While attending the festival, PlayThink in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, I had the chance to go to a Wild Women Sisterhood ‘Coping With Pregnancy and Infant Loss’ Support Group. I was interested to see what the class would entail as well as hoping that I could take away helpful information on how to support my own community & clients as a birth worker. Additionally, like a vast majority of women, I have experienced pregnancy loss and was hoping that this group might offer some kind of emotional relief. Of course, because of the incredibly sensitive & confidential nature of the stories and information that was shared, I will not be discussing any stories of my friends from this group. These journeys are not mine to share. Yet, I am extremely privileged to have been a part of an experience where I was able to hear others speak about a heart-heavy journey and support them.
What is a Pregnancy & Infant Loss Group Like?
This was something I was pretty curious about and part of why I attended the group in the first place. I know that we have a support group in Oklahoma City, but I was not sure who was really supposed to attend. I had some kind of requirements list made up in my head for who should attend such a group, which looking back on now seems a little silly. A support group is for everyone. For instance, in this group, some of the members who attended had experienced loss, some had not and wanted to know how to be better supporters. The group leader opened with sharing her story and we went around introducing our stories and ourselves. The discussion grew so organically and never once felt uncomfortable or unnerving for me, even as the topic was so heavy. I felt a sensation of release as if my group mates sharing their stories & feeling relieved provided a sense of relief to me. (Maybe this was an Empath sensation)
When the introductions finally came to me, I felt comfortable enough within the group to share my own stories and ended up pouring onto the others in a way I did not anticipate at all. Everyone was so incredibly kind and their encouragement cultivated an environment where I felt supported enough to pour feelings from a place where I had no idea I held such deep wounds. I am not at all a public crier, however, I did release in a way that I cried. & These amazing people listened whole-heartedly, offering encouragement that my feelings were okay & safe.
Recently, I have devoured most of Brene’ Brown’s books & Ted Talks, including ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. This group provided an excellent opportunity for me to show up, be brave, and practice vulnerability with others. This was something I chose to do. If an attendee had not wanted to share, they would have been supported just as much as those who did share.
Throughout life, just like everyone else, I have experienced various difficult hardships. It has been massively beneficial for me personally to reframe these experiences as opportunities to lift others who may encounter the same journey. Sharing my journey, listening to others, and holding space was a way for me to practice this.
What I Have Taken Away from This Experience
First off, Huge Praise to the wonderful instructor who created this group and pitched the idea to PlayThink Festival and also to PlayThink for hosting the group. I know everyone who attended this group walked away feeling connected and a little better than before.
Coming away from the group and having several days to process my emotions afterward, I feel it is important to share how crucial it is to hold support groups like this one in our communities. Women & their partners are battling through pregnancy and infant loss every day. It is so unfortunate that our society almost condemns women & their partners being able to share their heartbreak when it comes to pregnancy and infant loss. I mean, people still cringe at the words ‘placenta’ or ‘uterus’, which is silly to me considering EVERY human being since forever has come from these body parts. So, you can imagine the reactions women get if they mention miscarriage or the loss of a baby.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”Maya Angelou
1/3 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means that a huge majority of the women you know and love have most likely been through this difficult journey. It has become increasingly clear how little known this fact is with the current push for legislation putting restrictions on women, ectopic pregnancies, and miscarriage. Nevertheless, women are encouraged to not tell anyone about their pregnancies until after the first trimester, the time period when miscarriage is most likely, so as not to burden others with the taboo topic of loss.
There are women suffering through heartbreaks alone, when they may want to discuss their feelings and would benefit from a culture where they can be supported by other women, knowing miscarriage is ‘normal’ & not all parents are lucky enough to celebrate their child’s first birthday. Unfortunately, this is just is not the case. Loss, in general, is a taboo topic in our culture. The female reproductive system seems to be dramatically more taboo. These topics are both completely inevitable. They are literally Life & Death. So why are they Taboos?!
We have the power to change our world for the better. We have the power to support women and families through all stages of life. We can start by supporting our loved ones through their journeys in loss & by supporting women’s mental health & infant loss support groups. There are several different ways you can support a loved one through their grieving process. I provided links below on helpful ideas. Current trends in political legislation demonstrate that we really need to understand how prevalent & unpreventable miscarriage can be. (& how you can’t just transfer an ectopic pregnancy to a uterus, Goodness!) Below is also a website defining your rights during a miscarriage.
Pregnancy is a tremendous journey. Women deserve support regardless of what path that journey takes.