You Are Still A Father After Pregnancy Loss

photograph of asian standing alone at beachIt’s Father’s Day and many men will be celebrated.  How about the fathers of a stillborn baby or after a miscarriage?  In my office, I tell many a man, “You are still a father after pregnancy loss.”  It doesn’t matter that others have not met the baby or didn’t know that you and your partner (or a gestational surrogate) had a miscarriage. You are still a father after a stillbirth or miscarriage.  I see you. I know.


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Star Legacy Foundation/Face2Face Twin Cities ‪‎Stillbirth‬ Support Groups Merge

The Star Legacy Foundation and Face2FaceTwin Cities ‪‎stillbirth support groups have merged. Groups start tomorrow, 6/9/15, at Partners in Healing of Minneapolis.  All groups are free and are offered on Tuesday evenings.  Support group facilitators are Joann O’Leary, PhD, MPH, and Debbie Fischer.

Pregnancy After Loss Support Group – Losing your baby was the most awful experience of your life. Now, facing a subsequent pregnancy is filled with hope but also great anxiety and concern. Learn to nourish your pregnancy while honoring your grief. Talk with professionals who can support you through this journey; meet other expectant Mothers who are on your path but also those who have been through pregnancies subsequent to their own losses.This group meets weekly on each Tuesday of the month from 5:30 pm to 6:45 pm at Partners In Healing, 10505 Wayzata Boulevard, #200 Minnetonka, MN 55305. Enter on the west side of the building.

Bereaved parents – regardless of how long ago the loss occurred. We welcome parents of baby who died to stillbirth or neonatal loss (within the first 30 days of life). This group meets twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm at Partners In Healing, 10505 Wayzata Boulevard, #200 Minnetonka, MN 55305. Enter on the west side of the building.

Grandparents, extended family & friends – those individuals that surround bereaved parents have a unique grief of their own with special challenges. They are caught between their own grief and wanting to support parents in the very best way possible. Talk with others who have met those challenges head on and others who are just beginning this journey. This group meets monthly on the 1st Tuesday of each month from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm at Partners In Healing, 10505 Wayzata Boulevard, #200 Minnetonka, MN 55305. Enter on the west side of the building.

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Five Essential Ways Doctors Can Help After Stillbirth

I wrote this blog post for Pregnancy After Loss Support, a wonderful website where women who have suffered the birth of a stillborn child can grieve, health, and find hope again.  Will you please share it with others?


Five Essential Ways Doctors Can Help After


Dear Doctors of the World:

We want you to know that we respect you and your knowledge. But all the good stuff that you bring to your practice on a daily basis is not so helpful to us after a stillbirth. Please take these suggestions to heart, for us and your other patients who have suffered a stillbirth.

1) Please refer us to therapy and support groups.
We are lost. Our baby has died and we have no idea how we are, who we are, and how we will ever survive this. We could never have imagined that our pregnancy would end in a stillbirth. Please let us grieve with you. Please show us empathy. Please refer us for therapy and support groups, to let us know that we are not the only ones who are going through this horrible pain. We do not feel strong enough to do this by ourselves. We should not have to do this by ourselves.

2) Please flag our pregnancy loss in the chart so you and your staff do not ask us how our baby is doing.
We are fragile and so vulnerable. Many of us have PTSD and every time we walk into your office we have flashbacks and re-experience our grief. We are not “over it”. Please know that we are not trying to be difficult or dramatic. We are often just trying to get through the day. We can be triggered very easily back to our traumatic loss. Please know that we grieve every day for our baby who has died. Please let us talk about him or her by name. We are hopeful that we will have a rainbow child AND we cannot and will not forget about our child who died. He or she is always with us in mind and spirit.

2) Help Us to Plan For a Subsequent Pregnancy.
We are scared to death about the next pregnancy. Please meet with us and develop a detailed plan that will help us find the courage to try again. Help us to understand what happened. “These things just happen” will not suffice. Read the autopsy report with us and explain it, please. Please don’t give us false reassurances. We are too scared to hear them. We are still learning to trust our bodies—and you. We count time by every 15 minutes, every half-hour, every hour, and every day. The idea of a pregnancy that lasts almost 40 weeks freaks us out. Please tell us the truth. Give us the facts. If there is a way to do this safely, give us the plan. We don’t want to muddle through this. A subsequent pregnancy may not feel high-risk to you but it does feel high risk to us. Tell us that you will be willing to consult with perinatology (i.e., the high risk OBs). If we should not have another pregnancy, please say so. We don’t need any sugarcoating.

