Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a personal story

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Today’s guest post is Stacey Skrysak. Stacey Skrysak is a television news anchor & blogger based in Illinois. She is a mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two children in Heaven. Through her experience, Stacey has become a voice for premature birth and child loss, all while sprinkling in the trials and tribulations of raising a preemie who was once nicknamed the “Diva” of the NICU. 

It’s a club no parent ever wants to be part of. Yet one in four women will experience the heartbreaking loss of a child, whether it’s through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. We are mothers, fathers, survivors. We are the parents who have the tricky task of learning to spread our love between Heaven and earth.

It’s something you never plan on. After years of infertility, my husband and I were shocked and overjoyed as we found out we were expecting triplets. I knew I faced a high-risk pregnancy, but I never imagined that losing a child could become a reality. As I basked in the glow of three babies growing within me, doctors kept a close eye on me. I did everything by the book, yet our lives forever changed when I went into labor at just 22 weeks gestation. Nothing prepares you for the moment you meet your baby, only to say goodbye hours later.

Our firstborn baby passed away two hours after birth; our son died 55 days later, never seeing life beyond the hospital walls. Within two months, two of our triplets were gone. We were left balancing the grief with trying to stay strong for our survivor, who faced an uphill battle in the NICU.

In the early days of my losses, I felt alone. It wasn’t that people didn’t reach out to offer support. Instead, I shut myself off from the world. I didn’t want to explain the traumatic events that unfolded, and I didn’t want to talk about my babies. I felt like a failure. Two of my three children had died, their premature bodies simply born too early to survive. The guilt overwhelmed me, while my sadness consumed me.

But, as my surviving triplet grew stronger, so did my inner strength. I couldn’t live my life wondering, “Why me?” I pored through my voicemail, emails and other messages and found a support system that spanned the globe. What surprised me the most was the number of people who, like me, experienced a loss. Strangers shared their experience of having to bury a child. Childhood friends reached out to me to share their devastating losses from miscarriage and stillbirth.

Peyton and Parker

I quickly realized, I am not alone.

It’s been more than five years since two of my children died, and while there are still moments of deep heartache, I have found that grief changes over time. These days I find myself in a good place; full of happiness and love as I look at my beautiful daughter, while finding ways to honor and remember her brother and sister in Heaven. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but through my losses, I have found new purpose in life. My triplets taught me to live life to the fullest, for you never know what tomorrow may bring. And while I joined a club no parent ever wants to be part of, I am forever grateful for this group that shares a common bond. I am a mother of triplets, one in my arms and two in my heart. And thanks to others who reminded me I am not alone, I have found life after loss.

  • Visit Share Your Story®, our online community where families who have lost a baby can talk to and comfort each other. Sharing your family’s story may ease your pain and help you heal.
  • Visit our new Wall of Remembrance, a space for parents and loved ones living with loss to pay tribute and share their story.

Grief: Do men and women grieve differently?

Friday, October 5th, 2018

The loss of a baby is one of the most painful experiences that can happen to a family. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a day to dedicated to recognize and support moms and families who have lost a baby. If your baby died during pregnancy or after birth, you and your partner need time to grieve.

Everyone grieves in his own way. Men and women often show grief in different ways. Even if you and your partner agree on lots of things, you may feel and show your grief differently.

Different ways of dealing with grief may cause problems for you and your partner. For example, you may think your partner isn’t as upset about your baby’s death as you are. You may think he doesn’t care as much. This may make you angry. At the same time, your partner may feel that you’re too emotional. He may not want to hear about your feelings so often and may think you’ll never get over your grief. He also may feel left out of all the support you’re getting.

Women have a special bond with their baby during pregnancy. But men may not feel as close to their baby. Men don’t carry the baby in their body, so the baby may seem less real to them. A man may become more attached to the baby later in pregnancy when he feels the baby kick or sees the baby on an ultrasound.

In general, here’s how women may show their grief:

  • They may want to talk about the death of their baby often and with many people.
  • They may show their feelings more often. They may cry or get angry a lot.
  • They may be more likely to ask their partner, family or friends for help. Or they may go to their place of worship or to a support group.

In general, here’s how men may show their grief:

  • They may grieve by themselves. They may not want to talk about their loss. They may spend more time at work or do things away from home to keep from thinking about the loss.
  • They may feel like they’re supposed to be strong and tough and protect their family. They may not know how to show their feelings. They may think that talking about feelings makes them seem weak.
  • They may try to work through grief on their own rather than ask for help.

It’s OK to show your pain and grief differently than your partner. Be patient and caring with each other. Try to talk about your thoughts and feelings and how you want to remember your baby.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, visit our online community, Share Your Story. This can be a place of comfort and support for grieving families.

How to support grieving parents

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

The loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. If you have a family member or friend that has lost a baby during pregnancy, in the first days of life, or even as an infant, it’s very hard to know what to say or do. Here are some ideas that may help.

It’s important to recognize that although the loss may have happened to friends or family, you may be affected by their baby’s death too. To be able to support the parents, try to understand your own feelings. You may feel sad, helpless, worried, angry, confused or numb. You may wonder how you can help the parents if you feel so sad yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. But by understanding how you feel, you can better support the grieving family.

