Brief encounters newsletter november 2009
Offering support and understanding to bereaved parents of pregnancy and infant loss
Infertility & Lossby Jennifer N.
In 1992 my husband, Richard, and I were young, healthy
Labor was long; that evening the doctor broke my water in hopes of
newlyweds without a care in the world. So by early 1993 I was ready to
moving things along. I labored though the night. With an urge to go to
start our family, Richard was not to sure, but we were going for it anyway.
the bathroom early Sunday morning, the nurse checked me and it was
We stopped using birth control and started to try. I missed my period that
time for our baby to make its arrival. The doctor arrived and I pushed for
first month and I was so excited. So I took a test and it was negative. Not
what seemed like forever but things were not moving. The vacuum was
sure why, I made an appointment with my family doctor. By the time I
brought out and we were told our baby was stuck and this would help me
was able to get in to see him I had started my period. He told us to keep
get him out. We had never heard of or seen a vacuum before. Another
trying and if we were still having trouble we could go and see a fertility
doctor came in and about 30 minutes later our little baby was born. But
doctor but they usually wanted you to have been trying for a year. We
the one thing I was waiting to hear, I didn’t hear. NO CRY. I looked down
tried for a year and finally ended up at the fertility doctor.
and it was a boy and he was blue and lifeless. They took him over to the
We were not sure what to expect. The doctor told us that we could
warmer and worked on him for a little while before he was taken to the
have Richard tested, but it sounded like I was the problem. Both of my
younger sisters had already been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary
We were alone and didn’t know what was happening to our little boy.
Syndrome. I had had problems but had never been to the doctor to find
We named Christopher. We were finally told that he had a respiratory
out what the problem was. She said it sounded like I was having the same
problem and needed a NICU which was 30 minutes away and the
issues my sisters were having, but I was the first one to try to get pregnant.
transport team was on their way. We didn’t know what to do. We tried
She told me that I was probably not ovulating and that Clomid would
and finally got a hold of my parents and they headed home, but they were
probably do the trick. So I was given some medication to start my period,
over 3 hours away. Finally they told us that he was better and that they
told to take my temperature to monitor ovulation, use an ovulation test,
would have cancelled the transport team but could not. The transport
team arrived and I wanted to go with my little boy but they would not let
To our surprise I missed my period that next month, I took a home
me. They told us it would take a couple hours before the doctor could see
test but it was not clear, so with fingers crossed I went to the hospital to get
him and evaluate him. So we left the hospital, went home to pack a bag,
a pregnancy test. We were just hoping for a different result than we had
shower and wait for my parents. Once they arrived we headed to the
gotten the whole year before. Later that day I got a call; we were pregnant!
NICU. When we arrived and we were able to finally talk to the doctor, we
We were so excited. Both of our families were beyond happy for us. Our
were told that he didn’t have a respiratory problems, but that he was
little bundle of joy was going to be the first grandchild/niece or nephew in
bleeding into his head and had lost half of his blood volume. He needed
the family. I figured out when I should be due (December), made my first
to be in Portland at OHSU. He was going to be flown and we could not
doctors appointment, and started to plan. My pregnancy went really well,
go with him. We didn’t feel safe to drive, so we had to send our little
just a bladder infection that seemed to never go away. I loved being
Christopher by himself; he was going to be all alone. That night we
pregnant. At about 5 months I had a little scare, I thought I was going into
received a call from the doctor at OHSU and it was not good news. She
preterm labor. We went to the hospital. It was a kidney infection but they
gave him a 25% chance. So the next morning we drove the 250 miles to
wanted to keep an eye on me so we stayed in the hospital for a couple days.
Once I was released, the rest of my pregnancy was great.
We spent the next 4 days spending as much time with him as we
Our families were all starting to count the days. A lot of my family
could. Taking pictures and holding him. Each day we were getting the
even got baby beepers so no one would miss the big day. As my due date
bad news that he was not getting better. On December 22, 1994, our
came and went my family left to go to my brother’s wedding out of town.
perfect little Angel went back to heaven as a result of a birth trauma due to
Our little bundle had a mind of its own and was going to be late. We were
on our own if I went into labor. Which is what happened. That Saturday
My need to be a mom was still so strong and my empty arms just
when I was supposed to be at my brother’s wedding, instead I was
ached. I went back to the doctor to make sure I was healthy and to see
Brief Encounters is a non-profit, non-sectarian support group for parents whose babies have died before, during, or after birth. At informal,
mutually supportive meetings and through our monthly newsletter and Web site, bereaved parents and their families share their stores, discuss
issues that arise from pregnancy and infant loss, and remember their children. Through reading, talking and listening, we learn what grief is—and
how, through understanding and caring, we heal.
