“We are 1 in 4: Loss series”

1 in 4 women have suffered from miscarriage or infant loss. Many women go through these tragedies and then barely speak of them. The women in this chapter are helping to break the silence on this frightening statistic and help support other mothers who are struggling through loss. I haven’t personally lost a child, but when I was a teenager my mother gave birth to a son who was stillborn. I saw her struggle through this and it was heart breaking. We all are close to someone who is the 1 in 4. It’s time to bring to light the emotions and hardships these women go through. 

-Natalie McCain (Creator of The Honest Body Project)





jeanniejpgs (30 of 38)
“This was my first pregnancy and my husband and I were ecstatic. We had found out the baby was to be a little boy, and we decided to name him, Valen. My pregnancy was pretty normal, as normal as pregnancy can be. I loved being pregnant, and feeling my baby move inside me was the most wonderful feeling in the world. I would talk to him daily and let him know how much he was loved. Looking back it feels like we waited forever for him to come. He was over a week late, and finally on New Year’s Day 2010 I went into labor. My labor lasted close to 18 hours. It was horribly painful, but I knew that it would be worth it.”

jeanniejpgs (5 of 38)

“Throughout my labor my blood pressure was extremely high, so much so that they thought I would have a seizure. Then as it was time to push, Valen’s heart rate began to drop. I was told if I did not push him out that he would have to be cut out. Within that moment I pushed as hard I could, and he was born. When they took him out, call it a mother’s instinct, but I just knew and felt something was not right. They immediately tried to get him to breathe after having cut the cord. It was all within a matter of minutes that they all seemed to be panicking. I could see my husband, mother, and mother in-law all around me with their head in their hands. As I lay on the bed being stitched up, I could see my son being worked on. Something inside of me said call for him, so I yelled to Valen to wake up, over and over, but to no avail. In that moment a little nurse came to me, and told me exactly what I needed to hear. She said not to worry because it is hard for the babies to transition to breathing sometimes. In my moment of desperation I knew this was different, but her kind words eased a small part of me.”

jeanniejpgs (20 of 38)

“It was excruciating watching as specialists tried to intubate my son to help him breathe. I felt with each minute that passed he was slipping farther away. Finally when they were able to intubate him it had been almost 15 minutes and, although I did not know the specifics at the time, he was most likely brain dead. The next two days I had this hope that some miracle would be pulled off, and my son would be saved, so I really did not feel too much sadness. We baptized him in the hospital, and then he was transported to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. There they ran tests to be sure that there was nothing more they could do. When they told me that he was truly brain dead and that most of his organs were failing, I knew I had to accept it finally.”

jeanniejpgs (15 of 38)

“We went to the Children’s hospital with family to take him off of the life support. There were so many tubes and wires all around his tiny body that all I wanted was for him to not be in any more pain. The nurses took all the tubes out and wrapped him in a blanket, so that we could hold him. The nurses said he still had a heart beat. He was so beautiful! I wanted to hold him forever. Then when we finally said all our goodbyes, we took him back to the nurses. I remember the nurses checked his heart, and said that he still had a faint heartbeat. I then leaned down and whispered in his ear, “it’s ok..you can go now Valen..I love you”. Then they checked it again and he had passed. It was almost as if he was waiting on me to except it and let him go. It is like that saying “when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly”.”

jeanniejpgs (8 of 38)

