Press Release: New Crowdfunding Campaign Helps Those Grieving Pregnancy And Infant Loss

(Guest post)Baby in My Heart Pendant (pewter, babyloss, miscarriage, stillbirth).

Press Release: New Crowdfunding Campaign Helps Those Grieving Pregnancy And Infant Loss

View PDF Version: http://goo.gl/9cQRKy

Reconceiving Loss, an online resource center for pregnancy and infant loss and healing is working to develop a digital archive to document the experience of loss from miscarriage through to neonatal death. The project is being put together in partnership with the film Return To Zero, starring Minnie Driver (in July 2014 Minnie was nominated for Emmy as the best actress in this film).

The genesis of the project was the stillbirth of the co-founder’s second child in 2005.  1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 160 children are stillborn, and 25,000 die within thirty days of their birth in the US alone. As Co-Founder Tara Shafer explains, “We were fortunate to be able to access resources that helped us navigate this bewildering and lonely loss. Many families are not as fortunate.”

Reconceiving Loss (http://reconceivingloss.com/about-us) invites individuals to participate in a public project to document pregnancy and infant loss. Anyone who has suffered the fear, guilt, loneliness and trauma of losing a child either in the womb or stillborn knows how far-reaching the psychological impact can be. This is a chance to heal through telling your story. Your participation both as a reader and creator is crucial for others.  Reconceiving Loss has a number of digital resources to support healing from baby loss.  With a goal of just $10,000 USD all donations will help them to provide supportive tools to individuals as they work to develop their own healing narrative. “We hope that in building this archive (growing, publicizing, curating) we will also be able to develop additional supportive materials so that people who participate can receive high levels of care and support as they work through traumatic events.”, explains Shafer.

Speaking in such a public way about something that is almost never discussed and considered ‘socially taboo’ shifts the way in which July 2014 157individuals, and families address and understand those who have experienced baby loss.  This crowd sourced Indiegogo campaign is a meaningful and healing way to show support and solidarity anyone impacted (husbands, siblings, and mothers). Donations of any size are welcome and rewards include books, DVDs and even tea.  The first 25 people to donate $50 will receive a copy of graphic novel, “Goodbye, Au Revoir, and Slan.” This novel describes the experience of stillbirth through the eyes of a young sibling. For $100 you can get the Return to Zero DVD complete with all bonus materials. This DVD features an extra on the Reconceiving Loss digital archive. Help break the silence and enable everyone to connect through their shared loss.

This project is making a difference for those following a difficult path. “The long-term psychological impact is profound and is still not talked about. …Since we launched the archive, we have received submissions from people who suffered loss decades ago. They have carried it with them in silence they have longed to break.”This project will help many individuals to share their own stories while learning about others. Donate what you can and help break the silence.  The biggest perk of all is knowing that you are helping many people now and in the future. Even if you can’t donate – share the links widely. See the links below for more information.

Reconceiving Loss Indiegogo Campaign

For more on this topic check out the articles by Reconceiving Loss Co-Founder Tara Shafer in Psychology Today (Begin Again) and in the Huffington Post
For more information on this press release visit:
http://www.getnews.info/new-crowdfunding-campaign-helps-those-grieving-pregnancy-and-infant-loss_5274.html

Media Contact
Company Name:
 Reconceiving Loss
Contact Person: Tara Shafer
Email: tarashafer1@gmail.com
Country: United States
Website: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/reconceiving-loss-archive-documenting-loss

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Talk Books: Chasing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Loss, Heartbreak and the Miracle of Hope

71UaAXUX1bLLast year I was contacted by a writer working on a memoir about miscarriage. She had questions about my own miscarriage memoir and we had a short email chat about publishing. This month, she sent me a copy of her finished book to review. Though I told her I probably wouldn’t get to it until August, I was surprised to find I was not able to put it down! The author, Amy Daws, writes with the sort of first-person intensity that feels more like reading a riveting novel than a traditional memoir. Chasing Hope is a story of recurrent pregnancy loss and the eventual birth of a long-prayed for rainbow baby. It is a heart-wrenching and beautiful book and made me cry more than once! Amy and her husband experience five traumatic losses, including the miscarriage of two sets of twins. The miscarriages occur in the second trimester, past the commonly touted “safe” point and take place following ultrasounds that show the babies still healthy and active. The miscarriages detailed are very bloody and stressful and her processing of them is very honest, real, and familiar. Readers may find the stories either affirming or stressful (or both) and should proceed with some caution based on the recentness of their own experiences. As I read, I was strongly reminded of the incredible, overpowering, unbelievable blood of second trimester loss.

