IBS May Increase the Risk of Miscarriage

A new study that was conducted by two European Universities has shown that women who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may be more likely to suffer a miscarriage. Researchers at University College Cork in Ireland and the University of Manchester in England worked together on the very large study.

The published findings were based on a database of 100,000 UK women. The study found that pregnant women with IBS were 7% more likely to suffer a miscarriage and 1% more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. More research will be needed to determine why the increased risk occurs.

Women who have IBS who are planning to become pregnant should seek the best prenatal care possible and be closely monitored during the pregnancy. For more information on this important study read the article on IrishTimes.com

Running on Empty: An Epiphany and Apology

Someone I love has cancer.

I don’t know why I have struggled so much to write this, but it has taken me weeks to get the courage to type these words so I can (try) to apologize and explain my very long absence.

I’m not sure what I can say that would entirely explain my disappearance, because I’m not entirely sure myself. Between the illness, stress at work (I have a demanding, full-time career) and a very hectic family life (a gross understatement), I found myself running on empty. I kept going, thinking it would work itself out, but it didn’t. I thought so often that I should be keeping up better, that I was letting people down, that I had to get it together. But I didn’t.

My life had too many “loose ends” and it had all caught up with me. I was feeling overwhelmed and completely exhausted and I knew I had to do something. I kept thinking back to the advice of a friend from years ago. She always said, “My mama says, when your life’s a mess, clean out your closets.” Simple, but excellent advice. I decided I would give it a try. I took some much-needed time off to do just that – clean out “the closets” of my life. I cleaned out the “junk drawer,” painted my laundry room, donated some clothes I hadn’t worn in a while, organized the coat closet, spent a day alone with my husband and played ping-pong with my girls. When I went back to work and realized that I was still tired and I hadn’t quite finished everything I wanted to do, I took some more time off, and I finished.

I feel better now. My focus has started to return and I feel more like “my old self.”  So why am I telling you all of this? First to apologize – for disappearing, for letting you down, for letting myself get to this point. But more importantly, to tell everyone out there who is running on empty to stop – stop right now. Stop what you are doing and figure out how to carve out some time, how to tie up the loose ends of your life and clean out your closets. You’ll be glad you did.

Handling the Holidays

Holidays and special events are normally a time of joy and celebration, however they can become a painful reminder of your loss. Seeing family members, making decisions, and attending the holiday activities you usually enjoy can take on a different outlook after the loss of a child.

If you begin feeling sadness during the holidays or a special occasion, think about why you are feeling that way; process those feelings and accept them.  It is a perfectly normal reaction to your grief. Taking this step ahead of time may help you to avoid some uncomfortable moments in public.     
Should I Go?
Ask yourself if you are ready to attend family gatherings or parties. This will give you the opportunity to let someone know your decision in advance. Knowing that you would have planned to share your new baby at these celebrations could make them difficult and even tearful for you. Give yourself the option to gracefully bow out of the activity. Asking yourself these questions before a special event may help:
  • Can I handle this? Is this something I would enjoy? If so, it could be a good way to lift your spirits.
  • What does my spouse think? Will it cause problems if I do not attend?
  • Would the holiday or special event be the same if I don’t attend? Deciding not to attend a Christmas play will not take away from the holiday season; however deciding not to attend Thanksgiving dinner will certainly change the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thinking through these questions ahead of time can help you arrive at a decision that is right for you, and one that will not negatively impact your spouse or your family.
The above is an excerpt from the book Hope is Like the Sun.

Pure Happiness

In the middle of a challenging and frustrating week, I received the most amazing news. After two very difficult losses that caused a strain on an otherwise heathy marriage, a longtime reader had her miracle baby. I am overwhelmed with joy for this brave mother and father who had the courage to try again, and received the greatest gift – a healthy baby boy.

Completely caught up in the many stresses of my life, I felt a peaceful joy in looking at the pictures of this much-loved new life. I found myself going back to the pictures when I needed a lift because I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear when I looked at them.

I was reminded that the important things in life are often quiet the ones – not the blaring noises of my unhappy co-workers, my “stacked to the ceiling” laundry room or my overflowing “to-do” list. The pure happiness I felt when I looked at that little baby’s beautiful face is what I need to focus on. Laundry room…you’re out of luck.

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.
 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.
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.