I didn’t feel able to share any of this with Caroline, because she was in bits herself. She’d physically lost this baby that we both so desperately wanted and I felt I had to be strong for her. In my mind she needed a rock.”

It felt like her distress was more valid than my own

It’s vital for men and women to talk about their feelings, following a miscarriage. Photo: Alamy

One thing stopping Maguire, 52 – a publican in Chelmsford, Essex – from letting his wife see his own distress, was an all-too common sense that her heartache was somehow more valid than his own.

“She’d been carrying our child,” he explains. “She had to go through the dreadful experience of having the remains of the pregnancy surgically removed and so was having to deal with it all on a physical, as well as an emotional level.

“I felt my role was to be practical; to deal with the doctors and nurses and be the person who would sort everything out so that she at least didn’t have to think beyond her own personal suffering. But in fact what she really needed was to also see that I was grieving, too. I just didn’t know how to let all that out.”

Maguire believes men has difficulty in opening up following the trauma of miscarriage, in part, due to the way pregnancy is, until then, a shared experience. But once it ends, the focus changes.

“You spend all those weeks looking at pregnancy books and magazines together,” he explains. “You talk about baby names; what sex you’re hoping for and which features they might inherit. You announce there’s a baby coming to your family and friends and everyone gets behind you both; it’s such a joyous and exciting time.

“We’d already been told everything was fine with our baby at eight weeks – we’d conceived through IVF because of fertility problems and so had an early check up. All we’d expected from this follow up scan was to be told that everything was progressing normally and get a peek at our baby.

“To go from a position of great excitement, looking forward to a new chapter opening in your lives, to suddenly being told that it’s all over is a devastating blow.

“At that point it all becomes about the woman – is she ok? How is she feeling? What needs to be done to help her through it?

“Everyone was asking after Caroline. But only one person asked how I was coping with it all – and that happened to be a fellow man who had been through miscarriage himself.”

No one asked whether I was alright

The Maguire’s with their son, Turlough

The Maguires went on to lose two more babies to miscarriage before their son, Turlough, was born 21 months ago. Experience didn’t make these ordeals any lighter for either to bear. But over time, through talking, the couple found ways to support each other through them.

“Caroline pointed out to me that I had as much right to grieve as she did, because these lost babies were as much mine as hers. It helped her to see that I was upset, too. Sharing how much I was hurting also made her feel less alone in her pain.”

“At one hospital visit I picked up a leaflet for the Miscarriage Association. It gave information about how common miscarriages are and described the feelings I was experiencing as being very normal for any man. I visited their website, which was a great resource.”

Maguire says this charity was a huge help. He just wishes he had been directed to it on day one following the first miscarriage, rather than having stumbled across a leaflet himself many months down the line.

“I felt invisible after the miscarriage,” he says. “That’s something health professionals – and family and friends – should take on board when they’re dealing with couples who have lost a child in this way.

“Talking about the deep sense of loss I had been left with was incredibly helpful, whether that was with Caroline, or my family and friends.

“I’d go as far as to say that’s something that should be offered up to all men, perhaps through counseling, or just as an idea that’s generally encouraged within families.

“It really does make a world of difference.”

Why Our Adoption Was Meant to Be

We’ve all heard the phrase “everything happens for a reason.” But when you’re waiting and longing to become a parent, it’s hard to imagine what that reason could be. Why is it so difficult for some women to get pregnant or carry a baby to term?

Why is the adoption process so long and unpredictable? When will my child arrive?

There seems no easy answer to any of these questions. However, with time, often a reason is revealed.

I remember after suffering two miscarriages, people said it wasn’t meant to be or that God has a plan.

During my sadness and grief, I couldn’t possibly understand why I lost two babies. All I could feel was the pain, the emptiness and the persistent ache of wanting to become a mother.

It just wasn’t fair. How could that possibly be part of a master plan? It just didn’t make any sense.

After our losses, my husband and I moved forward and began the next step on our journey to parenthood: we started the adoption process.

Again, we experienced many ups and downs. We got our hopes up, only to have them come crashing down when a situation didn’t pan out.

The days dragged on, and the wait was sometimes unbearable. There were definitely times I wondered if I would ever become a mom.

Then one day my aunt, who was dying of cancer, told me: “God has a very special baby in mind for you, and that’s why you’ve had to wait so long.” Although I had my doubts, she seemed certain, so I allowed myself to believe that maybe she was right.

It was indeed possible that the child who was meant to be a part of our family would arrive when the time was right. I tried to stay hopeful and busied myself with home improvement projects, reading, exercise and dance classes, vacations and other activities to take my mind off of the wait to adopt.

