The month of October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss, and we were fortunate enough to connect with boss babe Jenna Kutcher who opened up with us on her experience with the loss of her two babies.
She so honestly poured out her heart and revisited those feelings and memories, so we hope you'll take a moment to read her story below.
Jenna, thank you so much for taking time of your busy life to share with us your story and journey through loss. If you could share a little about your two miscarriages, where they different or similar?
"Walking the road of pregnancy loss not once but twice in about a years time was incredibly hard. I remember getting the news on our second loss and waking up in the middle of the night in a panic because it was the EXACT same loss as the first time down to the days. Both times I was able to carry my babies to ten weeks but somewhere in the development phase, our babies hearts stopped beating and my body didn't realize it. It was so hard to know that I had been carrying a baby with no heartbeat for weeks and even harder to lay on the operating table knowing that was our final "goodbye." Once I realized that it likely wasn't chance and there was probably something going on, I hired a naturopathic fertility doctor to start testing because I knew I couldn't mentally, physically, or emotionally put myself in the position to walk this road again."
What emotions seem to overwhelm you then and now? and which ways do you find helpful in coping with them?
"I think the hardest thing is thinking - what if? - or wondering what life would look like if we hadn't experienced loss. It's been painful to watch other families multiply with zero issues and feel like we are falling behind. There's a lot of stigma around miscarriage and I truly believe people won't understand it until they have experienced it (which I pray they never do!) After our first loss, I would remember days where I would just start crying in the middle of the day for no reason and have to go lay in bed.
The second loss I refused to cope because I couldn't believe it was happening to us again - I was angry, I was devastated, I was embarrassed... I turned to work to hide the fact that I needed to really grieve and pushed off that process for as long as I could until I knew I had to just face it head on, in solitude. Setting aside a month to be in Hawaii, a place of healing for us, was the best thing I could have done. Just to sit, to read, to rest, to find myself and make my body my home again. I think one of the hardest things is the isolation... people just expect you to "get over it" and I don't think you ever do. I think about my babies every single day and wonder who they would be or what our life would look like but in that I find so much uncanny peace and understanding that there is a bigger plan being written out by my God."
So often, there is a taboo associated with infant loss and miscarriages - how can we remove that barrier and encourage others who may have suffered to speak up and share their story?
"Nowadays people will ask you, "When are you starting a family? Why don't you have kids?" and I never realized how hurtful those questions can be for people who are struggling with infertility or loss. Instead of asking random people those questions, what would it look like to sit in the presence of true friends and ask how the journey to start a family is going. It's not easy, it's not always comfortable, but these conversations can work if we change the way we are asking our questions. I also think that we need to remove that silly 12 week rule where you have to wait to announce your pregnancy until you are in the 'safe' zone.
First things first, nothing in this world is a safe zone and having that "rule" makes women feel like their baby didn't exist or matter if they didn't make it to that 12th week of pregnancy. I have been pregnant for 20 weeks in the last year, 5 months, with no babies.... trust me, I went through a lot and I think that it's okay to share that journey and not hide it. I felt called to give my loss a purpose and in that encourage others to not feel alone. Not everyone wants to put it out into the world but those brave few that do, they are changing lives daily... trust me, my email inbox reminds me of that fact daily. "
And to follow that question up, how can we support family and friends who have lost a baby to still birth or miscarriage?
"First things first, don't ever try to "fix" it. It's unfixable. You need not explain it or try to make someone feel better: it straight up sucks. Sit with them, be silent with them, if they want to talk, listen. It's one of those things in life that you can not solve, that will never go away, so please lose the desire to find an explanation and instead just be with them. When we experienced our loss we were flooded with flowers, cards, food (oooh the food, what a savior) and thoughtful tokens and ways to remember our babies. The flooding of support helped us to know and trust that our baby did matter and that others cared for us. I think just being there and meeting those who are grieving wherever they are at is the best way you can support someone. "
What is one thing that you have taken away from this journey that surprised you?
"The ability to find contentedness again. I felt like after our losses, I was supposed to stay stuck in this space of pure grief and somehow with a lot of healing, a lot of rest, and a lot of prayer I have landed in a place where I feel content again. I feel like my story is unfolding in ways I didn't expect and I feel peace with where we are at. I feel like I never know that joy and sadness could hold such close presences to one another and yet I can see them both for what they are and just be. I am finding myself again, I am finding my body, and I trust whole heartedly that this was an important season in my story and that it's made a difference simply by existing."
You've been through so much and are coming out on the other side of it now - how have you been transformed by these miscarriages? spiritually? emotionally?
"Ugh, so many ways. It's hard to really sum it up. I have such deep empathy and compassion for those struggling, my heart aches for the women out there yearning to be mothers. I also have had to rely on God and drop "my plan" so many times. It's allowed me to relinquish control in more aspects of my life and just be more present in the moment. I sincerely feel like I am working on healing my body from the inside out with the help of my doctor and have made many lifestyle changes to support this goal. I feel confident and ready for when the timing comes for my body to be a home for a baby that we will see that child face to face and we will love that soul so hard. I will never, ever forget the babies I never got to meet but I can rest at night knowing that their existence made a difference."
We can't thank Jenna enough for opening her heart to us, I know we, personally, have taken away a few bits + pieces from this and hope to use them in the future. If you have a chance please visit Jenna's blog below, read more of her story, say hello and follow along to see what adventures her and her husband have next!