November 2, 2023
The Grief of Stillbirth and Finding Resources to Help
According to the American Pregnancy Association, stillbirth affects more than 25,000 families each year. Research finds grieving a stillborn baby or miscarriage is complicated, and parents are more prone to anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation.
Amber and Jake Trammell know the pain of infant loss. After suffering a miscarriage with their first pregnancy, they were thrilled to learn Amber was pregnant again about a year later. At 20 weeks, Amber’s doctor and a specialist expressed concern about the baby’s growth, and by 24 weeks, doctors confirmed he was struggling and Amber was having blood pressure issues. “They told us we could go into labor, but wanted to see if we could hang on for two more weeks. I went into labor late Sunday night and was scheduled to go in the Tuesday after, so we didn’t quite make two weeks.” Amber arrived at the hospital on November 27, 2022. “We saw his heart stop and then a few hours later, around 3:30 in the morning the next day, he was stillborn,” remembers Amber. They named their son Caspian.
About six months later, Amber realized she needed help dealing with the grief of Caspian’s death.
"There's this stigma around talking about your babies that have passed away. People who haven’t gone through it are uncomfortable with it. But in the group, I was able to talk about my child in a way that only others who have gone through it understand."
She and her husband live in West Des Moines, not far from the office of EveryStep Grief & Loss Services, home of Amanda the Panda. “I had hit a point where I just felt really isolated, because nobody that I know had been through this. I had driven past the Amanda the Panda sign, so when I researched grief services online, it popped up again. That’s when I connected the dots.”
Amber signed up for EveryStep Grief & Loss Services’ Little Footprints grief support group, which is specifically focused on pregnancy and infant loss. “I was a bit nervous the first several times going in there — I didn't really know what to expect because I was still so very deeply grieving and hadn't really been able to process anything very well,” says Amber, who soon found a safe place to speak openly about her loss. “There's this stigma around talking about your babies that have passed away. People who haven’t gone through it are uncomfortable with it. But in the group, I was able to talk about my child in a way that only others who have gone through it understand.”
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Amber says her husband Jake has attended a few group meetings, but he has mostly received relief just from knowing that she is getting support. “I know that me going to this and having the support from these people has made him feel better, because the male mindset is ‘how do I fix the problem?’ But of course, it's not something that he can fix. He could see that it was helping me and that made him feel better.”
Amber’s connections inside EveryStep’s grief support group have created lifelong connections. She remains in contact with other group members whom she can turn to for support outside of the Little Footprints group.
Reaching out for support can be intimidating, but Amber says she would recommend anyone grieving a loss do so. “I would make sure they know that they can feel whatever they're feeling in [EveryStep’s] grief support groups. Unfortunately, this world doesn't feel comfortable with us feeling these feelings openly, but that is the only way people can work through it.”
The EveryStep Grief & Loss Services’ Little Footprints group is one of many free grief support groups for those who have lost a loved one. The Little Footprints group is for those 18 years or older who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. To inquire about the many groups for adults, teens and children, call (515) 223-4847 or email email@example.com.