Please join us on Saturday October 13th, 2018 to honour Théo and all other butterfly babies gone too soon.
Today on the blog, one of our Committee members, Rachel Samulack (who was last year's co-Chair along with her husband Rob for Aaron's Butterfly Run), shares her thoughts on pregnancy after loss...
When Rob and I (Rachel) organized Aaron’s Butterfly Run in 2017, the committee wanted the run to be sustainable. Rob and I feel passionate about sharing Aaron’s story, but we know that there are many other parents out there who would like to share their butterfly babies. Our vision was that the run would have new chairs every year. This year, the Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau is being held in honour of babies Charlotte and Théo. We are happy to see the run continue and the organizing committee is doing an amazing job of pulling the run together.
We lost our first pregnancy at 10 weeks in 2013. I first heard the term “rainbow baby” during our second pregnancy with our son Gabriel in 2014. What does the term rainbow baby mean? According to The Bump, "a rainbow baby is a baby born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. This term is given to these special rainbow babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come."
It took Rob and I time to decide to have another baby after Aaron’s loss shortly after birth in June 2016. We focused much of our grief and energy into Aaron’s Butterfly Run in October 2017, which was amazing as we met so many other bereaved parents and community was formed to support those experiencing infertility, pregnancy or infant loss. After the run was over, I experienced another early pregnancy loss in November. These losses have changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined.
Rob and I are now expecting another rainbow baby who is due in early October. I am conflicted about using the term “rainbow baby” with this pregnancy because I don’t think that Aaron’s life and death was a storm. My little boy taught me that we can love deeply without regret. He taught me that life can be hard, but that a mother’s love for her child transcends life on earth. I learned that we live in a balance. Life is so fragile and precious. Aaron was held and loved as he left this earth, which is all that any of us can ask for in our final moments. Gabriel asks about his little brother often and knows that they are both loved.
As I feel the flutters of our new rainbow baby, I am both scared and excited for the future. We went into our 20 week ultrasound with baited breath. The ultrasound technician knew about Aaron’s loss and quickly pointed out our baby’s kidneys (at 19 weeks' gestation we found out that Aaron was missing both kidneys which is incompatible with life after birth). The tears flowed down my cheeks for the rest of the ultrasound. Gabriel has asked us repeatedly if we will get to keep this baby. Honestly, I don’t know how to answer his questions.
Pregnancy after loss is challenging. People expect that you will be “fixed” because of the subsequent pregnancy, but that is not how it works. I have had a couple of people remark how happy we must be because we are now in the “safe zone.” Through my experiences and those of other bereaved parents, I have learned that there is never a safe zone. This pregnancy has been full of anxiety and I know that labour and delivery will have its own set of challenges. We are so blessed to have our families and friends, amazing midwives, our doula and the social workers at Roger Neilson House who have been supporting us through this pregnancy.
Carol Chevalier, one of the social workers at Roger Neilson House, along with students from the Master of Social Work program at Carleton University have recently completed a needs assessment on support for pregnancy after loss for bereaved parents who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant after perinatal loss. I have included an excerpt from the study below:
I am so thankful for the perinatal hospice and bereavement programs that Roger Neilson House provides for bereaved parents and look forward to hearing more about the creation of a program for subsequent pregnancy after perinatal loss.
On Gabriel's due date (he was four days late), Rob and I went for a walk and saw a beautiful double rainbow over our neighbourhood. I had no idea at that time that there would be another rainbow baby in my future. I am hoping that both of our rainbow babies will be with us to celebrate the lives of our butterfly babies at Charlotte and Théo’s Butterfly Run on Saturday, October 13 2018.
More resources for pregnancy after loss:
Amanda, our Director of Communications on our Executive Committee, has shared her story publicly a few times before. You may recall some of her past posts which you could check out here, here, here and here, if you’d like to catch up on her story.
Here’s what she more recently had to say:
Ps: Do you notice that we’re smiling in these photos? Although infertility really sucks, it does not take away from the fact that I still love my life. I have an amazing husband, dog, family, friends, job, live in an incredible city and country, and I still have lots of amazing experiences in my life! Infertility does not discount that and it does not define me. But at the same time, just because I have a good life, it does not make infertility any easier. In my mind, there is no “at least”... because growing our family is what we want most in this world. But with that said, don’t worry about us too much - we are good to go! I just wanted to explain how much infertility can really suck, even if life appears to still be all sunshine and rainbows in all other aspects.
