Tag Archive for 'Health'

Ivanka Trump Posts Beautiful Post Delivery Photo of Herself and Baby

Ivanka-Trump-DeliveryI admit it, I am a fan of Ivanka Trump. I admire how she can pull off being Donald Trump’s daughter so seamlessly, be a Wharton educated model who seems to also have a mind of her own and avoid the pitfalls of fame and celebrity. I love her style, her composure in the boardroom and in the media crazed public arena. This flawless and gorgeous delivery photo where she is in a hospital gown with no make-up and seemingly unwashed and unstyled hair, she literally glows from the inside out as she cradles her newborn son.

In the photo posted Tuesday to her Tumblr page, Trump holds her newborn son with the accompanying simple caption, “We welcome with love, Joseph Frederick Kushner.”

At last a “natural” delivery photo by a celebrity still in her hospital gown and maternity wristband. It is obvious she has just physically delivered her baby and is both exhausted and proud with a natural inner glow that make-up and airbrushing cannot create.

In today’s Hollywood culture it is expected and lauded for a woman to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy shape in just weeks after delivering their baby. Celebrity birth announcements or Instagram selfies are often airbrushed to achieve perfection. Some celebs avoid the paparazzi altogether to escape the unrealistic pressure, like Kim Kardashian who went M.I.A. for the first time in years for almost three months after delivering daughter North West in June. Fergie, who delivered son Axl in August has still not made an official appearance.

This pressure to achieve a perfect post-baby body has led some to overexert in exercise during and after pregnancy. In September an expectant woman in Los Angeles set off a viral storm with a photo of herself weightlifting a heavy dumbbell while 8 months pregnant. Even if this form of exercise was “safe” for her toned physique it sends out a risky message to expecting moms to follow her lead who may not be in the same mega physical condition while pregnant. Generally it is not a good idea to lift heavy weights while pregnant or perform any extreme physical exercise that your body is not already accustomed to doing.

Even more recently a Sacramento mother of three young children triggered a viral backlash after posting a photo of herself and her washboard abs on Facebook with the accusatory caption “What’s Your Excuse?” Clearly losing weight fast and looking perfect is not an added pressure new mothers need.

We all know it’s hard enough just taking care of the baby and managing a few hours sleep. It is simply not natural to bounce back to pre-baby shape in mere weeks after delivering, nor is it a good idea. Breastfeeding moms in particular need to maintain a very healthy diet and eat enough calories to support their milk production. Any nursing mom knows that feeding the baby around the clock for the first few months is a fulltime job in itself.

So we hope more celebs take the route of Ivanka Trump and reveal more natural looking photos where the emphasis is where it should be, not in showing off but in celebrating the pure joys in life like the arrival of new precious baby.

The Mommy Guilt Syndrome – Good or Bad?

According to many polls, it is surveyed that as many as 94% of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting. This guilt ranges from the amount of time they spend with their kids, the way they feed their kids (breast milk or formula, nutritious or junk food), to the type of diapers they use on their kids (environmentally friendly), yelling at kids, leaving kids at daycare of with another caregiver, the list goes on. There is always something to feel guilty about.

My advice as a Mom of 3 to new and first time parents is that there are no perfect parents and no perfect kids. No matter how perfectly you try to parent your kids they will not be perfect and neither will you. You can try to do your best most of the time. However, there are days when those standards will have to slip.

Today I was home with my sick 4 year old and I am recovering from minor leg surgery from a few days ago. Although I can hobble around a bit, I am supposed to sit still and let the wound heal. My son has plenty of other plans as his fever seemed to have cleared as soon as the School Bus drove past our front door. After a few games of Hedbanz and Lincoln Logs in addition to me hobbling about to fetch snacks, feed the cat and make lunch, I decided to call it a day. My son was treated to his favorite Ninjago Snake Attack Movie that I only very sparingly let him see, not only because these Ninjas are excessively violent at times but mainly because my off the charts snake phobia. But after feeling the twinge or two of pain in my leg and the even more pronounced twinge or two of excessive boredom in my brain from hours of mind numbing games (that I felt guilty I should not be feeling), I threw in the towel and allowed him to indulge in several hours of these movie festivities while I retreated to another room, well away from the attacking snakes video.

