Our Sacred Women's Founder On Finding Hope and Support After Pregnancy Loss
Photos: Rach Dodson
Navigating through grief is one of life's most difficult experiences, and for women whose pregnancies end in miscarriage, the mourning process can often be both painful and complicated. After having two miscarriages last year, associate marriage and family therapist Eileen Rosete discovered the power of self-acceptance and the importance of creating a strong support network for herself and others.
Inspired by her past experiences working with female trauma survivors, the Fashion Mamas LA member created Our Sacred Women, a company dedicated to empowering women. Following her pregnancy losses, Rosete has found an even deeper meaning to her mission: to encourage women to open up about their miscarriages and feel seen, valued, and supported in their heartbreak.
In fact, Rosete's portraits with her daughter Celine unexpectedly became a symbol of unity through pain: the designer explains that her friend and photographer was facing a difficult pregnancy and had experienced miscarriages in the past. "There were so many moments throughout the photoshoot that I just looked at my friend. So brave," Rosete says. "To think she and so many others are walking through their days carrying and constantly managing such deep pain. These photos will be among my most cherished. When you look at them I want you to know that these images were created not just out of our shared pain, but our fervent desire to help other mamas feel seen and connected. We are all in this together."
Here, Rosete opens up about her journey, how her experiences have shaped her as a mother and business owner, what she wants other women suffering from a pregnancy loss to know, and more. Read on below, and shop Our Sacred Women online here.
Pregnancy loss can be a difficult topic to talk about. When you were grieving, what were some of the things that people did, or that you wish they did?
When I had two miscarriages last year — one in January and one in June — each experience was unique in terms of the support I received. With the first, my husband and I didn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant because we decided to wait the “standard” 12 weeks before doing so (Do We Really Need To Keep Early Pregnancies A Big Secret? is a great article on why that so-called standard should change).
But when I went in for my first prenatal visit, the ultrasound showed my baby no longer had heartbeat. My healthcare provider and I decided to give my body two weeks to try to miscarry naturally, and when that didn’t happen I was prescribed misoprostol to help induce the miscarriage. I reached out to a few pharmacist friends at that point mainly to ask for their opinion on how soon I could breastfeed Celine again after administering the drug. It was a really lonely experience, on top of being shocking and traumatic.
The second time I got pregnant, we were anxious about sharing the news at all out of fear that I would miscarry again. But I initiated care with a new midwife who made the point that sharing the news early in the pregnancy could help us create a support network should things not turn out as planned. That resonated with me and we decided to tell family and friends about the pregnancy early on.
Then I miscarried naturally at 13 weeks. Having to let everyone know about the loss, especially my parents, was really hard, but it also gave our loved ones a chance to offer support. I actually texted a handful of close friends mere minutes after miscarrying as I sat bereft and sobbing in bed. I was so desperate in that moment for connection and comfort, and every single response felt like a hug.
I have been on both sides now — as a friend comforting a loved one and their partner after their loss, and as a mother who has carried loss within her body. I can relate to the feeling of wanting to offer comfort, but not knowing how or being afraid of saying the wrong thing. I think the key is in helping others to feel seen and witnessed in their pain, knowing we can’t take that pain away, and helping them to feel held so they know they don’t have to wade through the grief alone. In my own mourning process, what has helped the most has simply been to hear people say “I’m so sorry.” That’s it. Simple and yet affirming that my loss is as valid as any other death. Simple and yet leaving me space to feel everything I was experiencing without judgement or well-intentioned generalizations, [like when people say] “miscarriage is really common”. That and healing touch in the form of hugs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken down crying in the arms of friends and how amazing it was to be held in silence and given the room to just be.
After my second miscarriage, I also received several handwritten cards, which I still have to this day, and found great solace in these acts of love. In the cards, people affirmed my pain, told me that they loved me and emphasized that they were there for me if I needed any support. One of my best friends who lives in Hong Kong, sent me the most beautiful flower arrangement with the following message that makes me cry even now: “Dearest Eileen, I know miscarriages are hard on the heart and soul. You are a magnificent spirit. Please know that you have so many people who love you dearly. Including us. Sending you lots of love and positive vibes from Hong Kong…”
What were some of the feelings that you struggled with during the grieving process, and how did you find support?
My miscarriages triggered such a complex and agonizing mix of thoughts and emotions. With my first miscarriage I felt a huge amount of guilt because there was a part of me that was relieved. It was an unplanned pregnancy and I was really conflicted about being pregnant again. I was so exhausted from caring for Celine and starting my business that I wanted to have time and energy for myself. I also felt shame thinking that there was something wrong with my body, that I failed, and wondering if I could have done something to prevent the loss.
The second time I became pregnant I was fully on board, but my excitement was tempered by anxiety as I was concerned about miscarrying. It was so hard not to worry each and every day during the pregnancy, and it made me appreciate how carefree and confident I had felt with Celine. And then there was (and still is at times), the waves of grief and deep sadness that have left me sitting in a fog, unable to do much at all. Or the sharp pangs of longing when I see women who are pregnant.
