October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Awareness Pin

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the President had a very personal experience with infant loss during his first marriage, when his newborn baby died just 7 hours after birth.

Many states have declared October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, but remembrance and events are seen throughout this important month.

What do this mean to you? Awareness Month is a simple way to open the door to conversations about your feelings and your baby. You may want to talk to your family, friends, your community or maybe your spouse or significant other about your child who died.

Wearing a pink and blue Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbon during October, or anytime, is a great way to increase awareness and honor your baby. You can buy a Pregnancy Loss Awareness Pin by visiting StockPins.com. The pins are well-made, inexpensive and arrive in a few business days.

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbons can be handmade with pink and blue ribbon or purchased. The pins should be worn on the left-hand side just above your heart- where your baby already lives.

Remembering Your Baby: Your Past, Your Future

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a great time to remember and memorialize your baby. Here are some tips we share each year at this time, adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

There are countless ways to remember and honor your baby. No matter how much time has passed since your miscarriage, it is never too late to memorialize your child.

You can find comfort and healing by incorporating your baby’s memory into your life. Here are some suggestions:

Create a memory box. Include any mementos you may have from your baby. A positive pregnancy test, a toy, stuffed animal or outfit you bought for the baby (if you do not have one, then buy one). Anything you may have that reminds you of your pregnancy or your baby can be included, even if you just have a few things.

Make a donation in your baby’s name. Publicly acknowledge your child by making a charitable donation, or give something to a needy child that is the same age your child would have been now. Also consider submitting an article or poem about your baby to a newspaper or magazine.

Make something for the baby such as a quilt, a painting, a cross stitch, an outfit, a piece of pottery or furniture.

Buy a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby. Your baby’s birthstone, or an engraved necklace with your baby’s name can be good choices.

Plant a tree or garden in memory of your baby. You may even choose a houseplant or indoor tree. Decorate the tree at special times of the year to remember your baby.

Add your baby to the family tree. If you named your baby, add him or her permanently to the family by including the baby in your family tree.

Donate baby items that you may have bought or received to a worthy charity. You may also do this in your baby’s name.

Have a celebration each year on your baby’s birthday or due date.

Include your baby in the hospital’s Remembrance Book. Most hospitals have a remembrance book, and even if your baby did not die in a hospital, you can contact the Chaplin at your local hospital.

Light a candle for the baby every evening until you feel you do not need to anymore. After that, burn it once a month, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, or on special anniversaries.

Remembering your baby is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong way to honor your child. Taking the time to memorialize your baby will bring you closure and comfort as your move through your grief, and work toward recovery.

Plan to Attend the Stillbirth Summit

Attend the Stillbirth Summit

The Stillbirth Summit is a critical educational event that will address how 30,000 babies in the U.S. and more than 3.4 million babies worldwide die each year before they take their first breath. The event will raise awareness, rally families, push for more research, create prevention strategies in pregnancy care and seek to dramatically decrease the rate of this unnecessary tragedy.

You are invited to join more than a dozen international researchers, hundreds of health professionals, parents and others, in Minneapolis on October 6-8, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza Airport-Mall of America, located at 3 Appletree Square, Bloomington, MN, 55425.

If you cannot attend the Summit, you can buy a ticket to the live VIRTUAL VIDEO CONFERENCE that will document the conversations and outcomes. For more information, email info@starlegacyfoundation.org or visit their website at www.starlegacyfoundation.org.

9/11: A Time to Remember

We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing as the horrific events of 9/11 began to unfold. Ten years later, these memories are as fresh and vivid as the day they occurred. I was attending a corporate business meeting in Sgt Bluff, Iowa on that unforgettable day. I often traveled for my job, but this trip would be a very different one- one that ripped me from my husband and 6-month old baby at the worst possible time. I found myself half way across the country from my home – stranded, scared for my country and alone.

It was my great fortune to partner with a beloved co-worker for the long journey home. Flying was no option, so we quickly got permission to keep my rental car and began a “Thelma & Louise” style trip- minus the cliff diving of course. We bought a disposable camera and a map and set off on a two and half day trek from the middle of the country to the coast of the Mid-Atlantic.

Thinking back on all of this, it strikes me that 9/11 began a time of incredible grief in our nation. And just like any other kind of grief, we have been going through the healing process ever since. Today marks the 10-year anniversary of this tragedy and a milestone in our healing- a decade of handling our grief.

For those of us dealing with the loss of miscarriage, we have faced this type of grief. The deep, intense wonder if things will ever right themselves, if we will find the happiness we seek. Ten years after 9/11 our nation has moved on, but we are forever changed. We may not feel the daily sting of the events, but we will always remember the pain.

Miscarriage and loss is no different. Although we move on with our lives, we are forever changed. However, I hope like our nation, you may each find the hope and peace you are looking for.

Can Antidepressants During 1st Trimester Cause Autism?

Can Antidepressants Cause Autism?


A study published on Monday suggests that women who were prescribed common antidepressants in the year before they became pregnant had an increased risk of having a baby with autism. When the antidepressant was taken during the all-important first trimester, the risk tripled.

This is important information for any woman in child-bearing years and it has raised critical questions for those who stuggle with depression. Researches caution that more studies are needed to fully understand the link between austism and antidepressants. They also voiced concerns for women with serious depression who become pregnant and may need treatment. You can read the full story on this and a second study at: http://on.msnbc.com/lZ4s5x
Science has uncovered so many potential risk factors for women during the first three months of pregnancy and this study adds, yet one more. Be sure to discuss any risks that concern you with your doctor.

