guest post by Jeri Lea Kroll, LMSW, IMH-E®
It is October and there are cooler temps, sweaters, changing leaves and pumpkin-y goodness all around. It is also the month we bring awareness to the needs and experiences of those who have suffered pregnancy and infant losses. And every year I feel a bit more courage rising in me to finally outwardly acknowledge the weight of these losses in my own life. For me they were all very early losses and therefore hidden from those around me. Only those I confided in would have even known and yet probably not the extent of the wounds they left until years later when the pain came oozing out in my brokenness as a new mama.
This year I felt more determined to turn my pain and lessons learned into blessings for others. This summer I completed Amy Wright Glen’s online course on Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss. And serendipitously was asked to talk at the local Birth Circle meeting in October. Perfect, I thought! And still as the days have crept closer my old fears and the guilt of my mistakes have come back to visit. “What do I have to offer?” I’m a psychotherapist specializing in early relationships and trauma and yet I allowed my grief and trauma to stay stuck for years. “Who am I to coach and counsel others?” So here I am, sitting with the tension of both: old guilt and shame AND the wisdom and distance finally earned through the layers of my healing journey.
Alone is how I felt for much of my journey. Unfortunately, that is a common experience for many women, even those who go on to conceive and carry another child to term. (In my case, motherhood came through domestic adoption.) We are told to “enjoy” the experience, to embrace the baby on the way and even to “trust God.” Trust in our bodies, our god or sense of the goodness of the universe, and our enjoyment can feel so far from the daily experience of subsequent efforts to conceive, carry and mother a baby. And maybe you too are sitting in the tension of both. Joy and hopefulness AND fear and grief. This may be the new normal. So how do we ensure we and our partners and our children thrive as we navigate whatever comes next?
I don’t have all of the answers but I do have more thoughts on this. Join me at the Livingston County Birth Circle on Monday. In addition to conversation and community we will have fabric and materials to craft memorial banners or flags to honor the babies we have lost. While we create we can talk about what is needed to more than survive pregnancy and new motherhood after or amidst loss. How do we eventually thrive? What support do we need? What do we need our loved ones and practitioners to know? Where can we go for more expert support?
You do not need to do this alone.
In the meantime check out this article. What do you think about this?
I will share the ritual we used after our losses and before adopting our daughter on Monday.
I would love to hear what you did or are thinking of doing to honor your babies.