Did I feel guilty about this? Not a lot, maybe a little. Am I a bad parent? I don’t think so. If I did this every day, then yes I think that would be detrimental to my child’s development and show a serious lack of effort on my part. But once in a while, when we both really deserve it, sure, no harm done. However, if you were to ask me this question 6 years ago when my oldest son was this age, you would have gotten a very different answer. Yes, I would have felt incredibly guilty if I did anything like this, but this scenario would never have occurred. First we would not have had any movies of this type in our house, nor would we have access to NetFlix and not in a million years could he watch anything other than educational TV, Bob the Builder or The Wiggles (now I am burnt out on all of the above). Second I would have used this time as an opportunity for him to work on his coloring, or for me to home school him on adding and subtracting with string and pegs (yes, I was one of those “Tiger-like” Moms), although he would not learn these skills in school for another year or so. But I am a different parent at 44 and with my third child, who also has a very different temperament than my first child and does not find hours of adding games all that fun after a few minutes, nor do I at this stage. So in this case I think my degree of guilt has subsided with age, experience and number of children.

Many people might mistake me as a deadbeat parent to my youngest child on certain days of the week or hours during the day. I disagree. I actually believe my less stressed out and more laissez faire approach (or less present approach as I am parenting two other children with their own plates full of activities, homework and playdates), has encouraged my son to do more for himself. He knows that Mommy is not hopping around the house to anticipate his every need. So yes, he has a few more sugar snacks than the other two would have at his age (they had none other than fruit!). He has a little more TV time that usually is not educational and I do not drill him on reading and math all the time (although his siblings like to try their hand at homeschooling him from time to time with varying levels of success or dispute, depending on the day). I do however make sure he is safe, cared for, loved and feed every day which I think is the primary responsibility of any parent.

On the flip side my youngest is remarkably helpful and self-sufficient. He helps me with many chores, loves to help with cooking/mixing and baking things, he helps with the dishes, cleans his room, vacuums and dusts, dresses himself, makes his bed and is overall a very confident kid, proud of what he can do like his big brother and sister (and sometimes better). Maybe he has a few more scrapped knees and maybe his outfits don’t always coordinate perfectly, but I am pretty sure he will be able to do his own laundry and cook for himself by the time he goes off to college as he’s well on his way to mastering those skills now. Plus I can daydream that one day his future wife, my future daughter in law, will profusely thank me for raising such a self-sufficient guy while I nod knowingly.

On the other hand, guilt is not always a bad thing if it is used wisely and in proper context. Guilt is an internal alert system our body has to tell us that something is potentially wrong and we need to address it. It is a sign our body uses to encourage us to get on the right track and change a behavior, or make a different choice. Maybe we shouldn’t trust a particular caregiver. Maybe Johnny does need to eat healthier and cut back on the junk food. Yes we should watch what we put into our bodies when we are pregnant and stop dangerous habits like smoking or drinking too much. But we also have our common sense to override that guilt and cut ourselves some slack from time to time (not in smoking), but in most of our parenting decisions. Overall parents who apply love, consistency, their best instincts and joy to the job are on the right track any day of the week. We all need our cheat days every now and then to recharge. As long as our baby/child is safe and well cared for, I think we can cut ourselves some slack from time to time.

Light During Pregnancy Is Important For Fetal Eye Development

A fascinating new study of mice during pregnancy, leads evidence that pregnant humans also need light during pregnancy to aid in proper fetal eye development.

A new study conducted by scientists from Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and recently published in the journal Nature, reveals information about the importance of sunlight during pregnancy for the eyesight of babies that are born prematurely. The study concluded that the eye, which requires light in order to see, also needs light to develop normally during pregnancy.

Co-author Richard Lang, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center said:

“This fundamentally changes our understanding of how the retina develops. We have identified a light-response pathway that controls the number of retinal neurons. This has downstream effects on developing vasculature in the eye and is important because several major eye diseases are vascular diseases.”

