in the news
Stamford Advocate - June 25, 2007

Coping with miscarriage -
Friends unite to help other women through a difficult time
By Beth Cooney
June 25, 2007

Coping with miscarriage - Friends unite to help other women through a difficult time
By Beth Cooney
Staff Writer, The Advocate

When Laura Racanelli of Darien had a miscarriage, her mother gave her a bracelet. "She told
me it
was for hope," Racanelli says. "And every time I looked at it, I believed I would get through
this."
A few years later, when Racanelli's college sorority sister, Wilton resident Sharon Stenger,
called
to share that she had lost a baby early in pregnancy, Racanelli passed the bracelet along.
"And when she did that, she gave me hope, too," says Stenger, adding she often touched the
beads
on her wrist as she grieved. "In that bracelet was understanding, compassion and a sense of
connection to other women who had been through this, too."

This spring, the women, who eventually became mothers, created an online support
community
for women (and families) recovering from miscarriages. National statistics say one in four
pregnancies, or 1 million conceptions a year, end in miscarriage. "We call it the sisterhood
that no
one wants to join," says Racanelli. "A lot of people are shocked by the figure because
miscarriage
isn't exactly cocktail party talk."

And while that statistic also suggests that miscarriage is a normal occurrence, "No one who is
having one feels that way," says Stenger.

The women's Web site, Our Hope Place, offers tips on surviving pregnancy loss, and sells gifts
intended to comfort women, and their partners, who have gone through miscarriages. They
include
a jade bracelet that is a replica of the one Racanelli received from her mother as well as
blankets,
vases, journals and inspirational mementos. "When we commissioned the bracelets, we chose
a
pale green because it is a soothing color, but not baby blue or pink," Stenger says. "We
deliberately stayed away from anything that had a connotation of baby attached to it."
The friends say the venture developed when a friend called Stenger for support after a
miscarriage.
"When she called me she was on the floor crying and asking, ‘Why did this happen?' " says
Stenger. "And she knew she could talk to me because I got it."

After comforting her friend, Stenger called Racanelli. The friends have been close since they
met
as engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. "We had spent a lot
of
time on the playground since our kids were born, talking about what we could do in this world
to
make it a better place ... and after that phone call I realized this was it. I called Laura and said,
‘This is what we're supposed to be doing.' "

They hope the Web site fosters understanding about what women experience when they
miscarry.
They have worked closely with Linda Layne, a cultural anthropologist at Rensselaer, who has
researched and written extensively on the topic. She says Americans are particularly inept at
supporting women post-miscarriage.

"We do a lousy job," says Layne. "For most important life events in our culture, there are
scripts
of behavior, but as a culture we seem to lack an appropriate script for what to do or say when
miscarriage happens."
"Do something. Say something," Layne says. "Give a message that says I care about you.
Offer
specific kinds of help. I love the idea that Laura and Sharon suggest, of gift giving. I often
interview women who've had miscarriages, for a television program I do on pregnancy loss,
and
they often mention gifts that helped."

Layne also suggests that women toss their early pregnancy kits because so many
miscarriages
happen in the first weeks after conception. "As women, we really need to understand that," she
says. "It can set you up for incredible disappointment when you start to embrace a pregnancy
that
early."

Recently, Stenger and Racanelli lectured to a group of mostly men at a Rotary Club meeting
and
"afterwards we were inundated by men who said they could have used Our Hope Place at one
time
or another, to find a way to help their wives, sister or daughter," says Stenger.
Women who've lost babies and felt alone in their grief have also reached out to them. "One
woman told me ‘God, I wish I had a place to go when I lost my baby 16 years ago, but we didn't
even talk about it,' " says Stenger. "And it reminded me that when you've lost a child, you may
have another one, but you never forget the one you lost."

For more information on miscarriage and tips for coping with pregnancy loss visit
www.ourhopeplace.com.

Watch your words
What to say and what not to say to a women who's suffered a miscarriage. These tips apply to
their
partners as well.

Don't say:
Something was probably wrong with the baby, so better now than later. "Women get attached
to
their babies very early in pregnancy," says Sharon Stenger of Wilton. "Even if a pregnancy
ends
within weeks of conception, you may have already named the baby, imagined it, and
developed a
whole set of dreams for it.

You can always have another baby. "You wouldn't tell someone they can always get another
grandmother if she died," says Laura Racanelli.

It wasn't meant to be or it was God's will. "It diminishes the loss for people," says Stenger.
You should be happy for the children or family you do have. "Any child that is wanted is going
to
be missed if it's lost," says Stenger.

Do:
Something. Even if you blow it and say something wrong, acknowledging the loss is better than
ignoring it. "Even saying, "I don't know what to say is helpful," suggests Racanelli.

Ask what can I do? How can I help?

If you've had a miscarriage, now is the time to share it with the grieving mother. You don't need
to tell your whole story, but just offering up the information may be helpful.

Send a gift or note: flowers, vases, a warm cozy blanket, an inspirational book.

2007 Southern CT Newspapers, Inc.
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