A Survival Guide: Holidays After A Loss

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Survival Guide: Holidays After A Loss

The holiday season can be hard for those who have experienced a loss this year. At a time of year that people are expected to automatically be happy and be cheery and bright-eyed, it can be painful to have to pretend to be enjoying yourself while you are dying on the inside. One mother described it as “a dark place of heartbreak and anger.”

Through my work with parents who have experienced loss (or any kind of trauma), I have found that having a structure of mindsets to help you survive in high stress situations is helpful. I was considering a survival guide for the holidays for expectant parents who have experienced loss, but then I thought why not just a general survival guide to help when you are coping with loss, no matter what time of year it is.

    1. Know your limits (It’s people's’ job to respect that boundary) You have the right to pick and choose which events you attend and which events will too overwhelming emotionally. You can be honest with folks, too. It’s okay to say you aren’t ready, yet. If that’s too painful, have an excuse thought out beforehand.
    2. Share your feelings -or don’t- either way you must advocate for yourself by asking to be left alone or acknowledging the fact that you want to share is helping those around you learn how to best support you. Otherwise, you can politely tell people how they can best support you when they ask.
    3. Respect your own personal boundaries At one point or another, you will find yourself in a situation that you thought you could handle, but turns out you weren’t ready. That’s okay, but know when to take a minute to be alone. Connect with your body, begin to recognize your body’s signs of feelings overwhelmed, and begin to remove yourself before you feeling out of control.
    4. Know when it’s bigger than you Check out this blog on the “bigger than you approach” to interacting with challenging situations. We all have that one relative or friend of a friend who just won’t get it--no matter how hard you try. That’s okay. It’s not your job to help every single person you encounter understand, but it is your job to recognize when you’re causing yourself more stress than will pay off in the end.
    5. It’s OK to not be OK (and to say no) This is an important one. Refer to #1 where it says it’s okay to not only pick and choose which events you attend, but to also be honest with people. See #3 where it says recognize and remove yourself from situations. I can’t stress enough how ok it is to not be ok. Literally everyone has had moments when they were not okay and no one should expect you to be okay before you are ready.
    6. Start a new tradition to remember your baby This one can be fun and can look like anything. I urge you to make it a celebration rather than a remembrance. I used to work with a family that got donuts each year to celebrate their angel baby’s birthday. They had two kids after their loss who knew what the holiday was and looked forward to the discussions about their brother each year. It can be as formal as you’d like, if that is your style, or as laid back as a donut date.
    7. Lean on Your Partner Your partner will be hurting, too. Take some time to reflect on your individual needs, but also your needs as couple. You can find immense strength in one another if you allow yourself to be open to hurting together. Loss has the potential to bring partners together in a very strange way that can transform your relationship to depths that you never knew was possible.

                Part of the healing process is pushing yourself a healthy amount, but also recognizing the healing and work you still have to do. It’s okay to remember that sometimes the only cure is time. Surrounding yourself with those who care about you and will support you during this time is essential. Be vigilant on how much you push yourself during the holidays as it is already a stressful time of year. It’s okay to say no and to respect your own boundaries.

                Tranquility by HeHe has partnered with Organic Conceptions. Through this, HeHe is an Organic Conceptions Coach who is excited to help support you on your infertility journey and finding natural ways to start your family. We are excited to be the first Doula and Birthing Service in Boston to offer these services as part of our comprehensive approach from conception to the first few years of your child's life! Other Organic Conceptions Coaches in the Boston area are Nicole Brown (our TBHbirthing partner) and Angela Bell, both acupuncturists. Stay strong out there and remember to lean on your village when you need!

                Sign up for our Newsletter to stay in-the-loop with our tribe! Each week I will drop helpful how-to's and know-how's in your inbox! I also share savings for our village members plus you're one of the first to get word of big announcements, new services, and workshops! Get your name on the list here.

                Tranquility by HeHe, A Maternity Concierge, Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                The Best Holiday Gifts for Parents

                Friday, December 22, 2017

                The Best Holiday Gifts for Parents

                Tranquility by HeHe is dedicated to bringing mental health awareness into every home that we serve. We take time to have sensitive chats before the birth of your child to see exactly what fears, concerns, worries, and questions you have. This is telling of the support you might need when preparing to welcome your little one Earthside. With so much focus on the baby by most birth workers, we've created an approach that is parent centered. Our Founder, HeHe, has been an active member in the Mental Health world for years and hopes that one day the stigma around mental health will be absolved. With this, we have a focus on mental health of parents leading up to the birth of their child and support during postpartum. Headspace is a word that you will hear HeHe say over and over again in order to bring awareness to your body, your emotions, how those two are connected, and how they inevitably influence one another.

                With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to start wrapping up last minute gift ideas! If your family is anything like my family, you will soon be faced with two of the most difficult questions, “what do I get [insert person] for the holidays?” and “What do you want for the holidays?”

