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Lessons learned the hard way

hand reaching handI have never written a very personal blog before but I feel like the time is right. You see, my oldest child just was admitted to the college of her choice. So, I have a lot to be grateful for.  I am very proud that over the years I (almost) always made my family my first priority, and that I invested in each of my children according to their unique talents and needs.   I feel that I was especially sensitized to the concept of “each child being a gift,” because I lost several pregnancies over multiple years.

While my family and friends knew what I was going through, I never thought that I would be sharing this personal information with total strangers.  However, I do think that The Gene Scene is an opportune forum to mention some lessons that I have learned from my experiences:

1-      Pregnancy loss is very common.  Most of the time miscarriages occur before the woman even knows she is pregnant, where the rate is about 50% of all pregnancies.  Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%.

2-      You may think that it’s possible to put past pregnancy losses behind oneself, especially as time marches on and if there are already or are subsequently other children in the family.  But, honestly, I still think about my losses almost every day.  Like when I pass places that vividly remind me of those difficult time periods.  Or when I hear about friends having their fifth or sixth babies. Or when I read articles about children who are the victims of child abuse and neglect.  Don’t get me wrong—I lead a very full and happy life.  But, there is a dull wound that persists.

3-      If you know someone who is dealing with a pregnancy loss and you have dealt with one yourself, offer to be there as an empathetic source of support (but do not force the issue).  I think there is a “pay it forward” concept involved here—if someone helped you, you should be there to comfort someone else.   Studies have shown that the supportiveness of the environment one is in immediately following a stressful situation can play a crucial role in healing.

4-      I have learned not to ask people if they have children, or how many children they have; instead I wait until those details are offered. On a similar note, I have learned not to say that a child “looks exactly”, or on the other hand, “looks nothing”, like his/her parents. You never know when there can be stories and associated hardship involved.

Finally, my personal experiences definitely helped in guiding my own career path towards our Program for Jewish Genetic Health.  Being able to turn something negative into something positive has undoubtedly been a major redeeming feature of my own healing process.

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