Shattering the Stigma: Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss – Dr. Lisa Hanasono

Shattering the Stigma: Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss – Dr. Lisa Hanasono


– It’s rolling. – Wood county was once part of the territory of Peoria, Miami, and Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The community of Bowling Green stands upon indigenous ground. With this land acknowledgement statement, we want to reflect on our own use of indigenous land and ongoing processes of colonialism. I’m Jolie Sheffer director of the Institute of the Study of Culture & Society here at BGSU. Part of our mission is to involve BGSU and the surrounding communities in discussing important
contemporary issues. Our faculty fellows and external speakers are transforming these conversations and helping to change institutions that structure our lives through their interdisciplinary research and public engagement. This fall, Dr. Lisa Hanasono, is one of our ICS faculty fellows. During this semester, she’s continuing her research and sharing her findings with a wider community. Dr. Hanasono studies the informal networks created by pregnancy and miscarriage, by the sense of community created by the idea of motherhood, and by the connections
created through grief. Her work has profound implications for the institutions that shape our communication around
this sensitive subject. Including health care
and medicine, the media, and personal relationships. She asks us to consider how our society ends up perpetuating the
stigma of miscarriage through silence and shows us ways to improve the quality
of life for millions. The women who suffer, and the partners, families, and friends
who share their grief. It is my honor to introduce
Dr. Lisa Hanasono. Dr. Hanasono is an associative professor in the School of Media and Communication. She has published articles in the Journal of Diversity
and Higher Education, the Journal of International
and Intercultural Communication, Communication Quarterly, Human Communication
Research, and Sex Roles. This fall, she was selected for a 20 under 40 leadership
recognition award, which highlights individuals
in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their career and in the community. In addition, she has
won BGSU’s outstanding contributor to graduate education award. The Elliott Glenn Award for faculty and undergraduate research, and the president’s award for academic advising of undergraduate students. Plus, the central state’s Communication Association’s outstanding
new teacher award, and the Bruce Kendall award for excellence in teaching. Her talk today is entitled the M Word Shattering the Silence of Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss. Please help me give her a warm welcome. (applauding) – Well, welcome and thank you so much for being here. This is so exciting to
have a packed crowd. Before I get started, I want to express my profound gratitude to direction Jolie Sheffer, the ICS, as well as all of the ICS staff who have really made this possible. If y’all are an ICS staff member, can you raise your hand
just so we can give you some love and appreciation? (applauding) As well as (mumbles). I’d also like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences as well as my School of Media and Communication. And my research participants who gave voice to this
very important topic and are really playing a key role in shattering that silence around pregnancy loss. Finally, I wanna thank y’all so much for taking and hour and a half of your time on a beautiful Thursday to engage in this really important topic. To be here and to be fully present. It is so good to see
friends and colleagues, strangers and students. For those who may not know, I’m taking this semester
where I’m not teaching and I’m having major student withdrawals. So, seeing BGSU students
makes my heart sing and it’s just great to see everyone today. In the next bit, I’m gonna ask you or invite you to take a journey with me. I’m focusing on three main topics. So, what we’re gonna do today is I’m gonna share my story as I think it informs this broader research project, and gives you a sense of who I am and why this connection. But then, I’m gonna focus the majority of today’s chat on barriers. Why the silence surrounding pregnancy loss still exist in the year 2018? And more importantly, what we can do to break that silence. And what we can do to
shatter that silence. I’ve got five specific concrete strategies and recommendations that
I hope you might take leaving today and actually enact. With that said, I wanna
to have a moment just to give a little bit
of the trigger warning and some disclaimers and information. By the title of this talk y’all probably have an idea of what this is about. But I do wanna just highlight that we will be discussing some very serious, important issues related to pregnancy loss and miscarriage. And so, we will talk about issues related to death, and grief, and coping, and sick babies. And so, if there’s a moment where this gets too intense, you’re welcome to take a moment out. Come back in and rejoin
us when you’re ready. I actually brought a box of Kleenex. So, we didn’t get sponsored by them but should you want it. (laughing) It’s up here, help yourself. I think that that’s important as well. But, again, I just wanted to let you know. As far as disclaimers, I am a communication scholar. And, so, I do not profess to be an OBGYN or a medical scientist. Some people have asked me about, should I take this medication or that medication? And I’ve had to say, that’s beyond my expertise but I am here as a social scientist. I am here as a communication scholar, and as a professor, And as someone who has experienced pregnancy loss. The final thing; facilitation style. For those of you who have had me in class, you might notice that I may walk around the room. It’s not to put you on your toes, but rather just to engage. And we will have a couple of moments where I’m gonna ask you to participate and share some of your ideas. As well as I’ve got some text for us to analyze. So,
we’re gonna have a moment where you’re gonna get to network and actually play with some books, believe it or not. So, spoiler alert that’s coming. So, there’s a little bit of an interactive nature today. But I do hope that this is both educational and fulfilling in whatever you aim to get out of this. So, with that said, let me go ahead and tell you my story. This is me when I was three years old and I was dressed as Wonder Woman ’cause why not? And when I was a little kid I was asked the same question over and over again. I talked about this briefly in a TEDx presentation that I gave and I wanted to give some background as a way to share where I’m entering this
particular project. People always ask me, Lisa, what do you wanna
be when you grow up? And I’m guessing, by show of hands, how many of you have been asked that? And maybe my college students your parents or your relatives are asking that with
more (laughing) intensity as graduation nears. What do you wanna be when you grow up? At the tender age of three, I knew exactly what my hashtag life goals were. I knew and I was set. I had two goals in life. One of which was to become a teacher. And I was a super nerd growing up. I used to lecture at my stuffed animals. I had color-coded grade books. I had little things with stickers and I tried to make lesson plans, which were horrible. And so, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Playing school was the thing that I did with my kids. I also knew that I wanted to be a mama. This was a big life goal of mine. And, yes, that’s me as an ugly baby. So, if you’re wondering. No, that’s not my kid, that’s actually me. Most people are like oh I don’t know if I can. Yeah, okay. I embrace that. I was an ugly baby. On the (mumbles) this is me with my older brother. I come from a very small family and I was the first baby girl in over 40 years in my family. We just had a lot of
baby boys on that side. And so, I grew up as the youngest one. But I always thirsted and wanted to have babies in my life. It was something that I didn’t really get ’cause I was the baby and I wanted to have that growin’ up. And so, as little kid, I knew okay I’ve got two goals that I really want to fulfill. I want to be a teacher and I also want to be a mama. And so, let’s fast
forward a bunch of years circa 2011, 2012 I was very fortunate to have met my life partner, John. He was very kind to be here today. We met in grad school and we got married in 2011. And at that moment I became the step mother to a strong and fantastic step daughter, Lexi. And she is part of my life and she by default made me a step mother and I’m so grateful. We met at Purdue and then later on in 2011, 2012, I became a professor here, which still blows my mind to this day. So, I got to become a teacher. And not just a teacher but I also get to do research and it’s so cool. And so, around this time
both of these dreams felt pretty much actualized. And I felt like, oh my goodness here I am let’s launch it. Let’s do it. Those are really great times but I will say we still thirsted for more. Lexi kept asked me, I want a little sibling. When am I gonna get a little sibling? I want a little sibling. And I said, oh we want one too or I didn’t want another sibling but I wanted a baby, right? (laughing) So, this was a cloud that was hanging over our head and we wanted to pursue it. Timing wasn’t quite right but fast forward about
