Having “no words” is not an excuse for taking no action

Another week and our nation has been rocked by another tragedy. Tonight, families in Texas will sit down to dinner with empty seats at their tables and watch the clock tick toward bedtime with no children to tuck in. Children, whose parents fed and held and rocked to sleep and loved for more than a decade. And now, these parents will never again cook a favorite meal for their child, hold them in their arms, or pull covers up to their tiny chins and kiss their foreheads goodnight. 

How, how, how. How have I sent my own kindergartener off to school the last few days and watched him get out of the car each morning with that plaguing feeling in the back of my head and sinking sensation in my stomach? Assuring myself, he is safe. Assuring myself, I will pick him up at the end of the day. Assuring myself, I will continue to cook his favorite meals and tuck him in each night

But isn’t that what the families of the 19 children who were murdered in their elementary classroom earlier this week also assured themselves of? 

Heartbroken, outraged, devastated, shocked. There are plenty of emotions we can name. Yet, we can’t seem to name what happened or a way forward. It was “unspeakable.” We have “no words.” 

I, too, feel hopeless and discouraged and defeated that this has happened yet again. 

How, how, how do we put an end to this? How do we prevent more families from having to stare at empty chairs across dinner tables? How do we stop the loss of innocent lives?

We have to use our voices. We have to speak. We have to share and write words. And we need to do so in a way that is a catalyst for change, instead of a reason for further division. 

As I’ve chased these thoughts around my head the past two days there are moments where I have felt like there isn’t a point in writing anything. That anything I say will just be adding to the noise. As though, there is a giant volume dial that is turned up after every tragedy, people shouting in outrage, but slowly, as time passes, that volume dial is turned back down, and all the while, the same channel keeps playing. 

We need to change the channel. 

How do we do that?

I’m no expert in policy reform. If you are, please share more actionable ways we can move toward change. I’m just a citizen who is shattered from seeing scores of innocent people murdered in my country. I’m just a mom who worries about my kids when I send them out into the world each day. When I think of protecting the lives of my children and all of those across this country, I think a good place to begin is improving gun safety. 

To improve gun safety, new laws need to be made. For a law to be made, a bill has to be passed by the House, the Senate, and approved by the President. Legislation to improve gun safety has been passed by the House for over two years but has failed to rise to a vote in the Senate due to a stalwart. We need to contact our Senators.

How to contact your senators to improve gun safety:

Email your state senators.

Legislation to improve gun safety has been passed by the House but has not come to a Senate vote due to a stalwart. With Senate support, this legislation could be one step closer to becoming a law and preventing the loss of more innocent lives.

Find your state senators here.

What to ask your state senators to improve gun safety.

Below is a template of what I (a non-expert on policy reform) sent my state senators.

Good Evening Senator _________,

My name is _______________ and I am a constituent from _CITY_, _STATE_ (ZIP).

I am devastated by the continued loss of innocent lives on American soil and the lack of a Senate vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. I ardently request you please support a vote on the passage of these two acts. 

I also urge you to take action toward reinstating an assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban, along with enacting/continuing to uphold* “red flag” laws.

Thank you for your time and commitment to protecting the lives of our loved ones.


What does all of that mean?

  • H.R. 8. H.R.8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, requires a background check for every firearm sale. A version of this bill passed in the House over two years ago but has yet to pass in the Senate.
  • H.R. 1446. H.R. 1446, also known as the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, strengthens gun safety by requiring 10 days between the point of sale of a firearm and possession. Many states, including Florida, have a 3-day waiting period between purchase and possession to allow background checks to be conducted. However, currently, after those 3 days pass, possession can take place, even if a background check has not been completed. 
  • Reinstate an assault weapons ban/ ban high-capacity magazines. Not too long ago, America had an assault weapons ban in place. From 1994 to 2004, 18 models of assault weapons, and high-capacity magazines (any magazine capable of holding more than 10 bullets), were banned. When this ban was in place, gun massacres and fatalities fell by staggering numbers.
  • *Enact/Uphold “Red Flag” Laws. “Red Flag” Laws, also known as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” allow family, friends, and police officers to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of individuals who have expressed intent to harm themselves or others. Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C., have “red flag” laws. In April 2021, the President urged Congress to pass a national “red flag” law. 

Speak up. Use your words. Cast your vote.

Please, write to your senators. Vote in upcoming primaries. Use your voice to name and honor the victims. Speak up and encourage others to act. Share your words to shelter everyone who walks our streets, protect all patrons who shop at our grocery stores, and shield those who cannot defend themselves: our children. 

The tragedy in Uvalde is horrible and unspeakable, but we must speak to try to prevent this horror from happening again. 