I cried the most when I got to the birth of Amy’s living baby girl and it vividly reminded me of the deep relief and joy in the birth of my own rainbow baby:

“…For months I tried not to love her too much in my belly because I was scared it would hurt more when I lost her. I rejected my feelings for her because I was in a constant state of survival mode and I needed to protect myself. Now was the time for me to make amends for not believing in her. For not fully loving her as I should have. Even though I was lying half naked on an operating table with doctors and nurses buzzing all around me, I didn’t care. This was my moment and nobody was going to take that away from me…”

Excerpt From: Daws, Amy. “Chasing Hope With Bonus.” Stars Hollow Publishing.

Amy also writes candidly of the impact on her relationship with her husband and with the people around her: “I looked into his eyes and saw all the pain and anguish in them that I’d seen so many times before. We were broken, together. Ruined forever.”

Amy also writes with a forthright, raw tone and an occasional almost harsh intensity that is completely appropriate to the magnitude of the experience:

“We lost our baby and feel like shit. We feel like God took a big dump on our hearts, and slapped us in the face. Not only did we lose our baby, we lost our baby in the supposed safe zone. Twelve weeks is supposed to be the time when my risk of miscarriage went way down. Snap. Guess the joke’s on us! And bonus: it took us three years to get pregnant in the first place, so now we’re really fucked. We feel miserable and can’t talk about it without crying, so please don’t say anything to us about it…”

Excerpt From: Daws, Amy. “Chasing Hope With Bonus.” Stars Hollow Publishing.

I would particularly recommend this book to mothers with recurrent losses as well as to those with second trimester losses and to pregnancy loss support groups in general. It is a powerful, intense, and ultimately hopeful read.

On Amazon: Chasing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Loss, Heartbreak and the Miracle of Hope by Amy Daws. ISBN 9780990325208

Book trailer: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RVwtQEScNRc

Author’s site: http://amydawsauthor.com/books-2/

Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth

Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book for review purposes.

Cousin Bellies!

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40+ weeks and 25 weeks!

“…This is really my prayer for society. Whole women make happier mothers. Happier mothers make happier babies. Happier babies grow into healthier children and adults, and thus we see how the care a woman receives after birth sows the seeds for a healthier society.”

–Aviva Jill Romm (Natural Health After Birth, p. 5)

My mom and I were honored to be invited to attend the birth of my sister-in-law and brother’s first baby. After some planning and back-and-forthing and due-date-passing, this week we made the decision to head to their house several hours away to wait for the baby’s arrival. I know from experience that being the “watched pot” isn’t very fun and so we had to weigh that possibility with the concern about not making it in time or of having to have a stressed out drive in the middle of the night. Plus, my mom had tickets to see Paul McCartney in Kansas CJuly 2014 109ity on Wednesday night. So, on Tuesday night after my class, we headed out to become ladies in waiting! (and Paul was excellent, apparently!) It has been really nice to spend time visiting with my brother and sister-in-law and we got some fresh new cousin-belly pictures together! I didn’t know how fun it would be to be pregnant at the same time as a relative. I never have been before! When we go places together, we’re quite adorable. :) Last night we went to dinner at a wonderful Italian buffet and had some eggplant parmesan. (The crêpe station lady also noticed and commented on our matching moonstone goddess necklaces.)

On the way to the buffet, we stopped at a natural foods store to get some liquid chlorophyll for after the birth. As we browsed around, I realized I should take the opportunity to buy a few things for myself as well. Prices were up to 50% cheaper than the prices I found online and October is not as far away as it might seem! So, I got some chlorophyll, raspberry leaf tea, arnica, and Afterease tincture for myself too. I still feel something of a sense of unreality or disconnection about my own pregnancy, even though I’m gradually getting closer and closer and doing all the “right” things. Buying supplies and thinking about my own plans for postpartum (I recently read it referred to as planning for a “sitting moon” time, which I like, since “babymoon” has been somewhat appropriated to mean pre-baby-vacation time rather than postpartum, as I use it) brought it closer to reality for me. Spending some time away from the rest of my kids and just on my own with female relatives in pregnancy-birthy-postpartum mode has also been really helpful, I think. And, even though I’m older than I have been before, I’m still really good at being pregnant…

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I’m very much looking forward to meeting this little nephew!