“My son gained his angel wings that day on January 4, 2010. Then we were to change his diaper, bathe him, and dress him. We were doing all the things first time parents do except our baby had just passed. I changed his diaper as if he was a delicate newborn babe. I did it ever so gently so as not to hurt him, even though I knew he could now feel no pain. After that day it felt like pure hell. The doctors gave me 4 different kinds of medicine from antidepressants to anti anxiety medicine, but I felt like nothing worked. The pain I had was so intense that no medicine on earth could erase it. I would kneel on the side of my bed and scream for hours. I felt as if I wanted to reach into the heavens and yank my son back to Earth. I felt stuck in a purgatory of sorts while everyone around me moved on. After the funeral everyone goes home and the dust settles. Friends and family go back to their lives and the hundreds of flowers that I received began to wilt and whither away. I felt not alive nor dead because living things grow and flourish whilst dead things deteriorate and decompose, but I could do neither because I was frozen. I was stuck doing a slow waltz in the face paced song that was life. Honestly, what helped the most was living the pain. I needed to go through it, to understand it better, and get control of it. I think in life so many times we try to ignore things or numb things, but in reality it is that pain that lets us know we are alive. My husband was my greatest comfort. In him I saw my son and being with him made me feel more connected with my son. We would go for long walks at sunset and talk about everything. This was the best medicine for me. In time I learned not how to eliminate the pain, but to manage it.
I think the loss of a child, which is such an unnatural thing, never truly goes away. Some days were worse than others. I would scream and cry so loud, but no sound could be heard from my lips. I would feel physical pain in my eyes holding back the tears that burn. As days went by I would adapt and learn to live with the pain. The pain never died but turned into a heaviness that I would carry in my heart. Every day I get up and struggle to carry my heavy heart while trying not to show my struggle to others. I smile and laugh, but I am never the same. Some days my heart is just too heavy to bear and I collapse. I go outside and feel the wind flowing around me, gliding along my fingertips and surrounding my body. In that moment I realize that my loved one is here, as much here as in the next world. I close my eyes and see him embracing me. When I open my eyes I see the sun shining so bright and I feel the warmth of it beating down on me. In that moment I realize how beautiful this life is, and I pull myself up supported by the kindness of my interactions with people.”

jeanniejpgs (38 of 38)

“With every kind word or action that a family member or friend gives me it helps to lighten my heart. It does not remove the weight of my heart, but in an essence their words and actions help to carry it. If small actions like these can have such an impact on one simple person, just realize the impact people have on others. Never underestimate what love can do. Losing a child forever changes who you are as a person. It is as if the hand of God reaches down and grabs your soul, shaking off your body and possessions. You then want for only one thing that a soul requires which consists of love. You see the world through a different set of eyes. The need for material possessions, money and the waste of those things no longer inhabit you. You care only for giving love and seek only the love of others. It is as if the truth of what we were meant for is revealed through the awakening of one’s soul. Over time, of course, this truth fades and you find yourself slipping back into the overwhelming state of life. There is, however, a part of you that remains untouched and unscathed by society. This part will forever change the way in which you view the world. You see things through the eyes of someone that knows what true love is and what it really means. In rising through the ashes of life it leads you to the enlightenment of the soul.”



“I am a member of the club. Nobody wants to be a part of the club. The club that no one speaks of but, just like that, in seconds you are a member. I know I didn’t even think there was a club like this. I was naïve.”

jenniferDjpgs (34 of 43)

“My husband and I welcomed our son via emergency c-section on May 23rd. Before he turned 2 years old, we thought we would expand our growing family. It was the natural progression. It took us a while longer to get pregnant the second time than the first time. Both my husband and I were concerned when we didn’t get pregnant within a 2 month span like we did with our son. However, when we did, we both were over the moon with joy! Around 13-15 weeks of gestation, I went in for a checkup. Everything was looking great, I just wasn’t gaining weight. I continue to be on a strict diet, GAIN WEIGHT they all said! I intended to do so and I did! A couple weeks later, 20 weeks to be exact, we entered the doctor’s office to hear the news of the gender. We planned to hear how everything was moving along nicely and progressing, just as we thought, just like our son. So, now If was a day like any other day… I was so completely excited and couldn’t wait. I was crossing my fingers and praying it was a girl. I wanted to share all these experiences and my absolute favorites with her (love of chocolate, love of DISNEY, love of Ariel, love of girly girl things, love of nail polish, love of dresses, etc..). My husband didn’t mind what the gender was but I could see in his eyes he was hoping for a girl. The NEWS came….A GIRL!!! I burst into tears. I asked the technician to say the gender again. I remember saying to her “can you repeat that?” I remember saying “are you 100% sure?” I started in my head all those questions. Oh, what should her name be? What will she look like? What outfits should I get? Will she love purple as much as me? The questions just went on and on and on…. It was dreams come true….out of a fairy tale. A Disney Fairy tale too! I was seeing the amazing credits roll and the happy ending…Then 5 minutes later, the doctor entered our exam room… The nightmare began.”

jenniferDjpgs (9 of 43)

“The doctor came in to the exam room. He says he wanted to explain the measurements on how the baby (OUR GIRL) was growing and how my body was reacting. He went into further details and that’s when my heart dropped. My cervix wasn’t holding her and I was starting to thin out (basically, my body was starting to prepare for labor). Both my husband and I were in complete shock. How can this be? What can we do to fix this? Why? Why? Why? How? How? We both just didn’t understand.  We both looked like deer in headlights. More questions than ever before. Our doctor explained to us to see a specialist. We received a time to go, immediately the following morning. We left the office more confused than ever and I was scared, not for me, but for my baby. My child. My girl. My daughter.”