Pregnancy and infant loss: breaking the silence to better support

Lightning doesn’t strike twice. We’ve all heard the saying before, taken to mean an extreme event won’t occur a second time after it’s been endured once. 

But the saying is a myth. In some cases, lightning does strike twice. And again. The Empire State Building is actually struck about 25 times every year1

Until this month, I didn’t think twice about whether or not lightning struck twice. 

My family is in the process of moving from Cleveland to Tampa and my husband and I spent the last two months house hunting. Before we started our home search, in what was the surprise of our lives, we found out we were pregnant. We have a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and after over a year of trying for a third child, we lost a baby this past Christmas after an ultrasound had confirmed a strong heartbeat. 

With the knowledge we were now expecting for a fourth time, we cautiously navigated the home-finding process. Do we look for a home with space for our family to grow into? A room for a nursery? An area for a basinet in our future bedroom? We wanted to be hopeful and plan for the best, but were reluctant after enduring the loss of a baby just nine months earlier.

I also hesitated to share the news of our latest pregnancy. As the days and weeks passed, we grew more confident in the idea we would get to bring this baby home and I started to let a few in on the secret. They met our news with excitement and well-intentioned sentiments: 

This is a different pregnancy, a different baby, and it will have a different outcome.”

Many women have healthy and successful pregnancies after a loss.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Except for us, lightning did strike twice. The first time it struck sudden and violent, the second time it struck slow and silent. The day finally arrived for my husband and I to go in for an ultrasound of our fourth baby. The baby looked perfect but did not have a heartbeat. 

We had another miscarriage. 

A Future Dashed

When you have a miscarriage, you don’t just lose a pregnancy, you lose a baby. You lose a future you expected and planned for. A framework you had built up—dates earmarked, plans made, a specific house bought.

When you are suddenly looking at a future with one less person, the scaffolding is dismantled. A room planned for a nursery will not hold a crib or changing table. Plans are cancelled. Dates loom on the calendar—once filled with anticipation and excitement are now filled with dread and heartbreak. 

Losing these babies has been unexpected and disorienting. Their losses have upset our sense of balance, knocked us off our feet, and changed the course of our future. Our hearts and home expanded in anticipation of their arrival and now hold voids in their absence. The losses of these babies have been lightning strikes to our lives.

The first time you lose a baby, you don’t know how you will get through the shock and pain. The second time you lose a baby, the shock and pain are the same. It’s still just as devastating. But you’ve lived through it once. You know your heart will keep beating even though your baby’s heart stopped. You know life will go on even though your baby’s life will not. 

I no longer carry these babies inside of me and I will not get to carry them in my arms. Instead, I carry the grief of a stolen present and future. And I am not the only one who carries this. Approximately 1 In 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage2. 1 in 100 women will experience repeated miscarriages3. 1 in 160 women will live through the tragedy of stillbirth4. Chances are, you know someone who has lost a baby or have lost one yourself. And I am so sorry for your loss. 

More Than a Medical Event

Despite pregnancy and infant loss affecting so many, it remains largely undiscussed. According to a poll of 6,000 women conducted by the miscarriage-research nonprofit, Tommy’s, two-thirds of women who have miscarried say the feel like they can’t even talk to their best friend about it5. Women and their partners feel like they have to endure the physical and emotional tolls of losing a baby in silence, further compounding the grief, emotional, and physical distress they are experiencing.  

Rayna Markin, Ph.D is a licensed psychologist and leading researcher on the psychological experience of pregnancy and perinatal loss who partially attributes the pressure to not talk about the loss of a baby to the modern world view of seeing a pregnancy loss as not a psychological, emotional, or mental process, but as a medical event. 

Losing a pregnancy—losing a baby—has profound and far-reaching impacts on parents6, which Dr. Markin summarizes in her introduction for a special section of the journal Psychotherapy (Psychotherapy, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2017)7.

“Numerous studies have documented the devastating effects of pregnancy loss on parents, particularly on the mother, including chronic and severe grief that may extend for years, beyond the birth of a healthy baby, and does not follow the typical linear decline found with other types of grief, as well as symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma,” writes Dr. Markin. “Furthermore, after a pregnancy loss, women tend to report feelings of guilt, self-blame, a yearning for the lost baby, low self-esteem, and an increase in suicidal thoughts and obsessive–compulsive symptoms. Women have lost faith in their bodies, in the world as a fair and predictable place, and in others as a source of support and comfort.”

When society views miscarriage strictly through the lens of a biological process, it dismisses a parent’s deep grief and denies support for the myriad of potential health implications associated with pregnancy loss. Classifying a miscarriage solely as a medical event fails to see the mother as someone whose life has been irrevocably changed, further stigmatizes pregnancy loss, and silences the grieving. In these oversights, we are failing to support bereaved parents. 