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(prayer flag from mother blessing ceremony for a different friend)

Tuesday Tidbits: Miscarriage

In the book A Silent Sorrow, the authors quote a responsive reading from the book Bittersweet…hellogoodbye (a book for creating memorial services for miscarried or stillborn babies). The responsive part of the reading from the other people assembled can be unique to your own spiritual path, so “Be with us [divinity name]” or “Hear us, [divinity name]” or ‘[divinity name] grant us healing and strength. Personally, I would simply leave off any divinity name and use plain old “Hear us” or “grant us healing and strength,” because then each person present is able to attach whatever additional meaning to the words they prefer, rather than having it represent any sort of specific belief.

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Some “seconds” of our baby in my heart design were added to our etsy shop this month.

Leader:

For the time of unending tears, pain, and struggle;

times of not being understood by family, friends,

times of longing and emptiness,

times of not being in control,

times of searching within and without.

We pray…

(response)

Leader:

For all the memories of our baby;

for any brief moment of being with our baby,

for those who walked the journey of mourning with us,

for each time of remembering.

We pray…

(response)

Leader:

For the times of letting go.,

for the times of reaching out,

for each new day and each ray of hope,

for the gifts our baby left us:

in giving us new eyes with which to see,

new ears to help us hear others,

a new heart to love more deeply,

and for new values in our lives.

We pray…

(response)

[p. 233]

I’m also letting go of the book Avoiding Miscarriage by Susan Rousselot (see previous post for bookshelf reduction currently in progress). In it, she acknowledges the depth of the experience of miscarriage:

A miscarriage is, by its nature, a life-changing event. From the moment a woman knows she is pregnant, she wonders how that pregnancy with change her life—she imagine the future with that child. How will this impact my work? What changes will need to be made to the house? And what sort of mother will I be?… That unborn child can turn out to be anything, and because of that it is a dream of the future. When that dream is shattered, we don’t just lose a few weeks or months of pregnancy; we don’t even just lose a ‘fetus’ or a ‘baby.’ It is as though we lose a whole lifetime—the lifetime we were going to share with that child. We didn’t mean for the idea to take on such huge proportions, but it did because we are human, and as humans we think about the future, and we wonder.

Like any traumatic event, there is no ‘right way’ to deal with a pregnancy loss. Some women will grieve as intensely as they would the loss of a full-term birth. Others will feel they are doing okay. Some women will react by resolving to take life less for granted. Others may harbor a lingering distrust of their own bodies. Some women may want to take a long time to grieve. Others may want to put the experience behind them by redoubling the pace of their lives…

…Many women who experience a miscarriage feel a powerlessness stemming from the fact that they couldn’t control what was happening inside their own bodies. This feeling is often exacerbated by the good, but often misplaced, intentions, of doctors or others who take charge of the miscarriage—or dismiss it—in an attempt to spare the woman further distress. (p. 67-68)

Regarding the use of the word “worse” in categorizing grief and loss, I shared with a friend recently that one of the things I learned from my own losses and working with other mothers through the organization I co-founded (The Amethyst Network), is that there is no hierarchy of loss and grief. They are all real. They are all valid. There is no prize for the worst experience. And, we can hold the experiences and feelings of each as valid without needing to categorize by who had it worse. Each is hard and “worst” in its own way. It is okay to let the pain hurt and to take as long as you need.

Last week I read this very raw and real miscarriage story and shared the link on TAN’s Facebook page:

“As glad as you were to tell who you told about the pregnancy, you are exactly a hundred thousand times as unglad to bear this news. You call your boss first, because the primary impact on your immediate life is that you will need to be off work for at least a couple of weeks. This is what they call a “missed miscarriage,” where the fetus lived to perhaps eight or nine weeks of gestation, but your body stayed pregnant all the same, put you through that nightmare of sickness and stress for nothing. Less than nothing. That anger comes a little later, not just yet. In any event, you won’t be back at your desk until the material of the pregnancy is gone, one way or another…”

How to Have a Miscarriage | The Hairpin

And, I received an announcement of a new book from a woman who previously emailed me to talk about my own miscarriage memoir. I look forward to reviewing her book soon.

