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Loss of Baby

Stillbirth, Bravery, and Letting Guilt Go

Recently, I had the true honor of working with a special woman who showed me what true bravery looks like.  Beth* had gotten married in her mid-30s and had tried to conceive naturally for several years before choosing to do IVF. After several failed attempts, and having depleted her bank account, she and her husband decided to try IVF one last time. This time it was a success. She was beyond elated to discover that she was carrying twins. The biggest blessing of all was that she was going to be a mother to both a boy and a girl. Beth was grateful.

At around 20 weeks, Beth’s doctors discovered that Baby A was not developing as well as they would have liked. The medical staff kept a close eye on Baby A. At 24 weeks, Beth went to the doctor for a routine visit and was heartbroken to discover that Baby A, her son, had no heartbeat. At the same visit, Beth was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy), and emergently admitted to the hospital where she would remain until the safe delivery of her daughter over two months later.

This is when I first met Beth. I found her in her room overlooking the city, looking tiny in her huge room, and enormous bed. Our visits would become a regular part of her day and mine. Every week I would come to Beth’s room, give her the latest People and Us magazines, and we would talk. Beth felt trapped in her room. She was desperate to go home and begged the doctors religiously to let her take her show on the road. The answer was always a firm, “NO!” She […]

When a Dream Turns Into a Nightmare: Coping with Stillbirth

At the Blossom Method, we believe that strength comes from sharing our experiences with one another and that being able to relate to one another is an important step in the healing process. Today on the blog, read one woman’s story about her own loss—stillborn twins. If you’re coping with a stillbirth, contact the Blossom Method—we offer personalized, compassionate therapy and counseling options for fertility, complex medical diagnoses, stillbirth and pregnancy loss, and more.
Pregnancy and Full-term Baby Loss
My first pregnancy was a dream—until it turned into a nightmare. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for about a year and a half, and anyone who has been through the roller coaster that is infertility can understand the toll that it takes—on you, your partner, your friendships, etc. We married in September of 2011, but I went off the pill months before. By the summer of 2012, we began all the fertility tests, and by the fall we had our answer: a structural problem. IVF would hopefully be the solution, and we were incredibly lucky to get pregnant on our first try in early 2013. We felt even luckier when we found out that we were pregnant with twins.

But I was an informed consumer, I read all the literature—twins were higher risk, and we still had a lot of hurdles to clear. When we passed our 20-week ultrasound the first week of June with flying colors I finally let myself start to believe that we would be taking home two babies. We found out we were pregnant with a boy and a girl. My husband said, “This is an embarrassment of riches.” I couldn’t agree more—I felt like the luckiest girl in […]

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. […]

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. […]

One Size Does Not Fit All: Coping with Pregnancy Anxiety After Loss

The majority of women I work with come to me because something happened to them during a previous pregnancy that resulted in some type of baby or pregnancy loss. Now, they are pregnant again—anxious and frightened. The formula they had put in place last time will not work for them now. I’ll hear things like, “I adore my OB, but going back into that waiting room, seeing the receptionist, hearing those phones ring sends me into a panic,” “The second bank of elevators in that building is where I was when the call came in,” or, “The ultrasound room has too many bad memories for me.”
New OB/GYN with a New Pregnancy
For many of these women, they want a fresh start. They want a new office, a new doctor, and in some cases, a new hospital altogether. Their OB may have graduated at the top of their class from Harvard or Princeton, but to these women, it’s a bad feeling, a foreboding premonition, a bad omen to return. I tell them that there are no rules—it is up to them to make the decision that feels right. One patient told me that after she became pregnant again and went to several visits at her old OB’s office, the OB told her that seeing how painful it was for this patient to return to the “scene of the crime” each month for her checkups was too hard to watch. The OB told the patient to switch to another doctor, and to return once the baby was born. That is exactly what the patient did—that OB clearly cared about her patient.
Extra Medical Care to Avoid Pregnancy Loss
I have other patients who decide that being seen by a […]