A monthly publication of Brief Encounters, Metanoia Peace Community, United Methodist Church
The new Brief Encounters group in Beaverton has been
about getting pregnant again. It took about 6 months but I was put back
running for a few months now. It has been attended by
on Clomid. It took us two months but we got another positive; we were
newly bereaved parents as well as parents who are years into
pregnant again. I could not wait to shout it from the rooftops. Richard wasnervous; could we handle it if we had another loss? We soon found out. At
their grief journey. It is usually an intimate group gathered
around 9 weeks I started to spot. I went to the doctor to find out there was
on couches sharing, asking questions of one another,
no heartbeat. I was devastated and Richard was not sure how he could help.
acknowledging where they are today and feeling validated.
Not fully recovered from the loss of Christopher and now this, too. I was not
If you attend the Brief Encounters group at the Peace House
and are looking for more connection between meetings, please
But I was not willing to give up on us or having a baby in my arms. I
join us on the third Monday of the month. We would love
was able to start the Clomid up again the next month. We had a much
to provide more support for you. The meeting is held at the
harder time this time around. We were to the end; one more month was all
King’s Court Apartments, Recreation Room, 16300 SW
we had left to try. After 7 long months on the Clomid and a lot of emotions
Estuary Dr., off Walker Rd. and 158th.
--Talya (Rebecca 2007) and Caroline (Cyrus 2007)
This pregnancy was stressful, emotional, and joyful. I wanted a c-
section but my doctor really wanting for me to be able to have a normaldelivery. So we went forward with the plan of smaller baby and early
delivery. As the day came I was not sure I was going to make it. I went to thehospital to be induced, throughout labor I made sure I was surrounded by
We adopted our son a little over 2 years ago after a full
family and friends. After a long labor and lots of pushing I ended up having
term stillbirth, and I am looking to talk to other
a c-section. When she was finally born, I heard her cry and a huge weight
parents, share our stories and support one another. I
was lifted off of my chest. Stephanie arrived healthy, safe, and perfect. She
am mostly free in the evenings, but could do some
things together with our kids during the day as well. If
After all that we have been though, we have decided that we are happy
with our one healthy child at home. So we are making sure we enjoy every
you are interested in talking more, my name
second of Stephanie’s life. We have learned that you never know what life
may bring. After we lost Christopher I tried going to a local support group,
but no one there had lost a baby. With the help of an OB nurse we knew we
got a Brief Encounters Group in Grants Pass started. It helped to be able totalk with other parents that had a loss. And as the years have gone by it hasbeen helpful to help other parents. You never get over the loss of your child
but you can learn how to survive it. This Christmas we will be celebratingChristopher’s 15th birthday and remembering what a gift he was for the
short amount of time we were able to have him. ✷
is the InterNational Council on Infertility
Jennifer is mom to Christopher 12/18/1994-12/22/1994. Miscarriage 8/1995.
Information Dissemination, a nonprofit organization that helps
individuals and couples explore their family-building options. INCIIDprovides current information and immediate support regarding thediagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infertility and pregnancy loss,
and offers guidance to those considering adoption or childfree lifestyles.
Monday, December 14 at 7 pm at the Peace House
Oregon Chapter of RESOLVE (e-mail: email@example.com)
Mark your calendars to join others in the Brief Encounters
offers information, emotional support, referrals, and advocacy for
community for the annual holiday remembrance ceremony
infertile couples, their families, and friends. Support groups meet in
for parents and adult family members.
Portland and Eugene. 24-hour message line: (503) 762-0449
Held at the Peace House, the ceremony will include special
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association (resolve.org)
readings, songs, and poems to honor our children who have
provides education, advocacy and support for women and men facing
infertility, including medical information, a physician referral service,and a monthly magazine. Help Line: (888) 623-0744
Volunteers NeededVolunteers are needed for the holiday remembrance ceremony.
