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When I had a miscarriage in 2015 I was completely blind-sided and had no idea how incredibly common it was. I quickly found out that one in four pregnancies ends in a loss. This fact catapulted me into a new direction. At first, I began to talk to friends and family about my loss and realized that many others who I had known for years had also experienced some type of liss. Then I met a filmmaker who I partnered with to co-produce the film, Don’t Talk About the Baby. During this journey we spoke to many loss moms, parents, friends, family members, physicians, nurses, counselors, researchers, support group leaders, and anyone else who had a story to tell. We wanted to show a tapestry of perspectives to weave a full picture of how far the ripple effects from pregnancy loss are felt. The film reveals that even though the subject is still quite taboo, we’ve all been affected by pregnancy loss and/or infertility, whether we’re aware of it or not. Here are some of the most important things I learned while talking to others about pregnancy loss.
No Story is the Same
Each person’s journey in loss is different. That ranges from the circumstances leading up to the loss, to how one may have experienced the loss, to how they were treated by their providers, how their relationships were changed afterward, and how they moved forward after the loss.
Loss is Loss
I always remember feeling a pang of guilt when I would share my own loss story with another person who may have had a later term loss or a stillbirth. But each time I was met with an extraordinary amount of compassion and validation that loss is loss, and no matter when you experienced that loss, your story mattered and your pain was very real. This is truly such a community of compassionate human beings.
As hard as it can be to recount our losses, from the initial feelings of shock and disbelief to the heaviness of the grief after acceptance, sharing the experience with someone who is welcoming and willing to listen and offer a nonjudgmental space, can truly give loss-parents a sense of relief and aid in their healing process.
Downplaying any loss hurts
Many families I’ve spoken to and who were featured in our film expressed similar feelings when it came to hearing platitudes from well-intentioned friends or family members. The overwhelming sentiment is that they do more harm than good. No one who has lost a baby, regardless of how far along they were in their pregnancy, wants to hear things like, “God always has a plan” or “Everything happens for a reason” or “At least (fill in the blank)”. None of these are helpful and only make us feel worse for feeling sad or angry about what we have just experienced. And that just makes healing an even more difficult process.
Loss Moms are Warriors
If there is one thing I can say after talking to countless moms and parents over the years is that they are warriors. Grieving something that is invisible to the rest of the world is isolating, but somehow they make it through the day. Grieving publicly by sharing their stories leaves loss-parents wide open for judgment or (sometimes worse) indifference, a reminder that many people are ready for them to “get over it”. Then there are those who refuse to sit back and let loss continue to live in the shadows as something we deal with but don’t talk about. Those who start foundations, fundraising events, and travel to Washington DC to demand better research and increased funding so we can begin to reduce pregnancy loss. We’re fighting battles from the internal to the institutional and we hold each other up every step of the way.
Krista Gervon is a full spectrum doula who offers compassionate, nonjudgmental support throughout any part of one's reproductive health journey. In 2015, Krista's second pregnancy ended in miscarriage and it was a completely unexpected, isolating, and traumatic experience. It wasn't until she started sharing her story that she realized so many others also suffered in silence. At that point, she decided to turn her pain and frustration into purpose by co-producing the documentary, Don’t Talk About the Baby
, a film that explores the culture of shame and silence surrounding pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and infertility through expert interviews and personal stories. Completing this project provided her with the ability to process her feelings surrounding her own loss, but she knew she wanted to do more, at which point she decided to begin her journey as a doula. She completed postpartum and full spectrum doula certifications through Doula Trainings International (DTI) and a bereavement doula certification through StillBirthday (SBD). Krista graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in sociology and sits on the Board of Directors of The 2 Degrees Foundation
, a New Jersey-based, non-profit organization committed to raising funds for stillbirth research, increasing stillbirth awareness and education, and providing bereavement support for families who have been affected by stillbirth and other forms of pregnancy loss.