By Guest Blogger Sarah Kilbreth
In the United States, it is estimated that 25% of women and their families will experience pregnancy or infant loss. Despite this loss affecting so many, the topic of pregnancy and infant loss still feels taboo. Unfortunately, this leaves many women and families grieving in isolation, unable to share their babies and feelings of deep grief with others. It is out of this brokenness that I decided to form Eleanor’s Light, a ministry just for women who have lost their babies during or after pregnancy – women like me.
Like many others, I didn’t understand how profound pregnancy loss was…until I experienced it myself. In February 2013, I lost my second baby to a miscarriage at 8 weeks. The medical professionals where I lived at the time were largely uncompassionate and treated my loss as if it were nothing. The fact that it was a very real and painful birth and loss seemed a foreign idea to them. Because I had yet to announce my pregnancy to anyone but family, it was further isolating. I was fortunate to have the support of two women close to me who had also experienced a miscarriage (one just a few months before me), but other than that I felt alone. My husband offered comfort, but because the pregnancy was so short it didn’t feel very real to him yet.
Less than a year after my miscarriage, I had another healthy baby. Another year after that I once again found myself unexpectedly pregnant. We were excited, though, and eagerly awaited this little one’s arrival. The scary weeks of the first trimester after having experienced a miscarriage passed, and I felt like I could breathe again. The second trimester passed, and I was beginning to get even more excited about welcoming another little girl into our home.
At 36 weeks, I went in for a routine ultrasound to check our baby’s growth. It was there that I learned that our sweet Eleanor Rosalie had already passed away. She was born later that day into a very quiet room full of caring medical professionals. During the most difficult day of our lives, we were so fortunate to have received such care from those around us.
Our church family and friends really just gathered around us and helped us during some really dark days. We had some support from family, too, they just weren’t local to us at that time. The people who came and offered a meal, word of support, prayer, offers of babysitting, or time away to talk were so, so special to us. Several of them became close friends.
Although I received great support after losing Eleanor, I have seen many others who haven’t received that support. More than that, there are many women like me who still long for a community who really understands the pain of losing a baby. I’ve found that there is much support for this online – which is very helpful – but very little in-person support. If there is support in person, it often doesn’t last long.
Out of all this came the idea for Eleanor’s Light. I created it as a ministry out of our church because of a challenge from our pastor to serve, even if that place hadn’t been created yet. My hope for and goal of this ministry is to create a community of women who understand pregnancy and infant loss, and walk with each other in it and through it. Ultimately, I want to support women who are experiencing or have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. If this means visiting in a home, the hospital, or even at Starbucks, so be it. This is a loss that can crush the spirit if grief isn’t felt, nurtured, and dealt with properly. No one should face it alone.
If you or someone you know have experienced pregnancy loss, please reach out. Whether your loss was recent or years ago, know there is a place for you. There is space for you to talk about your baby (or babies), what happened, and how you feel about it all. There is space for you to be open about who you are – the you that most people don’t see because they can’t understand.
Though it may seem impossible, there is hope after pregnancy and infant loss. There are people who understand and are willing to be there for you through it. Please reach out so you, too, can find that hope and friendship your heart longs for. You don’t have to do this on your own.
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Our Story of Love and Loss
My Story of Ectopic Pregnancy