It’s hard to know exactly what to say to parents whose baby has died. But there are a few important things to remember:

  • Be simple: “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  • Be honest: “I don’t know what to say. I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
  • Be comforting: “I care about you and your family. Please tell me what I can do to help.”
  • Be specific, not everyone feels comfortable asking for help: “Can I bring you dinner on Tuesday? How about I watch the kids this week”

Don’t forget about dad. Be sure to include him as a grieving parent.

Some words may not be helpful to a grieving family, in fact, they may actually be hurtful. Here are things you should NOT to say to grieving parents:

  • “You’ll get over it in time.”
  • “It’s for the best.”
  • “You can always have another baby.”
  • “Count your blessings.”

If you can’t find the right words, it’s OK to say nothing. Sometimes just being there to listen and hold a hand is all a parent needs. You don’t always have to find the perfect words to say.

Parents may need lots of comfort and support during this painful time. And there are many things you can do to help. You can read more about grief and loss on our website too. The most important thing is simply to offer your support and love to your family or friend  and let them know you are there for them as they grieve.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Friday, October 13th, 2017

The loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. If your baby died during pregnancy, in the first days of life, or even as an infant, you and your family may need support to find ways to deal with your grief and ease your pain.

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day – a time to pause and remember all angel babies.

It is important to know that parents and families are not alone in their grief. Connecting with others going through the same or a similar situation can help you process your grief. We invite all families to share and connect in our online community Share Your Story. The families in our community know what you are going through and can offer support during this devastating time and in the days ahead.

We provide resources that may help you understand what happened and how to deal with the daily pain of your loss. We encourage you to visit our website if you are looking for resources for families that have lost a baby or ways to remember your baby.

Loss affects entire families every day, in different ways. Read one heartfelt story of loss as seen through the eyes of a sibling.

The March of Dimes is so very sorry for your loss. We are here for you.

How do you know if you are having a miscarriage?

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Among women who know they are pregnant about 10 to 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage, however we don’t know the exact number because many may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

Are there signs and symptoms?

Vaginal bleeding or spotting, period-like cramps and severe belly pain are all symptoms of a miscarriage. Many women have these signs and symptoms in early pregnancy and don’t miscarry.

When should you contact your health care provider?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms, call your prenatal care provider. Your provider may want to do some tests to make sure everything’s OK. These tests can include blood tests, a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Call your provider if you have any bleeding or spotting, even if it stops. It may not be caused by anything serious, but your provider needs to find out what’s causing it.

If you’ve suffered a miscarriage, we have support and resources to help you during this difficult time. Visit our website to learn more.

Infant mortality. These two words should never go together.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

emotional couple sittingInfancy should mark the beginning of life, not the end. Even though the rates of infant deaths are at an all-time low, far too many babies still die before their first birthday. For this reason, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to share the sad fact that babies still die in infancy, and to help spread the word about how to fix this problem.

In 2013, in the United States, 23,446 infants died before reaching their first birthday, which is an infant mortality rate of 6.0 per 1,000 live births. Or, put another way, on an average day in the U.S., 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday.

What causes infant death? Can it be prevented?

“Preterm birth, or being born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the biggest contributor to infant death,” according to the CDC. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to preterm-related causes. Among non-Hispanic black infants, the rate of preterm-related death is three times higher than those of non-Hispanic white infants.

Other causes of infant mortality include low birth weight, birth defects, pregnancy complications for the mother, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Although the rate of infant deaths in the U.S. has declined by almost 12% since 2003, the death of any infant is still one too many.

Having a healthy pregnancy may increase the chance of having a healthy baby.

A woman can help reduce her risk of giving birth early by getting a preconception checkup, staying at a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy. Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and getting early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy are also key parts of a healthy pregnancy.

It’s part of our mission

March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story, will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand.

Even in the year 2016, “the U.S. has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the industrialized world,” according to NICHQ, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.

March of Dimes is working hard to make this fact history.

 

 

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Every so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 3,500 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

Updated Sept. 2015

Honoring parents with angel babies

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

yellow butterflyThe loss of a baby is heart wrenching.  As today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I want to take a moment to honor those parents who have angel babies. Most people cannot even imagine being in their shoes for an instant, yet alone having to live a day-to-day existence without the baby they continue to love.

The loss of a baby touches so many people in profound and long lasting ways. No two individuals grieve in exactly the same manner. The mother may grieve differently from the father. Children who were expecting their sibling to come home from the hospital experience their own grief as well. Even grandparents and close friends may be deeply affected. The ripple effects from the loss of a baby are widely felt.

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand your grief. We also have bereavement materials available free of charge. Simply send a request to AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will mail them out to you.

Please know that the March of Dimes is thinking of you today and every day.

Twitter chat on losing a baby

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Tiffany Bowen, wife of Stephen Bowen of the Washington Redskins, went into labor at 24 weeks. She was expecting twins, not an emergency c-section. Two tiny babies were born and struggled for weeks. One of their boys survived, Skyler did not.

Join us @modhealthtalk for a chat about losing a baby, on Monday Nov. 18th at 8 PM ET. Tiffany Bowen, @Skylersgift, will be our guest. Come listen to her story and share your own. Find out how Tiffany and Stephen have used their experience to help others through Skyler’s Gift Foundation.  Share your experience. Be sure to use #losschat so others can see your story.