                We live in such a gadget-crazed and electronic fueled society that the holidays can be a wonderful and refreshing time of year. You can give the gift of refreshing relaxation and you can ask for the gift of rejuvenation.

                Giving the Gift of Rejuvenation

                Giving the gift of rejuvenation is a wonderful way to support new parents. Here are my favorite gifts to give to new parents to help them start the new year feeling refreshed, resilient, and ready to take on whatever comes their way.
                • Massage This is everyone’s go-to. It’s perfect. It’s reasonably priced, it’s meaningful, and it has immediate relief, and it caters to improving parental mental health. Buying someone a package that allows them to go a few times or for a specific amount of times/visits can provide lasting results. This is a great way to intentionally carve out one-hour of self-care time for those you love.
                • Spa Day This is one of my favorites. Though, it’s a tad bit misleading, as a spa day is rarely an entire day, but it’s still a wonderful and thoughtful gift. This allows parents to escape parenthood briefly and declare a reset. They can fully relax for a few hours to hit refresh. Usually spa days include visits to the sauna, massages, facials, hot tubs, showers, and refreshments available.
                • Sleep Now-a-days, I feel like you can literally give anything as a gift. Between worldwide shipping, online ordering, and gift certificates, anything is possible. When thinking of meaningful gifts for new or expecting parents, be intentional. Think about what do parents really need? They are generally so exhausted that having one night to sleep without interruption can mean the world. Doulas and night nurses now offer gift certificates to give to your loved ones. These make great gifts because you’re giving the gift of sleep. Doulas and night nurses are professionals trained in infant care who will come to your home to take care of your child. They spend the night in your home to provide you with a full night’s rest.
                • Trip This one is more for spouses or grandparents. Giving your spouse a trip is a wonderful way to escape together and hit reset as a couple and as parents. I often hear of grandparents who give this to their children and take care of the grandchildren while the parents are vacationing. A trip can be a weekend away or as extensive as a trip to another country or a cruise.

                How To Ask for Rejuvenation

                If you want to subtly hint at what you want, you could always say, “I would really love some time to just relax.” This is a polite answer and still leaves freedom and creativity in the giver’s hands. However, if you know someone is asking because they would rather gift you something that you truly want and would enjoy, you can say just that. It’s not rude to ask for what you want if someone is directly asking for that answer. Simply saying, “I would love a massage to start off the new year,” or “I would love nothing more than a spa day to celebrate the end of this year.” Don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs or wishes.

                Pay It Forward

                I like to say, “You’re only as good as the most rejuvenated person on your team when it comes to raising children.” When it comes to finding that balance between caring for your family and caring for yourself, it is important to remember to advocate for your needs and wants. This might mean directly stating what you want or need. Help the people around you, including your support people (not just other parents), to take the time they need to care for themselves, too. Remember to hold people accountable for self-care just as they take care of you.

                Check out Gift Certificates from Tranquility by HeHe, here to help pamper your loved ones this holiday season. Give the gift that has a ripple effect of positivity.

                Tranquility by HeHe, A Maternity Concierge, Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                **Tranquility by HeHe is a safe space for all persons regardless of gender, race, national origin, age, mental disability, or sexual orientation.

                8 Questions to Ask During a Doula Interview

                Saturday, December 9, 2017

                Boston, MA, USA

                8 Questions to Ask During a Doula Interview 

                Ever see something on the internet that makes you cringe...

                Do you ever see anything on the internet that makes you cringe so hard that you want to scream? I can name a couple: the incessant bickering on FB, the mom's groups that everyone thinks they are a medical doctor or a licensed psychologist, and don't forget about the person who post what they are doing when they are doing it every single day (I also worry about their safety!). Whew, it's exhausting. 

                Over my time as a doula, there is one thing that still makes me cringe just as hard now as it did the very first time I experienced it. There is nothing worse than an expectant parent who shows up to an interview with printed questions from the internet. The worst questions are the ones that highlight the fact that this person truly has no idea what a doula can truly do to transform their birth experience. The questions of "How long have you been a doula?" or "How many births have you attended?" As if the number of births or the number of days you've been a doula has a profound impact on the care you can give to them. Instead they should be concerned with how much knowledge you have, how much support you can provide, the experience you've had with birth, and how well trained are you.

                When you think about your perfect birth team, who do you think of? If you know you want a supported birth with people who encourage you and believe in your body and you haven’t considered hiring a doula, maybe you should. If you have already decided you want a doula, but don’t know what to ask in the interview process, I’m here to help! When you think about support do you probably think of someone you can trust, someone who is honest, someone who is knowledgeable and able to help you advocate for what you believe in. These questions can help you learn these things about your doula. 

                8 no-non-sense questions

                Here's what to ask when you are interviewing doulas to find the best support for you. Welcoming a child into this world is a magnificent feat. It will be a life changing experience. Make sure you do your due diligence when looking into who you want included on your birth team.