A Call for Support

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, initiated in 1988 to cast light on the women, their partners, and the families who have lost babies and shared futures. 

Despite Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month first being recognized more than 20 years ago, drastic discrepancies still exist between patient needs following a miscarriage and current clinical practices. Women are responsible for seeking medical attention and coordinating care after the loss of a pregnancy while handling fluctuating hormones, grief, trauma, and the feeling that they can’t talk about their loss. Systems need to be created so women do not have to shoulder this burden in its entirety. 

The timing of care following the loss of a pregnancy has been shown to influence the degree of adverse physical and emotional health effects women experience8. With the knowledge that miscarriage is a significant source of psychiatric morbidity, mental health screening should be standard following the loss of a pregnancy. 

Counseling programs after a pregnancy loss are shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress in women with recurrent miscarriage9. Following a miscarriage, patients should be provided with resources to connect with licensed professionals who can offer appropriate treatment. 

Employers should allot paid leave for women and their partners who are experiencing the loss of a baby, which often requires a trip to the hospital, general anesthesia, and surgery. 

Finally, society should not shy away from parents who are navigating pregnancy or infant loss. We need to learn to sit with the broken-hearted, even if its uncomfortable. 

To change current practices and create better systems of support—both medically and socially—we must continue to raise awareness. 

How do we raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss? By talking about it. We cannot create networks of support in silence. We cannot create healing environments in isolation. Which is why I am sharing my story of repeated miscarriages.

While my losses have left me empty in more ways than one, they have also made me who I am today: more compassionate and discerning. I find myself looking around rooms and counting heads. I wonder which women and their partners have endured the same losses my husband and I have. I know if a couple misses a holiday dinner, they may be recovering from a miscarriage. I know if a woman sends an email saying she won’t be calling in to a meeting due to unexpected surgery, she may be preparing for a D&C. I know a man who suddenly cancels work travel may be taking his wife to the hospital for surgery and grieving the loss of a baby. 

As we pack the belongings of our home in Ohio, I wish some of our future neighbors in Florida may know that the family moving during a global pandemic, also just lost their second baby in less than one year. 

Sharing stories of pregnancy and infant loss can be difficult, but it is necessary if we want to shape a society that supports grieving parents. Lifting up the voices of parents who have endured pregnancy and infant loss during the month of October is one place to start. 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is punctuated by Wave of Light, a global event where everyone is invited to light a candle on October 15 at 7 p.m. to acknowledge all the babies who are not carried in the arms, but in the hearts of their parents. Please join me in lighting a candle to recognize the babies we have lost and all the others who are loved and missed. 


1. https://www.noaa.gov/stories/5-striking-facts-versus-myths-about-lightning-you-should-know

2. https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/why-we-need-to-talk-about-losing-a-baby/unacceptable-stigma-and-shame 

3. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/repeated-miscarriages

4. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html

5. https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/complications/miscarriage/why-its-important-to-talk-about-miscarriage/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4468887/

7. https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2017-55835-005.html


9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33688267/

Spring Snow

I listened to the coffee percolate as I looked out the window at the wet snow that hung heavy on branches of spring blooms. Nine days until May and we woke up to nearly half a foot of snow. I wondered if the rose bushes that had started to bud or the clematis vine that had turned green would survive this late blanket of winter. Snow a month into spring isn’t unusual in Ohio, but a deep snow is. Two weeks ago, I sunbathed on my back patio in my swimsuit. Today, the same chair I had sat in with a book was buried under fresh powder.

My kids were moments from waking and my husband already gone to work. I sipped my hot coffee and took in the blue hue that washes everything moments before dawn on a snowy morning. A quick check of text messages and Instagram stories and it was easy to most were lamenting this late snow. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of peace about it.

I lost my third baby on the first day of winter and although it’s officially been spring for a month, the snow this morning felt like a reminder that while life will keep moving forward, the life of that baby will not be forgotten.

Miscarriage is such a deep well. It’s not easy to see what it entails and you often don’t know unless you’re right in it.

I’ve started and stopped writing about miscarriage many times since mine. I think this start and stop is rooted in a feeling that I need to have a complete and polished thought on what happened. A desire to write from scars instead of wounds. I’m realizing that miscarriage isn’t the kind of thing that has a final thought. It can’t be bundled up and contained into a neat package. I now recognize that miscarriage may be the kind of thing that ripples through the rest of a mother’s life.