three or four years later and boom baby Spud came along. We were elated. We started picking out names. We started to plan out the nursery. And everything was fine minus the usual typical symptoms of the first trimester of pregnancy. For those who don’t know, morning sickness does not just happen in the morning. It’s something that can happen all day, afternoon, in
the middle of the night, in the middle of the morning. Lots of morning sickness, fatigue, bloating, all
of that awesomeness. But it was all worth it when we got to meet baby Spud. So, this is her around seven weeks. We saw her squirm around and move around in the sonogram. Got her picture, which is great. And we also got to hear her heartbeat. And I remember hearing her heartbeat and my eyes watered up because it was the most beautiful song I had ever, ever heard. And we got to meet her then at that particular moment. Hopes and dreams, planning,
planning, planning. And everything seemed fine. So, I went on with my life continuing to teach. Continuing to be married and a step mama. And around 12 weeks I came back from what was supposed to be just a routine checkup, you know? Making sure everything was good to go and then I’ll be on my way. And I remember it was before I was supposed to teach a class. I had an afternoon class and so I decided to just make a routine appointment in the morning. I came on in and they did the usual stuff. They had a little monitor and they’re trying to find the heartbeat and they couldn’t. And they said, you know what, maybe she’s shy, maybe we can’t find her, and let’s go ahead and just have you take a scan. So, they sent me down the hall and I went to do another sonogram hoping to see something
very similar to this. Unfortunately, the moment the technician put the wand around my belly her face fell and she broke eye contact and she said, I am so sorry we’ve lost the baby. And it was a moment where I was just shocked. I wasn’t sure what to say and at first I had disbelief.
I looked at her and I said, oh you lost it? Well keep looking, maybe she will come around to the other side. She’s a mover and a shaker. And the technician did not put the wand back up. She looked at me and said, no, no, no you’ve had a miscarriage. I’m sorry. We’ve lost the baby. And it took a second for it to start to sink in. But I felt all the feels, right? I felt shock and disbelief. I felt angry at my body for failing to do something that is was supposedly pre-programmed to do,
biologically speaking. I felt even more betrayed because I didn’t even know that I had miscarried. The doctor later told me that I had experienced something called a silent miscarriage or
a missed miscarriage. This is something where the body believes it’s still pregnant yet the fetus has failed to thrive. And so, I was going on for about two or three weeks feeling all of the symptoms and gettin’ all the good
morning sickness out. And yet actually wasn’t pregnant. And so, I felt really
betrayed with my body. I felt grief about not having the life of this baby that we had planned. So many different emotions. I somehow managed after crying in the parking lot and
talking with my partner, John on the phone and breaking the news I kind of took a big, deep breath and I still went into class and taught. Which I’m not sure why I did that and no one knew otherwise. It was a strange moment. And so, for a while I coped in silence. I didn’t want anyone to know. It was just too much to deal with at the time. But after a little bit went on I started to talk with people. And I said, hey I just wanted to let you know this happened. I told my mom, I told some of my friends. And something really amazing happened. I’m not sure if it’s
amazing good or amazing bad but it was absolutely amazing. So many people in my network, close friends, family members, co-workers started to confide in me and said “I had a miscarriage.” “I had a still birth.” “I had two pregnancy losses.” Someone mentioned, you know, you know why there’s a weird gap between my first and second kid? It’s because I had two
miscarriages in between. And it was like, as Alisa Volkman, who’s a Ted talker said it was like there was a secret society of people who were all coping silently and grieving by themselves, yet we were all part of this secret society that were linked by this horrific thing
which was pregnancy loss. And as communication scholar, someone who studied
discrimination and coping, I had this ah-ha moment, which was, why aren’t
we talking about this and how can we provide
better support to people when we’re dealing with these really, really intense grief issues? And so, with that, that bundled up and rerouted my entire research program. I still study how people
stop discrimination. I still study how we can
provide better support to targets of prejudice. I also, though, study how we can shatter stigma through communication. And so, this is something where based on that experience opened up the path to a whole new area of exploration and study that I think is really, really important and
I’m so grateful to ICS for making this possible through this fellowship. My two questions that really guide this aspect of my research are number one, why are miscarriage and pregnancy loss still taboo today? It’s the year 2018, I mean, we’ve been around for a while and yet it still seems very much stigmatized and taboo. And number two, if it still is, what can we do, right? Every day people what can we do to shatter that silence and to remove that stigma? And to help people cope collectively as opposed to by themselves in silence? And so, that’s what I
want to talk about today. Before we get we into it, I wanna highlight a couple of definitions. So, let’s nerd out a little bit. So, in terms of the terms that I’m gonna be using, the way I see pregnancy loss it’s kind of an umbrella term. So, when we talk about pregnancy loss it includes a variety of things including miscarriage,
including still birth, including I guess we might call terminated pregnancies or abortions. Also it includes something
called neonatal loss. In some realms, some medical specialists include neonatal loss, which is the loss of a baby who dies within 28 days of birth. It often include preemies. And so, pregnancy loss is this broad umbrella term that includes a variety of different and incidents. When we’re talking about miscarriage, the focus is usually
under 20 weeks gestation, and it’s typically seen as something that’s more spontaneous, usually not an elective procedure but rather something that happens. It just happens. I do, though, want to highlight one aspect which is really interesting that I would love to get into later. Which is how our medical colleagues and clinicians discuss miscarriage. From the medical perspective, the term that is typically used is called a spontaneous abortion. Which I think is really interesting from a connotative and
denotative perspective. So, when we talk about miscarriage we’re really focusing more on the earlier stages of pregnancy. And an interesting thing
in defining miscarriage, this is something that is so common. I wish I knew how common it was before I got pregnant. I had no idea. The American Pregnancy Association estimates that about one in four known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. And as technologies and
medical advances happen people are finding out they’re pregnant earlier and earlier. And so, I think that statistic is gonna get even bigger as people are able to detect pregnancies earlier on, which may or may not be viable. But I love this thing in terms of saying it’s not just a statistic. So, it’s not just like look around one in four pregnancies. It’s not just that. But each statistic is a story. Each statistic represents a human person who is coping as well as their partners, their family, and their communities. So, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the lived,
breathed experiences, which is what I wanted to focus on. Finally, in terms of miscarriage, there’s many different forms. We can chat about that too, but it’s not just a one size fits all. And certainly, for me, I had never heard of something called a missed miscarriage
or a silent miscarriage until I had actually had it. I had thought that just like how it’s presented in the media, you know? Some bleeding happens, there’s a traumatic event, and you know that
something bad has occurred. For me, I had no idea until the doctor actually told me. So, with that said, oops sorry about that. Let’s talk about some
barriers and boundaries. So, why the silence? Why the silence? I’m gonna talk about four different things and
I’m actually gonna get you involved in just a little bit. So, just kinda priming the pump there. As far as four reasons why we are still silent and why there’s still a taboo today. The first is more or less cultural issues. The second we’re gonna talk about are media misrepresentations and then I’m gonna talk about two projects that
I have been working on here at BGSU. So, in terms of cultural taboos, Boss, in defining a particular theory talked about miscarriage
and pregnancy loss as this form of ambiguous loss. Meaning that it often is a little bit more abstract.