At 33 weeks pregnant, Amy is certain something bad will soon happen, it had too many times before. Deep down she fears it’s only a matter of time before the baby she’s carrying will die. Despite the fact that Amy had been repeatedly slapped in the face with multiple miscarriages, she still can’t seem to quiet that tiny voice in the back of her head that’s screaming at her to not give up hope. Follow Amy’s true story as she stumbles through her journey with humor and warmth, all while dealing with the neuroses that came along with getting her hopes shattered time and time again. All she has to do is close her eyes and she’s lurched back to the memories of her losses; on the floor in her bathroom, in the hospital, and even at her place of work. No one knows what the internal mind of a woman who’d lost five babies and suffered so many let downs goes through. Can Hope ever truly survive memories such as these?

Chasing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Loss, Heartbreak and the Miracle of Hope

Last week, we decided to design some new European charm bracelets to honor the experience of babyloss, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Half of the profits from these bracelets will be donated towards a scholarship to help a local bereaved mother attend Stillbirthday’s Love Wildly event in Kansas City in December.

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“Miscarriage is a death in the heart of life, a death that happens inside the body of a woman. Sometimes a child just brushes the earth lightly, and is gone before the embryo is anything more than a few cells. Even so, there may already have been a strong connection, love, the beginning of hopes and dreams for the child. Later in a pregnancy, when the being has made itself known through kicks and a visible bump, a whole community may have already begun to make a place for it. Whenever a miscarriage happens, it is a loss that cuts deeply, and needs to be grieved…” –Jackie Singer (Birthrites)

via Birthrites: Miscarriage | Talk Birth.

Celebrating Motherhood: Creation

“To me the only answer a woman can make to the destructive forces of the world is creation. And the most ecstatic form of creation is the creation of new life.”

–Jessie Barnard (letter to an unborn child in the book Celebrating Motherhood)

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“You are entirely engrossed in your own body and the life it holds. It is as if you were in the grip of a powerful force; as if a wave had lifted you above and beyond everyone else. In this way there is always a part of a pregnant woman that is unreachable and is reserved for the future.”

–Sophia Loren (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 20)

“Throughout pregnancy and childbirth, a woman is driven to dig deep into herself for an inner strength she had not known existed. After birth, the smell of her baby opens a mother’s soul to a new intimacy. She has crossed the threshold into motherhood…I have had the privilege of living with indigenous mothers around the worlds and of seeing first hand their age-old ways of loving and teaching their children. I learned from these mothers that the natural world has eternity in it, and a mother’s instincts during pregnancy, birth, and child rearing links her to this eternal chain of life.” 

–Jan Reynolds (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 20)

“No force of mind or body can drive a woman in labor, by patience only can the smooth force of nature be followed.”

–Grantly Dick-Read (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 22)

I recently finished reading a book that has been on my shelf for a long time. Celebrating Motherhood: A Comforting Companion for Every Expecting Mother by Andrea Gosline and Lisa Bossi, is a treasure-trove of delightful birth quotes that will satisfy my birth-quote-archivist soul for a long time. I’m planning to do a series of short posts of quotes and readings from this book, similar to the series I did with the book Birthrites!

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24 weeks! (last week)

Women, Birthing, and Boundaries

“Birth doula work is not about double hip squeezes. It isn’t about birth plans. Birth doulaing at its heart is a spiritual path that will rip away your narcissism and your selfishness. It will restructure your values and strengthen your compassion and empathy for all people through pain and humility. It is about learning how to BE in the presence of conflict and the human experience of living at its most raw and gut wrenching…”

–Amy Gililand

Watch out! Bookshelf reduction mission in full swing!

Mark has become embroiled in many land and garden improvement projects in the last couple of months. Now that it is hot outside again, he has switched some of this attention to interior home improvement projects as well, one of which is building a new little countertop onto the half-wall between our kitchen and dining area (saw is presently squealing in my ear as I type) and one of which is painting some of the walls in our house. Wall-painting necessitated bookshelf moving, which necessitated book removal, which prompted me to go on a massive book decluttering and downsizing mission. As I’ve mentioned, I am thoroughly in the mood to wrap up, wind down, finish up. I feel a powerful, powerful call to finish all kinds of things so I can fully greet my baby in October. So, this bookshelf downsizing played right into my current mood. One of the books that didn’t make my “keep it” list was The Feminine Face of God, a classic feminist spirituality book by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins (now in a giveaway box near you, so if you’re interested and you’re local, let me know and it is now yours!). This isn’t because I don’t like the book, it is because I don’t feel as if I will need to return it to again. In evaluating and reducing my book collection, I find odds and ends I’d marked to write about or remember. Rather than storing the whole book, it makes sense to me to save the one or two pages I’d marked instead and let the book move on to enrich new lives. From The Feminine Face of God, I’d saved this quote about women and permeable boundaries:

