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kaylinstaten

Staten

If you would have asked me when I was younger what a pregnancy loss looked like, I wouldn’t have had an answer.

Sure, I would have detailed what I THOUGHT it looked like, felt like, and seemed like. I would have gone through the emotions without comprehension, without being shaken to my core. Empathy would have washed over me, covering the heart on my sleeve and deepening my understanding — but only to a point.

I wouldn’t have truly known.

Now, after two pregnancy losses, I know all too well the feelings of hopelessness, blame, grief, depression and the entire gamut of feelings thrust upon anyone who experiences such a loss. As the cliché goes, you don’t think it will happen to you. Until it does.

My first pregnancy ended in a loss that changed my life forever on June 4, 2019. I experienced a very early miscarriage at five weeks while at home, and I didn’t know what to think or feel. I was numb and thought my body sabotaged my truest desire to be a mother. I felt alone in my loss.

I had another miscarriage on April 20, 2021. This one was at around six weeks, and it’s something I wasn’t anticipating in several capacities. Nothing prepares you for a loss, especially the losses of two of your children. I will always remember the spring snowfall that blanketed our yard that morning as my heart broke again. It’s burned into my memory.

In between those two losses, I gave birth to our rainbow baby. One thing is for certain, however: I now know the pain of pregnancy losses.

If you have lost a child at any stage of life, you know its highly specific brand of grief. Once this happens, you cannot go back to where you were before. It’s like when Alice says in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” that “I can’t go back to yesterday. I was a different person then.”

The reality is, one in four pregnancies ends in a pregnancy loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, the majority of those losses occur before week 20 of gestation and can be attributed to various causes — or sometimes have no explanation at all.

Often, we don’t have nearly the number of resources available to us in our moments of active miscarriages. We may not receive the empathy we need and deserve from those around us. We may grasp at any possible sign of hope when something sounds promising at the moment.

During this October’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month, I want to share what I have learned after loss, with the hopes that it can help others.

Have empathy for the unseen

Be compassionate with yourself in this process and know you are doing the best you can. If someone you know is going through a miscarriage or infant loss, be there to listen. Don’t make their pain about you. Small gestures can mean the most. And if you’re the one going through this loss, don’t be afraid to tell people that you don’t feel like talking, and put up boundaries to shield negativity if that is needed.

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Advocate for yourself

I have never advocated so much for myself than during my two miscarriages and my son’s pregnancy. While there are so many people who want the best for you, there are others who allow things to slip through the cracks. It’s important to ask questions of your medical providers. Also, if you feel like you’re not being treated with respect during your period of grief, don’t be afraid to let someone know. Also, research can be a valuable tool and will allow you to form your own questions and educate yourself about processes and emotions.

Unplug from social media (and other events)

Something that was incredibly helpful for me during both losses was staying off social media. All of us know that social media can be damaging to our mental health, and that is increasingly evident during a period of grief.

Others’ posts caused an entire host of emotions, from explosive anger to extreme depression. It’s no one’s fault, but these triggers began to really tear into my psyche. It’s also OK to not attend someone else’s baby shower or go to a family event if you are triggered or just feel down. You don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations or even your own when you are in this period of grief.

Get help when you need it

I used to think that I could handle everything myself. In fact, I still have that thought distortion and have to nip it in the bud on a daily basis.

One of the best things I did during my first miscarriage was going to therapy on a regular basis. I am still in therapy and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn acceptance and ways to cope with grief. While this may seem intimidating, try to attend an in-person or virtual group therapy session. I did this during my second miscarriage, and it was so helpful. While you don’t wish this pain on anyone else, it is comforting to know that you are not alone.

Keep your child’s legacy alive

This looks different for everyone, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Most people would want to push away the pain, to never think about a period of grief like this. That line of thinking does us no favors. Ignoring the grief will not allow us to heal.

Instead, I have chosen to keep my children’s legacies alive by sharing my story. I recently released “Healing Your Heart: A Prompted Journal for Pregnancy Loss,” which allows anyone dealing with a pregnancy or infant loss to chronicle their journeys. No matter how challenging it is, writing or communicating about your loss will begin your healing journey. Do what works for you.

I will never forget what I have lost. I am forever changed and cannot go back to the person I was before all of this happened. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to. These babies, in addition to my son, made me a mother.

I will carry them with me, always. And I know you will remember yours, too.

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month was first recognized in October 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. “Healing Your Heart: A Prompted Journal for Pregnancy Loss” can be purchased on Amazon.

Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is a public relations practitioner, writer and the CEO of Hourglass Media. She lives in Huntington. She can be reached at kaylin@hourglassmedia.company.

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