jenniferDjpgs (14 of 43)

“The specialist had a plan. He gave me all the options and said “If you were my wife, I would want you to do this.” A transvaginal cerclage (basically stitch my cervix shut). As I sat in the exam room, alone, (my husband went to work that day, on my command to do so), I had no idea what to do. What was the best option for her? What do I do? I felt so helpless for information. I called my husband and desperately begged for an answer. He spoke with the doctor over the phone and we all decided to go ahead with the cerclage. During the cerclage procedure, the doctor found – scar tissue on my cervix. He later mentioned this can happen due to laboring, pushing on the cervix during childbirth and having an emergency c-section). Unbeknownst to my husband and I prior to this procedure, we were stunned and the doctor said he didn’t have any choice to complete the cerclage differently than routine. He came out of the procedure not happy with what he had to complete and he said 50/50 chance of saving the baby.”

jenniferDjpgs (16 of 43)

“I was sent home after the normal post-op and recovery time of just a few hours with important instructions to watch for infection (vomiting, high fever, chills) and water breaking. The doctor placed me on mild bed rest (allowed to take shower, go to the restroom and make a small meal). After a few days of bed rest and lots of help from the grandparents with our son, the weekend rolled around. Easter weekend. After all day, Saturday, watching my parents help clean the house and my husband help with our son, I realized late afternoon, that my water was breaking. My parents had left for the evening and my husband took our son to the park. I was getting out of the shower when I had a gut feeling that isn’t supposed to be what I think it is. I didn’t even know it was my water breaking because it was a trickle of water and a feeling of needing to use the restroom excessively. Besides the fact that with my son, the doctors prior to my c-section broke my water for me and I was on pain medication for it so I didn’t even feel it. I was losing water! I was losing amniotic fluid! I panicked and immediately called my husband to come home! We all piled in the car, called my parents on the way, rushing to the hospital. When we arrived, I was placed on machines and the on-call doctor confirmed I was in preterm labor. I demanded to stay and see my doctor when he arrived in the morning (Easter Sunday). Both the on-call doctor and my specialist doctor (the one who placed my cerclage) said there wasn’t anything they could do. Due to gestation time (20 weeks 5 days), the baby wasn’t viable. VIABLE! VIABLE! You hear that heart monitor. That baby is alive, ALIVE! Kicking!! What do you mean not viable!? My husband and I googled on our phones anything to help our situation. We found several options. We told the doctors we will be doing these options and they sent us home. They explain to us to watch for signs of infection (vomiting, high fever, chills). By the way, I forgot to mention our baby, our precious little girl, was kicking and heartbeat was normal and strong this whole time. We arrived home Easter Sunday late afternoon and settled in. My husband was so worried and checked my temperature every 5 minutes. I took a shower and relaxed on the couch. Or so I tried. All of a sudden, I was shaking, shaking. I couldn’t stop. I was cold…my mom placed a blanket on me. I was cold…really cold. My parents looked at me, gave kisses, and said their goodbyes. Left for their house again (30 minutes away). Shaking got worse…and worse. Tried relaxing, went to bed early. Convulsing now. Then the vomiting started…I couldn’t take it and started crying. My husband and I decided it’s time. Call 9-1-1.”
jenniferDjpgs (23 of 43)

“I was rushed to the hospital. I left an imprint on my son while he watched me be carried out in a stretcher and placed in the ambulance. I’m not sure he remembers but I sure do. While in the ambulance, my memory faded in and out. I was really bad. I remember the EMT asking “when is your birthday?” I remember saying “what is a birthday?” All I needed to know was she was still kicking and for me I knew we are okay. SHE is okay. When we arrived at the hospital, I was so out of it. However, I do remember two things. One was trying to pee in a cup by myself in the restroom and struggling very hard with it.  The second memory is the nurse calling out “I can’t find a heartbeat. I need another machine so I can try again.” They never found a heartbeat. She was gone. In a matter of seconds, she had kicked her goodbye to me and grew her wings. That is when I became a member of the club. I couldn’t process the thought of losing her because I was on my way to growing my wings as well. I was desperately sick and the doctors scrambled to figure out why and what to do to heal me. After hours in intensive care, in and out of consciousness and pumping me full of antibiotics, doctors removed my cerclage. My body went into labor and our baby girl, my baby girl, my daughter was vaginally delivered on April 6th. Then, I fought for my life. Hours away from dying, per my doctors, I struggled in ICU for a few days with sepsis and e-coli. I received lots of antibiotics, pain medication and the attention of 10+ doctors and nurses helped, and I thoughtfully thank, in my recovery. I was in the hospital for a week after losing my daughter and also on a PICC (receiving antibiotics through a needle without staying at a hospital) for another week. I am fully recovered, healthy and grieving always the loss of my baby girl.”