Many times I’m gonna go ahead and just read this phrase on precise. Boss defines an ambiguous loss as “a situation of unclear loss that remains unverified and thus without resolution.” Perhaps more apt, a different way of describing it is from one of my research participants whose pseudonym is Olivia. A 46-year-old white woman who said, “over the years I’ve
been thinking about it. And for us, it’s the loss of the baby. It’s the loss of the expectation of life, the potential for relationship and dreams. All that’s gone, plus
you don’t get to hold, and you don’t get to touch, and you don’t get to say goodbye really. So, it’s completely different.” So, this is highlighting
how pregnancy loss can be this form of ambiguity because often times there’s not a grave. There’s not a memorial. Sometimes people don’t even get to hold their loved one. And so, it’s very, very. (audience member sneezing)
It’s a different kind of loss. Bless ya. Kleenexes, okay. Another aspect is that, in terms of the taboo, is that it’s like operating through a minefield of taboo topics. It’s not just pregnancy loss, but it’s babies who are dying, it’s about health care issues, it’s about sometimes blood and tissue, and all sorts of things that a lot of people don’t like to just talk about on a daily basis. And so, in addition to this ambiguity there’s also a lot of no-no topics, taboo topics that are attached to it. I had a participant who was very, very blatant and she more or less just kind of said no one wants to talk about dead babies, Lisa. And I said, well okay, fair enough. It’s a minefield of taboo topics. Another aspect is this aspect of a lack of cultural scripts. In our current cultural climate in society we often lack clear rituals and ways to cope and
remember our lost babies. This is really, really tricky. There often isn’t a particular site, many medical hospitals don’t really know exactly what to do. There’s not a clear, “here’s what happens when you miscarry, here’s what happens when
you have a stillborn.” It can be very, very
tricky in that regard. I will note, though, that if we widen our lens and look more globally there are cultures that do have some ratified rituals for pregnancy loss. And there is a really
interesting story in NPR, and the New York Times it covered a ritual in Japan. It’s called Mizuko Kuyo. And it’s something where often done, often led by a Buddhist priest, there is ritual where
families can come together to grieve and mourn
the loss of their baby, and to actually have a statue and to have a moment of remembrance which is pretty amazing. Has anyone here seen “Ali Wong: Baby Cobra” my Netflix fans? There’s a fleeting moment, which is really interesting, where she talks about
a cultural difference. She experienced a miscarriage. Ali Wong is an Asian-American comedian and some of it’s a little R-rated. But nonetheless she is talking, and seven months pregnant, about her experience as a pregnant woman, but also she briefly talks about a miscarriage that she had, and her mom, who I believe is Vietnamese, or Vietnamese-American, she explained it through
her own cultural lens that it’s something that’s so common there that it’s not as taboo. In her standup comedian act she equated, her mom more or less said that having a miscarriage is like losing a pair of shoes. It’s so common. And so, that’s brings, I think, a new layer of complexity but a different way of thinking about pregnancy loss. Here it’s so hush-hush that many people don’t
know what’s happening. Perhaps in a different context it might be so bountiful it’s still treated differently but nonetheless it’s unique in terms of its cultural context. The final thing is lacking communicative scripts. This is a really interesting thing. For com scholars we are guided, we often are focusing on how people interact with each other. And communication scripts are more or less like this choreographic dance for how to interact in
a particular context. So, by a show of hands, how many of you have gone to the grocery store in the past month? Yes? Okay. If you have, there’s usually a communication script
for how you interact with the cashier person, right? And this was my first paid job. I was a grocery store checkout person. And so, what happens? So, when you go and put your stuff, you put your food or
your items on the belt, what does the cashier
person say initially? How do they start the conversation? – Hi. – Hi, how are you? Yep, absolutely. So,
the first thing they say is “hi, how are you?” And
what do you typically say? – Good. – Good, fine, how are you? Yep, so it’s like a dance. It’s a choreographed routine. It’s very automatic. “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, how are you?” And then what do they usually ask? – Did you find everything?
– Yeah, I don’t even know why. Yeah, did you find everything that you were looking for? And even if you didn’t find everything you looked for usually your answer is “yeah, I did. I’m fine, let’s just go.” And so, there’s this script that happens. People know what is expected, they know how to interact. And we move on without a lot of extra emotional labor. When it comes to pregnancy loss, we really lack a communicative script. Someone discloses that
they had a pregnancy loss and then the next moment is silence and awkwardness, and no one knows what to say. We need to build communicative scripts because we really lack that right now. Okay, so that’s the first of four. The second are media misrepresentations. I wanna take a moment because I’ve shared a lot of info with you and I want you to process, and interact, and maybe even make a new best friend.
What I’d like you to do is to turn to one person. I’m gonna give you about two or minutes. And I just want you to brainstorm how is pregnancy loss represented on your TV shows, on your movies, if at all? So, try to come up with one example besides “This is Us.” ‘Cause, you know, you all will talk about that later. Besides “This is Us,” try to come up with one example of how pregnancy loss has been represented on the big screen or on your small screens, or even on your Netflix screens. Take a couple of minutes. Introduce yourself to someone. Maybe you’ll network out and make a friend. And then we’ll bring you back in in about two or three minutes. (All talking) Well, go
ahead and bring it it. Hopefully you got to meet someone and maybe come up with
a couple of examples. I’d love to hear from y’all. What are some examples of representations of pregnancy loss either on a TV show or a movie? What do we think about? Yes, will you tell us your name please? – Megan. – Megan, thanks Megan. What did y’all come up with? – There are like four different moments throughout Grey’s Anatomy. Yes! Can you think of one? – Can I just say all four (laughing)? Sure, yep, yep. – Meredith losing her baby during the hospital shooting. – Yep, we’ll talk about that. – Christina lost her babies twice. And then April (mumbles). – Yes, that’s right. Yeah. So, spoiler alert if you haven’t gotten through all of the seasons, sorry. There’s multiple incidents of that. Yep, yep, yep. Thank you so much, Megan. Kelly, it’s great to see you.