One day when I was feeling especially hopeful, I even allowed myself to decorate the nursery and prepare for our future baby’s arrival.

Ironically, just two months after I finished decorating, we got the call that changed our lives: a potential birth mom had chosen us. As I spoke with our social worker that day, I had a strong feeling that this was the right situation.

I can’t explain it, but for the first time, everything felt right.

Turns out, it was. Despite all of the ups and downs, the disappointments and the fears we experienced during the adoption process, this time everything fell into place. Just two months later, we brought home a precious baby girl.

Our dream finally came true. Our new daughter fit into our lives so perfectly that she felt like she belonged with us. Every smile, every accomplishment and every hug, filled our hearts with love and joy.

She was truly the answer to all of our prayers. I remembered what my aunt had said and decided that she was absolutely right. We were waiting for this child.

But our story doesn’t end there. One day when my daughter was in first grade, the reason she joined our family became even clearer. We heard the tragic news that her birth mom had passed away. We were shocked and filled with sadness.

Our hearts ached just knowing that our daughter would never have the opportunity to know her birth mother.

It was hard to accept that the person who brought our child into this world – the one who made it possible for us to be parents – was gone.

Shortly after hearing the news, our daughter lit a candle in honor of her birth mom at church and requested that we have her name announced during mass so everyone could pray for her. We sat in the front row with tears streaming down our cheeks.

The woman who did the reading came to us and gave me a big hug. She said: “I know it’s hard when someone so young dies, but just think of your daughter. Where would she be today if it wasn’t for you? God had a plan all along.”

Too choked up to speak, I silently nodded in agreement. Maybe our daughter found her way to us so she wouldn’t have to grow up without a mom. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Deanna Kahler

Deanna is an accomplished writer, proud mom and author of From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption. Original posting.

Interested in adoption? Check out America Adopts.

Science Friday: Pregnancy complications predict heart disease risk

February 18, 2012

If you develop pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders or diabetes, you may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, according to research in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Women who developed pregnancy-related hypertension (preeclampsia) or diabetes were at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) later in life.

Preeclampsia was associated with a wider range of CVD risk factors and may be a better predictor of CVD in middle age than other pregnancy-related complications.

“We wanted to learn about possible explanations as to why women with pregnancy complications tend to have more heart disease later in life,” said Abigail Fraser, M.P.H., Ph.D., School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Researchers studied 3,416 pregnant women enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in the early 1990s. Among them, 1,002 (29.8 percent) had one pregnancy complication, 175 (5.2 percent) had two and 26 (0.8 percent) had three.

The complications included gestational or pregnancy diabetes, hypertensive (or high blood pressure-related) disorders of pregnancy (also known as preeclampsia), preterm delivery, and size of babies at birth (top and bottom 10 percent in weight). Researchers correlated these with cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors measured 18 years later when the women were an average of 48 years old.

Researchers then calculated the women’s odds of experiencing a cardiovascular event in the next decade using the 10-year CVD Framingham risk score, which includes such factors as age, total and HDL (“good”) cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, diabetes and smoking status.

They found:

Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and giving birth to babies small for gestational age were associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Each complication was associated with different CVD risk factors.
Gestational diabetes was associated with a 26 percent and preeclampsia 31 percent greater risk of developing heart disease in middle age.
Among women who experienced these pregnancy complications, gestational diabetes was associated with higher levels of fasting glucose and insulin.
Preeclampsia was associated with higher body mass index and larger waist circumference, as well as higher blood pressure, lipids and insulin.
Women who gave birth to babies large for gestational age had larger waist circumference and higher concentrations of blood glucose. Those who had preterm babies had higher blood pressure.

“Pregnancy may provide an opportunity to identify women at increased risk of heart disease while they are relatively young; thus, it would be useful for medical professionals to have information on pregnancy complications so they can recommend lifestyle changes and any necessary medical intervention sooner,” Fraser said. “A woman who experiences complications during pregnancy should be proactive and ask her doctor about future CVD risk and steps she should take to modify her risk.”

The women in the study had not experienced a CVD event, so the researchers couldn’t determine whether preeclampsia and/or pregnancy diabetes have separate, independent effects on future CVD risk.

A larger study with longer follow-up could help determine whether pregnancy complications could affect how the 10-year CVD Framingham risk score is calculated for these women, Fraser said.

Furthermore, because the study population was predominantly white, replicating the research with other racial groups will provide additional data on the association between pregnancy complications and CVD risk, she said.

The British Heart Association, Wellcome Trust and United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded the research.

