Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Perinatal Loss: An Empty Cradle

"It is the kind of heartache you can feel in your bones." Unknown author, following loss of baby

Social Media will light up this October with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month posts. Perinatal loss is the term for the death of an infant during pregnancy or shortly thereafter--it may include miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

Statistics are staggering and likely minimum, 15-20% of all child-bearing women develop perinatal depression/anxiety during the period of time between conception and a year beyond childbirth (PSI, 2017).  That is way too many women who are holding onto that suffering in isolation, likely due to stigma, among other factors.

However, when a woman (and her partner) experience perinatal loss, that percentage goes up significantly, and newly mourning parents are at particular risk for depression and anxiety subsequent to the perinatal loss of their baby.


Special Needs Parenting Self-Care 101 (Part 2)

“As special needs parents we don’t have the power to make life “fair,” but we do have the power to make life joyful.” Unknown
Continuing with the theme of self-care for parents of children with special needs, I want to emphasize how important filling one's cup is as a parent. When our cups are full, then we have more to give, which inevitably will be necessary with the added demands of raising a child with special needs. Whether your child has mild learning challenges or is saddled with a life-threatening illness, parents of children with special needs can face an exponentially more exhausting journey of child-rearing than what they had anticipated. Exhaustion and stress can lead to burn-out, depression, and anxiety. However, there are many pathways to keeping one's serotonin tank full, and that trailhead sign reads "Fierce Self-Care Ahead."


Special Needs Parenting Self-Care 101 (Part 1)

“Special needs parents are the equivalent of Batman, Captain America, and Incredible Hulk combined with a side of Mary Poppins.” – Unknown

In addition to being a therapist, I am also a mother of two wonderful sons. My youngest is challenged with dyslexia and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), which makes in-the-box learning very difficult. Both my sons are very intelligent. Each has a unique pathway of learning and also expressing that intelligence.

For my youngest, "smartness" is most definitely not quantifiable in some sort of standardized testing format...nor is it fair to measure one's intelligence by some arbitrary, obscure scale of some sort. All the same, that is the world we live in. Moreover, being a special needs parent has it's fair share of challenges and silver linings. I continue to learn as I go.

I've learned a few things along this pathway of special needs parenting I'd like to share with readers and the clients I work with. I believe the best teacher is life itself, and what better way to learn than from our very own children.

competition in motherhood

Banishing Perfectionism in Motherhood

“Trying to be Super Mom is as futile as trying to be Perfect Mom.  Not going to happen.” ~Arianna Huffington

I am a mother, so I get it. We are all just trying to do the best for our children, while keeping a roof over our heads and somehow creating a life of meaning and purpose. We want to model that we have it together for our kids, but some days we fall short. Motherhood is a very tough job/calling/profession/blessing/gift.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have the experience also are well aware of the pitfalls of perfectionism that can impact maternal mental health. I decided to make a list of self-care tips for all you mamas/caregivers out there who are doing your very best to keep your head above water.  Although I am still thick in the midst of raising my own kids, the following are some suggestions I have learned and continue to do my best (although not perfect) to practice:

Trauma and Loss Treatment

What is Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy?

"The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

Often, survivors of trauma seek refuge in a safe therapeutic relationship with qualified trauma-informed psychotherapist. Whether the client experienced abuse (psychological/physical/sexual), witnessed a catastrophic event (i.e. a violent accident or political uprising resulting in terror/violence), or survived a natural disaster (hurricane, etc), the individual often manifests symptoms of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (DSM-5, 2014), or in some circumstances where trauma is long standing and chronic, Complex-PTSD (Herman, 2015).

What is Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy?

The notion of trauma-informed care is an umbrella term, which describes the overarching principles regarding trauma recovery. The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) defines trauma-informed approach to helping survivors of trauma as demonstrating the following key components of client-centered, strengths-focused, and evidence-based care: 1) safety, 2) trustworthiness and transparency, 3) peer support (creating safety in community), 4) collaboration and mutuality, 5) empowerment, voice and choice, and 6) embracing understanding of cultural, historical and gender domains (SAMHSA, 2015).

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Narcissism and Psychopathy in the Game of Thrones (Part 5): Tyrion

“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.” Tyrion Lannister

Survivor of Narcissistic Abuse in Family of Origin

Tyrion Lannister has won the hearts of many Game of Thrones fans (G.R. Martin, 2015) with his wit, resilience, diplomacy and cunning ability to survive seemingly insurmountable odds.  Tyrion is an example of fortitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. Beginning with his abusive family of origin, Tyrion hails from House Lannister. His (now deceased) father, Tywin, repetitively psychologically abused Tyrion, ridiculed him for being deformed and a dwarf, and blamed him for the death of his mother (who died while giving birth to him). This spunky, redeeming character is the classic example of the scapegoat in a narcissistic family system.

****spoilers ahead****

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Narcissism and Psychopathy in the Game of Thrones (Part 3): Littlefinger

"Chaos is a ladder." Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish

One of the more perplexing and complicated characters in George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones (2015)  is Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Littlefinger is not an overt axe-wielding, skin-flaying psychopath, such as the likes of Ramsey Bolton or Joffrey Baratheon. On the contrary, this scheming, manipulative, self-serving tactician can be found lurking in the shadows behind every major crisis that has erupted in Westeros. More specifically, in my clinical opinion, Littlefinger demonstrates precisely what a covert malignant narcissist looks like in film or literature.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Narcissism and Psychopathy in Game of Thrones (Part 2): Theon

As mentioned in my Part 1 article describing narcissism and psychopathy in the Game of Thrones TV series, the characters in this groundbreaking show (Martin, 2015) demonstrate a broad range of issues that would warrant a trip to the psychotherapist. Although, we know that people who manifest far on the spectrum of narcissism (in the range of malignant narcissism or even psychopathy) have personality characteristics that are welded and fused, with very limited capacity for change (de Canonville, 2015). Sadly, these individuals with extreme narcissism possess a lack of empathy, accountability, integrity, reciprocity, or authenticity, in essence, a psychic void blended with volatility, aggression, elements of sadism and self-absorption (Cleckley, H.M., 1988).

**spoilers ahead if you are not caught up with Game of Thrones series**