– It’s great to see you too. In the movie “The Help”
there’s a miscarriage and the pregnancy itself is kind of seen as the thing that holds these two together in their married lives. So, when she has the miscarriage it’s supposedly the
breaking point of that. – Yeah. And with some of my research participants they’ve highlighted how this really does cause relational strife. This is something that
can be really difficult as a turning point in a relationship for better and sometimes for worse. Yes. What is your name? – Josh. Josh, nice. Josh, share with us please. – The movie “Up.” Up, yes! And we’ll talk about that. But, yeah, can you give
us a quick synopsis? I love that movie, “Up.” – They’re really happy. They’re happily married. They’re building a house. They’re building a baby room and then they go to the doctor and they find out it’s a miscarriage. – Absolutely, yeah. So, there’s this moment. In the movie, “Up,” if
you’re familiar with it with the balloons, and the dogs, and the squirrels. Yeah, it starts out with a couple that is in love and they experience a pregnancy loss. Absolutely, yep. And one more. Yes.
– I just thought of a movie. – Do you remember the movie Crossroads? I have not. Is that the
one with Britney Spears? – Yes. What? Okay. – There’s a character in that movie who is pregnant and she’s like seven, eight months along and then she gets pushed down the stairs. – That’s horrible. – And then she like looses her baby. – Oh my goodness. – And that seems to be a common theme on a lot of soap operas too.
– Yeah. – It’s like trauma. – Yep. – You get knocked down the
stairs, automatic loss. – There’s a trauma and
then a pregnancy loss. Yeah, that’s a trope. Absolutely. So, yeah! I’m hoping that in your discussions you’d come up with some examples. I would argue by and large although there are some examples in here, that there really aren’t enough. And of the ones that are there, we need more and more that are more multi-dimensional as well as including people
that are more inclusive in terms of identities, life stages, and the like. I’m gonna go ahead just
show some pictures. Some of which y’all already mentioned. You are fantastic. With the movie “Up,” if you’ve seen, the first opening scene they’ve got a beautiful five or six minute montage with music and you will cry. Bring Kleenex, you will cry. But the couple, as Josh was saying, they find our they’re pregnant, they plan, and then they find out they’ve had a pregnancy loss. And although it’s really beautiful and really moving it’s fleeting and it’s probably about five seconds of the entire movie and then they move on. So, many times miscarriages are something that happened but then we move on with the broader plot. And so, it’s something
that’s really quarantined within the parameters
of a 30-minute episode, a 60-minute episode, or a short scene within a movie. And it may be important for character development but then it’s not touched again. And so, that’s problematic ’cause it’s just very limiting. One of my favorites, “Sex and the City” for those who. A classic (mumbles) for this point it’s what, 18 years old? I don’t know. Anyway, there’s an episode where Charlotte in the show is pregnant. She has a miscarriage and within the 30 minutes she more or less brushes herself off and goes to a party to kind of overcome it. And it shows her
challenges with fertility. But in this one episode it kinda all happens and then they continue to move on. So, we need to do more. We need include a longer storyline and really focus on it from a more longitudinal perspective. I loved that you talked
about Grey’s Anatomy. So, we sometimes have representations but they seem to be few or very quick. And then on the other hand, we sometimes have representations of pregnancy loss that are so extreme. So, in this particular episode, a huge spoiler alert, I apologize for those who are catching up on Netflix, but in this particular episode we have Meredith Grey, she is pregnant, and
there’s an active shooter in the hospital. Her partner is shot and she’s trying to do
a life-saving surgery. And during that time she’s having a miscarriage. And I could probably ask you, but I won’t, in terms if anyone’s had this particular situation happen to them. But it’s so extreme. It’s so dramatic. And so, it may not necessarily be very helpful to relate to and for the every day. I think moving forward we’re starting to see some different representations such as How to Get Away with Murder where Annalise Keating has a stillborn and I think the aspect of pregnancy loss is running throughout that show over the seasons. As well with “This is Us,” which is an ongoing aspect in terms of fertility, miscarriage,
and pregnancy loss. So, I’m hopeful that maybe this is something that will be inserted more into our broader media scripts. But at this point, we still have got some work to do. So, media representations,
misrepresentations, under representations, I
think are another thing contributing to the silence. My third and fourth thing
deal with particular research projects that I’ve been doing. The third one, I’m going to draw from data from an interview study
that I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. It’s something that’s been life changing for me. I started out collecting the stories. I wanted to know how are people coping with miscarriage? What support do they wish they would’ve received? What support did they receive? And what are their stories? Because every single
story of pregnancy loss is unique in its own beautiful, yet sometimes very tragic, way.
This is a little hard to see in the back so I’m sorry. I think we are gonna share the slides. So, if you are interested in taking a deeper look. I took some of the transcripts and put in into a Word cloud so you can kinda see some of the words that
came up quite a bit. But in terms of the participants, just to give you an idea. I’m aiming to get close to 40 total participants. I’m in the mid-30s right now. This includes individuals from the age of 17 to 74. And although mostly white, 6% Latina, 6% Asian-American, 6% black and African-American. Coming from many different religious affiliations
and having a miscarriage from one all the way up to having five miscarriages at this particular point. I have interviewed them. The average is about an hour-long session just listening to their story. Learning about how they coped. What kind of support they received and wish they would’ve received. And it’s produced over about 606 single-spaced pages of transcripts that I’ve been pouring through this semester, which has been amazing. And so, I took a graded
approach and coded it. And in this initial iteration of looking through the data I try to highlight, what are some of the challenges and the barriers for why people don’t talk about miscarriage? And so, there’s other aspects I wanna do with this data, but for this I’m gonna highlight three paradoxes, if you will. Three catch-22s of why people, especially women who have experienced pregnancy losses are reticent to talk about it? The first is what I call the attributional paradox. Once someone has a pregnancy loss, one of the first questions is why? Why did this happen? Why me? Why now? Why? And unfortunately this is something where the answers aren’t easy. And sometimes there are no answers. I’m gonna just kinda highlight here in terms of one of our participants. And if you want in the updated slides I’ll include the participant’s pseudonyms and their information as well. But it was just pretty wordy. But more or less the
participants, many of them, were wrangling with that
question why, you know? What caused this pregnancy loss? And this is something that was really, really tortuous to some in terms of trying to get some clarity. On the one hand, sometimes participants got no answer. They would ask their doctor and the doctor would say, oftentimes it’s a chromosomal abnormity, abnormality, or it’s something that we just can’t detect, and these things just happen. So, we have Martico here. My 74-year-old participant . She said, sometimes
these things just happen for no reason or no cause. And while this may be
comforting at first blush because it isn’t their fault, per se, it often is really difficult because it increases anxiety and uncertainty moving forward. The idea is if I don’t
know why this happened, how can I prevent it from happening again? And so, many of the women talked about in terms of subsequent pregnancies how they were particularly anxious because they didn’t know what caused it. They didn’t know how to prevent it and they felt like, oh something could happen
at any given moment. So, on the one hand, no cause can lead to
uncertainty and anxiety but on the other hand some of the women