Women have permeable boundaries. Perhaps it is the experience of our bodies in touch with the bodies of others that makes it hard for us to close down our psyches. Perhaps it is genetic. Or both. Or something else. But our bodies feel the irrevocable connection of the tides with our cycles of monthly bleeding. And in lovemaking we can be penetrated and receive another. And with pregnancy we carry another for nine full moons, more or less. When we separate from that other, we can feed it from our own body. And later the cycles that tie us to the moon and tides stop. And all this is true whether we give birth or not, have sex of not. The possibility is what creates the openness, and this openness is a precious gift (p. 183).

The distinct flavor of experience which comes with the gift shapes how we perceive reality, how we act, how we create, and what we value. And more than anything else women value relationships. We blend and weave and combine and sustain all kinds of relationships, and this work, this webmaking, not only shapes our lives but makes us profoundly vulnerable to the needs of others.

This is why, to me, attachment is at the core of the mothering life. (As opposed to the “detachment” often espoused by pop-culture interpretations of Eastern philosophical thought.) I think it also explains why women can hurt and wound each other and why when we let people in “too far,” sometimes we need to push them all the way out again. Or, when someone disappoints us or lets us down, why we might turn to reject them. They’ve been allowed to enter our permeable boundaries and if we lose trust or a sense of closeness for some reason, we shut them completely out, rather than recognizing it as a momentary experience.

In the book, the authors go on to explain:

The solution to our permeable boundaries is not to seal them off or barricade our hearts and adopt a ‘me first’ attitude. When we do that, we suffer unbearable isolation. But neither is it to betray the deep sources of wisdom and meaning in our lives. Instead we need to find the unique, and probably unstable, balance that fits us at a particular time, a balance that includes, but is not limited to, the needs of our partners and family. (p. 185)

Does needing to carve out the time and space we need for our own deep places make us selfish? This is one of the fears Anderson and Ruth explore….

Of all the fears we have heard from women about taking time and space for themselves, the most common by far was the fear of being selfish. If there is a mantra women repeat to themselves to deny their longing for solitude, it is probably, ‘Selfish. Selfish. Am I being selfish?’

For two years following her separation from her husband, Lynette lived alone in a tiny studio apartment, studying massage therapy, and asking herself this question. She no longer led the young people’s group at church, or planned and prepared festive parties for her friends and extended family. She didn’t even read the newspaper much.

‘So people call and ask, ‘What’s happened to you, Lynette? You used to be so outgoing and giving,’ she told us. ‘Just yesterday one of my favorite aunts telephoned and said right out, ‘I love you, my dear, but it’s clear to me you’re being very selfish pursuing this massage-therapy business. Living in your own apartment with no one to look after but yourself is very selfish and ungrounded!’

‘You know,’ Lynette told us thoughtfully, ‘doing something for yourself is like being pregnant. From the outside, being pregnant can look selfish. You take in all this extra food. You sleep more than usual. You are not as interested as you used to be in other people’s lives, including the lives of your own family. But inside another life is growing. It needs quiet, nourishment, and rest. At first, no one can see this life, but this has absolutely no bearing on the matter. The inner life is growing and it demands your attention.

‘But,’ she continued, ‘being pregnant is easier than this other birthing. Because in our material society, we trust the process that gives us something we can see and touch and hear—a live baby. This other birthing—well, who can be sure? So much trust is needed to turn down or tune out the internal critic and focus on what is happening inside you instead of always serving others.’ (p. 204)

In the closing to this section about the call for solitude and the attachment of family life, the authors quote another participant, Sara:

“True caring means being able to give from fullness…And for that I need my solitude. It is the very birthplace of altruism.” (p. 204-205)

In typing all of the above in the non-solitude I am currently experiencing this is what happened to my little pile of books to be blogged about:

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That would be new countertop wood shavings and a Baby Hugs bear.

And, I gained a creative companion:

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:)