                1. Are you registered as a business? In order to increase your chances of being reimbursed by your insurance for your doula costs, you can make sure you hire a professional doula who is running a business rather than attending births as a hobby. If your doula is accepting money to attend births, they should be honest about it. If your doula has not registered their business, you could be getting into a sticky situation.
                2. Do you carry insurance? Would you receive care from an OBGYN, midwife, acupuncturist, or massage therapist who didn't carry professional insurance? Let's hope not. Your doula is no different. Anyone who serves the public and cares for people in intimate settings should always carry insurance.
                3. Do you have a contract? To keep yourself safe, don't even go here. Contract or no deal.
                4. What would you do if [insert a scenario you'd like to know what she'd do]? This is a great way to judge how that doula will speak to you during your relationship. If they begin to discredit your feelings during your interview with them, imagine how they might react in a situation of intense emotions like birth. However, if you see a logical and sensitive response, this gives you a good sense of their compassion for working with people and having your best interest at heart.
                5. If you had to choose three words to describe your practice what would they be? You are going to hear a lot of information and these three words will help you understand what is important to each doula when they are forced to identify with only three adjectives.
                6. What organization are you trained through? Do your own research on the organizations that train doulas. Some organizations are better than others. "Certification" is a buzz word surrounding doulas. Certification is managed by each organization so there is no standard. Some certifications are easily attained after training and some require intense qualifications. Rather than asking if your doula is certified, ask who she was trained by and what her experience has been. A "certified doula" doesn't certify her to be a good, or even knowledgeable, doula.
                7. What is your philosophy of birth? Knowing how your doula views birth will tell you a lot of how compatible you two are going to be. If you're interviewing a doula who is off to one side of the spectrum, it may be best to continue to interview other doulas and try to find someone who is more in alignment with what you envisioned for your birth or what you had expected.
                8. What do the services/packages include? You will want to know things like when your doula will start to support you, when your doula will stop supporting you, What kind of support do they provide, what if your doula is unable to attend your birth, and what is included for the price you are paying. Make sure you ask specific questions about or mention things that are important to you.

                When picking a doula, make sure you think about having this person in one of the most intimate moments of your life. I am always careful to be intentional with the conversation that we have during prenatals so I can help encourage you to advocate for yourself. My goal is to support you regardless of what or how I feel. If feels great to know that when I asked past clients to describe me they said words like compassionate, gentle, kind, unbiased, non-judgmental, light-hearted, warm, and educated.

                Personality + Price

                After you narrow down your list to personalities that are compatible with yours, begin to look at their prices and what you get for that price. Do you get multiple doulas? Do you get exclusive deals with partners of your doula? Check out our partnerships here. Do you get “extras” included in that price? Does that support extend beyond one-on-one and give you a community to connect with? For example, all TBHbirthing client gains exclusive access to a private Facebook group that is filled with all of our clients gathered in a single safe space to support one another.

                If you find that you have narrowed it down to two choices and you are having a really hard time deciding between the two, take a minute. Take a minute to step away from this decision (and by minute I mean a day or so). When you're ready, close your eyes and imagine your ideal birth. When you envision what that looks like, who, out of the two final doulas, do you see supporting you in your ideal birth?

                Whoever that is, you should snag them up before their calendar fills up!

                { Snag your seat in our FREE TRAINING to master your mindset for birth without the fear and anxiety! }

                Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                Postpartum Essentials 101

                Sunday, November 19, 2017

                I recently met Jenny through a online blogging group. I instantly connected with her blogs and reached out to her. She is the mother of 2 and lover of all things home decor and parenthood. She also loves donuts which is a plus in my book! She has amazing posts about pumping exclusively, must-have items, and DIY how-to's. Check her out over at Paint & Pillows.

                I asked her to write about her postpartum experience and list her must-have items for when you bring baby home. Enjoy this "tell it like it is," but very logical list of postpartum supplies you will need after having a baby.

                Must-Have's by Jenny 

                Despite what those supermodels and celebs show us, your body doesn’t just snap back into place. Things are squishy and leaky and kinda gross. Not knowing what to expect or what can help, can definitely make those first weeks at home harder and more uncomfortable than they need to be. So I’ve compiled a list of postpartum essentials to help ease you into your journey of motherhood.

                1. Maxi Pads – I’m not talking about regular ol’ pads either. You’re going to want the super-duper, ultra-absorbent overnight pads, because after baby, there will be blood. Lots of blood. After all, you haven’t had a period for nine-months, so now your body is going to try and make up for that. Thanks, Mother Nature.

                1. Comfortable Underwear – Forget the skimpy, sexy panties from your pre-baby days . . . at least, for a while. With all the blood and swollen bits that come with birth, you’re going to want something that covers everything up and keeps it all in place. And black. You’re probably going to want to get them in black. Because Mother Nature.
                1. Tucks – You’ve just pushed a human the size of a small watermelon out of a hole the size of a bagel. Things, understandably, are going to be sore after that. The witch hazel in these pads helps cool your swollen lady bits and take some of the sting out of the healing process.