speculated why it happened and it wasn’t any more comfort. Most of the time the women tended to blame themselves. The felt feelings of guilt, of shame, and just spiraled even though it probably wasn’t because of these particular aspects. So, one participant said I feel because I waited so long to have a child I felt bad for my partner, I felt like I failed him. Really powerful. I had a participant who didn’t know she was pregnant and had consumed some alcohol and she was wondering oh my goodness, was it because I had some of that alcohol? Did I pickle the fetus? And that was a concern for her. And then another person
who was in the military she was pregnant and
she was told it’s fine, continue doing what you do. But she was worried that she had been exercising too hard. Did that cause the pregnancy loss? And in reality it probably didn’t but she’s second guessing everything that she would’ve done from the moment she found
out she was pregnant to the moment where she found
out she had lost the child. So, that’s one of the aspects. I’m gonna read just a couple of others in addition. Hope, a 41-year-old Latina said, my mom was the only person who was like it’s probably because you had an eating disorder. And so, she disclosed
that she had anorexia when she was a teenager and there’s no scientific link. It’s not. But she was feeling the blame. And not only that, her mom was attributing it to that. Which was not helpful. And then, Taylor a
19-year-old black woman said, I was so stressed out I wonder if that’s the reason why I miscarried? And so, this heavy burden of dealing with the loss but in
addition second guessing and blaming oneself. It’s very difficult. And so, if you feel
like you’re responsible, a lot of times people don’t wanna to talk about that either. So, that’s one of the three paradoxes. The second is what I call the disclosure paradox. This is a really interesting phenomenon in terms of the catch-22. And I think that this
participant says it best. I’m gonna just read this top part. So, we waited 12 weeks or whatever, and as a sidebar many times people will wait 12 weeks to disclose that they’re pregnant because the high rate of pregnancy loss incident within the first
12 weeks of gestation. And so, a lot of people
will wait until 12 weeks before they tell people
they’re even pregnant. But this leads to a problem. Rosalyn says, but my partner had an interesting observation. Because we did wait to tell people that we were pregnant, when I miscarried there were so few people that we could tell about the miscarriage. Because first we had to be like, I was pregnant and I didn’t tell you. And then, in some ways, that silence makes it harder to reach out for support. So, the problem is if we don’t tell people that we are pregnant
in the first 12 weeks, we experience a miscarriage, and then we have to tell people first by the way I was pregnant and I also had a miscarriage. It’s information overload. And I even had a couple of participants who got backlash from
their families saying, why didn’t you tell us you were pregnant in the first place? And so, they’re caught in this catch-22, this paradox of trying to disclose but not being able to, and/or receiving backlash for telling. One other example from Leah. I ended up telling a few friends after I had thought about it. I don’t even remember
how the hell it came up. And the weird thing is
because I couldn’t talk about it for so long, then it felt weird to be like, oh hey mom you know I was pregnant? And then I feel really awful about it. So, she just decided not to tell anyone. And so, we’ve got this additional barrier. The final paradox that
I wanted to talk about was this issue of support. There’s a lot of research that suggests that seeking support and talking about one’s trauma, and ones loss, can be very helpful. But what I found time and time again with my participants was that often times when they sought support they received anything but something that was helpful. Some of them received helpful support but many of them received things that were hurtful or insufficient. So, here’s some examples of things that were hurtful. A participant said, my husband would say, oh well you really
weren’t pregnant, right? Because she had the loss so early. Another participant said
some people were like, well you shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. You kinda deserved that. And so, she was not
married, she was younger. And so, people were telling her this is on you. That’s not really supportive or helpful. And another person in
her fourth miscarriage her mom was dealing with cancer as an added stress. But she said, my mother who was going through chemotherapy
at the time said to me, well obviously you just weren’t supposed to be a mother. And I don’t think you would’ve been a good mother because
if you would’ve been a good mother you would’ve adopted or found some other way if you really wanted a baby. And so, that’s after
her fourth miscarriage the mom said this particular thing. And granted, her mom was in a very difficult
health situation herself. But my participant remembers this. She remembers the hurtful things and when she thought about her mother this was something that came to mind. So, people want to seek support but when they try to seek support they may not necessarily be getting the help that they need. So many quotations about this. Two more that I’ll share with you and then we’ll move on. A participant said my mom would say, okay well at least you’re not going to have to deal with raising a child while going through your first year of college. And this, and this, and this. So, she acknowledged
that her mom was trying to be helpful but was not helpful. In terms of saying well the at least. And we hear this, well at least you can get pregnant. Or at least you have a child already. Or at least you have this or that. The at least tends to not be very good. The should’ve, could’ve, would’ve are not very helpful either. So, maybe you shouldn’t have had that decaffeinated coffee. Maybe you shouldn’t have gone running. Maybe you shouldn’t have. That’s not very helpful either. Here’s another one which was really tough. Someone said but you know he was not a great guy and that’s probably a good thing that you don’t have a child with him. So, they’re trying to paint some sort of silver lining but it’s not really helping at all. So, I’m gonna skip through this just for the sake of time. But the idea is that
people are seeking support, they’re not getting the support. People want to disclose, but when they disclose they feel trapped and they’re not really getting help. And then, finally, in terms of the why. A lot of times people are
trying to figure out the why. And whether they get answers or not it tends to lead to a negative situation. So, all of these things, the constant, we can see lead to people
being very reticent to talk about their experiences. So, it’s not just the media. It’s not just a lack of cultural scripts. It’s also these embodied experiences. There is so much I wanna
to do with this project that I can talk about later. But I just wanted to
highlight with the data I’m hoping to examine some aspects with patient provider communication. There’s a lot of examples
of how disclosing the bad news from the
technician and doctors was not very helpful. How to talk about this with one’s partner as well as with one’s child. This helping the helper and partner came up time and time again where the woman was coping and she talked about the challenges that it created within the relationship with her romantic partner. And how it was difficult for the partner to cope as well. And I think that’s an interesting avenue in terms of dyadic
analysis moving forward. And the broader cultural, cross-cultural understandings. I had a participant pseudonym Buddo, who was from Pakistan and in her particular village they had a belief that if a woman has had a miscarriage she’s bad luck. And so, the belief in
her particular community was if a woman is pregnant, she should never come
into physical contact or touch someone who’s had a miscarriage or else she will have
a miscarriage herself. And so, for her, as well as the women in her community who have outed themselves as someone who’s had a pregnancy loss, they were highly stigmatized. And if you can imagine
those cultural layers. So, I wanna get into that with some of the research
that I’m doing, too. So, the next thing, the fourth thing in
terms of why the silence? And then we’ll talk about what we can actually do. I
don’t wanna leave with you here’s bad news and bye. We’ll talk about what we can actually do to make the difference in a moment. But what I wanted to
talk is a current project that I’m working on, which is really interesting. Is I’m analyzing a bunch
of pregnancy books. And I’m gonna pass some of these out in just a little bit and let you analyze them. A quick note, I need these back. Most of them are library books and they’re not mine. So, just FYI. Sorry, I can’t party favor out. Yeah, if you don’t mind. The idea is that we
don’t wanna just focus on how people are communicating after they’ve experienced
a pregnancy loss. But how we can prepare people for the pervasiveness of this issue as well as help them understand what they might expect if it does happen. Since this is a potentially one in four pregnancy kinda situation. And so, I got nerdy and I thought, huh, how is pregnancy loss being informed and talked about in
