Category Archives: resources

Footprints on My Heart in book form!

As of this week, my miscarriage memoir, Footprints on My Heart, has finally been published and is now available in eBook format via Kindle and Lulu, Inc. (epub format compatible with Nook and iBooks). There are a few formatting errors and some other general problems (like with the sample/preview–it is totally wonky–and with the lettering on the cover), but guess what, it is DONE, it available, and it is out there. I’m really, really excited about it and I feel this huge sense of relief. I still want to write my Empowered Miscarriage book someday, but for now, this memoir is what I had in me and it will have to do for the time being. I realized after Alaina was born and was, in a sense, the happy “ending” to my Noah story, that in writing this blog about miscarriage and pregnancy after loss I had actually ended up writing most of a book. So, the bulk of the book is drawn from this blog and from my birth blog as well (for the pregnancy after loss content). I also included an appendix of resource information/additional thoughts that is fresh.

I’ve felt haunted by the desire to publish this for the entire last year. It took a surprising amount of work, as well as emotional energy, to prepare for publication, even though I actually did most of the actual writing via blog in 2010. Now that it is ready, I just feel lighter somehow and have this really potent sense of relief and ease, as if this was my final task. My final act of tribute. My remaining “to do” in the grief process.

If anyone really, really, really wants it and cannot afford the $3.99 for which I priced it, I do have it available as a pdf file, a mobi file, and an epub file and I will be happy to email it to you in one of those formats.

Aaaaaahhhhhh….

Stillbirthday–new miscarriage resource

I have accepted that the timeline for writing my Empowered Miscarriage book is going to be quite a bit longer than I originally hoped, partially because I didn’t get as many stories as I had hoped for and so the “feel” I had envisioned for the book is evolving. If you submitted a story, rest assured that I have not forgotten it and continue to hold it with the honor and respect it deserves. I have also decided to turn this blog into a book and I’m working on that project first, since it is more readily completable in the context of the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I just discovered this helpful resource: Stillbirthday. It is EXACTLY what I wished I had available to me during my own miscarriage experiences and in part, it contains exactly the type of information and support that I envisioned my own book providing. It has a section about birth methods, including a good one about natural miscarriage. The most helpful part is the “early pregnancy home birth plan” printable and customizable document. It is exactly what I wished I had when I faced my own miscarriage-birth of Noah. His birth was such uncharted terrain for me and I felt the lack of a “guide” for it very keenly.The website does say that you should not have your baby at home alone and that natural miscarriage is safest for pregnancies 10 weeks or younger—my baby was over 10 weeks and I did have him at home alone (with my husband). These are not decisions that I regret, but I do think it is important to be aware that what I chose to do is not necessarily the safest route. I did not realize that at the time and looking back I feel somewhat horrified that the doctor’s office just sent me home to go it alone! Since my outcome was “positive,” I wouldn’t change how I handled it, but knowing everything I know now, I would probably make some different decisions if I ever had the experience again.

As an example of the kinds of things I wish I had known or had available to me before my own miscarriage-birth, the birth plan section of the Stillbirthday site makes the suggestion to have saline solution and a clear jar available to put the baby in. This is to “restore the baby’s fullness” and give you a chance to spend time looking at the baby without worrying about damaging its skin. While I’m happy that I knew enough to take pictures and to look at the baby at the time, I think I will always regret that I didn’t spend more time with his body. By the time my dad brought him back to us in the afternoon to bury, his form was very different (less full) than it had been originally and I feel like we missed out on important time and observations.

The Stillbirthday website does seem to assume that most women will be coming from a Christian/traditional spiritual belief system, which is not the same as my own, so do be aware of that.

A MOTHER’S PRAYER: Affirmation After Miscarriage

My heart is aching for a close friend of mine who has recently joined the pregnancy loss “club” and is embarking on her own journey. I had this poem saved in my drafts a while ago and felt like now was the time to post it. I keep thinking about her, about her little baby, and about this whole long process of grieving that is now going to be a part of her life.

A MOTHER’S PRAYER: Affirmation After Miscarriage

In this time of loss I call upon my spirit within to guide me to my strength so that I may find peace and completion.

I will use this strength to demand of myself and others my need to grieve completely, for this will be my first step to healing.

During my time of grief I will seek guidance not only from my inner spirit but from loving persons who may offer wisdom and comfort.

I need to understand that the soul as well as the physical body needs healing and to pay attention to this. I will learn to accept that the soul may never heal completely.

