Oct 17 2012

Grief Relief – Multiple Losses

In honor of pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, in conjunction with our three-year anniversary, we are launching the “Grieve Out Loud Grief Relief.” Read about Grief Relief here.

Today’s submission is about multiple losses. Here are some things you could consider including in your piece.

What kind of losses did you experience? (1st tri, 2nd tri, stillbirth?)
Time between pregnancies/losses?
Any medical explanation of losses?
What keeps you motivated to keep trying?
Are you afraid to try again?
What eventually brought you a live baby?
What advice do you have for RPL (repeat pregnancy loss) families?

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E-Mail Submission Guidelines are as follow:

1) All submissions are to be sent to with the subject “Multiple Losses.”

2) Copy and paste your original piece into the body of the e-mail. No attachments please.

3) Please include a one paragraph bio including your name, your baby’s name, type of loss, and blog URL if applicable.

4) All submissions are subject to editorial review and may be edited for clarity. We may only utilize a small portion of your work.

5) Submissions due by 11/01/12


Jun 11 2012

CliffsNotes on Grief – A Book Review


CliffsNotes on Grief
Good Grief! by Erica McNeal
By Julie McAnary
Photo credit: ericamcneal.com

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If you were to ask Erica McNeal why bad things happen to good people, she would likely reply with, “Why not?”

I consider myself an expert in grief. In my thirty years of life I have already buried my mother, my grandmother, my son and a few family pets to boot. Not even my own expertise prepared me for the magnitude of loss that unfolds in just the first few pages of McNeal’s Good Grief!

With no thanks to reality television or pop music, we hear the term “survivor” all the time. Erica McNeal is the true definition of a survivor. McNeal perseveres in spite of all the grief and loss she has experienced and leaves us with what I can only describe as CliffsNotes on grief.

No matter how healthy we seem, how spiritual we are, or how many times we wash our hands, bad things can and do happen to all of us. For McNeal bad things kept coming. Instead of letting these struggles define her, she turned them into a tangible resource for individuals and families dealing with cancer or illness, pregnancy and infant loss, and facing difficult trials all from a personal point-of-view.

Good Grief! recognizes that friends and family have the best intentions when it comes to consoling the bereaved, yet sometimes the wrong words fall out. McNeal shows us how to fix those wrong words in an encouraging and spiritual way.

McNeal holds your hand and gives you all the guidance you could possibly ask for. In return, she hopes you become the incredible support system your loved one desperately needs. “When you stay consistent and intentional, you create a beautiful oasis in a very dry desert for your loved one to grieve appropriately.”

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Good Grief! is now available for purchase!
As a thank you, McNeal is offering 5 bonuses for anyone who chooses to purchase the book from June 11-15.
For all the information please visit her website: ericamcneal.com

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Julie McAnary is the founder of Grieve Out Loud, a pregnancy and infant loss support network started in 2010 after her first child was stillborn at thirty-seven weeks.


Jun 16 2011

Good Grief!

Erica McNeal is one amazing gal! Not only is she a babyloss mama five times over, she is also a multiple cancer survivor. She found the strength to publish a reference guide entitled Good Grief! and we are honored to share her journey here. She hand-crafted a special note just for you.

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I knew I had a high-risk pregnancy.

I was prepared my cancer may return while pregnant and was ready to face those potential complications. However, I was not prepared for an unknown factor that would force my body to go into labor at eighteen, twenty and ultimately twenty-two and a half weeks gestation.

I had been placed on bed rest for three months when a sub-chorionic hemorrhage threatened my pregnancy. At my eighteen-week visit, during an ultrasound, the technician could see that my cervix was already dilating. I was given medication, but went into labor two days later.

I was already 3.5 cm dilated when the hospital doctor’s saw me. I pleaded with them to do everything in their power to keep me pregnant. With a triple threat of drugs and my body nearly shaking out of the bed, my labor stopped. My contractions went away and my cervix closed. I was completely shocked – I didn’t even know that was possible!

About one and a half weeks later, I went into labor again and repeated the same procedures, breathing a sigh of relief when the labor easily stopped.

But on June 11th, 2007, my labor picked up again. A friend took me to the hospital and I told my husband not to worry about leaving work. I had every expectation the doctor’s would be able to stop my labor again.