If you are interested in volunteering, please call Pat Schwiebert
by Alice Domar, PhD
at (503) 284-7426 or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miscarriage After Infertility
by Margaret Comerford Fredal, RN
and Carrie Semelsberger, RN
Becoming Indigo’s Mama: A Heart Opening Journey of Hope and Transformation
Oh break my heart, oh break it again
was treated as a typical post-surgical patient, not as a
So I can learn to love even more again
mourning mother. On the day of my discharge, I was lying
in the hospital bed watching huge snowflakes (in March in
Ever since I was a young child all I ever wanted to be
Portland!). The snowflakes were a peaceful symbol of hope.
when I grew up was a mom. I couldn’t imagine life without
realizing my greatest dream—it was too painful to consider
I continued on the journey and took a few months off
from trying to conceive to heal emotionally, physically and
I began the journey in my 20s in 1992. After a year of not
spiritually. I conceived again with the known donor sperm in
being able to conceive, my then husband and I sought help
the fall of 2002 and was monitored closely due to my history
from various medical professionals. The diagnostic procedures
with the previous ectopic pregnancy. My erratically rising and
and surgeries are too numerous to list in this brief article. A
falling HCG hormone levels indicated another ectopic
traumatizing hysterosalpingogram experience in 1995 revealed
pregnancy and was treated with a chemotherapy drug,
that I had a heart-shaped (bicornuate) uterus. This diagnosis
methotrexate. It was a surreal experience to walk onto the
did not explain my infertility, but I did have surgery to
oncology unit to receive a shot in the rear to terminate my
correct my uterine anomaly to increase my chances of
pregnancy. I received compassionate care from a skilled nurse.
carrying a baby to full term. Our next step was going to be
I once again grieved and named my third child Autumn.
intrauterine insemination (IUI). We ended up divorcing, but
We took several months to heal and reflect, sought
spiritual guidance and made the decision to go to a
My tenacious spirit and divine guidance never let me
Reproductive Endocrinologist and to choose and purchase
forget that I would become a mother one day—with right
anonymous donor sperm. Two of my dear friends were also on
timing. I partnered with a woman after breaking up with my
a (in)fertility journey and we connected through healing
husband, and in late 1995 I embarked on a healing journey
rituals at each of our homes the summer before Indigo was
and put my conception “project” and motherhood on hold. I
conceived. I more fully opened myself to the love and physi-
started therapy, changed jobs, enrolled in massage school and
cal presence of my future child. My partner was somewhat
attended healing arts conferences. I discovered Thich Nhat
reluctant as she was traumatized by nearly losing me during
Hanh’s teachings and meditation practices, used
my second pregnancy. She knew I couldn’t be stopped and
hypnotherapy, became a Reiki practitioner, practiced Qi Gong
agreed to continue to accompany me on the journey to
and Yin Yoga, listened to devotional music, created a fertility
altar, sought guidance from an astrologer/tarot reader and a
The third IUI with anonymous donor sperm was a charm.
clairvoyant-medium, created SoulCollage art, prayed and
Our precious daughter, Indigo Violet was conceived on
communed to welcome in the spirit of my baby and to heal
September 25, 2003 and we heard the miracle of her
ancestral wounds. I also received countless sessions of
heartbeat on October 31, 2003. Pregnancy suited me well
acupuncture and massage. Sometimes I was bitter about
and I thoroughly enjoyed all of Indigo’s intrauterine
“doing one more thing,” yet I now realize these were all ways
somersaults, kicks, hiccoughs and calm and vibrant energy.
Indigo’s creation was a beautiful dance of science and ballet
I once again boarded the trying to conceive roller coaster
(ballet being the divine mystery). She was born with 9/9 Apgar
ride in the fall of 2001, first with “known” donor sperm from
scores on June 10, 2004 and is now a gregarious five year old.
my partner’s cousin and home inseminations. To my delight
All of my children and other loved ones who have passed
and great surprise, I conceived on the first try and on
have taught me that being truly vulnerable and opening my
Thanksgiving! The delight quickly vanished as spotting
heart to love is well worth the risk of deep heartache. To quote
occurred at about six weeks gestation. I mourned deeply and
Angeles Arrien, “Love takes us to the heights and to the lows
named my baby Little Spirit. Christmas was rough. Soon
of who we are.” We can
transform our suffering. Each person’s
after this loss I discovered Pat Schweibert, her book Tear Soup
journey is unique and we all find our own way to healing and
and Brief Encounters support groups at Peace House in NE
Portland. I was comforted to know these resources were
Carol R. is mom to 5-year-old Indigo (6/10/04) and her guardian angel spiritbabies: Little Spirit 12/2001, Vivian 3/6/2002, and Autumn 11/2002. Carol co-
facilitates the Brief Encounters (in)fertility / adoption
I became pregnant in late January of 2002 with my
support group. Carol has been serving the Portland community for many years as a
second child. This was an ectopic pregnancy, which ruptured
massage therapist, instructor of infant massage and yoga/touch
my left fallopian tube causing massive internal bleeding
communication, childbirth educator, birth doula, and bereavement friend. She has
requiring urgent, life-saving surgery. During my post-
a private practice in the Hollywood district of NE Portland. Carol also works for theSupportive Care Coalition: Pursuing Excellence in Palliative Care at Providence
operative hospital stay, I was disheartened by the lack of
Portland Medical Center. Carol can be reached at 503.280.0238 /
response to my spiritual suffering despite my primal wails. I
email@example.com. www.riverhealing.com or www.supportivecarecoalition.org.