                1. Dermoplast – The hospital gave me some of this after the birth of my first and it was a life-saver! Dermoplast is a pain-relieving spray that’s safe for use on your more delicate areas and can definitely help soothe your tender bits, especially if you’ve had stitches.

                1. Peribottle – The hospital will probably send you home with one of these little squirt bottles to use for hosing yourself off after using the bathroom (because nobody wants to drag toilet paper over a sore bottom). But if you have more than one bathroom in the home, I’d recommend getting one for each. They’re inexpensive and it’ll save you time trekking around the house to locate one whenever you have to answer Nature’s call.

                1. Stool Softener – There’s not much in this world more terrifying than those first few poops after baby, especially if you tore during delivery. They’ll give you some stool softener in the hospital, but you should probably have some one hand at home and take them regularly for a while until you’ve healed a bit. Trust me.

                1. Postpartum Girdle – Your body has spent nine-months with a tiny human stretching your skin and pushing all of your organs out of place. Your after-birth stomach is going to be . . . squishy. It’s going to take a while for everything to return to normal. A postpartum support belt provides support for your tired core as well as holding everything in place while it heals. This can help shrink and tighten your hips, waist, and belly, which is a plus in my book!

                1. Breast Pads – Even if you’re not planning to breastfeed, when your milk comes in, your boobs are going to be engorged and leaky for a while. Unless you want to constantly be changing your top, invest in some breast pads to sop up the mess and prevent embarrassing wet spots from appearing on your clothes (at the worst time, of course).
                Bringing home your baby is such a special thing.  Enjoy that little bundle of joy! Soak up every tiny moment. And don’t forget to take care of your postpartum body! Check out our checklist of postpartum supplies to help prepare you for the Fourth Trimester!

                I would love to see every woman prepared the best they possibly can be for the postpartum period of having a baby. I'd love to see postpartum care as a preventative measure instead of a reactionary measure. I believe one of the key pieces missing from the maternity care and culture in America is the absence of "the village." No one was meant to raise children alone and yet we try to do it every single day.
                Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                I Trusted My Body; You Should, Too

                Saturday, October 21, 2017

                Boston, MA, USA

                { Snag your seat in our FREE TRAINING to master your mindset for birth without fear & anxiety! }

                Waiting is Hard 

                Waiting on your tiny human to make their grand appearance can be one of the toughest things you might ever do. The waiting game is hard and when the prize is your little one that you've been growing for months, it can seem like a grueling tasks. I recently wrote a blog about why your Estimated Due Date is actually based on a guess. I like to call it a Guess-stimated Due Date. So much weight is placed on EDD's and so often I see expectant parents feeling all the feels when that date comes and goes with no birth of a baby. 

                I recently met Taylor Kader, a former teacher turned stay-at-mom and lifestyle blogger. She has a two year-old child and one on the way. I was immediately drawn to her blog posts and her "realness" that shined through her site. You can find her at www.coffeeandcandor.com. She is also on Facebook and Instagram with inspirational posts. 

                She shared her story with me about how she trusted her body to know when her little one was ready. Her story is inspirational and I wanted to share it with the world. I often feel like hard-to-do's are not that hard to do after hearing someone has done it before me with success.

                Nausea, Heartburn, and Restless Nights 

                Most birthing parents spend the majority of their pregnancy battling fears and anxieties--of all kinds--premature labor, birth defects, prodromal labors, baby getting stuck, baby being too big. However, once you hit that 38 week mark, your fears automatically shift--being pregnant forever!

                "When you have spent 39 weeks enduring nausea, heartburn, restless nights, sciatica, backaches, food aversions, growing out of clothes, and waves of fatigue that knock you right off your feet, the last thing you can fathom is doing all that one more week. You are so ready to meet your baby, so ready to have your body back, so ready to start this new journey. Your bags are packed, the baby clothes have been washed, and you’ve run out of shows to binge watch on Netflix (because you started maternity leave already ‘just in case’ baby came early - ha!). And then your doctor tells you at your 39 week appointment that there are still no impending signs of labor - no dilation, no effacement, no baby dropping. Your heart sinks and you  immediately think, “it’s official: I will be pregnant forever.”

                A study done by R. Mittendorf of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston Massachusetts (1) found that the average woman carrying her first child will go a full 8 days past her Estimate Due Date. This study was conducted on women who were considered standard, uncomplicated pregnancies and were without interventions.