But, I was wrong.

By the time I had gotten to labor and delivery, my cervix was gone. I was already 4 cm dilated and there was nothing my doctor’s could do. The only thing keeping my little girl from coming into the world was a pessary that my doctor’s had put into place just weeks before.

With my husband rushing to the hospital, I had to make a decision no parent should ever have to make: my life or hers?

My doctor’s feared I may have a rare condition called “placenta accreta” where the placenta burrows deeply into scar tissue. Since I had a previous c-section, and everything else had been ruled out, the fear was that my uterus could rupture after delivery when the placenta naturally pulled away from the uterine walls.

The only problem was the hospital we were at did not have the medical facilities to care for a baby as small as our daughter was. I would have to be transferred to another hospital forty-five minutes away by ambulance. There was a very real possibility I would deliver her in the ambulance and if my uterus ruptured, there would be nothing the ambulance staff could do for me. I would die!

I understood the great potential for severe medical conditions for our baby girl. I understood she would have less than a 1% chance to live and I understood she could only live for a few hours. But, against my doctor’s advice, I told him I wanted to be transferred to the other hospital. I felt like if God wanted to give this child life, who was I to take it away?

I signed the transfer paperwork and everyone walked out of the room. While my friend was in the hallway, frantically trying to reach my husband, I prayed silently.

“God, if the end result is going to be the same, whether I have her here or there, please let me have her here!”

I don’t even think I said, “Amen”, when an immediate peace came upon me. I knew I would not make it to the other hospital. As I called for the nurse, my contractions went immediately to thirty seconds and my husband came flying through the door.

Not even five minutes later, Kylie Joy was born. She was beautifully perfect, my tiny little 15 oz, 11-inch baby girl. She had little tufts of brown hair, a cute little button nose and long legs. She was absolutely gorgeous.

As we held Kylie as she died, my husband and I began to grieve all of the hopes and dreams we had for our family. The daughter we would not be able to hug and kiss whenever we wanted; the little sister to our living daughter, who was so excited about her new best friend. The little girl whose hair we would never braid, or watch play sports, or walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Kylie lived for eighty minutes, but her short life and ultimate death rocked our worlds.

The first year grieving Kylie was the most difficult year of my life. I was a hot mess, working through the extreme guilt believing that I had killed my own daughter. Sometimes there were no words to express my emotions and I would simply cry. At times I wanted to be by myself, other times I needed so desperately for someone to sit with me in silence. I even needed to laugh occasionally! What I needed changed constantly on my unpredictable journey of grief!

Even now four years later, I struggle! I miss her. I miss what our family could have looked like. I still grieve the broken dreams, just mostly in silence now. I still get teary-eyed on her birthday, when I hear another child with the same name, and at times when my living daughter talks about how much she wants a sister.

For the first couple of years, we had no idea how our family and friends could come alongside our family. We were in the middle of a grief we had never experienced before and a pain we could not comprehend. We had no idea what we needed or what others could do to help.

At the same time, our family and friends wanted so desperately to help, but had no idea what they could do. They too experienced their own first time emotions as they grieved with our family. The problem was this caused a disparity; conflict and a lot of unmet expectations, on both sides.

While people meant well, sometimes their words came out wrong – very wrong! At times when the absolute most grace was needed, people rendered us completely speechless by their insensitive comments.

As I have supported many women through child-loss over the last four years, I have been shocked to find how common these hurtful words really are. This led to a desire to help fill the gap between people that are suffering that don’t know what they need and their loved ones that don’t know what to do.

My new eBook, Good Grief! provides tangible ideas of how to love someone going through unspeakable grief, through words and actions.

Words That Can Be Misunderstood: “At least she didn’t live long enough for you to get attached!”

Words That Encourage: “I don’t know what to say, but I love you!”

Actions That Are Intentional: Understand that the pain of grief can sometimes get in the way of grieving. Provide outlets for your loved one such as golfing or poker night for men and dinner or a spa day for women.

Until October 11th, 2011 all proceeds from the sales of Good Grief!, are going directly to families in the middle of facing their own difficult trials: A thirty-three year old woman battling a relapsed cancer and two families adopting high medical needs children.