jenniferDjpgs (29 of 43)

“It is different. The loss of a child, than that of a loved one. Not saying the loss of a loved one is not of importance. Just…different. It will always be there. Different days, different kind of grief. I am grieving the loss of the future. Things I will never do with her, moments I will never have with her. qualities of who she will never be. Holidays of missing her. The list can go on. Everyone – mainly friends, relatives who don’t understand – keep telling me I can just get pregnant again and have another baby. But what they will never understand is that I wanted that pregnancy. I wanted that baby. More than ever – she IS loved more than she will EVER know.”

jenniferDjpgs (30 of 43)

“I ask you to not pity me or have sympathy for me. I have accepted the angel wings of my child. She was ready for her wings even though my heart wasn’t. I do my absolute best every day to make her proud. To cuddle, love and play with her brother more, pay attention to the little things. Not stress about the big things. I try my best to get up every morning on my bad days when it is a struggle to even get out of bed. Don’t feel sorry for me or feel uncomfortable when I talk about my child. Every time I have the chance to talk about her, yes, it makes me miss her, but I believe I am honoring her just by the mention of her name. Do not be afraid to say her name. I’m not afraid to hear it. I might cry but they are tears of love and joy that you remembered her.”

jenniferDjpgs (42 of 43)“So the club I was telling you about. It is the “I lost a child” club. I am a member. I am 1 in 4 women who have lost a child from pregnancy or infant loss. Break the silence of my quiet club.”


Pictured are the mother and her doula.

“In December 2013, I gave birth to our first born, a son, who was stillborn. After trying for a little over a year, it was a really devastating situation to come to terms with. My life pivoted when I returned home with my husband, completely empty-armed. But it didn’t stop me from trying everything in my power to continue to nurture my life without him. I wanted to be able to be the best mother I could be, and embracing motherhood without my baby was my goal, and I never looked back.”


“Loss doesn’t make you any less of a mother. It’s hard for people to understand this concept, I feel, and further understand that the loss does not define me or my body or how I feel about myself when I wake up. I wish and hope to be able to show that women who have had a loss like I have can embrace their children and themselves and that they can also look upon their experience and learn from it instead of running away.”


“I think that having a doula is so important when you are going to be having a baby. No matter what choice you choose – medicated or not medicated, c-section (planned or unplanned) having another woman who is there to comfort you, guide you and unconditionally rally for you is so vital to birth. My doula was no exception, especially when my labor turned for the worst and we lost our son’s heart tones and he passed away.”


“She was the first person who told me without any hesitation, without a thimble of doubt, that I am a mother, even if my son cannot be in my arms today. And I really took that to heart, I took her wisdom of transforming from maiden to mother very, very seriously. Since I did that, I never doubted my motherhood from that day on. I don’t know the kind of person I would be, or how I would’ve struggled with motherhood if it wasn’t for that cosmic moment. I really feel that everything happens for a reason, and my love for my doula during those dark times really helped fuel the person I am today.”


“I have learned to love tears. Tears burn, they’re salty, and messy and magical. They make you feel broken, they make you feel whole. They show up when you’re sad or when you’re happy.”


“I work every day to try to remember my son, and I embrace everything he’s ever given me. I’m thankful for the woman he’s allowed me to become, and I feel so blessed to be able to stand among other women and enjoy motherhood with them.”


“Loss isn’t just about sadness. For me, tears are a vessel, a cleanse, a release. And sharing them with someone else is so sacred and beautiful. My son showed me that crying isn’t an action to be ashamed about. He showed me that it’s a moment to embrace, and I can say with conviction I am more whole person because of that.”


“My son has only been gone for about a year and a half, and I still struggle daily with the way my stomach looks. When I was pregnant, I worked to embrace the idea of having stretch marks, and even the idea that I may need to have a c-section to deliver him, but coming home with multiple battle wounds and no baby was the most difficult reality I’ve ever had to overcome.”