                When hearing buzz words like effacement  and dilation, ask yourself, do you really know which one is more important? Does one tell you more than the other? Is one a predictor of labor? Yes! A 2003 study found that effacement (at around 37 weeks) is a pretty good indicator of labor onset (3). If by your 37 week of pregnancy, you are 60% effaced, you are likely to have your baby before you stated due date. If you are 40% or less effaced at this point, it is likely you will be carrying for a tiny bit longer than expected (or what you had been planning).

                Feeling All The Feels 

                "Doubt, fear, frustration. But instead of giving in to external pressures and the ease of inducing, I simply waited, and the result was an amazing experience that I am very grateful for. Let me first tell you that I am not some zen-powerful patient person. Quite the opposite, actually. I have the world’s most limited patience, and at 39 weeks pregnant, I was so envious of any person who had delivered prior to that. I didn’t care that statistics said most first-time moms go past their due date; I didn’t care that making it to your due date meant your baby was at the most optimal gestational age to come into the world. I wanted my pregnancy to be over and parenthood to begin. To say I was anxious and frustrated would be an understatement. So when my doctor told me with one week left until our original due date of March 31, 2015 that baby “just didn’t seem ready yet” and we needed to discuss inducing, I was beyond depressed. We both looked at each other and simply said, "no."

                In 2008, the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Center for Healthy Sciences (2) found that out of all births (spontaneous/with no induction intervention) in the US (on average that year), 18% of women will have their baby in the 38th week, 30% in the 39 week, and 27% will have their baby between weeks 40 and 42. That means that 75% of babies are born within that Guess-stimated Due Month. This also means that alot of tiny humans are born after their "due date." The remaining 25% is made up of premature babies, those who are born past the 42nd week, and induced births.

                That 40th Week...

                "The next week was hard. I was so disheartened that my baby wasn’t with me yet, that my body hadn’t felt my urges to have her here and given me what I wanted. Well, 40 weeks came, and went. The doctor said I was now 1 cm dilated and about 50% effaced, but this was not enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. I’d had zero contractions, my water hadn’t broken, and there was “no need to rush baby out." Since I was 40 weeks now, though, we discussed induction again and how it was looking more and more like the only option. It wasn’t a conversation we ever wanted to have, because I wanted to go into labor on my own and know that my body was doing what it was created to do. But we were also miserably desperate to meet our baby and knew the risks of baby getting too big for the womb, so we set up a tentative induction for 1 week from that day at 5:00 am when I would be 41 weeks. I felt defeated; I was giving up on my body by setting that induction date. Plus, as I researched induction and the implications it carries with it, I grew more and more weary of my decision.I was horrified by the thought of the Pitocin making my body have such strong contractions to start labor that would be ten times worse than when a woman’s body begins them naturally. I was also terrified of the statistic that many more induced labors end with a C-section than those that start on their own. I also hated the fact that I had to be up and in the hospital at 5:00 am, but there was no guarantee that we’d even see our baby that same day, because induction doesn’t always work quickly. I was pretty convinced that I did not want this for me or my child, so I looked up ways to induce labor naturally. Unfortunately, none of these caused the results I was looking for and I was still pregnant as the induction date drew closer."

                If you get to your due date, the odds are in your favor (2). There is a 60% chance that you will have your baby in the next week. Of those who are still pregnant by week 41, theres a 60% chance that your baby will come by week 42. In the US, it is standard practice to induce birthing parents who have reached the 42nd week of pregnancy. That leaves you with a 100% chance of meeting your little one if you are still pregnant by 42 weeks!

                When 42 Weeks Begins to Close In

                "On the eve of my induction, we headed over to my parents’ house to stay the night there. My mom made a delicious meal of some of my favorites as a treat to me - my ‘Last Supper’ in a way. Having put going into labor naturally out of my mind at this point, I basked in the smells of my mom’s kitchen and the excitement of the next day’s events. As I chatted with my mom, I suddenly felt the most powerful sensation ‘down there.’ It was one of the most painful things I had ever experienced, and the best way I can describe it is as a ‘shock,’ or like a taser to my lady parts. My mom described the expression on my face as incredibly pained and alarming to her. I immediately went to the thought that something was wrong with the baby. But with the induction set literally 12 hours from then, I figured we’d be okay if it didn’t happen again. So the evening progressed, with no more ‘shocking’ sensations. I headed to the bathroom for the thousandth time that day, except this time was different. There was blood; why was there blood? I ran out of the bathroom to my mom and asked why I would be bleeding. She had no idea; she had never ‘gone into labor’ with either of her pregnancies, so we both stood their clueless. So we sat down to dinner. We talked and laughed and envisioned how drastically all our lives would change once our daughter was here. As my dad asked me a question, I suddenly had the strongest cramp in my lower abdomen that stopped me in the middle of my answer. Moments later, though, I was caught by another strong cramp and everyone at the table knew something was up. When asked what was going on with me, I simply said, “I think I’m going into labor.” Those six glorious words that I never thought I would get to say brought on a slew of preparations; calling the hospital, being told to time the duration of the contractions and length of time between them, getting me in a more comfortable position to endure these painful but manageable sensations, making sure the bags were ready, watching the length of time between contractions lessen, loading up the car, praying the hospital would admit me, getting checked in and set up on the monitors, and finally, being told I was going to meet my baby soon."