I will learn to live not in fear and once again see beauty in my world and purpose in my existence.

In spite of my new knowledge that things happen that cannot be controlled, I must call upon the places within me that tell me I do have control over much of my life and use this control to aid my healing.

Let me recognize the gift in my ability to conceive and carry life however briefly.

Let me take joy in my ability to love so deeply and desire to nurture a soul unbeknownst to me.

Let me find healing in the belief that this soul knew my love for it and that that love helped it to pass to another place.

Let me honor this short life not only with my love but in finding meaning in its existence.

Let me recognize this meaning in not only my ability to survive, but in my fullest appreciation of all the moments motherhood will bring me, along with my deeper compassion and sisterhood to other women who’ve experienced loss.

Let a part of this soul be reflected in the spirit of my future children, born or adopted, so that I may know it through them.

I will listen to and trust the place in my deepest heart that tells me I will once again be reunited with this soul and will fulfill the need to hold it in my arms.

I will help myself to feel comfort in the knowledge that there is a star in heaven that belongs to me.

by Stacey Dinner-Levin

A Birth Healing Blessing

One of my Facebook friends shared this poem yesterday and I felt like re-posting it.

A Birth Healing Blessing

Blessed sister, beautiful one
with broken wings.
Your journey is a difficult one…
that no mother should have to endure.
Your path is steep, rocky and slippery
and your tender heart is in need of gentle healing.

Breathe deeply and know that you are loved.
You are not alone,
though at times, you will feel like a
desolate island of grief
untouchable
distant.
Close your eyes.
Seek the wisdom of women who have walked this well-worn path before you,
before,
and before,
and before you yourself were born.
These beautiful ones
with eyes like yours
have shared your pain, and
weathered the storms of loss.

You are not alone (breathe in)
You will go on (breathe out)
Your wings will mend (breathe in)
You are loved (breathe out)
~ Mary Burgess

Author, Mending Invisible Wings, a healing journal for mothers following the loss of their baby through late-term miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.

—-

The “eyes like yours” line really stood out to me. I mentioned when I shared my few pregnancy pictures here that I asked Mark to take a post-miscarriage picture of me, because I wanted to remember how my eyes looked. I haven’t had the heart to post about it, nor have told many people at all, but I had another miscarriage on February 1st. This one was very early and completely different than my experience with Noah (and one reason I haven’t felt like sharing about it, is because I don’t want it to overshadow my experience with him or to have him just be one in a long line of recurrent losses [which is what I now fear]. I also felt strongly that I simply CANNOT handle having people feel sorry for me again so soon). Anyway, every time I saw myself in the mirror I kept thinking, “these are the eyes of a mother whose babies have died.” They are different eyes…

Books About Miscarriage

I already had quite a few books about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss on my shelf prior to my own miscarriage (some from my CBE training and some from when I worked at the Ronald McDonald House). I read them all in the days following my own miscarriage and have since ordered and read many more. I wanted to share the list here in case it will help anyone else:

After Miscarriage: Medical Facts and Emotional Support for Pregnancy Loss–this was one of the best books I bought. It was lighter on the emotional side than many of the others. This isn’t necessarily good in and of itself, but it was what I needed to read after reading about 6 books with an emphasis on the emotional side and almost no exploration of the physical side (my observation of most books on this subject). Plus, this book was published in 2008, so it is fairly up-to-date and so I trusted the information in it about miscarriage causes more than I did the info in the 90’s books I have. I also liked that the sole focus is on miscarriage.

Empty Arms: Coping with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death-one of the things I found interesting in this one was the question, “Are miscarriage and stillbirth really all that different? Is stillbirth more painful because the baby was carried longer?…’What is miscarriage, but an early stillbirth?'” This is how I felt about my own experience—like it was an early stillbirth. Perhaps if there had been no baby to see and touch and relate to, I would separate the two more readily??

Help, Comfort, & Hope after Losing Your Baby in Pregnancy or the First Year—this one is one of the best for sure. It is from 1997, but because it doesn’t address medical issues, it is completely relevant. This is one that I had my shelf since my time at RMHC and I’m glad I had it, it was very helpful and I really recommend it. It covers a lot of ground, because it includes infant loss throughout the first year of life. It has helpful sections for family members, friends, and professionals. Highly recommended!