“I try more to advocate to women as a whole, that we all have our hardships and we are never alone. And while no two stories are the same, we can always rally for each other and love each other and the gifts our children (alive or not) bring to us.”


“I’ve always believed a woman’s body is a temple, and I know that women tend to have a skewed idea of what beauty is, but I’ve actively chosen to engage in projects like this to be able to embrace the new me. The woman I am today is wonderful, smart, beautiful, funny and courageous. She has fought in many battles and has persevered. And to be honest, I really love who I am, scars and all.”


“It’s taken this time to realize that every mother’s journey is their own. Yeah, I lost my first baby in labor, had to have a traumatic birth instead of the home birth I planned. I had a bowel obstruction as a result of the c-section, presumably because of a mistake on the surgeon’s part. But you know what? That’s MY journey.”


“I’ve walked a road that has no name. There’s no right and wrong, it’s just a journey that continues and changes every day. Every day I am faced with a choice of how I am going to rememeber Alex and how I am going to allow myself to be defined by him not being here. Every day I choose to remember him and I choose to persevere.”


3 21




“I love my c-section scar. In fact, I’m probably the minority because I wouldn’t birth my baby without a c-section. He was our third baby and a miracle in every way. My marriage was on the rocks when we found out I was pregnant. Within two weeks we were repaired to the point of being more in love than we were when we got married. It was God in the works through our baby boy…just amazing how things unfolded. At 15 weeks I had some spotting, so the Dr. had me come in for a scan. My baby appeared to have something on his kidneys, but I wouldn’t learn more until an appointment with the perinatologist. The next week, we had a level 2 ultrasound and found out our baby had a birth defect called Posterior Urethral Valves. Basically, an extra piece of skin covering his urethra. His bladder was huge…he was drinking the amniotic fluid but had the obstruction and couldn’t pee it back out. In addition, he had clubbed feet (likely from the lack of space and amniotic fluid) which was definitely the least of our worries. We were told about a fetal surgeon in state who had experience with babies like ours. The concern is that without intervention, the urine will continue to back up into the ureters and cause irreversible kidney damage, as well as prevent his lungs from growing due to lack of amniotic fluid. The surgeon would be able to insert a shunt through fetal surgery and relieve the obstruction! What a relief! Until… we went through an amnio and three vesicocentesis only to be told that even though our son’s kidneys looked beautiful, the tests on them said otherwise and he wasn’t worth the surgery. How someone can determine whether my son’s life is worth saving but me and God, I will always wonder.”


“Our perinatologist advised us to terminate, and said any good parent in that situation would do so. I couldn’t entertain that idea and was sick at the thought. I had two children already, and he was just as much my child as they were. After many tears and prayers, we decided to transfer our care and begin to accept the idea that our baby would die after birth. How do you accept the fact that a growing baby inside will just die after he is born? Or maybe before if he sat on his umbilical cord and cut off his supply? I felt like I was dying inside. I went for about two days deciding that I didn’t want to talk about my baby and just wanted to pretend he didn’t exist. But I couldn’t do it. I loved him. I wanted him. If wanting him and loving him means that I will only have him to mother for 9 months, then I would be the best mother I could be. I talked to him, sang to him (our song- Tears in Heaven), created memories with him, including the sad ones like picking out a funeral space at 30 weeks pregnant.”


“Then at 34 weeks, his time came. I went into labor. At 9 cm dilated we made it to the hospital with just enough time to get me prepped for a c-section. Why not a vaginal delivery? I felt like my only hope was to get him out quickly to see him alive. He may not survive through the birth canal. My one was wish was to gaze into his eyes. For his last breath to be me holding him, knowing only love. When he was born, he was so much smaller than I’d imagined. He was just 4 1/2 pounds and with a tiny, bell-shaped chest from his lack of space and fluid (I was in the 2nd percentile for amniotic fluid most of my pregnancy). I heard a sound, yet not a cry. Just enough to ease my mind that he was alive. Once in the NICU, he was kept on life support while we spent time with him, had pictures taken and called our family and friends up to meet our sweet boy. After 3 1/2 hours we made the heart-wrenching decision to remove him from life support. A decision that took years to accept and that occasionally pops into my head. Matthew- our Gift from God- died silently in my arms. And yes, he gazed up into my eyes before going to meet Jesus. So after my milk dried up and my surgery pain slowly went away, I have my scar… a beautiful piece of him with me, always.”



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