                Worth The Wait 

                When you hear your baby cry for the first time, it is a sound you will never forget. The look on your partner's face beaming with pride from how hard you have worked is priceless. The sheer glow that you will have following the birth of your little one is one of the most beautiful things I have ever had the honor of witnessing. The moment that everyone waits for is whirlwind of emotions. It is an whirlwind of physical feels, too--pain, tingles, exhaustion, an all around body high.
                "The trials of pregnancy, waiting for her to come on her own, and the overall uncertainty of the whole process was instantly wiped away. I heard her cry, saw her open her eyes, felt her breath against my skin, and I knew this was exactly how this was all supposed to happen. The detailed whirlwind of labor and delivery is a story for another time, but the whole point and purpose of my story is to tell you this: I am so eternally grateful that I went 41 weeks with my first born. Because when my body decided it was time, I had nothing but peace and clarity that this was right, that this was it. I had no doubts or fears, and I was able to fully trust my body and it’s ability to deliver the biggest blessing I’d ever known: my daughter. Of course, some women have experiences where medical intervention is absolutely necessary, and I do urge you to listen to your doctor as well as your body. You want your child here with you, but you want both of you to be healthy when that happens. My advice is simply to not let fear, doubt, impatience, jealousy, or frustration drive your decision to fight your body’s natural ability to bring a child into the world. So if you are encroaching on the last few weeks of pregnancy and wondering if you can make it or why you haven’t gone into labor yet, do yourself a favor: trust your body. Let your body work the way it was designed to, and above all else, don’t lose hope. You will NOT be pregnant forever. You will eventually meet your child, and it will be the most amazing moment of your life. Everything else will melt away and you will be completely wrapped up in a happiness you’ve never known before."
                Trust your body. Trust your baby to let your body know when they are ready to sustain life on the outside. Take the time to explore your options so you know what to expect. Be intentional when planning your birth team so you have the right support in place before the time comes. Practice finding a place of serenity and confidence in your body's ability to do it's job. Finally, prepare yourself to remain calm and wait for this beautiful journey to begin.

                Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts

                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                Cited Sources: 
                1. R. Mittendorf et al., "The Length of Uncomplicated Human Gestation," Obstetrics and Gynecology 75, no. 6 (1990): 929-32
                2. 2008 U.S. Natality Detail Files  
                3. Ramanathan et al., "Ultrasound Examination at 37 Weeks' Gestation in the Prediction of Pregnancy Outcome." 

                The Voice of Miscarriage

                Saturday, October 7, 2017

                Boston, MA, USA

                The Voice of Miscarriage 

                What's the voice sound like? 

                Like humans, miscarriage has many different voices; despair, loneliness, sadness, guilt, hatred, anger, and shame to name a few. However, for some, the voice of miscarriage can change over time. I have watched this happen to numerous couples. It's important to note that miscarriage will have different voices for each partner, too (and anyone else involved such as expectant grandparents or expectant siblings). 

                I began supporting people--couples, parents, and families--in their infertility journeys because I saw a need for compassionate care. I saw a need for human connection; for a space to be held for them to express any emotion, any worry, any fear, any anger, any hatred, any loneliness and still feel safe and supported. The road to parenthood isn't always an easy or happy one. The road of infertility and conception challenges is filled with hospitals, medical professionals, bright lights, intrusive procedures, sterile environments, and waiting periods. This discovery, and hearing hundreds of stories of devastation and desperation, led me to support those who are walking along this path. 

                I recently read a book that described the journey of infertility as an island; lonely, somewhat desolate, and removed from society as we know it. The piece of "removed from society" led me to think why? Why is miscarriage and infertility such a taboo topic? Why don't we support those struggling with this? How does this silence affect those struggling with infertility or conception? What does this silence and the pressure to never share your story say to those on this journey?

                I started on my own journey to find this secret island I had learned about. I wanted to bring with me open arms to embrace those in need, ears to hear anything and everything needed to be said, a strong shoulder to lean on, a gentle voice to say, "I'm here," and my body to just hold space. 


                I'm going to share with you a story of loss and devastation of one of my friends. She tells her story so eloquently. Through her story you can see the raw emotion of miscarriage. You will also see the emergence of fearlessness and, for her, the faith that brought her through. 

                "My name is Mary Margaret Robbins, and I am a Christian, wife, mommy, and SLP from Mississippi. This is my story about fear, heartache, faith, and hope surrounding my miscarriage and the subsequent birth of my rainbow baby. Ever since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was a mama. Call it the southern belle in me. I got married at the age of 21 right before I started my master’s program, and baby fever kicked in almost immediately. . I’ll never forget how I felt when we decided to start trying to have a baby during my last year of school. We were so giddy and excited, and I immediately got pregnant the first month we tried."