3) Don’t tell us that everything will be okay.
We are not okay. Anticipate that we will be hysterical during our next pregnancy. Normalize it. We will need superhuman strength to get through a subsequent pregnancy. It may be difficult for us to get excited about it while we are pregnant. Every day is unknown for all of us but a previous loss amplifies our fear of the unknown. Help us to be okay—for that hour or that day. Know that we will not really be okay until a baby is warm and squawking in our arms. For us this will be a “prove it” pregnancy. Do tell us that you will do anything and everything to work with us to ensure a successful pregnancy. Work with us collaboratively.Here is the most important thing for you to know: LISTEN TO US. We have lived in our bodies. You have not.

4) We need data for reassurance, not words.
Offer to give us more tests and scans when we ask for them. We will pay for them. When you tell us that insurance will not cover them, we will tell you again that we will pay for them. We need data, faith, and hope and we need you to have data, faith, and hope for us and with us. Remember: It’s about us, not you. If you cannot or will not meet us in the middle, we will have to find other care.

5) Show us your human side.
Talk to us as fellow travelers, not cases. Be our champion. So many people have played down the pain and trauma of our stillbirth, we cannot bear for you to be another. Please tell your partners and your nurses about the plan for this pregnancy, so we do not receive conflicting opinions or plans when you are not there. Give us a hug or hold our hand. Literally. We need everything you’ve got to get through this.

So, in conclusion, dear Doctors of the World, please work with us. We will do our best. Please do your best, too. It is through our connection and collaboration that something good can come out of our pain and loss.

On Mother’s Day, Open Your Heart to Possibility

Mother’s Day is so difficult when infertility, miscarriage, or stillbirth are part of your life. When you are not sure that you can go on, just open your heart to possibility.  Even bleeding hearts are open…

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Breathe a Quick Reset

Feeling stressed as you start the work week? Try this:  breathe a quick reset.  Here we go:  first empty the air from your lungs, slowly and steadily.  Next inhale through your nose, also slowly and steadily.  In your next exhales, put a slight constriction in the back of your throat.  If you exhale with your mouth open, you will sound like Darth Vader. If you exhale with your mouth closed, you will hear the sound of ocean waves!  This textured breath and sound soothe the mind and body with ease, and quickly!  Many of my clients experience almost instant relaxation of mind and body.  You might find it to be instant brain bleach.  You can breathe your quick reset with your eyes open or closed. Enjoy and let your every breath be victorious.  Have a great week everybody!

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Stop Asking Me about Babies!

At the 30th Resolve annual Family Building Conference in Minneapolis on November 8th, I got a lot of questions about how to avoid others’ questions about babies at family get-togethers, especially at the holidays.  “I just can’t explain our fertility treatment another time”, said one attendee.  “One more question about when we’re having a baby and I think I’ll scream!  Stop asking me about babies!” said another.  The whole room was ALIVE with outrage on this topic.

When my husband and I returned from our honeymoon, my father’s first question on the phone was, “Did you make me a grandbaby?”  I remember looking at the phone and banging it several times on my desk.  When I finally responded, I said, “What?  We must have had a bad connection.”

Why, you ask, is it so difficult for many to field this question?  There are many answers including:

•    It may be painful to explain your infertility status or why you are “not over” a pregnancy loss.  The question may bring flashbacks of an ultrasound with a baby who has died.  Tears often follow.  This can be embarrassing or traumatizing.
•    The question is often asked with a wink and a yuckety-yuk.  The subtext is, “Hey, how’s it goin’ in the bedroom, yo?” If your butt is sore from intramuscular injections from your fertility treatment, you are probably not feeling so sexy.  Yuck.
•     It’s personal, folks!  How often do you talk with others about what goes on below the waist?  (Example, “Well, first I put my right foot in the stirrups, and then the left foot, etc.)

So what to do?  Bottom line is that you have choices.  Yes.  YOU have choices.

•    You can set up the situation in a way you can live with.  Ask someone else (your partner, your sister) to let others know that this is a question-free event.  Sometimes people will go along and keep it zipped.
•    You can answer the question with a vague truth, like “We’re working with our doctor” and leave it at that.  If you want to offer more with the right person, okay.
•    You can feign distress and spend a little time in the bathroom.  Why?  No one follows you in there and you can quiet any distress you feel.  More questions?  Repeat.
•    You can change the subject, as with my phone-banging example.  Be obvious.  Hopefully others will get the hint.
•    I always give my clients at least one crazy response when we are figuring out a problem.  As our squirrel friend would say,

“Dance it Out.”

That ought to finish that.

And finally, in truth, you do not need to attend every family get-together.  My attendees at the Resolve conference decided to fly as a group to Hawaii for Christmas.  There were some smiles about that fantasy.  But really, you can!  Spend the holidays a different way if that is the best way for you.  Take care of yourselves, my friends.  You are awesome.

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COVID-19 Notice

Due to concerns related to COVID-19 we will be
doing online therapy exclusively until conditions improve.