“In Motion” or Emotion? How Men and Women Grieve Differently

 Men and women often find themselves feeling alone during grief because nature (and society) has equipped us to handle it so differently. These differences can make it harder to connect during the times we need it most, so we must work to understand one another.
 
Men
 
 When facing loss, men generally put their feelings into action. They often experience their pain physically rather than emotionally. A man may tend to focus on goal-oriented tasks that require thinking and action. For this reason, he may put his efforts into planting a memorial garden or writing a eulogy.
 
In other cultures, men have been noted as using rituals to relieve the pain of anger or grief. Physical ceremonies such as shooting bows and arrows have been observed as outlets for grief and sorrow.
 
Activity can give men a sense of control and accomplishment as they experience grief. Even if he decides to share details of his loss with friends, it may likely be during shared activities such as fishing or sporting events.
 
Men will often react to the stress of grief by exhibiting behavior that scientist refer to as “fight-or-flight.” This type of reaction means that individuals who are confronted with stress will either react aggressively (“fight”), or withdraw or flee from the situation (“flight”).
 
A man will often allow himself to cry during grief, but he will usually do so alone, or even in the dark. This may lead other family members to believe that he is not grieving at all.
 
Women
 
In general, our society teaches women that it is acceptable for them to be open with their feelings. They will often feel a greater need to talk with others and share their emotions with supportive friends and family members.
 
In many cases, women seek non-judgmental listeners who are comfortable with a show of emotion. This provides them with an outlet for the grief they are feeling.
 
Women often respond to the stress of grief with a reaction called “tend-and-befriend.” This means that they may feel compelled to protect or nurture their children or others (“tend”) and seek out social contact and support from others (“befriend”). For this reason, women may have the desire to join a support group, while men, on the other hand, generally do not.
 
Even with our society’s ability to accept strong emotions and feelings from women, it is typical for our culture to criticize them as they deal with grief. All too often, women are said to be too sentimental or even ‘weak’ when they are seen expressing the painful emotions of grief. This causes some women to feel the need to suppress their feelings, or believe that they are failing to be ‘strong.’ However, it is often found that women are experiencing the grief- feeling the pain, while others around may be avoiding grief work.
 
 The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.    

 

 
 
 
 

Father’s Day After Loss: Men Have Feelings Too

After the loss of a baby, Father’s Day can be a painful time for men that isn’t widely discussed or recognized. They will often hear friends and family asking their wives how they are doing, but rarely do men recieve the same type of attention. The lack of understanding and support offered to men makes grief a very complex and difficult situation for them.
 
It may sometimes appear that a man is not experiencing the pain of pregnancy loss. It is critical to understand how men and women grieve differently. Life experiences, along with cultural and personality differences mean that men and women are going to have separate, but equal dealings with grief.
 
If the lines of communication and support break down during loss, you will find a man feeling alone and unsupported. Here are some ways you can help a man during grief:
 
  • Remember that men normally grieve in private- not in public. You may not see outward signs that a man is grieving, but do not be fooled. Understand that a man in grief will find himself in a difficult position- he will be shamed if he expresses deep emotions in public and he will be shamed if he does not.
  • Be aware that men often experience anger differently then women during grief. While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward you or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response, however hostile behavior is not.
  • Listen. Remember that some men want to talk, but they feel there is no one to listen. A man may also be uncomfortable putting his feelings into words. Encourage him by listening during those times when he does talk about it.
  • Ask what you can do. It is very important to ask what you can do to help a man during his grief, and then do your best to meet his needs.
  • Keep an open mind. Remember that grief is an individual experience. Assuming that a man is not feeling pain if he grieves differently than you will only cause strife and misunderstanding.

Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone. Understanding a man and giving him the space and support he needs will be cricital.

  
The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

New Genetic Test: Could Incredible Science Become Gateway to Science Fiction?

No one can deny the incredible feat that has been completed by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine this past December- it is the future application that may get you thinking. Scientists there have devised a testing procedure for couples who are carriers of genetic diseases who are undergoing in vitro fertilization.

The groundbreaking test measures viable embryos for chromosomal abnormalities before they are implanted. In vitro embryos are so small and have so little DNA that only limited testing has been possible. This new technique creates a “carbon copy” of the DNA that can make multiple genetic tests possible. After testing, embryos that are free of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities can be implanted.

For couples who are known carriers of a genetic disease, in vitro is becoming a more popular route because it does allow some genetic testing to be done. The benefits of this discovery for these parents is undeniable.

With this new technique, one has to wonder if perfectly heathy couples could decide to have the testing. And who’s to say what could potentially result from the ability to see your child’s DNA before he/she is born? Could this type of testing open the door to a society we’ve only seen in Science Fiction  movies?

Read more on the testing for yourself at: http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-genetic-testing-technology-for-ivf-embryos.

Welcome to the HOPE Community!

Welcome  new and returning readers from our HOPE Newsletter! I know it’s been quiet for a very long time and we apologize for the long silence. We’ve had a lot of work going on “behind the scenes” creating our new blog and migrating some of the HopeXchange website to it’s new home here! There are still changes to come as we continue to make improvements.

We look forward to offering you more up to date information and posts on our new blog. We will continue to offer support to women and their families who are dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. And more importantly, we look forward to the chance to interact with you, and allow you to communicate with one another.  This will be a true community and safe place to heal. Let’s make the most of this new opportunity and the support it can offer to each and every one of us.

I read this quote today and thought it fit this new group so well:

 “Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys” ~ Alphonse de Lamartine, French Poet

Let us be strong together.