Local women fight stigma, raise awareness of pregnancy loss

Effects of miscarriage are long lasting, psychology experts say

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jenna Dail's twin boys were born on Sept. 19, 2014.

At her 17-week checkup the expectant mother found out the twins has twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. She underwent a laser surgery in Miami to save them, but one twin did not survive.

Back in Orlando, she and her husband, an Oviedo police officer, expected to carry the second fetus to full term, but she went into labor at 22 weeks.

Both twins were stillborn.

The loss is one that Dail, who has a 3 year-old daughter and 6 year-old-son, carries everyday, two years later.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2013 that there are more than 1 million fetal deaths per year in the U.S.

Early pregnancy loss, during the first 13 weeks or first trimester, is common. Ten percent of early pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the American Center for Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Second and third trimester stillbirths, like Dail's, are less common.

A 2015 study by Dr. S. Zev Williams with Albert Einstein College of Medicine Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that public perception of miscarriage is that it's a rare event occurring in less than 5 percent of pregnancies, far from the true number.

Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy impacting one in five, according to Williams.

But the issue of pregnancy loss is rarely openly discussed.

"We live in a country where we can hardly talk about loss for a person who was ill for a long time, much less something that is most frequently unexpected," Dr. Helen L. Coons, president and clinical director of Health Psychology Solutions in Denver, said.

Because of the high rate of pregnancy loss, hearing of someone else losing a baby could be an emotional trigger, said Coons, who specializes in women’s mental health.

"People don't say anything because they can't go there," Coons said. "It triggers old painful feelings."

Coons said people at a loss for what to say to a family member or friend who has experienced a miscarriage can offer their support in emotional or practical ways.

Coons recommends for people uncomfortable offering emotional support to find other ways to help. Such gestures could include bringing a plate of food or sending an e-mail on behalf of the woman or couple letting their loved ones know of their loss.

If the miscarriage happens in the second or third trimester often times baby furniture and items will be around as a reminder to a mourning mother.

Coons said in her experience clients have told her that furniture stores have expressed remorse and offered to pick up the furniture if a friend or family member can step in to make those arrangements.

Dail is not someone who shies away from talking about her family's loss.

"It could be your sister, or your best friend," Dail said of pregnancy loss. "So one day you're going to come across someone who has experienced this and by raising awareness and talking about it and walking through, you know, each other's grief journey with each other it allows for joy to come in."

After the stillbirth of her twins Dail said she struggled to find resources to help her with her grief and healing.

"I had someone write me a letter, and it told me 'it's OK to cry' and she was a mom of loss, and I remember it saying, 'it's OK to cry, it's OK to scream, it's OK to be angry' and so I finally realized it's OK to hurt, like these are my sons," Dail said.

That person who reached out to Dail was Noelle Moore, who lost her infant daughter, Finley, in 2013, just weeks after she was born.

Moore, a Rollins College graduate, started The Finley Project after she left the hospital with few resources to help her.

"Ultimately my desire in getting the word out is so no other mother has to dig and find help," Moore said. "There is hardly anything in our area to help them."

The Finley Project is a seven-part holistic program for mothers of loss that helps with funeral planning, providing meals, house cleaning and support group placement.

Like Moore, Dail also channeled her grief into helping others. Dail started "Boxes of Hope" to help women on bed rest with essentials that she didn't have when she was in the hospital.

[Hear more from Jenna Dail in the video below]

"I wasn't able to shower for weeks on end, and so my skin was peeling and just so dry and it hurt so bad,” Dail said of when she was pregnant and on bed rest.

Dail said a nurse brought her some lotion from home and it encouraged her to continue fighting.

Each box Dail creates includes essentials like lotion, deodorant, journals and things to keep busy.

In the future, she plans to create more care boxes for women who have experienced child loss.

News 6 reached out to Central Florida hospitals to request resources for people who experience miscarriage, stillbirths or the loss of a young child.

A spokesperson for Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children said the hospital does not currently offer a child-loss specific support group, but it hosts a remembrance service once a year for families who've lost a child at Arnold and Winnie Palmer Hospitals. The ceremony is organized by the hospital's spiritual care team.

Florida Hospital has two types of support groups for families. One group meets four times a year at Adventist Church and Angels of Hope holds three candlelight ceremonies a year for parents who have lost a child.

Resources for pregnancy loss

  • The Finley Project was started by Noelle Moore, a Rollins College alumna, who struggled to find support to help deal with her pregnancy loss. The seven-part local holistic program walks mother's through the process, providing support and services. Learn more at thefinleyproject.org.
  • Boxes of Hope, sponsor care packages for women on bed rest at Jenna Dail's website here.
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. offers a list of local support groups and online resources to help with grief and healing at Nationalshare.org.
  • Resolve, the National Infertility Association has a list of support groups, resources at Resolve.org
  • Florida Hospital can connect families with two support groups, HEAL and Angels of Hope.
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies offer a yearly remembrance ceremony for families who've lost a child.

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