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Grief & Bereavement

Dealing with SIDS and Finding Support for Grief

It’s hard to know where to start when talking about SIDS and grieving from such a loss. It’s an awful tragedy, and because there are so few concrete answers regarding how it’s caused, how to prevent it, and what you can do to ensure it doesn’t happen to your baby, it’s all the more troubling. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants ranging one month to one year old, and claims the lives of about 2,500 babies each year. Despite years of research, it remains unpredictable, which can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety on new parents.
Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Despite the fact that SIDS is unpredictable and, as far as we know, mostly unpreventable, there are some things to know and some risk factors to watch out for. That’s not to say that you should make yourself sick with worry, but it is obviously helpful to know before pregnancy that smoking, drinking and drug use can be potential risk factors for SIDS. No single risk factor is likely to be enough to cause SIDS, though, which can make its occurrence even more jarring.
SIDS Grief Support to Begin the Healing Process
If your infant has passed away from SIDS, it can feel impossible to begin the healing process because you can’t get any answers about why it happened. Getting the help you need can be difficult if you don’t know where to start or who to talk to. Your usual support system—family and friends—may not know how to offer you the comfort and help you need.
Grief Counseling and Support Groups
It can feel very defeating to need outside help, but the truth is that you’re not alone in this matter. […]

Rebuilding After Loss: Find Hope After Losing Multiple Pregnancies

At the Blossom Method, one of our areas of care revolves around helping women and couples who experience the loss of a pregnancy or multiple pregnancies. In this story, read about one of our patients’ experiences and how she was able to find comfort in support groups and renew her hope for starting a family.
A Mother’s Journey Through Pregnancy and Loss
My life is marked by a series of dates. I am a numbers person and dates always stick out in my head. On March 3, 2012 I went off birth control. It was my husband’s 29th birthday, and we wanted to have a family. We tried month after month, and on September 30th, we found out we were pregnant. We were so excited, but we knew anything could happen. I was well aware I could miscarry—my mother had two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy so I knew it could happen to me. On October 31, 2012, my baby was nine weeks and we heard the heartbeat. Three weeks later, Thanksgiving weekend, I was the magical 12 weeks and the grandparents were finally able to shout it from the rooftops. On January 18, 2013, we found out our baby was a boy—we named him Jack.
The Tragedy of an Unexpected Loss
On February 17th, at 24 weeks and 2 days, I started having contractions and experiencing heavy bleeding in the middle of the night. I turned to my husband and said, “We need to go to the hospital, something is not right.” In triage, my water broke. I will never forget the look on the RN’s face and the resident on call saying, “I’m sorry.” We didn’t get it. Jack still had a heartbeat, though. We […]

All The Pain & None Of The Gain: Losing a Pregnancy, Not the Pregnancy Body

One common experience of women who have lost pregnancies is the frustration that comes from having to go through the pain and struggle of a changing body during pregnancy, only to be left with no baby. Obviously, this pales in comparison to the grief that comes from losing a pregnancy. In today’s blog, we recount the experience of one of our patients, a woman named Mona who lost her pregnancy at 38 weeks.
Mona’s Story of Pregnancy Loss
Mona came into my office and the moment she sat down, she began to cry. “Look at me! I am wearing a fat suit!!! You don’t even know me, and you must think I am the chubby girl-the one who always cannot pass up a dessert!”

Mona made me laugh from the moment I met her—she is one of my most favorite people to see!  One of the many punishments associated with a loss-seems to be the lack of a justification for the weight gain. For women like Mona, who had gone to 38 weeks, delivered a stillborn daughter, and left the hospital empty handed-having endured all that pain for a poor outcome seemed incomprehensible to her. She was right! Her milk had come in, her breasts were tender and painful, she was in pain, and most of all she had been denied the joy and privilege of being a mother to a live baby. Over many heated sessions and debates, Mona came to realize, as many women before her had, that life is not fair, and she deserved better. A lot better.
Coping with Post-Baby Bodies with No Baby
How do I explain to a pregnancy loss patient that having the postpartum body and physical ailments associated with child birth […]

