Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Let’s Talk About It


pregnancy and infant loss awarenessOctober is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. October 15th is National
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. My day of remembrance and loss is October
24th, because that was my baby’s birthday; or what most would simply call a miscarriage.
I could write a loss blog about how we at Nightingale Night Nurses are here to support you. I could write a blog about statistics and resources. However, I hope that for a moment you’ll allow me to just write about me. Because if we ever want to change the stigma about being open about loss, we need to start sharing our stories. And perhaps more importantly, listen to the stories of others, even if they may make us uncomfortable.


My second pregnancy was a surprise. I had a suspicion and took a test almost a week
before my missed period. I expected my paranoia to be unwarranted but, sure enough, both lines showed up. I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy.

How would this affect my job (I was a nanny and already took my 4 year old to work with me)?

How would this affect my relationship (we were in the midst of therapy and on a very rocky foundation)?

How will we pay for this? Will we have to move to a bigger place? And so on and so on. We had always wanted another baby, but let me be honest in saying that the timing sucked.

As time went on, and the idea snuggled in, I began to feel less stressed and more
maternal. Once we had the ultrasound and saw the heartbeat, it was a done deal. We would make it work. My first trimester was a doozy. Joint pain, extreme nausea, fatigue. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t stomach my prenatals and green vegetables. Then right at 12 weeks it stopped. Like someone flipped off the hormone switch. I could eat, I could live, I could enjoy being pregnant! I purchased my maternity clothes. I started talking to my photographer about an announcement photo shoot in a pumpkin patch. I started planning for the future. For our little family of four.

When we told my daughter she was THRILLED. She had been asking for a sibling for over a year. All of her drawings involved a baby off to the side in a cradle. The sweet video we took of our announcement to her brought others to tears when we sent it out. Not long after, I brought my daughter to my 13 week checkup to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Which was nowhere to be found. I have a tilted uterus so my OB said baby might be below the pelvis and hiding where the waves couldn’t reach. I could get an ultrasound to check to be sure if I wanted to. I didn’t. I asked if I should be worried, and he gently repeated my options. I chose to be positive, and off to swim class we went.

The next day I had cramping. It felt much like waking up after a night of too much Indian
food. I brushed it off. We went to two birthday parties as a family and by the time we got home the pain had intensified. I texted my doula, called my OB’s office- and on their referral went off to the ER. My partner stayed with my daughter, after all this was surely no big deal.

When I finally got wheeled down to the ultrasound, the tech exclaimed, “my goodness
you have a lot of gas!” She was having trouble getting an image and kept pushing around on my belly. She said I had to wait for results, but sent me off with a photo, and a promise not to show anyone or she would get in trouble. Phew. What a hypochondriac I was! Going to the hospital for GAS. And here is the photo proof of my healthy little blob.

I was back in my room just in time for the lab down the hall to catch on fire and the
hospital to go into lockdown. I called my partner to tell him about the chaos and before I could explain I heard him shouting. A drunk driver had just smashed another car and rolled in front of our house. (I checked, no full moon or anything.) Hours later, the lockdown was over and the car accident victims were off in an ambulance. I was laughing at the karma at it all, glad that everyone in my world was safe. Then, in comes the on call doctor.

“Your baby is dead.”

“It stopped growing over a week ago.”

“Would you like some tissues?”

It was like an alternate reality. Now knowing the pain for what it was, it immediately doubled. I just laid there, mind numb, body writhing, waiting for my discharge papers.


For those of you who haven’t been through a miscarriage before- here’s how it works.
There are basically three options. First option is typically recommended for those that are later on in their pregnancy. It’s called a D+C. It’s a surgical procedure where they scrape out the uterus. It’s the quickest option and ensures no tissue is left behind to cause infection. The second option is to take a pill, or series of pills. They induce/speed up the miscarriage. Cramping can be severe but the process is over pretty efficiently. The third option is to let your body process naturally. I chose option three. I labored with my daughter naturally and I wanted to respect my birth with this child in the same way.
The cramping had started on a Saturday, and I didn’t give birth until Wednesday.

Knowing the pain and trauma of those four days, I’m not sure if I could choose option three
again. Every pain was a reminder of the process and the loss, I couldn’t get away from it. I was so grateful for my friend and doula. She brought me a care package which included a TENS machine [highly recommend], put together a meal train, and put me in touch with all the right people to talk to.