Mourning Sickness: Stories and poems about miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss—a more creative, exploratory, personal look at the experience. I marked one quote in which the woman says (referring to being at the hospital): “This is no place to have any real feelings or to let myself wonder why this is happening.” That is exactly how I felt at the doctor’s office when we found out Noah died. I felt like they were expecting me to cry or something, but what I felt was, “get me out of here and THEN I’ll let myself feel.” I even said that to the nurse-practitioner we’d seen—“I’ve got to process this later.”

Miscarriage: Women Sharing from the Heart—I got a lot out of this one emotionally. After Miscarriage was my favorite for medical information and this one was one of my favorites for the emotional side as well as for exploring grief and transformation.

Surviving Pregnancy Loss: a Complete Sourcebook for Women and Their Families—on the older side, didn’t get much out of it.

Unspeakable Losses: Healing from Miscarriage, Abortion, and Other Pregnancy Loss—something I marked from this one was “And before my own losses taught me differently, I had always assumed that once they were over, there was nothing more to say about this unseen losses.” Of course, there IS lots more to say. Hence, this blog. Another quote I marked from this book is: “As a culture, we seem to have an intolerance for suffering; we tend to want those who have experienced a loss of any kind to get on with their lives as quickly as possible. Often, by minimizing the impact of significant losses pathologizing those whose reactions are intense, and applauding those who seem relatively unaffected by tragic events, we encourage the inhibition of our grief. In both obvious and subtle ways, we tell those who grieve they are wrong to be so upset, to dwell on their miseries.”

Coping with a Miscarriage: Why it happens and how to deal with its impact on your family—I do not recommend this one. It is on the older side and it persists in referring to miscarriage as “spontaneous abortion” or even just “abortion.” I hate that. It drives me crazy and makes me mad. I know that SA is the technical, medical term for miscarriage, but I refuse to “own” the term. I have a hard enough time with “miscarriage” being enough. SA just feels like a slap in the face as well as just wrong. Like many medical terms for things affecting women, it is insulting in a way—like “incompetent” cervix or “irritable” uterus…

Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy after a Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death—I coincidentally had this one on my to-sell shelf for Amazon. I unlisted it and read it myself—at the time, I wasn’t ready to consider the possibility of trying again, so I probably need to re-read it.

Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses—this is one I had on hand from my CBE training. It is good. Again, on the old side, but pretty much exclusively emotional, so it doesn’t really matter—it doesn’t feel “dated.”

Presenting Unexpected Outcomes–another one from my CBE training. Same other as Empty Arms above. It is helpful as an educator, but wasn’t particularly useful as a woman.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby—another one focusing on emotional recovery.

For my kids, I bought the children’s book Something Happened. My older son (6) was reluctant to have me read it to him, but when I did, he kept nodding and saying things like “yeah.” It was an interesting experience. I’ve only read it to them once.

I also have two more that recently came from Bookins and I haven’t read them yet:

Coming to Term: Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage—this one is written by a man whose wife had three miscarriages. He is a health writer and investigative journalist.

Miscarriage: Women’s Experiences & Needs—I don’t know anything about this one.

Maybe this seems like a lot or “too much” reading, but I have found it very helpful. Reading is what I do! So, having this experience is no different for me—I read in order to make sense of my own feelings and experiences. I also have found it helpful to paticipate in the Pregnancy and Birth Loss form at mothering.com. Though is is also scary in a way—there is SO MUCH PAIN carried in the world surrounding childbearing loss. It is staggering what so many women and families have gone through. My innocence is definitely lost and reading about other women’s experiences makes me worried about doing this over and over again (or having subsequent even more emotionally painful losses).

Memorial Plaque

Yesterday, the memorial plaque I ordered to put out by Noah’s tree/rock arrived. The image is the “proof” the company sent me via email, not the actual plaque. It is perfect. Marble, small, nice and sturdy. Price was good too (plus free shipping!). Even in grief, I remain a bargain hunter and I felt like many sites selling memorial stones/plaques for babies were taking advantage of people. I looked at all kinds of garden stones, garden plaques, etc. and it seemed like it was always around $100 to get one engraved and personalized and that seemed like a lot. Then, I found the handy site PlaqueMaker. It looked kind of like a fake site, but I decided to trust it and I’m glad I did because I got just what I wanted (and it was $28 total–including the engraving and shipping). One of the things that I most appreciated was that they send you a proof to approve before you have to pay or commit to anything. Isn’t that great?!

Birth Certificate

A lovely organization based in Canada, Angel Whispers, sent me a care package following my miscarriage. They included a lovely birth certificate for Noah and a sweet little angel bear as well as brochures/information.