A Genuine Smile: Coping with Pregnancy Loss

When a woman is told her pregnancy is low-risk and there’s nothing to worry about, getting past the first trimester generally means they are out of the woods, so to speak. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Read this account of one woman who experienced the loss of a pregnancy at 24 weeks along and how she is managing to cope with the grief.
A Mother’s Story of Pregnancy Loss
July 22, 2014 – 24 weeks and 1 day pregnant: In my heart, I knew something was wrong; call it a mother’s intuition. You failed to show up for our designated time together the past two mornings. I would stroke my belly after my 7:30 a.m. shower and you would always respond with many loving kicks. I would tell you how much I loved you and how excited we were to meet you and I could tell you felt the same way.

I called the doctor and told her that I hadn’t felt you move in about 36 hours, they told me to wait 48 hours, but I insisted that something was off.
The Pain of Losing a Baby
The doctor agreed to see me at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23. I went in with every intention of having the doctor see your heartbeat but I saw the ultrasound and you were lifeless, a floating entity that I would never feel alive again. My world shattered in that moment, I broke and will never be the same. One minute you were kicking, the next you were gone.

My first baby, my only baby and my future, just gone and without an explanation. The moment when my life fell apart will forever haunt me through recurring dreams and repetitive thoughts. […]

Asking Pregnancy Questions: Do You Really Need to Know?

It breaks my heart–week after week, I meet with clients who are struggling with getting pregnant, a recent loss, or maybe a new pregnancy after previous losses. They’re making progress, but are suddenly completely derailed by a simple (yet unnecessary) question or comment from a stranger. I’d believe more often than not, the stranger has no ill intention by commenting or asking a question, but I would like to challenge everyone to consider what others may be going through that you don’t know about before speaking up. Just think: how often you have asked, or have heard someone ask, “When are you due?” or  “Are you guys trying to get pregnant?” or comment on someone’s cute baby bump?
The Importance of Consideration
Recently, I had a client (we’ll call her “Sarah”) who had just delivered her baby at 37 weeks, but the baby passed away shortly after birth.  Although Sarah was prepared prenatally for the loss of her daughter, the grief and overwhelming sadness was a lot for her and her husband to handle.  Two weeks after losing her baby girl, she decided she needed to face the world again and went to the grocery store. In a mere 30 minute trip, Sarah was approached by two strangers who made seemingly benign, yet very hurtful comments, given the situation.  The first asked when she was due – she was two weeks postpartum, so she naturally still had a “bump,” but she sadly did not have the baby.   After tearfully walking away from that stranger, she tried to summon the courage to get through her shopping list.  Then, as she was paying for her groceries, the cashier said, “Oh, I love your little bump – enjoy the […]

The Power of Hope: Conceiving After Pregnancy or Baby Loss

I cannot speak to the biology or chemistry behind it, and I will not attempt to try, but the common refrain I hear from patients who are trying to conceive after a loss of a baby is that each month, it just doesn’t happen. Maybe they had a pregnancy loss at 10 weeks, maybe it was a full-term baby loss, or maybe it was a fetal anomaly that was lethal and they had to end the pregnancy. Either way, they’re ready for a baby now, but it just won’t happen.
Fertility Treatment
These patients often consult with fertility doctors. They take medication to stimulate their egg production, or they start the “fertility diet” of foods said to boost fertility like beans, pineapple and specific herbs. But in the end, months pass and nothing happens.

Then I have my fertility patients. Transfers get cancelled, not enough embryos are high enough quality to implant, chemical pregnancies come and go, and still, no positive pregnancy test.
Grief & Loss Counseling
What can I say to them? How can I keep hope alive? I start with the truth—the good news is that they have proven that they are able to conceive. That’s huge! Until there are three consecutive losses, most OBs will not initiate any testing as that is still within the range of “normal.” But no one in this situation wants to hear that what they’re going through is “normal” and that all they need to do is simply go home and try to get pregnant. For this reason, pregnancy loss counseling, infertility support groups, and loss of a baby support groups in Chicago are plentiful. Women aren’t alone in their struggles with conception and the grief felt by their loss.

And what […]