The morning of Wednesday, October 24th I went to acupuncture to help speed up the
process, then to my doctor to check in. By the time I got there I was curled up on the table in pain. We went over my options. He held me while I cried, validated my feelings and respected my choices. As I drove to the pharmacy to fill my prescription for narcotics, things intensified. I called my mom and my partner and I told them something was happening. [Trigger alert here]
When I made it home it took me a moment to stand. When I did so I felt something squish out into my underwear. Oh god. I waddled into the house and into my bathroom. I sat down on the toilet with my pants down and simultaneously bled out the contents of my uterus, as I stared in wonder at the little creature cradled in my underpants. She was soft, but formed, fingers and toes. In my mind the pain was all for this moment, to hold her once and say both hello and goodbye. We named her James.


The whole week after the miscarriage was extremely difficult. I’m so grateful for
everyone that took my daughter so we could mourn in peace. [My mother was an absolute saint throughout it all.] I’m grateful for the pain killers that helped dull the pain, because my body hurt for a long time after. I’m grateful for everyone that brought meals and groceries so I could sit on my butt for the maximum amount of time possible. I ended up with a mild infection, and I’m grateful for modern medicine, on call midwives and 24/7 pharmacies.

My community surrounded me, held me. They gave me space when I needed it and
turned around to be right there when I needed that. They never judged me, never told me to suck it up, never made me feel like I needed to grieve in solitude.


Technically for a birth under 20 weeks you can do anything you wish with the remains.
We chose to accept the offer of a biopsy and cremate the rest. We found a funeral home that cremates miscarriages and stillbirths for free from a donated fund. The results from the bioposy came back saying that James had a rare genetic disorder called trisomy13. The miscarriage rate is 50% and the life expectancy of a live birth is very short. It was validating to know that no about of folic acid could have changed what happened. And if she had lived she would have had a very difficult and short life.

The guilt of a miscarriage is so real. What could I have done differently? And the loss is
also real. I never got to know my baby, so it wasn’t loss in that sense. But in my mind and in my heart I was already planning on holding her, nursing her, comforting her. They say after the first trimester you’re supposed to be in the clear. I made it past the first trimester, but unbeknownst to us at the time, James never did.

That pregnancy also set off a set of events that completely changed my life. My
relationship didn’t withstand the strain. My job didn’t withstand the uncertainty of me having more children. It launched off on a different career path. To a different life almost.
What helped me heal the most was access to supports. Therapy, acupuncture, midwives
and doulas on call, there was a loss group that I never needed but it helped knowing was an option. Friends and family. A cleaning lady. Paper plates and easy meals. And knowing that people’s cringy advice usually is coming from a place of love and/or discomfort. And talking. Being open, and telling my story when I was ready to tell it was a big comfort for me. Sometimes when I casually mention the pregnancy or the loss in conversation, people are caught off guard.

But I don’t want to pretend that it never happened, that she never existed. It happened. It
happens all the time. If you don’t know what to say, ask how you can help. Everybody grieves differently. I apparently grieve openly! Thank you for hearing my story.

Disclaimer #1 I want to stress that every choice I made was mine alone. For my body
and my birth. Most women after 8 weeks choose a D+C and let the hospital deal with the
remains. That is the best choice for them to heal. Nobody should EVER judge a woman for her choices when it comes to loss. Trust that she is judging herself enough already.

Disclaimer #2 This post is about encouraging others to share their stories as normal, real
stories to change the stigma around talking about it. HOWEVER- if someone is comforted by keeping their story and their memory to themselves, I am in no way encouraging them to do otherwise.

headshot of Karina, author of pregnancy and infant loss postKarina is a Rhode Island native who has babies in her blood. While she was growing up her Meme, and later her mother, took in foster babies straight from the hospital. Her brother was born when she was 11 and by that time she was hooked on that fresh baby smell. Right out of High School she got herself a job working with infants at a child care center, and hasn’t stopped working professionally with babies since.

Karina is formally trained as a Newborn Care Specialist and Lactation Educator. She also holds a degree in Child Development from URI. Throughout her career she has never stopped taking the newest trainings, attending conferences and furthering her education. Her focus is on educating and empowering parents.

In early 2019, Karina brought this lifetime of baby experience to Nightingale Night Nurses in MA. She enjoys doing yoga and hanging out with her five year old daughter in Providence Ri.