pregnancy manuals and books? ‘Cause this is something when someone gets pregnant a lot of times
they pick up the book What to Expect While You’re Expecting. Or Expecting Better, which is a different take on the matter. Or The Pregnancy Manual, or the Encyclopedia of Pregnancy Loss. And so, I went to, with the help of BGSU’s library, so a huge shout out to my fantastic library’s colleagues
they helped me identify which texts to analyze. Fantastic. I looked at best sellers from Amazon. Best sellers from New York Times. Best sellers from Barnes and Noble’s list, as well as some top picks from Google, and got those books. A lot of them I got from
the library ’cause I’m on a really tight budget this semester. And so, I went to the library and pulled a whole bunch of books. And you should’ve seen
the librarian’s faces when I had all of these
books. They’re like, wow, you’re really excited about this topic. I said, I am. I’m doin’ a project. So, what I’ve done is I have analyzed, and pooled, and scanned the pages that talk about miscarriage. And I’ll highlight some of the preliminary findings in a moment. But I thought it might
be interesting for you to excavate and to touch the text and see them yourselves. What are you gleaming from them? And I’m sorry. I’m so thrilled that there’s such a great turnout. So, thank y’all for being here. I brought 10 books thinking, okay I think that’ll be enough and wow I should’ve brought more. So, I’m sorry. What I would invite you to do is if you don’t have the opportunities to hold the text feel free to Google table of contents
of pregnancy books. So, if you’ve got a smart phone, feel free to whip it out. If you’ve got a laptop,
feel free to pull it out and Google some pregnancy books and just see to what extent how many pages in the index are covering miscarriage
and pregnancy loss. And of those, how is it being discussed? So, are there pictures? Is it on the margins of the pages? Let’s take about five or seven minutes and just quickly look through. If you’ve got a book at your table, feel free to partner up
so you can look together and interact so this
is more communicative. And we’ll come back in about five or six, maybe six minutes or so, and just share some of your preliminary observations and I’ll
share what I’ve got too. – (mumbles) – This does report to
be the complete guide on pregnancy and so I’m glad they at least had something covering in there. But it was really marginalized to one or two pages
within the entire book, which is not uncommon. And when it is engaged, it’s a very clinical engagement at best. So, here’s the definition. Here are some potential causes. And if it does happen, here are some treatment methods. And so, it’s pretty cut and dry. It is included so hooray. But as the extent of it as an embodied experience, anything beyond the basics it seemed like it just kinda got the basics covered. So, thank for sharing. Can we get a couple more? Yes, please. Maybe something in contrast. Yeah? Which book did you get? You had Expecting Better. – Yeah.
– And I think that this book, Expecting Better, was somewhat a response to that classic book What to Expect While You’re Expecting, just as a side note. So, yes, Emily Oster. – Okay. So, most of this book is about how to prevent miscarriages and how to have a healthy pregnancy. The only chapter in this book really about miscarriage
is miscarriage fears. It’s only about three-pages long. And then the chapter after that is seven pages about avoiding deli meats. – Yes. – And then there’s another chapter about how to deal with your mother-in-law. – Okay. – That’s five pages. So, it really doesn’t
cover really anything about how to deal with that loss. – The coping. – Yeah. – Yes, yes, yes, yes. And so, we’re seeing that it is engaged in Expecting Better. So, in Expecting Better
we can expect more, which is exciting but at the same time there are limitations. And with any book, I will say, there’s always going to be limitations. And to honest, there are some great books that focus on pregnancy loss and books on infertility and coping. So, this is an entire literature on that. But my point is that
for the general audience and the general public most people don’t start there unless it happens to them. And so, I wanted to start and look at the classic pregnancy text. As this is something that most people are gonna engage in more likely before something may happen. And so, that was the reason why. So, I love that you’re saying that there’s a bunch of books on how to deal with your mother-in-law while pregnant. And did you say seven pages on deli meats? – Yeah. – Or five? Okay, so seven pages. And
this is actually a thing. There’s concerns about listeria and da, da, da, da. So, there is some of that aspect on there. So, it kinda sounds
random for those haven’t combed through a lot of that. But, yeah, it still seems pretty limited. Over here there was
example where it seemed like it wasn’t quite as marginalized. Is that correct? Did you say that you saw when you wolfed through the book? – Yeah. – Okay. – There’s a lot throughout the book. But what I’ve noticed the most is there were a couple of pages on people writing into the author and asking this happened, this happened, what should I do? Stuff like that. So, that was pretty cool. – And so, this book over here they happened to get. It’s called the Joy of Pregnancy. And for some of us, pregnancy was not a joy. But they frame it in a very rose-colored kind of hey the joy of pregnancy. And their table observed and she observed that this was something that wasn’t just a one-time chapter or one or two pages. But rather something that
was woven throughout. And something that’s really unique about this books is that
they include entries from people who have
experienced pregnancy loss as well as issues of pregnancy, and include their
excerpts and their voices within the book, which is kinda cool. And it brings more of a human kinda aspect to it then just the clinical here’s the definition and what not. So, can we give applause to our people? (applauding) (mumbles) As a quick reminder, I do need those books at the end so if you can leave ’em in the center of the table so that I can return them back to their community libraries. That would be wonderful. I don’t wanna steal from our fantastic libraries. So, in terms of moving forward with some of the findings. And this is still preliminary. I’m working on it and
I’ll have it buttoned up by the end of this semester and when my fellowship completes. I looked at 25 books. 25 pregnancy texts. I brought in 10 today. And in general, in terms of just the sheer quantity, we had on average about
356 pages per book. Ranging from 204 to 603. In terms of the degree
to which miscarriage, I focused on miscarriage not on pregnancy loss but to the degree to which miscarriage was engaged. It ranged from zero to 46 pages. So, on average right now with my particular sample of text it’s about 15 pages per book. But there were some where it was just two pages. There was one book where it was none. And so, we can see that there’s still some work to be done. And one of the challenges is sometimes there is books, they just have a chapter on pregnancy loss and then that’s it. There’s others that
focus on just the causes but not on potential coping or resources. And so, it seems like maybe there could be a conversation with publishers about how to better weave this in so it’s not marginalized, it’s not a one-time shot. And that it is a little bit more human as opposed to just clinical. So, that was something
I think that perhaps, in terms of pregnancy books, we can expect more. So, yay! Now, let’s go ahead and talk about. Sorry, I just chatted about that. Let’s go ahead and talk about what we actually can do. I’m not sure, is Tyler in the house? Are you in here at all? He may have stepped out. Okay. I will try to show. I’m gonna try to do some technology here. What we can do to shatter this silence. I’m gonna talk about five different things that we can do and then
we’ll have a Q and A. What I wanted to start out with, though, was to give a plug about a new documentary that just got released
to the public this month. So, it’s really, really new. It’s been shown in more
controlled settings, but now anyone and everyone can see it. You can rent it on Vimeo for $2.00 or you can buy, which is what I did, to support it. It’s $10.00. It is amazing. It’s an hour and 25 minutes. You will cry, you will laugh, and I think it will really engage anyone with a heart. But it talks about the silence surrounding pregnancy loss and what we can do about it. It’s amazing. I just saw it last week and was in my car ’cause I was ugly crying and I was like I need to take a moment. Really amazing. I’m gonna just show two minutes of its trailer so you can get a flavor of what it is. And then I’ll talk about
five recommendations. – They don’t wanna talk about it. They don’t wanna bring it up.