My kids ate their breakfasts and begged to play in the snow. As much as I did not want to go outside in freezing temperatures at the crack of dawn, I also knew it may be the last chance I’d have to play in the snow with my kids at these ages. The last time I’d get to pull boots and hats and mittens on my 3- and 5-year-old. See them catch flakes on their tongues and lay on their backs with arms and legs outstretched, making angels.  

I felt peace about this unseasonably late snow because it seemed like some kind of poetic reassurance that things were going to be alright, but also because it felt like a mirror to parenthood, and life. You can plan and anticipate and set expectations, but life throws curveballs. And then the only thing you can do is pull on your boots and hats and mittens and embrace it. Things may not go as you planned or anticipated or expected, but they can still be beautiful.

Build with care

I used my grandpa’s level for a recent home improvement project. It’s wooden, sanded smooth and stained a deep walnut brown. Or, maybe it’s worn smooth from use, from being pressed against walls and beams and the oils of my grandpa’s hands conditioning the wood, him wiping it clean before putting it away, I imagine always in the same spot. I never met my grandpa, so what I know of him is what I have heard from others. He went to the Colorado School of Mines, I think. He worked in the coal mines that hugged the Ohio-West Virginia border. He taught my father how to set and check trap lines. He took care of his tools. In my mind, my grandpa is a black-and-white photograph and made up of these details, statements rather than stories. 

Between my grandpa and me, my dad had the level. Shortly after Levi and I were married, my dad gave us a Craftsman bag filled with basic starter tools—extras he had that would come in handy while living in a first apartment. Everything was well cared for. My dad takes care of what’s his. It’s one of the things I admire most about him. Everything has a place, everything is cleaned, instruction manuals are catalogued. Were those values instilled in him by my grandpa? Or from my dad’s time in the Marine Corps? Or maybe, a bit of both?

I wonder what my grandpa would think about me using his level to build something. I was told he knew I was on the way. My mom was pregnant with me when he died. So, in a way, I feel like I would have been to him what he is to me: known, but not. I wonder if it would make him happy that I am using his tools to build a place where his great-grandchildren will hang their coats and school bags. 

I hope he would notice I am taking care to build something correctly. Measure twice and then twice again and then make the cut. I would guess he would probably think it is senseless that I plan to hang the level on one of the walls above this project. A reminder of the man I never knew, the one who came before my dad. More so, a reminder of some of the values and lessons my dad has taught me, that may have trickled down through generations: build with care. Take care of what is yours.

And that’s what this small home improvement project was really all about. Creating a place where my kids can stumble inside, weary from another day in the world, and shed their coats and bags. A first glimpse of home, a safe space where they can leave any expectations and undue weight at the door. I hope it smells like home when they walk in. Something baking in the oven. Scrubbed countertops. Clean laundry and cozy throws. Most of all, I hope when they step inside and walk through that back hall, they feel a home built with care, and know just how deeply they are cared for. 

To the present

The heartbreak over the impermanence of life only exists with the moments we don’t want to lose. The ones that make us want to press pause and linger in like a long, summer afternoon.  How is it that those moments seem so few and far between and the difficult and mundane can seem so common? Is it as simple as a perspective shift? An attitude adjustment? Why do we wish away Mondays and set our sights on the weekend? 

In some cases, it can be as simple as attitude adjustment. But, I think it is more apt that there is a lack of acceptance. It’d be nice to fill our days with things that don’t make us want to race toward the weekend, and sometimes we can make changes to work toward that. But, what happens when things fill our days that we did not plan on? 

When we’re dealt a hand we didn’t envision, it can be devastating. Instead of accepting the present and focusing on how we can make current circumstances work, we all-too-often dwell in the past. We get stuck in the scenarios we had imagined in our minds and then disappointed that reality does not match up.

The inspirational gurus preach that only you have the power to make changes in your life to be happy. But they don’t seem to step into the waters that are beyond our control—the circumstances we can’t change. No one envisions a future filled with diagnoses, corporate buy-outs, unexpected loss of loved ones, global pandemics—all the things we cannot change and do not have control over. 

The world is a chaotic place and people are unpredictable. 

But, from chaos comes beauty. Storms overturn and unveil hidden treasure. Adversity sharpens the stone. The everyday provides time for growth, space to learn grace. There are times when we can’t change the circumstances–whether it be another Monday during a global pandemic or an unexpected major life event. And those times are also opportunities where we can choose to be disappointed that things are not going as planned, or accept what they are and set our course once again. 

Here’s to the present and what may arise from it. Here’s to sitting in the mundane moments and recognizing the beauty within them too. Here’s to rolling with the punches of the unexpected and rising once again. Here’s to casting away expectations from past lives and embracing the life right in front of us.