                Taking a pregnancy test and seeing two lines can be one of the happiest moments of your life. Some people try so hard to get to this moment. For some, it is a very intentional process. When you are 6 weeks pregnant, your pregnancy is considered "clinical," but any point before this the pregnancy is referred to as a "chemical pregnancy." From this moment on, it's possible, that you might alter your lifestyle. You might begin to think more intentionally about the things you put into your body and what you expose yourself to. You may decide to cut out caffeine, purchase all natural cleaning products, avoid certain herbs, and have someone else clean the litter box. You may decide to decrease excessive exercise or decide to start a prenatal exercise routine. You might be more conscious of things you do like gardening and getting your hair colored. Whatever it is, I'll bet that those two positive lines change your life in one way or another. 

                "I took a pregnancy test on this Friday morning and surprised my husband that afternoon with a pacifier that said “I love Daddy.” He couldn’t believe it, and the smile on his face was priceless. We were both so ecstatic, but when you’re a person who is prone to worry, it doesn’t take long for the fear to creep in. From the moment I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks, I lived in a state of constant worry instead of joy over my baby. So much so that I would check my panties for blood every single time I used the bathroom. During a time when I should have been rejoicing, I was overcome by fear."

                An estimated 90% of miscarriages that occur in the first trimester are thought to be due to chromosomal problems (determined at fertilization). 10-15% of pregnancies that are developing normally by 6 weeks gestation will end in spontaneous miscarriage (research s. The risk of miscarriage continues to drop from this moment on as the pregnancy progresses. By 11-12 weeks gestation, the risk of miscarriage drops to about 1-2% (1, 2). By the 15 week of pregnancy, your chance of miscarriage is 0.6% (3). All of these numbers are based on the assumption that all is typical ("normal") at prenatal appointments and you don't have any other risk factors influencing your pregnancy like previous miscarriage (25% risk of miscarriage if you've already had 1 or more miscarriages (2)), advanced maternal age, vaginal bleeding and--believe it or not--lack of nausea. 

                Even knowing that the odds are in your favor and that most spontaneous miscarriages are due to chromosomal issues, walking around with a little bit of fear that never completely goes away is quite common. Many expectant parents will tell about going to extremes they may never have done otherwise like diets and daily rituals like "nesting." 

                "My biggest fear came true a week from the day we found out about our sweet baby. As usual, I went to the bathroom and there it was. The blood and cramps I had secretly been expecting that whole time had appeared and wouldn’t stop for several days, a constant and very vivid reminder of the death of my baby. I remember laying face down on our bedroom floor begging God to please not take my heart’s greatest desire from me, to please let my baby live, to please let us be parents. We spent over 8 hours in the emergency room, waiting, praying, hoping, hurting, and eventually knowing that it was over. We cried and cried that night. I remember being so numb yet feeling everything all at once. There’s no way to adequately describe how lonely and devastated I felt. When I knew the baby was gone, I felt so empty, so alone."

                Someone Else's Struggle is Scary, but Isolation is Scarier...

                In my journey of learning about infertility and supporting those facing these challenges, I began to understand how lonely and isolating this journey was for people. I began to see exactly how those feelings (the voice of miscarriage) begin to creep out and rear its' ugly head. BUT, I failed to understand why it is a taboo subject? Why instead of asking people to share their story and lending a helping hand, a word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold--we instead walk away?
                Because it is uncomfortable. We say the wrong things because silence is scary. We shut it down because we don't know how to empathize with that particular situation. We don't ask because we are afraid of the answer. We don't hold their hand for fear that their touch might be colder than we once remembered. 

                Instead, we leave those most in need... alone and in a time that they are already as alone as alone gets. WE walk away because it makes US uncomfortable to hear someone else's struggle and a story that may not have the happy ending that society has taught us eventually happens for everyone..... wrong

                "The holidays made it even worse because I didn’t want to be around anyone, especially my family members who knew but who didn’t know what to say. I was in a dark place of heartbreak and anger for a long time, anger aimed at God who took my baby from me, at a nurse who said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and at my husband who I thought had “moved on too quickly.”

                Miscarriage and Infertility are quite common... So why do parents feel so alone when they suddenly realize they are standing on this island--an island inhabited with hundreds of other people, but no one is your "neighbor." How do you find the strength to keep going when you're walking down a populated street, but no one is beside you? What do you have that you can hold onto that will carry your forward? 

                "I went for a checkup after the miscarriage to an OBGYN who I had never met because my previous doctor had just been diagnosed with cancer. I remember sitting there in tears, dreading the appointment with a complete stranger, not wanting another reminder that my baby was gone and my womb was empty. We started talking and she said that she would recommend that we wait a few months before we tried again because she said that we needed to mourn the loss of our baby.  When she told us to wait, I said that wouldn’t be a problem because I didn’t know if I would ever be able to try again because I could not go through this again, and then she said the word that has forever changed my life—“fearless”. She told me that I needed to mourn, but that I also needed to move forward fearlessly."