– So many moms are quiet and they suffer in silence. This makes brings so much awareness that says you’re not alone. – And know this is how we feel, what we need, what we want. – I don’t want it to
be pushed under the rug or it’s just something
that’s not addressed or something that’s not talked about. – This character’s loss of pregnancy generally early in the pregnancy and usually before 12 weeks. – Infertility is much more common than is generally appreciated. 10 to 15% of couples will experience and episode of infertility at some point in their life. – In the United States, every year, there are 26,000 babies stillborn. That amounts to one in
every 160 deliveries. – There are so many women, every day, dealing with loss in America. They are doing this alone. – I didn’t wanna tell people. And every time I’d have to say it, I just felt completely broken. There is a feeling of shame. A feeling of helplessness. – There is a time limitation put on pregnancy loss. But when the grace runs out, the expectation is get over it. – It’s been seven years and I still remember the silence that I had heard from everybody. – Even though everybody else, thankfully, didn’t blame me I sure did because who else was responsible for this? – I don’t have the
traditional happy ending but I still wanna talk about it. – Being on that edge of uncomfortable is when growth happens. – I think we’re watching the stigma decrease right now. This is the time that you can become stronger together
or isolate and change. – You don’t know what to say (laughing) so you don’t say anything that’s counterproductive
to the person’s healing. – Just bring that conversation into the forefront that needs to happen. – Can you bring any of that up when talking about the child? Honestly? – I’m glad that I (mumbles) myself now. Sometimes it does matter. – When shame goes away, the silence can be broken. (mid-tempo music) – Yeah, so if you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out I
encourage you to do that. I’m currently working with ICS and talking with certain partners across campus to see if I can do a free screening for
anyone who wants to attend. And then do a talk-back session. And hoping that that might be of use too. So, (laughing) that’s fine. So, in terms of what we can do, I wanna give you five
different recommendations of what might be done. And I think the video’s still, yeah. – Yes. – Sorry about that. – It’s all right. – Thank you so much. – There we go. Very good. – All right. So, I’ll just
go ahead and keep going in terms of five different things. I’m gonna first talk
about tackling taboos. The second I’m gonna talk better media representations. Third, I’ll talk about in theory and practice. Fourth, I’ll talk about sharing your story if you feel so courageous. And then finally, about how to provide better support ’cause I recognize maybe not everyone has a story to share, but most likely you’ll come across a partner, a friend, or a loved one who’s
coping with pregnancy loss. And so, what are some things that you might be able to say and/or do? And then we’ll wrap up with
some Q and A. So, thank you. As a quick note, as a quick shout out, for those who may not be aware October actually is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. Which is why we decided to schedule this event for October. And so, this is a great time to start that conversation. If you are part of it already, and I invite you to be part of that. So, as far as five recommendations. The first is in terms of tackling taboos. And this is probably the most broad and abstract of them all. But it’s so important. As a culture and as a society, we need to come together and rethink, what are some rituals and what are some strips of things that we can do to better support and better to remember and celebrate, and honor the lives who have been lost? I talked briefly about a Japanese ritual and perhaps there’s
something that we can be inspired from from learning from cultures around the globe. What could be done? There are some hospitals who do have memorial
sites for lost babies. There are some places that actually have spaces like community gardens. I don’t know of any in
the northwest Ohio area, but if you do know of them, please let me know after today’s talk and I’ll be happy to
spread the word about that. In addition, I will let you know, I’m not sure if you’re familiar
with this but in the 1980s, which I recognize some people may not have even been born yet, but in the 1980s president Reagan declared October 15th as National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. And so, one thing that
is somewhat embedded in our culture even though a lot of people don’t necessarily know about it, is that at 7:00 pm whatever
your local time is, people are encouraged to light a candle to remember the losses that have happened. So, October 15 is a big day. But the whole month of October is an important date to
really think about it. Not that when November 1st happens that we forget and move on. But rather, there’s a particular energy and focus on it. In talking with my participants another thing that’s been coming up is, how can institutions and work places better grapple with these issues? One of the aspects is sick leave and being able to cope and deal with this. And how institution policies can be better supportive for people and their loved ones who are coping with pregnancy loss? Thinking about better
communicative scripts. So, we can hopefully educate people that if someone discloses I’m having a pregnancy loss or I had a miscarriage or a stillbirth to have words at our lips so we’re ready to go. To create that communicative script so that we are ready just like we’re ready when we go to the grocery store
and buy our apple juice. We’re ready when someone approaches us to provide support and to care. In talking about new ways to cope, for those who are experiencing this I’ve heard so many great ideas from my fantastic participants. I wanted to highlight some of the things that they’ve done. And a couple of weird
things that I’ve done that may or may not be helpful. There are some people who will wear pins as a way to bring awareness. There are individuals who will buy a special piece of jewelry. Some of my participants
actually got a tattoo. This is not my participant’s tattoo, but this is one I got from Google images to try to remember and
to symbolize the loss. So, that that life is
with them quite literally emblazoned into their skin. This is something strange
that I did and I don’t even know if I’ve told you this, actually. But one way to commemorate, I had my pregnancy loss in April and so I planted a rose bush in this big pot in our backyard as a way to kinda remember
and honor baby Spud. The bad news is I’m horrible with plants and so the rose bush died and it was doubly awful. So, I’m rethinking the idea of plants because, yeah. Especially if you’re like me and you can’t grow things. But nonetheless, sometimes people will plant a tree or they’ll plant some sort of garden as a way to remember. So, there are different ways to cope but hopefully you can find a community or some go-to people
with whom you can talk. I think that that may be one
of the most important things. So, tackling taboos. We need better media representations. We need more news stories that cover this in a sensitive, caring kinda manner. The Today Show has an interesting two-minute clip that I’ll share with a slide you can just click on it. It’s a message on Mother’s Day to people who have had pregnancy loss and it brings tears. It’s amazing. So, we need more messages. We’ve got celebrities who’ve started to bubble and share their stories. They’ve got some extra social capital and so in some ways their stories might be heard more than every day people. But that’s one way that
we can break the silence is getting people who are prominent to share their stories
and encourage others. I’m seeing new things on social media. Things like hashtag I had a miscarriage, hashtag pink and blue, some interesting things in terms of the profile images that you can do. There’s a few TEDx talks on this topic including mine. And then, of course, we want out good primetime TV to also be including