THANK YOU so much to National Capital Doulas for sponsoring Charlotte & Théo's Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau 2018!
We wanted to send them a big shout out of thanks, especially since we're excited to announce that they are our first official sponsor this year!
Want to know more about National Capital Doulas?
National Capital Doulas provide support during pregnancy, labour, birth, and parenting. Their professional teams work together in pairs to provide seamless support to women and their families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. With National Capital Doulas, you can expect the best in in-depth education, professional birth doula support, reliable rentals, caring postpartum doula services, and safe placenta encapsulation. They are modern doulas for the modern family. For more information, check them out on social media or on their website.
Interested in sponsoring Charlotte & Théo's Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau 2018? Check out our sponsorship opportunities.
As you you know, the 2nd annual Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau is scheduled for Saturday October 13, 2018. In keeping with last year's tradition, we've chosen to honour new families for this year's Run. As you most likely remember, last year's Run was Aaron's Butterfly Run, in honour of Rachel and Rob Samulack's son Aaron who passed away 100 minutes after birth. This year, we will be honouring babies Charlotte and Théo, along with their families, and of course, all other butterfly babies who were lost too soon. So please join us on Saturday October 13, 2018, for Charlotte and Théo's Butterfly Run / La course Papillon de Théo et Charlotte.
Charlotte's mother Anne-Marie Warren and Théo's mother Claire Pagé will be the Co-Chairs on our Executive Committee for the 2018 Run. Both Anne-Marie and Claire have chosen to share their stories about their beautiful babies gone too soon, in hopes of raising awareness around perinatal loss and supporting other families in our community.
Thank you Anne-Marie and Claire, for sharing your babies with us, and for helping us remember all butterfly babies who were gone too soon.
Special thanks to our graphic design partners:
Roger Neilson House is seeking feedback from members of the community on their experience with pregnancy following a perinatal loss. Their aim is to gather data that they will use to inform support services specifically developed to serve this population of parents.
Who can participate?
Participation is voluntary. Any parent can participate who is considering pregnancy, currently pregnant, or has been pregnant following the loss of a child and has completed a bereavement group at Roger Neilson House.
What is involved in participating?
You will be contacted via phone to answer questions regarding your loss and current status on your journey to have more children, which should take roughly 10-15 min. Following this phone questionnaire, you will be assigned to a focus group with other parents who are at similar points in their parenting journey.
If you are interested in participating in this research study, please contact:
613-523-6300 ext. 622
NILMDTS in Ottawa is looking for more volunteer photographers as they are currently very short on volunteers. Last week, February 21st 2018, marked nine babies photographed in eleven days by Ottawa NILMDTS photographers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer photographer, please join the NILMDTS Prospective Photographers Facebook Group. They will also be holding an in-person information session in Ottawa on Saturday, March 3 2018 at 12:00pm.
Liz Bradley, another volunteer photographer with NILMDTS shared the following post on Facebook on February 17:
If you are a local photographer, please consider joining the Facebook group and/or attending the in-person information session to learn more.
Do you ever wonder what to say to someone suffering a miscarriage, experiencing infertility, or losing a child?
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say, or what to do, even if you've experienced similar losses of your own.
Katelyn Wooley at The Noble Paperie created greeting cards intended not only for the happy moments in life, but also cards for the struggles we battle through. The Noble Paperie's mission is to spread joy and hope to those with a mama's heart: who are struggling through miscarriage, infertility, and other pregnancy-related issues. They believe that becoming a mother starts when you prepare your heart to have children - not the actual manifestation of a child. A portion of their sales are donated to Miracle Babies.
Check out their greeting cards at The Noble Paperie.
It’s sad but it’s true, and a hard lesson to learn for those who experience it. A positive pregnancy test does not always end with a happy, healthy baby 9 months later. In fact, 1 in 4 pregnancies in Canada end in miscarriage and 1 in 6 Canadian couples experience infertility.
So this brings us to present day...