                Finding the courage to try again can look different for everyone, but once you start looking for signs (when you're ready), it might hit you like a ton of bricks. Around every corner, you'll find a reminder that you are courageous. Seemingly innocent commercials on TV will reignite your sense of self and sense of worth. When you least expect it, you will see that you are able. You were chosen to live this life because you are strong. 

                "The next morning, I decided to open my Journey devotional book for the first time since our baby died, and the devotion and Bible verse for the day were, of course, about fear. Every single day after that, I was overwhelmed with the word “fearless”—in songs, in devotions, in sermons—it was everywhere. I began to share the story of losing our baby and how I felt like a crazy person but firmly believed God was speaking “fearless” into my life."

                When the Storm Passes and the Clouds Fade...

                "We found out that we were expecting another baby, a rainbow baby. A rainbow baby is the baby born after the death of a child and symbolizes hope after the horrible storm of loss. This time it felt so different. Instead of fear, I felt peace. It was a daily battle to not worry about the life growing inside of me, one that I had to take to the Lord daily. I had to consciously make the decision with God’s help to not look for blood when I used the bathroom, to not become fearful whenever I had cramps, to relax with peace when the doctor was doing an ultrasound. We had our gender reveal party. We had decided on the name Emma for a girl and Jace for a boy. We found out that we were having a baby boy and were so excited. After everyone left, T.J. and I were outside sitting on the porch step, and he looked up the meaning of “Jace” on his phone. We couldn’t help but cry tears of joy and praise God when we saw that his name meant “a healing.” Our sweet rainbow baby, Jace Douglas, was delivered through natural childbirth, while I wore a bracelet from T.J. with the word “fearless” engraved on it. I remember holding Jace Douglas for the first time on my chest. It was the most beautiful moment of my life."

                Finding joy after pain can be one of the most difficult things you'll ever encounter in life. It can feel like you've forgotten about your past struggles or that your new baby will replace the loss you experienced. Telling your story to others may be inspiring to others and help you find peace and compassion for yourself once again. 

                " [Some studies show] Miscarriage affects 1 in 4 women—let that sink in. How can we be so silent about something that is so common? Miscarriage is death; it’s the silent loss of a family member that no one wants to talk about because it makes them uncomfortable. Unless people have been through it, they don’t know what to say so they stay silent, and society has made women think they have to stay silent about it, too. We wouldn’t keep the death of another family member or even a pet a secret, so why should women be made to feel like they have to keep their baby’s death a secret? In fact, most women don’t announce their pregnancy until after a certain number of weeks because of this stigma. Whenever anything else good happens, people can’t wait to share the news with everyone, but over time women have been made to believe that they shouldn’t share their pregnancy news until “they’re far enough along”. How sad. When a brave woman does share her pregnancy early on, people gasp in disbelief that she would announce it so early on because “what if something happened?!” If something does happen, that mother and father going through the loss of a child need support, love, and prayers just like people would receive for any other death. Please for goodness sake, don’t belittle their pain or make it worse by saying things like, “Oh at least you weren’t very far along,” or “Oh, there must have been something wrong with the baby.” They need to mourn in their own way on their own time."

                And Your Rainbow Appears

                "The hardest but best thing I did after my miscarriage was to share our story with other people. Talking about our loss with other women helped my heart to heal and helped other women to be brave enough to share their story with me and ask for prayers as they try to move forward. 1 in 4… TWENTY-SIX ladies have shared their miscarriage story with me since I shared about ours, and all they wanted was for someone to listen to them describe their sorrow or to hear encouragement that the rainbow is coming. There’s not a day that goes by that my first baby doesn’t cross my mind, and often times I cry thinking about our journey, wondering what our baby would be like, sound like, or look like."

                Special thank to Mary Margaret for her courage and bravery of sharing her inspirational story with us. Not only to we hope this helps bring healing to those still hurting, but we hope this helps those who are struggling find comfort and peace in knowing you are not alone. We will hold your hand. 

                Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
                "We can't wait to pamper you."

                Cited Sources:
                1. S. Tong et al., "Miscarriage Risk for Asymptomatic Women After a Normal First-Trimester Prenatal Visit," Obstetrics & Gynecology 111, no. 3 (2008): 710-14
                2. G. Makrydimas et al., "Fetal Loss Following Ultrasound Diagnosis of a Live Fetus at 6-10 Weeks of Gestation," Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology 22, no. 4 (2003): 368-72
                3. P. R. Wyat et al., "Age-Specific Risk of Fetal Loss Observed in a Second Trimester
                  Serum Screening Population," American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 192, no. 1 (2005): 240-46

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