this in the storylines. I will say, though, the narrative does still seem very heteronormative,
very middle-upper class, and it seems very white in terms of the dominant story of who’s experiencing
pregnancy loss and coping. So, I think we need more stories. We need more inclusive
stories to be included. As well as more documentaries. The third thing is doing more research. So, this is kinda my nerdy plug. There’s a lot of really great research that’s been emerging. Talking about how people are managing their privacy, how couples
are coping together, new theories that are building, which is great. But also taking that information and putting it into practice. I’m hoping to run a workshop with OBGYNs to talk about how they can communicate more sensitively and productively when
breaking the bad news and providing supports for their patients. So, some of the work and the wonderful participation from my projects will
hopefully pay it forward. But additional things in terms of how we can reach out to support groups and connect research
with supporting people? For those of you in media, I know we’ve got some media folks, if you have connections to those who are creating the storylines, and literally writing the scripts, maybe you can have conversations with them about how they can better engage and share stories that
are multidimensional. Developing policies and then also thinking about what kind of pregnancy manuals, how we can reimagine these scripts to better educate the public. I’m actually even interested in having conversations with sex-ed levels because I think that even at the young age of childhood where people are starting to learn about sex in the first place and reproduction that this is something that might be helpful. To just at least acknowledge that this can happen and here are some of the statistics, et cetera, about that. Okay. So, if you’re not a nerd and like me, that’s perfectly fine. Perhaps something that you can do is to share your own story if you feel so courageous. And, of course, keep in mind that disclosing carries risks and you may not get the
support that you want. But in order to break the silence, we need multiple voices. And so, this is one way that you yourself could do this if you decide, whether on social media or just privately to a loved one. Talking about it, debriefing it, and sharing your story. Here are some celebrations
that have done it. If you like Beyonce, you may or may not know that she actually has experienced pregnancy loss. Nancy Kerrigan, Nicole Kidman, Maria Carey, Priscilla Chen, Lisa Ling, Gabriella Union. I think she has a book out now. There’s a lot of people
who have experienced it and if you then perhaps
listen to their stories and/or share your own. I want to loop back and kind of close that loophole of my own story. So, we experienced pregnancy loss in 2015 and it was awful. And it was a really difficult time period. I am so grateful for my partner, for my family, for my friends, and for my BGSU family, quite frankly. You all were absolutely amazing in supporting me as well as ICS who’s helping with the research. We didn’t give up, and so kept trying and kept trying. And for those of you who know me, you might know ’cause I talk incessantly about Shaun. March 2017 after 36 hours of labor, which was awful and preeclampsia to boot, we were able to lock on
the healthy baby boy, Shaun Hanasono-Dell who’s just wonderful. And Lexi now has a little sibling. And so, this is him last month. I thought I’d do a full circle. I was in my Wonder Woman outfit so we got him all dolled up in a superhero outfit. He’s super, and strong, and just hilarious, and just fantastic. And so, it’s yet another dream actualized. I do wanna recognize, though, that not every pregnancy journey, not every person’s story ends up with a live birth or a healthy, strong toddler. And that is okay. This is my narrative and so I’m sharing it with you. But it is okay. And I think that we
need to be particularly supportive of individuals who have not had this particular type of narrative. That many of my participants share that they have not yet had children or maybe that they may never. And so, that’s something
that can happen too. So, each story is really, really special and important. But to kind of button it up for here. For me, I am committed to
shattering the silence. I hope that you will join me and make a difference
in our community here at BG as well as in the
northwest Ohio area. And one thing that you can
really do that’s so solid is just providing better support. So, when we think about better support, I’m just gonna kinda highlight here. Instead of the at least, like the at least you didn’t get pregnant or at least you have a kid already maybe just say I’m so sorry for your loss. And then pause and let the individual talk if they wanna talk. Instead of saying I know
exactly how you feel, which suggest some sort of authority, and really paints someone
in a small corner, flip it and open it up and say, how are you feeling? Right? And invite them to share if they feel comfortable sharing. Instead of the should’ve,
could’ve, would’ve. Like you should’ve have waited so long. You shouldn’t have had that diet coke. You shouldn’t have had that cup of coffee, or shouldn’t have run that 5K. Instead of putting the burden on them and saying it’s your
fault why this happened, you flip it over and we can take responsibility and say, it doesn’t matter why, what can I do to help? Right? And flip that. And then finally, this issue of time. Sometimes people get so just a lot like let’s move on. Let’s move on you can adopt or you can try again. Or you can try in vitro. So much of this rushing to like, let’s make this
uncomfortableness move away. Be okay with that because sometimes we gotta process it. Just like take your time I’m here for you. In the documentary Don’t
Talk About the Baby, they discuss how it can be difficult. Sometimes people get
support for the first week or two but then after a month passes, after six months passes, it reverts back to silence. And so, I think as a community we wanna think that it’s not just a one-time I’m gonna provide help to you, you’re gonna be good to go, and then we can just go
do whatever we wanna do. Sometimes it’s iterative. Sometimes we recycle back. And so, it’s something that we wanna think about in terms of helping. The final thing I just wanna highlight is that there are some interesting ways you can also get involved
with social media. Hashtag simply say is one thing people provide messages of what one could say to better support. And I apologize for the four-letter words. I’m just gonna acknowledge
that that’s there. Dr. Jessica Zucker, she is a psychology professor. She was really moved when she had her own issue with pregnancy loss. She came up with sympathy cards ’cause she realized if you go in the Hallmark aisle, there are no cards about pregnancy loss, and we really wanna
address this sensitively. So, she created some of her own cards that are specifically on this topic. Some of them are pretty funny. Some of them are very heart felt. And so, you can check it out. If you just Google I
had a miscarriage cards, you’ll be able to find and buy some of her materials, which is great. So, I’m gonna leave this up here, which is some resources. If you, yourself, are affected profoundly by this or if you have loved ones that you’d like to direct them. We are gonna share the
slides with the public so if you wanna click on the links and see the videos, et cetera, that will be available to you. Once again, thank you so much to Jolie. Thank you so much to the ICS. I think there’s some final announcements and then I’ll stick around for Q and A if you have it. But just thank you so much for being part of this. It is so great to see you. And please join this conversation and let’s shatter that stigma. (applauding)

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