This current miscarriage might sting a little more than our last one because it follows an initially successful IVF treatment. Going through 3 years of infertility, with only 2 pregnancies and 2 missed miscarriages, is not an easy road. Being pregnant or experiencing a miscarriage for 80% of 2017 is not fun, especially when you have no baby to show for it. Life isn’t always fair and not every infertility road has a happy ending - at least that's how we're feeling at the moment. IVF is not always a miracle solution as miscarriages are just as likely as they are with a natural pregnancy. This is the unfortunate reality that I’m trying to accept right now.
No matter how hard we work, we cannot control our life when it comes to fertility. This has been a hard lesson to learn, since my husband and I have been people who have been told and who’ve learned that when you work hard, and if you work hard enough and for long enough, you can achieve your dreams. Unfortunately it seems that this is rarely this case with infertility and recurrent miscarriages. Or maybe we are just jaded and in a negative space at the moment... But these are our current sentiments. Unfortunately, words of hope and prayers get wasted on us at the moment - we feel we are more resilient and prepared when we are realistic and prepared for the worst. All we need is for people to say “that really sucks”. At this point in our lives, words of encouragement or hopefulness are more hurtful than they are helpful because we feel that we can not realistically live up to those hopes and prayers. Sometimes I miss our past happy-go lucky, everything is sunshine and butterflies, younger selves...
Other than the physical challenges of pregnancy and missed miscarriages, the emotional rollercoaster can be rough. Due dates like October 22nd and June 16th will always be difficult for us. Pregnancy announcements, baby showers, and even socializing with our peer group often surrounded by their babies is very difficult. We often feel left alone or left behind to fend for ourselves. And thinking about trying again is not as easy as it might initially seem. This will likely involve more testing from our fertility clinic in hopes to ensure I don’t have scar tissue or complications from the procedures I’ve needed to treat our missed miscarriages, genetic testing to see if these two back-to-back miscarriages are just bad luck or if there is another problem going on, a frozen embryo transfer (or a final 3rd transfer - we only had 3 embryos from IVF), and the stress and anxiety of it working or not working - all of these processes and scenarios are equally stressful for different reasons and this process can take months.
Although this miscarriage this time might have stung a little more because it was after IVF, at the same time, it was a tiny bit easier because I was empowered. I knew what resources existed in my community to help me get through this and I knew what to expect. I was not alone and I had knowledge. Knowledge really is power. This was the exact opposite experience I had with our 1st miscarriage. At that time, I felt like I was in the dark and our medical professionals didn’t provide us with any information to support us.
I have been volunteering for the Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau this year. In case you don't personally know me, I’ve been the one behind the computer - taking care of most of our website and social media. And if you attended the Run, you probably met me at our Run Registration during race kit picks ups or on the day of the Run at our registration booth! I can truly thank the Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau for arming me with this power of knowledge, this sense of pride, and this feeling of community. Without the Butterfly Run, I would not feel as strong as I do under these circumstances. It is for this reason that I’m choosing to share our story. I hope that by sharing our story, another person might feel less alone in their journey.
Because of the positive experiences Ive gained through the Butterfly Run, here are some scenarios you might consider if you're going through something similar to me. These are just suggestions, based on what I feel has helped me quite a bit this year:
My hope is that no other people feel alone, afraid, or in the dark when they miscarry or find out that a miscarriage is imminent.
Also, I wanted to caveat this post, or end this post rather, with saying Im sorry if I share my feelings bluntly or if they are not the most positive thoughts at the moment... I don't mean to share these negative sentiments to offer the cruel realities of infertility and miscarriage (perhaps the first half of my post was a little dark and dreary). If you are going through this, or something like this, and feeling hopeful or positive, I do not want to take that away from you. Please continue to feel anything you are feeling! Every journey is different, and our feelings can change throughout this journey. Unfortunately, my personal feelings are not as positive at the moment, but I still feel they are important to share. By sharing these feelings, I do not want to take away your hope, but if by chance you are also feeling something similar to me, I would like you to know that there is someone who you can relate to.
If you're interested in reading more about our journey, here are some other stories/snipits I've shared during our journey (writing and sharing has also been helpful for me):
XO Thanks for listening! And hugs to you if you’ve been through or are currently experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage. It’s not an easy road but hopefully we can make it a smoother and clearer road together.