#FuckLoss: Removing the negative stigma that veils pregnancy loss

Children of all ages wear bracelets displaying, “I (heart) boobies!”, #fuckcancer and #savethetatas messages take over social media, and men wearing “Save Second Base” shirts is a normal sighting during the month of October. But, there was a time when those sights were considered lewd or vulgar. Openly talking about breasts was considered taboo. The whispers, “can you believe she’s wearing a shirt that says her boobs are fake because the real ones tried to kill her?”, gasp! Those shocking gasps, however, continue today surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, which shares its awareness month with Breast Cancer.  That negative stigma women feel when they first experience the loss hangs over their heads like a dark rain cloud. That sense of feeling alone, ashamed and at fault are hard to shake.

It wasn’t until last year when I was affected by that loss, until I became a 1 in 4 statistic that the awareness month caught my attention. Much like when breast cancer awareness month began, Pregnancy and Infant Loss month exists to remove the stigma that comes along with miscarriage and other losses. It’s about bringing the reality of living with this loss to the forefront of the discussion and removing the things that we do as a society that isolate the women who are affected by it.  While there’s no amount of awareness about the issue that can take away the grief that we live with every single day, there is a way to change the conversation.

Stop shaming women

Not every woman wants to have a child. Stop asking the insensitive questions like, “do you want kids” and “when are you having kids”. Stop making us feel like having children is the natural progression in our lives. Parents, this includes you. Stop it with the never ending pressures you put on your children after they get married about when they’re going to give you a grandchild.

It’s no wonder women feel a sense of shame after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Society has tied our purpose in life with a desire and ability to have a child. We feel like we’re going against the grain if we can’t deliver a healthy baby.  We feel like we’ve failed as women and we carry that feeling of failure with us every single day.  We blame ourselves and we feel like we don’t fit in.

So, please, just stop with those questions. Remove them from the discussion.  They are not innocent questions.  They’re intrusive and they create a culture of expectation that’s impossible for many to live up to.

For those of you that continue to be pestered with those questions, remember this, your worth is not defined by your ability to carry a pregnancy to full term or bring a child into this world. You are worthy and loved by God and child bearing doesn’t define you.

Find ways to help honor the losses 

Ronald Reagan said it best back in 1988 when he declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”

Help those experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss honor the life lost. While there might not be memories to think back on or pictures to remind you of that life, there are ways to remember. Some things that people did that helped us honor our babies – a butterfly bush, an angel wing necklace with the babies birthstones, prayed with us, brought by dinner, gave me time off from work. There may not be a funeral to attend but helping the parents feel like the life they lost mattered goes a long way.

Companies need to provide bereavement leave for miscarriage. It’s provided for losses of grandparents and parents and children, but not for miscarriage. That sends a message that you don’t recognize the loss as real.  Businesses will have a better employee return to work if you give them time off to grieve and find a new normal.

Share your pregnancy news when you’re ready and the way you want

If and when you are pregnant, don’t let our culture set the timeline or shape the story. Want to share a picture of the pregnancy stick the minute it shows a positive? Want to keep it private until you find out the gender? Not interested in making an official post on Facebook?  You do you. It’s not a requirement to wait until the 12th week to announce your pregnancy. You also don’t have to feel guilty about keeping it secret for as long as you want. This is your journey, your story to tell. Tell it your way, not society’s way.

Together, we can change the way our culture views motherhood, pregnancy and loss. Let’s make a difference!

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The Lenten Positive Acts Challenge

It has been entirely too long since I’ve published a blog post. I have at least 60 written posts but I haven’t felt like any of them are ready to be shared.  Frankly, they’re depressing. I’ve been trying to plug positives into them and to find a way to share the silver lining, but I’ve been struggling. I mean REALLY struggling. I’m not sleeping, still. It either takes me hours to fall asleep and then I get maybe two hours in or I fall fast asleep at 9pm and am wide awake by 3am.

But that’s not the purpose of this post.  I told myself today that I had to publish something.  Even if it wasn’t perfect.  Even if it didn’t follow my prescribed order. Continue reading “The Lenten Positive Acts Challenge”

One Word for 365 Days

52-weeks ago I shared my intention for 2016 by posting the below on Instagram.  Instead of making a New Year’s resolution, I adopted a word to guide my year. I chose the word balance for 2016 because I tended to be the type of person who had tunnel vision. If I was going to be a good wife, I thought I had to focus on that 100%. If I was going to have a successful career, I felt that I needed to work 85-hours a week. I was wavering on whether or not I wanted to be a mom because I had no idea how to do that. I had a hard time balancing all of the things that were important in my life, so I forced myself to figure that out. If I was grading myself for my performance in 2016, I earned a solid B.

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2016 was a hell of a year. It’s a year that rocked me to my core. But in the end it deepened my friendships, strengthened my marriage and solidified my faith.

Continue reading “One Word for 365 Days”

Day 50: The Season of Life

Did you know that December 25th is very likely not Jesus’ birthday? I don’t mean to trivialize it, but the bible doesn’t name a specific day. There’s no mention of the celebration of Jesus’ nativity in the Gospels or Acts. Certain facts suggest it was likely during a season where the weather was less brutal. We celebrate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December because it was a time when celebrations surrounding the winter solstice were already occurring across Europe. Piggy backing on those celebrations encouraged the spread of Christianity. If Christmas closely resembled a pagan holiday, then pagans would be more likely to accept it and accept God, so the story goes.

I’m not suggesting that there’s no historical or spiritual significance to Christmas, nor that it shouldn’t be celebrated. However, the significance of the holiday isn’t in the date.

Continue reading “Day 50: The Season of Life”

Thanksgiving

The first true “Thanksgiving” was a three-day festival celebrated in 1621.  It was organized by Governor William Bradford after the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest. In the fall of 1620 the Pilgrims had found refuge in New England after a long and treacherous journey from Plymouth, England.  They sought religious freedom and land ownership in the New World. The Pilgrims didn’t find all that they had hoped for upon arrival and most remained aboard the Mayflower during the cold and brutal New England winter. At the rise of spring they moved ashore where they were greeted by Indians who taught the Pilgrims how to harvest and assisted in forging alliances with a local tribe.  It was one of the earliest documentations of people of different backgrounds coming together to help one another.

The Pilgrims didn’t celebrate another “Thanksgiving” until 1623, which marked the end of a religious fast due to a long draught. In the years that followed there were multiple days of giving thanks until 1789 when George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation of the United States.  It was intended as a day for Americans to express their gratitude for the successful ratification of the United States Constitution. Until 1863 each state celebrated Thanksgiving on a different date and some states, primarily those in the south, didn’t recognize the tradition at all.

It wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as “a day of Thanksgiving and praise” that Thanksgiving was recognized as an official American holiday.  In his proclamation, he asked Americans to, “…commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation…”.

While the Thanksgiving holiday has taken on new meaning in the modern day, I believe what Abraham Lincoln proclaimed on October 3rd 1863 was intended to be the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  And this year, especially, my husband and I needed to be reminded of that. Continue reading “Thanksgiving”