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Reflecting on Loss


As the holiday season drew near, I found myself reflecting on various losses I have experienced in my short time on earth. This November, and likely all Novembers to come, was particularly difficult. On November 23, 2021, our precious babies, Sekani and Damani, were called to the spiritual world. I have learned to announce the “birth” and death of our sweet boys. Some would argue they were never born as they were born dead, and yet, they were still born, and were beautiful, perfect babies who will live on in our hearts forever.

I chose to share this as I know I am not alone in my grief and loss as pregnancy loss at any stage can be devastating for everyone involved. If you are wondering what distinguishes one type of pregnancy loss form another, you are not alone. Miscarriage is usually defined as loss of a baby before the 20th week and stillbirth is loss of a baby at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Miscarriages are quite common as statistics report happening with 1 in 10 pregnancies whereas stillbirth is described as a baby being born without signs of life. While stillbirths are not as common as early pregnancy losses, they are sadly more common than you might realize and affects about 1 in 175 births. Another major difference between the two pertains to the delivery of baby. Miscarriages may occur naturally, or mothers may take medication to provoke miscarriage, or have a surgical procedure to remove the pregnancy (which is documented as medical abortion). Once a baby passes away in utero, the mother must deliver the stillborn fetus. Options for delivery depend on gestational age and other clinical aspects of the pregnancy. Typically, mother’s will be given medication to induce labor and baby is delivered via vaginal birth, which serves to decrease maternal risk and time in the hospital. Thus, these losses can be detrimental as can be the losses to come. . .

Here, at Blooming Life Institute, we honor ALL losses, whereas so much of the literature and grief models focus on death related loss(es). I have spent much time pondering my relationship with loss, and have come to realize that I can sit in my grief, which looks different moment to moment and day to day, and I can also find joy and happiness in my life. To me, that signifies a way of knowing I will survive and yet I will never be the same, but instead I am a new version of myself. It has become clear to me over this past year that the multitude of losses I will confront after losing our boys is monumental. For example, this past year I have had to learn to protect myself from conversations by creating a script that allows me to speak my truth without taking care of the person/people across from me. I have had to help our son navigate conversations around how many siblings he has (we have come to like: I have a sister and two brothers in heaven).

So, I write for my boys, I write for me, and I write for all others who have suffered through the loss of a stillborn. I wanted to share a coping strategy that I implemented to honor and commemorate my boys and my identity as their mother. Below is my “I AM” poem which was adapted from Gay McWhorter’s Healing Activities in Grief book.

I am...

I am a mother missing her boys.

I wonder what you’re doing out there.

I hear your heartbeats in my dreams.

I see your smiling faces.

I want to honor you every day.

I am a mother missing her boys.

I pretend I can still feel you.

I feel you around me.

I touch my tummy in memory of you.

I cry when I think of how much I miss you.

I am a mother missing her boys.

I understand you will always be with me.

I say I love you.

I dream of the day we meet again.

I try to live for you and your siblings.

I hope you feel my love.

I am a mother missing her boys.


Dr. Katie Atkins

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