I found support in talking to other women about their miscarriages, which helped to lessen the isolation I felt and humanize the statistic the 1-in-4 women experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. I also recently attended a first trimester pregnancy loss event series at Loom and found that sharing such an intimate space of healing with several other women helped assuage some of my lingering grief. I left feeling inspired by these ladies who have shown such courage in facing the roller coaster of disappointment and hope.
I also found community and support online in places like The Seleni Institute (a nonprofit dedicated to the mental health needs of women and that offers wonderfully empathic articles on miscarriage) and @ihadamiscarriage (an Insta account founded Dr. Jessica Zucker, leading psychologist in women's reproductive and maternal mental health). In reading the growing number of social media posts and articles written by women who have experienced this form of loss, I think there is a huge cultural shift happening right now in which women as a whole are demanding to be witnessed in the pain of their pregnancy loss rather than allowing existing cultural norms to silence them or force them to deal with it buried in shame. It is a powerful time.
In my path to healing my body and forgiving myself, I also found it helpful to see a number of healing arts practitioners and have been fortunate to have the health insurance to do so. Something a lot of people don’t think about is the fact that you are in a postpartum period following a miscarriage and need support and care just as you would after a live birth. Immediately following both miscarriages, I saw Kimberly Johnson, author of The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality, for pelvic floor restoration work. I also saw an amazing chiropractor, massage therapist, and acupuncturist — all of whom specialize in working with mothers and who were so understanding and compassionate about my losses. For example, when I went to see my massage therapist, Heather Hanning, for the first time immediately after one of my miscarriages, she put together a custom essential oil blend with my loss in mind, and that meant the world to me.
How did your miscarriages affect your relationships with family and friends and was that anything you did or didn’t expect?
My miscarriages affected my relationships in ways I didn’t expect, but are in fact aligned with how I generally am as a person. I felt closer to the friends and family that reached out to me to offer support. Even now, nine months after my second miscarriage, whenever I see a particular aunt and uncle who mailed me a sympathy card, I feel a strong sense of gratitude. I think when you’re in such a terribly vulnerable place, you create this special space in your heart for those who comfort you and where the positive visceral reaction you have to their act of kindness stays embedded. At least that’s been the case for me.
And the reverse has been true for me too — I still remember those who responded in a way that was hurtful, but I try to practice compassion knowing that their intentions were good. I think my relationship with my husband is closer because of the way we’ve shared our grief with one another. It hasn’t been easy though as I went through a difficult period of feeling anger and resentment towards him for choosing not to be at that prenatal visit in which I learned about our first miscarriage. In his defense, I know he wasn’t expecting anything to go wrong since my pregnancy with Celine had gone so smoothly. And he made sure to be by my side every step of the way with the second pregnancy and loss.
How have your losses shaped how you approach parenting?
I certainly appreciate my daughter, Celine, so much more. My losses have really impressed upon me a deep sense of gratitude and awe for the ability to become pregnant, carry and deliver a healthy child. Admittedly, I think I spoil her now, especially when I’m feeling down. My husband and I recently started trying to conceive again, but I got my period a few days ago and was feeling disheartened and triggered. I had the evening to myself and decided to buy Celine some gifts for no reason other than I felt so grateful to have her.
How have your pregnancy and motherhood experiences affected how you approach your business?
My pregnancies, my pregnancy losses, and motherhood in general has deepened my business — both its mission and the energy I bring to it. I wanted to launch my first product before I became a mama, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant with and birthed Celine that my big WHY crystalized. When I pushed Celine out of my body, I noticed the energy in the room shift immediately to her and realized that as a culture we tend to forget mothers once the baby is here. I remember telling my husband soon after the birth that had I run a marathon or completed an Ironman, people would be in more awe of me and what I just did. It was out of this experience of feeling unseen that I wanted to create tools to help bring loving attention back to mamas. And with the lettering talent of my friend Alisha Sanvicens of Goldpress Paper, I created our “You got this, Mama!” greeting card to do just that.
Now having gone through two miscarriages and feeling so connected to the struggle women go through in this respect, I am emboldened to create tools that people can use to support the women in their lives who have experienced pregnancy loss. My business exists to restore women to a place of reverence through specialty gifts that help women feel seen, valued, and honored. And this is my process — to draw on my personal experiences of discomfort, heartache, and sorrow to create tools that people can use to support themselves and their loved ones.
For other women who have had a miscarriage, what would you like them to know?
I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not broken. And whatever you feel, all of it is valid even if it is conflicting. The way we each process and heal from our loss is unique. There is no right or wrong way or standard timeline. Your body may hold within it a lot of pain for a long time and that’s okay. You don’t need to rush it. You might feel self-conscious about the baby weight that is no longer easily explained by a pregnancy, and it may take a while to lose it. Try to be forgiving of yourself and your body. What you are going through is tremendous.
And if or when you decide to try to get pregnant again, you might feel anxious and that’s normal. If you have trouble conceiving, each time you have your period you may feel heartbroken and if you do get pregnant, you may feel fearful that it may end in another miscarriage. Remember, you are not alone and there are many of us out there going through the exact same thing. And if you already have a child or children, know that your pain is not any less valid that those who do not.
Finally, I invite you to be gentle with yourself and listen to what your body needs as it heals. Take some time off work to grieve if you can. And when it gets hard to handle, reach out for support whether that be friends, family, or even a therapist. We were not meant to go through this alone.