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Three Little Birds Perinatal has received numerous requests for support from families in our community diagnosed with infertility or who have experienced loss after a failed fertility treatment. In an effort to effectively support our families, Three Little Birds conducted a confidential voluntary survey for families to provide input regarding their struggles, what was helpful and supportive and how we can support them during this difficult and stressful time. We are seeking to develop a complete support subcommittee focused solely on supporting families who reach out to us for support during their diagnosis, treatment or pregnancy after treatment.
Primary Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that prevents the conception of children. It affects approximately 10-15% of couples throughout the United States. The diagnosis of infertility is usually given to couples who have been attempting to conceive for at least 1 year without success. Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive a child after previously given birth.
The struggle of infertility, whether or not the couple has had previous children, is one that is commonly misunderstood by society, family and friends. It is a not only a physical struggle but an emotional and spiritual journey for both parents as they work to understand their bodies, relationships all the while maintaining hope that they can grow their family.
This month, we will be sharing articles detailing the struggle of infertility, provide resources for those unable to conceive and be a source of inspiration to our families as we support them.
National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is a project of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about infertility, to encourage grassroots advocacy, and help couples with infertility cope with their disease. The week provides a time for those with infertility to "come out" to their friends and families, if they wish. It encourages the fertility challenged to not feel ashamed. RESOLVE typically hosts a number of activities, both online and off, for those that wish to participate. Most activities focus on advocacy and public education. NIAW will be honored on April 22-28, 2018.
In support of NIAW, Three Little Birds will be releasing our Infertility Support Box for sale through our Etsy page. This box was developed based on input from our survey participants and families who are helping launch this iniative. The goal of this Support Box is to validate, provide comfort and a nest of support around them.
Additionally, Three Little Birds has launched our closed Facebook Support Group, the HOPE Nest, for our families to unite, communicate, support and encourage each other. Click here to join!
Click here to read more about our infertility support services and let us know if you would like to join to help develop this program more!
Shortly after announcing the addition of our newest SBD Bereavement Doula, Roseanne, we were contacted by another local SBD Bereavement Doula, Christina Zambrano, seeking to volunteer her time and heart to help other mothers like her, who have walked the journey of losing a baby.
Christina experienced the loss of her son, Dylan, when she was just 17 years old. After nearly dying from pre-eclampsia, she delivered her precious baby via cesarian. When she awoke from the anesthesia, the doctors. informed her Dylan had Hydrops Fetalis and they were doing all they could, but they should bring in a priest. Before she knew it, she was holding her lifeless son surrounded by people and a priest, but never felt more alone in the world.
Christina explained, "From that day on EVERYONE in my life acted as if it never even happened. As if Dylan had never existed. I was told “It is better this way. God was doing you a favor.” Most of my “friends” NEVER asked me how I was dealing, how I was feeling. Not one time. I remember my boyfriend going to a party at his house days later as I sat in the hospital. Were they celebrating? I remember my “friends” literally acting as if the whole thing was a relief. I was told to get over it. As if this was just a late term abortion to them. I started to feel guilty for feeling sadness. I suppressed my grief deep down into my soul. I was NOT allowed to feel sadness because I was a teen mom and because he was only a newborn. I was NOT allowed to cry. I was NOT allowed to feel pain. Eventually I was made to feel crazy when I had my nervous breakdown months later. I was told I was crazy by my friends and the people I cared about the most."
After a few turbulent years of repressing her grief, she met a therapist who made her write about Dylan. He helped her release the darkness, and she will forever be grateful to him. Because of the therapist's validation and support, she went back to school to follow her dreams of being a nurse and graduated valedictorian of my class. "Here I am, pregnant in high school with many people assuming my life to be over and I am succeeding. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you release the darkness that strangles your light.", says Dylan's mom.
Christina came across StillBirthday's Birth & Bereavement Doula Training class and obtained her certification. so that she can walk the journey with other mom's dealing with these difficult and overwhelming circumstances. As a Licensed Nurse Practitioner at Voorhees Pediatric Facility she provides a unique perspective with her professional medical experience.
Christina remarks, "It doesn't matter if you are 16 or 50. It doesn't matter if you were 5 weeks pregnant or 9 months pregnant. It doesn't matter if your child was 1 or 20. The loss of a baby, of a child is a loss. It is OK to grieve. It is OK to cry. It is OK to mourn. You are ALLOWED."
Christina is a wife and mother to her son Eddie and is interested in volunteering her time to support families like hers as they walk the journey of baby loss. Please join us in welcoming her to our nest as she honors her oldest son, Dylan through this work!
While Three Little Birds Perinatal supports all faiths and belief systems, we operate as a universally accepting and loving organization. Many families who lose babies, refer to their children as "angels". Some families are comforted by religious texts and imagery. Many families assign animals or symbols to represent their baby's spirit. Regardless of belief, bird symbolism has been used for centuries in scripture, folklore and culture to represent numerous emotions, journeys and spiritual comfort, especially associated with grief. In an effort to connect the symbolism of birds with loss, as well as our 2018 focus theme of the month, Three Little Birds will explore the meanings and connections of different species of birds and how they can be connected to grief and healing..
Photo by (c) Brent Samuelson, smileformrbphotography.wordpress.com
The Focus Theme for March for Three Little Birds Perinatal is SUPPORT.
Rarely seen alone, ducks are often seen in flocks or tending to their families within their own community hustling and bustling around town or hanging out at the pond.
Many species of ducks are monogamous, they are often seen rearing all of the ducklings in their community, supporting one another like family, friends and neighbors. Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in favorable conditions (spring/summer or wet seasons). Ducks also tend to make a nest before breeding, and, after hatching, lead their ducklings to water. Mother ducks are very supportive, caring and protective of their young,
Noted for their unique call, ducks quack to communicate with one another. Just as when seeking support, it is important for families to communicate with their families and loved ones what their needs are. This could be needing someone to talk to who will listen, instead of trying to fix the situation, or setting boundaries with family members and friends who may also be pregnant or have small children around the same age. Three Little Birds encourages families to go to where the support is, rather than who they hope to receive support from. Because everyone reacts to grief differently, it may be hard for others close to you to give you the support you need and accept, because they too are grieving your loss. Three Little Birds provides support and resources to all family members and friends of families suffering from pregnancy and infant loss.
Like ducks, Three Little Birds nests our community together as a source of support. We offer a variety of services for families to decide what support they need, while connecting them with others who understand the same need for support, despite their own situation being unique. Loss families are free to reach out via text, telephone or email to find out the support available to them and how to deal with others who may not be as supportive as they had hoped. Pregnancy and infant loss is a grief like no other and only understood by those who have also walked the same journey. We are here to walk the journey with you.
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Founder & Director