Please note: This article references pregnancy and infant loss and provides brief examples of what trauma is and how it can impact individuals and families. Please take care of yourself accordingly. A local Waco-area non-profit organization called Cradled provides support groups for parents and mamas experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. In addition, Postpartum Support International (PSI) has online support groups and resources relating to perinatal anxiety, depression, PTSD, and perinatal mental health concerns.
Many of us recently learned about or read of the pregnancy and infant loss of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Hearing of their loss brought up familiar feelings of grief and loss in many parents and families.
“We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before.” Chrissy wrote in her Instagram post. Chrissy bravely opened up about her experiences on social media in our culture of silence regarding the loss of her baby midway through pregnancy.
For many, experiences of miscarriage and stillborn birth often lead to continued feelings of shame, isolation, and stigma – especially if individuals, family members, and communities around parents have been unable to and/or unwilling to hold space for grief.
1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage, yet we don’t often talk about this concern that impacts so many. Experiences of miscarriage can impact all parents and family members and can lead to continued experiences of self-blame, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I recognize for many it can be a month filled with grief, sadness, and reminders of what you had hoped for and expectations of what was to come.
I stand with you in recognizing your pain and trauma.
For many of you, you may have gone through multiple miscarriages, unexplained infertility, and been repeatedly told by healthcare professionals and individuals what you are not doing enough of and/or what you need to do more of.
So many have been told that it’s your fault and made to feel as if something is permanently wrong with you and your body. As a trauma therapist who specializes in trauma and perinatal mental health, I work with parents – moms and dads – who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, birth trauma, postpartum depression, anxiety and PTSD.
You are not permanently damaged, though it may feel like it.
You are not to blame for what has happened.
I see you, I hear you, I stand with you in your sadness and grief, and acknowledge that there may not ever be the right words to say when it comes to your experiences.
My hope and desire is that more mamas who did not need to wait may acknowledge our privilege and to live in a deeper gratitude toward being a mother. My hope is that our community may become more trauma informed and acknowledge the ways that words that may be well-intentioned just may not land. It is okay to feel grief, sadness, hurt, and whatever other emotions come up for you this month, even if you have had a rainbow baby and/or additional pregnancies since your loss. Just because you have continued to be able to get pregnant again does not mean you did not experience trauma, grief, and loss.
And to the mamas waiting for their first baby and/or rainbow babies after miscarriage and/or infant loss, I see you and stand with you as you wait. Your persistence and perseverance as you continue rising each day in hope for better days to come display strength and courage.
To the mamas who have lost your child(ren) to natural disasters, accidents, illness, cancer, violence, and/or other traumatic events, I am holding space for you in my heart as you continue grieving. May we be a more caring and empathetic community that holds space for each of you.
To the mamas who continue to get up each day, even in the midst of your grief and loss, showing up in therapy, in support groups, in your communities, your workplaces, your homes to work on healing – even though you wish none of it even happened, I see you and stand with you as you allow yourself to experience whatever emotions come up for you.
In the words of Postpartum Support International (PSI), “You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with the right support, you will get better.”