What do you say to a woman who has had a miscarriage?
Whitby mom Beth Lewis, who lost two babies at 23 weeks, knows all about the pain of loss and what it means.
Lewis, who has two fully grown daughters, still often thinks of her four children including the two sons, Jacob and Nolan, that she lost.
“I tell people I have four children, two are with me and two are my angels. A lot of people don’t know what to say (when they find out you’ve lost a child). The best thing somebody could ever say to me was, ‘I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say,’ but we would get all these comments like: ‘There must be a reason,’ or ‘at least you have one healthy child,’ or ‘you can always get pregnant again’,” she said.
Lewis said while her own experience with the health-care system was “very compassionate,” but she has heard from others who have had a “heartbreaking experience.”
She said it’s important to provide education and awareness about how mothers and families feel about losing a baby before birth or just after.
Lewis has turned her tragic loss into an opportunity to help others by being a volunteer for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network.
“Those experiences (losing her babies) were very lonely,” she said.
“I think what has helped me is being able to speak about my babies.”
And the support services offered through PAIL allow her to do just that.
Some of the difficult issues get discussed at PAIL’s compassionate care workshops for health-care workers, to help them understand how they can provide the most skilled and compassionate care to families. The peer support is really good, Lewis said.
Lewis said PAIL offers numerous programs for mothers and families to offer support that includes first trimester, miscarriage, second trimester, medical termination and stillbirth losses.
She works as a volunteer with the second trimester loss group and the medical termination group as they resemble her own losses.
The support groups meet every two weeks to allow everyone to share their story, Lewis said.
For more information on the PAIL Network, visit pailnetwork.sunnybrook.ca.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Mom Beth Lewis knows all too well the pain and hurt a woman and other family members go through when a baby dies before childbirth or just after. She has taken her experience and turned her loss into work as a volunteer for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network to offer peer support.