Do you need to talk but don’t want to wait until the next group
Our support group meetings are a safe place to talk about
meeting? Here are some friends who are willing to talk—or just listen. You
your child, your loss and your grief. You are welcome to
may be looking to connect with someone who has experienced similar
share, or just listen. A facilitator guides the meeting. For
circumstances in his or her loss(es.) These volunteers welcome your
more information or directions, please call (503) 699-8006.
contact by phone or e-mail. If by e-mail, please put “Brief Encounters” inthe message line of your e-mail so that our volunteers will be sure to read
Parents of Infant Loss and Pregnancy Loss,
your message. If you are interested in being listed as a support person, or
wish to have your name removed, please contact the editor.
We ask that children not attend these meetings. Thank you.
(firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-666-1998) had a
Meets the second Monday of each month, 7:00 pm
miscarriage at 11.5 weeks (8/99) and delivered a full term son, Nicolas
Peace House, 2116 NE 18th Ave.
(9/13/00), who died 2 months and 8 days later (11/21/00). Nicolas had
New Beaverton Meeting!
severe brain damage due to complications during labor. Nancy and Don
Meets the third Monday of each month, 7:00 pm
King’s Court Apartments, Recreation Room,
(email@example.com) lost her son, stillborn at full term without
16300 SW Estuary Dr., off Walker Rd. and 158th.
explanation (9/94), experienced two miscarriages, and apregnancy interruption of a son, at 23 weeks, who had Trisomy 18. Karen
Parents of Pregnancy Interruption Due to Medical
(firstname.lastname@example.org) lost her daughter, Heather
We ask that children not attend these meetings. Thank you.
Renee, stillborn due to an intrauterine infection and premature birth. She
Meets the fourth Thursday of each month, 7:00 pm
has experienced a successful subsequent pregnancy.
Peace House, 2116 NE 18th Ave.
(503-287-2628) has had 3 early miscarriages and lost twins at
Parents of Subsequent Pregnancies and Adoptions &
21.5 weeks due to premature labor in January 2004. She has 2 living
Meets the fourth Monday of each month, 7:00 pm
(503-661-0764) had a son who was stillborn after a ruptured cord
Peace House, 2116 NE 18th Ave.
during labor at 34 weeks, lost a son at 17 weeks, and experienced fourearly pregnancy losses. She has two living children, a son (‘96) and a
We ask that children not attend these meetings. Thank you.
(503-761-3816, 503-516-2761 cell) had a son, Mitchell, who died
This group is exclusively for women who are trying to
from heart failure (‘00). He has two living sons, Mason and Marshall.
conceive their first, second or more child. Women who have
(email@example.com) lost her son, stillborn without
not experienced a loss are also welcome. This group offers a
explanation at 36 weeks. She has three living children (Delanie 3/99 and
friendly and relaxed atmosphere where you can have a sense
of not being alone and receive encouragement, have a chance
(firstname.lastname@example.org) lost her daughter, Audrey, stillborn at 38.5
to express what the experience is like, share what we have
weeks in January 2008 due to an umbilical cord incident. She has one
learned about fertility and ourselves, and receive positive
support. RSVP to Anne at (503) 570-3498 or
(email@example.com) had a daughter, Melissa Catherine,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carol at (503) 280-0238 or
who died of SIDS at 6 weeks of age. She has 3 living children.
email@example.com.Meets the first Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm
(firstname.lastname@example.org) lost her son, stillborn at full term without
explanation (6/96). She has two healthy children
Peace House, 2116 NE 18th Ave.
(Anthony, 1/98) and (Annamarie, 4/01). Due to serious high bloodpressure at the end of her last pregnancy, which caused a stressful delivery,
(503-513-5448) had a son who died at one month of a heart
defect. She has also experienced four early pregnancy losses,
infertility issues, and a successful subsequent pregnancy.
(email@example.com) experienced a miscarriage
Message Line: Support, Questions
(7/96) and the loss of a son, stillborn due to a cord accident
(503) 699-8006 (Spanish line: 503-419-6299)
(3/00). She has two living children (9/97 and 6/01).
(firstname.lastname@example.org) lost her daughter, Dorothy Raine
(6/1/07), full term (39 weeks) during labor due to an umbilical cordincident. She and her husband have a son, born 11/08.
Mailing List: Add or Drop, or Address Changes
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