A. Fraser, S. M. Nelson, C. Macdonald-Wallis, L. Cherry, E. Butler, N. Sattar, D. A. Lawlor. Associations of Pregnancy Complications with Calculated CVD Risk and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Middle Age: The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Circulation, 2012; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.044784

Miscarriage Memoirs won an award y’all!

Thanks to all of the wonderful stories you have all written, shared, read, glanced at, what have you–we (yes we) won an award! This one comes from another blogger who has enjoyed all of your stories, so I think it has special meaning.

First of all, thank you to Uncomfortably Optimistic for the nomination. Please go check out her blog!

So what do we do now? Normally you’d 1) Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site, 2) Put the award logo on your blog, 3) Answer the ten questions the nominator has set for you, 4) Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer, and 5) Nominate 10 people.

Due to the nature of this blog, instead of answering the questions and making this all about me when this is really all about everyone’s experiences and coming together in solidarity, I am going to instead only post links to blogs that I think might be interesting for my readers. I’m going to encourage everyone that I nominate to submit a story to this blog (I’ll link back to your site a second or third or whatever time!) so that we can reach as many people who are struggling with miscarriage and infertility as possible. No worries if you don’t want to! Now all of you, if you’d like, please nominate another 10 bloggers who you think are deserving. Ask them 10 questions or not, whatever you want to do with it 🙂

Nominations – Thanks to these wonderful bloggers for sharing their stories. In no particular order…(Also, sorry, I’m guilty of being a bit of a lurker, and am linking some blogs that I’ve been reading but apparently haven’t been following. Whoops. I’m going to do better about getting involved in the community from here on out!)

1. Diary of a Hopeful Woman
2. My Ectopic: A Pregnancy Experience
3. Settling Mud
4. The Recurrently Hopeful
5. The Longest Journey
6. Bonus Mom Love
7. Infertility: My Journey
8. Blooming Spiders
9. Our Journey to Three
10. Pregnant Physicist

Thanks so much to everyone for continuing to support Miscarriage Memoirs.

Standing on the edge of a knife

“I want to know it’s possible…”

I remember watching her cry nine months ago when we sat at Panera. Her eyes filled with tears and she told me, “My sister is pregnant.”

There was silence. Then hugs and quiet “Oh honey’s”. She was my best friend. She’d been married over two years. And she wanted desperately to be a mom.

Her sister had been married less than six months. And both couples lived together. I was the only person who knew just how hard this was going to be for my friend. She would have to watch as her little sister got all the first-grandbaby love and adoration. She would watch the pregnancy. She would watch the baby. And it would quietly kill her a little inside. But she would be so happy for her sister, and she would be supportive and helpful and caring as she always had been. There wasn’t an angry bone in her body, but this… This hurt.

Flash forward to Toby, sweet, cute, five-weeks-early Toby. The tiny baby with a LOT of hair. He is alive and good and my friend’s very first nephew. She’s helped buy cribs and set up the nursery, clean the apartment that the two couples share, field phone calls from extended family and post facebook pictures on behalf of her exhausted sister. All for the baby that wasn’t hers.

And then… A week after Toby came home… My friend’s test turned positive.

Finally. After trying for years and seeing multiple doctors and being told that hormone imbalances will keep her from having easy pregnancies and all the scary thoughts and fears… Finally. She and I feel very similarly about two very different things:

I want to know that there is a possibility of me having someone to spend my life with.

She wants to know there’s a possibility of her having a baby.

So when that stick gave her a happy little plus sign, she naturally panicked. Doctors were called. Appointments were made. Everything was going to be checked and taken care of. She knew her family history with pregnancy was rough. She wanted all her bases covered.

And then she bled.

And oh… How that crashed things. Headlong. Into a wall. Because she had to be strong and caring and helpful. She was helping her sister with a complicated premie baby after all. But she was so scared. Doctors were called. Hormones were prescribed.

And now she waits. Because either the baby isn’t as far along as they thought and there are complications… Or the baby isn’t as far along as it should be, and there are scarier complications. No one knows she’s pregnant. She hasn’t had the happy grandbaby love. Her husband and I are taking shifts to make sure she is resting and not panicking. Because everything she’s ever wanted is standing on the edge of a knife, and if it falls she will have to watch her sister with a newborn, while she lives in the same apartment…

Knowing her, she will be happy for her sister and continue taking care of Toby and she will take hundreds of pictures and still field phone calls. But inside it will continue killing her just a little more each day to help with the baby that isn’t hers.

And as her best friend, It will kill me a little just to watch.

–LS