What my family is attempting to do is less about selling an eBook and more about tangibly coming alongside these three incredible families. If I can provide some insight through times of tragedy AND help meet these financial needs, my perspective is that this is a win-win situation.

More information is also available at my website.

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Thank you Erica. While we know your time is stretched so thin, you manged to write this beautiful piece. We wish you all the luck in the world mama!


Jun 9 2011

When Another Pregnancy Isn’t an Option

So many of the families who experience pregnancy/infant loss have a strong desire to fall pregnant again. “The sooner the better” becomes their day-to-day tagline. We feel it is important to share stories from families that cannot try again. This particular story comes from our own Team Member, Susan F. It is one of our submissions from our Giveback Project.

Thank you Susan for pouring your heart out to us. I know this piece will help families dealing with a similar situation.

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“I was asked to write a piece for this project a couple months ago and I just did not know where to start – I think about it everyday and things really start sounding good, but then when I have the chance to start actually writing, my mind draws a blank.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Susan, the mother to four angels; Jordan Donise born at twenty-seven weeks, Alexander Michael, born at twenty weeks, Alisia Noelle, born at twenty-three weeks and Gabriel Ryan, born at twenty weeks and my one miracle daughter, Madyson Leah, born at thirty-eight weeks!  Those are the only children I will ever have.

Last November, I made the heartbreaking decision to have my tubes tied (tubal ligation) and put an end to the chance of another pregnancy. I knew deep in my heart and soul that for my own well being and to those around me that I could not go through losing another one of my babies. I have learned to live with the grief that surrounds me.  Anyone meeting me on the street for the first, even second or third  time would never know the pain that I have had to endure or the thoughts I have almost every day.

Growing up, I wanted at least two kids, a boy and a girl. Yes, I have that, but not the way I always wanted. Yes, I have had five beautiful babies, but that is all I will ever have. I have had to learn to live with knowing I won’t ever be able to be pregnant again when everyone around me seems to be getting pregnant.

I seem to be at the age where everyone has decided to start having babies or talk about it. I agree, it’s hard to be happy for someone that is pregnant and that can go on and have a successful pregnancy. I also agree that sometimes life just is not fair when we cannot have healthy babies, but someone who is sixteen and could care less about a baby has one.  I ask myself everyday why did I get dealt these cards? Did I do something in a past life to deserve this?  Am I really that bad of a person and I just don’t know it? But, on the other hand, I know that I didn’t do anything. I cannot change what has happened to me, but I can make a difference in what does happen to me. I can take each day and enjoy it the best that I can. My family deserves that.  I deserve that.

After we lost Gabriel, I knew that the only thing I could do was to get my tubes tied. It was a gut wrenching decision. I cried every night. Because of insurance reasons, surgery kept getting delayed, and it just made my grief all that much worse because not only did I just lose my child, I was starting to lose my relationship. My fiance and I grew apart. I didn’t want him to touch me, I was so scared to get pregnant again and have to go through yet another loss. I finally came to terms with everything and KNEW that my life wasn’t over, I could learn to live with the cards that I was dealt. Sure, I still think about wanting another baby, but know that I cannot.

My life is not over, not by a long shot.

I know each of you are thinking, I want another baby, I cannot wait six, or even three months to start trying, I want to be pregnant NOW.  You will probably always have those thoughts, but they do not have to consume you and do not let them!

Take time to grieve the baby you lost, renew old friendships, put more effort into new friendships, enjoy finding out why you fell in love with your significant other all over again, and most importantly take care of YOU!!  It’s not the end of the world if you cannot get pregnant right away, maybe it is your body saying you need to heal from the loss of your child before you can really enjoy the pregnancy of your next child.  Yes, I know that is one of those phrases everyone hates to hear, but you want to be able to enjoy your next pregnancy not worry each and every minute and let the best times pass you by! And if you are like me, and have chosen to not have anymore kids, it does get easier, each and every day.

Yes, I still think about wanting another baby, and always ask myself if I did the right thing, but deep down in my heart, I know I did.  My daughter is eleven now, getting ready for middle school, I owe it to her to not let my grief get the best of me. There are still some days that I cry for what will never be, but there are other days where I am thankful that I have had the chance to see my babies and be able to kiss them goodbye.”

Susan F.