October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and many groups are finding ways to bring awareness to mothers’ experiences of pregnancy loss and stillbirth. The group #IHadAMiscarriage, started by Dr. Jessica Zucker in 2014 as a social media campaign, has since grown into an extensive online support community.
This year, Zucker worked with artist Jessica Larkitz and photographer Rebecca Coursey-Rugh to capture different ways of commemorating loss. #IHadAMiscarriage focuses on building “a culture that replaces silence with storytelling.” The latest photography campaign features women sharing their stories of loss through poetry written on their bodies.
In a video about the project, Dr. Zucker says finding closure is complex, explaining the need for “ways to create a memorialization, to create ritual, or to create rites” following the loss of a child at any stage. Zucker, who experienced a second-trimester miscarriage, says this gives women the means to “feel like we are honoring the women that we were previous to the loss, the women we are now, and the babies that we’ve lost.”
The project’s poet and artist, Jessica Lakritz, told Babble, “After talking intimately with all these women about their personal experiences, I see how complex the emotions that go along with it are. It isn’t just sadness. It’s anger, guilt, isolation, fear, jealousy, shame, loneliness. It’s wondering if there is something wrong with your body.” For her, the project took an unexpectedly personal turn when her mother revealed that before Lakritz’s birth, she miscarried a child. Without this project, Lakritz’s mother may not have found an opportunity to tell this story.
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Honored AF to be interviewed by @bloodmilkwomen! Here’s a snippet. Link in bio. _ Sixteen weeks into her 2nd pregnancy, Zucker experienced spotting. Two days later she miscarried a baby girl. _ “My [first] pregnancy went beautifully,” she tells me. Four years later, she + her husband decided to expand their family. As a psychologist who specializes in women’s reproductive + maternal health, she was aware of the risks. She made her career working with women who struggled with fertility, pregnancy loss, infant loss, stillbirth, abortions, + postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. But she’d not experienced any of these issues herself. _ At 16 weeks along, Jessica began to spot. She went straight to her obstetrician who said everything looked fine. Telling the story now, Jessica says that even then, in those early moments, surrounded by medical professionals, she knew it wasn’t fine, or that it wouldn’t be. Two days later, she started having contractions. She felt clammy and anxious, and went to the bathroom to calm down. It was there, home by herself, that her baby fell out of her body. She had had a miscarriage. _ “When I retell [the story], it feels out of body. Unimaginable. Surreal. How do we survive these things?” she asks—wondering about women + the incredible things we do for our children, our bodies. But that day, alone in her house, she rapidly fell into survival mode. _ Jessica called her OBGYN, shouting, “The baby fell out! What do I do?” Matching Jessica’s panic with calm, her doctor asked if she could get to a pair of scissors. Jessica shuffled from the toilet to the sink where she grabbed eyebrow trimmers. She held the baby, now dangling between her legs, + cut the umbilical cord. _ Immediately, Jessica began to hemorrhage. I might die here, she thought. I can’t let this happen; I can’t die; I’ve got to take action. The thought wasn’t lost on her that under different circumstances, in a different country or even city where she couldn’t get to a provider quickly enough, she could have bled out. Fortunately, Jessica’s husband arrived home + quickly got her to the doctor’s office where she underwent an emergency unmedicated D&C. _ #IHadAMiscarriage
Miscarriage is common, affecting up to one in four pregnancies, and many mothers and grieving families want a way to heal. In one of her videos, Dr. Zucker says, “With the statistics being what they are, there is no reason whatsoever women anywhere in the world should feel ashamed or alone or isolated following pregnancy or infant loss.”
If you have experienced a miscarriage, you are not alone. As Esther Stanard of Miscarriage Matters observed, “A miscarriage, regardless of its stage, equates to the death of a child. Until our society understands the true totality of this heartbreak, our mission continues.” For more resources, visit MyMiscarriageMatters.org.
Editor’s Note 10/16/18: If you have experienced the loss of a child during pregnancy and would like to share your story with us, please email [email protected].