Abrupt Endings, New Beginnings: Coping with Pregnancy Loss

At the Blossom Method, we feature real-life stories from some of the people we have worked with and helped. This week, we feature a story from a former patient of ours who had difficulty with pregnancy loss and turned to the Blossom Method support system for help coping with the frustration, anxiety, and nerves that are inevitable when one becomes pregnant again after losing a pregnancy. Often, patients find comfort from stories of others’ experiences coping with loss as well as in sharing their own stories. 
Babies, Loss and the Future
When I was four years old, I asked my mom, “How do you become a mother?” She thought about it for a minute, and then she said, “You just put your heart into it.” So, at the ripe old age of four, I set for myself the ultimate goal of my life: Eventually I would “put my heart into it” and become a mother.

Three days before my tenth birthday, my mom went in for her 20-week ultrasound and discovered that my baby brother had died. It stopped me in my tracks, essentially ending my childhood at the exact moment my dad told me. How could a baby die before it was born? How could there just be no reason? What other tragic horrors awaited me in life? We were all sad, but I took it the hardest. I always imagined him as with us, as part of our family. I think of him each year on his due date—how old would he be now? When people asked me if I had siblings, I responded that I had a sister and also a brother who was in heaven. Mom told me not to mention my brother–people […]

Coping with the Loss of a Pregnancy

With the struggle that many women have to go through in order to conceive a baby, even more devastating than that can be pregnancy loss. Losing a pregnancy can cause feelings of depression, inadequacy, despair and anxiety—you may find yourself wondering if you’ll be able to get pregnant again, and if you do, how long you’ll have to worry about a repeated loss. Coping with this type of loss can be very difficult and are too often internalized. These complex situations can lead to feeling overstressed, which can cause its own host of problems.

While coping with hardships such as infertility, the loss of a pregnancy or stillbirth can be very tough, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Infertility support groups and pregnancy loss counseling can help you get through the hard times and move onward to keep trying for pregnancy and growing your family.
Feelings You May Experience After a Loss
There are a range of different feelings you may experience after losing a pregnancy. Anger or resentment, particularly toward your body for “betraying” you, is extremely common, as is feeling guilty, as if the cause of losing the pregnancy was something you did that could have been prevented. If you become pregnant again, there are other issues you may experience, such as not trusting the pregnancy to carry to term, or being afraid to bond or become attached to your child until you are certain the pregnancy is viable through the end.

These emotions can drain the joy out of your life and make you feel hopeless and depressed, unable to get through the day at times. Again, it’s essential to know that you are not alone and that there are loss support groups […]

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 […]

Unexpected Tragedies On My Reproductive Journey: You Never Know

~By Aviva Cohen, LCSW & Co-Founder of The Blossom Method

When I tell people I work with women and couples struggling with infertility, loss, postpartum depression and other tragic scenarios during their reproductive journeys, I almost always get the same questions: How can you do something like that every day? Isn’t it depressing? My response never wavers. Providing support to women and couples is my professional calling and I am inspired by my clients each and every day.

Perhaps part of the reason I’m drawn to this work is because I straddle both worlds. I had my first three children with ease. I wanted to get pregnant, and poof, it happened. My pregnancies were relatively normal and the deliveries easy. Then I rolled the dice again and discovered just how lucky I’d been.

During my eighteenth week of pregnancy, I found out the baby inside of me had died. In an instant, my hopes and dreams for that unborn baby were dashed. I felt blindsided, confused, shocked and terrified. My doctor sent me to specialists, and then washed his hands of me. I was no longer a patient he wanted to treat. During this vulnerable time, I became lost in a maze of hospitals, doctors and nurses. I felt afraid and very much alone.

In my mind, I decided that if I got pregnant again before my due date, the pain deep inside of me would disappear. I quickly conceived again, but this time, at my nine-week checkup, the baby had no heartbeat. That was it for me. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, and no one who understood how I felt. When I tried to talk about the loss with friends or family, they told […]