Lang collaborated with David Copenhagen, PhD, a scientist in the departments of Opthalmology and Physiology at UCSF. Mouse models were used in their study which produced surprising outcomes:

Copenhagen commented, “Several stages of mouse eye development occur after birth. Because of this, we had always assumed that if light played a role in the development of the eye, it would also happen only after birth.”

The researchers in the current study revealed that the activation of the newly labeled light-response pathway must occur during pregnancy in order to achieve the precisely planned program that creates a normal eye. They point out that it is crucial for the right number of photons to reach the mother’s body by late term pregnancy.

The team of scientists completed several experiments using laboratory mouse models that let them look at the light-response pathway’s purpose and parts. Mice were raised in darkness, and in a regular day-night cycle starting at late term pregnancy to examine the comparative outcomes on vascular progression of the eye.

The scientists confirmed the purpose of the light response pathway by changing an opsin gene in mice known as Opn4 that creates melanopsin which stops the initiation of the photo pigment.

The melanopsin protein is there in both humans and mice during pregnancy. The authors say they will continue to examine how the light-response pathway might impact the probability of pre-term babies developing retinopathy of prematurity and its relatedness to other eye conditions.

So get outside and into the sunlight during your pregnancy as much as possible on a regular basis. The natural light not only helps your mood but is essential for your baby’s healthy eye development!

Alessandra Ambrosio Looks Great In Maternity Lingerie

Since announcing her pregnancy recently, the gorgeous Alessandra Ambrosio has not slowed down. She has walked in two lingerie fashion shows, proudly showing off her baby bump for the world to see. Due in late June, this super model mama looks stunning. Although the last thing I want to do while pregnant is bear nearly all on national television, I do love the confidence Alessandra exudes. Her clothing choices are stylish yet comfy, and any mom to be can feel and look amazing in the right outfit.

This past week Alessandra ran errands around town in a beautiful and breezy outfit. She paired a gorgeous floral maxi skirt with a plain white fitted shirt and a lightweight scarf. The flowing skirt fit nicely underneath her growing baby bump, while the fitted tee added great shape. We love how laid back yet stylish this look is! If one loves this look, the Bella Band Essentials Rouched Long Sleeve Top shows off one’s baby bump beautifully and looks great paired with any skirt.

Transitioning easily from day to evening, Alessandra chose to wear a vibrant long-sleeve fitted mini dress while frequenting San Paolo Fashion Week. We love how the long sleeves balance the shortness of the dress. The fitted cut hugs ones curves beautifully and is perfect to show off one’s baby bump. If one likes this style, try the Maternal America La Saree Dress. This hot white dress features long sleeves and a very flattering cross over design.

Congratulations to Alessandra on her second pregnancy! We can’t wait to see more of this super model’s pregnancy fashion choices.

New guidance on vitamin D recommends midday sunshine

New health advice recommends short spells in the sun – without suncream and in the middle of the day.

Seven organisations have issued joint advice on vitamin D, which the body gets from natural sunlight.

The nutrient keeps bones strong, and protects against conditions like osteoporosis.

The guidance was drawn up because it is thought fears about skin cancer have made people too cautious about being in the sun.

Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis Society are among the bodies which agree that “little and frequent” spells in summer sunshine several times a week can benefit your health.

The experts now say it is fine to go outside in strong sun in the middle of the day, as long as you cover up or apply sunscreen before your skin goes red.

‘Too negative’

A good diet and sensible sun exposure will be adequate for most people to minimise their cancer risk.”

End Quote Professor Peter Johnson Cancer Research UK

Professor Rona Mackie, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Total sun protection with high factor suncream on all the time is not ideal, in terms of vitamin D levels.

“Even Australia has changed its policy on this. They’re now producing charts showing parts of Australia where sun protection may not be required during some parts of the year.

“Some of the messages about sun exposure have been too negative. UK summer sunshine isn’t desperately strong. We don’t have many days in the year when it is very intense.

“What’s changed is that we’re now saying that exposure of 10 to 15 minutes to the UK summer sun, without suncream, several times a week is probably a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.”

Official government advice already recommends vitamin D supplements for pregnant women and children aged under five.

But the experts who wrote the joint statement say mothers often are not made aware of this recommendation. They suggest women consult their GP.

Winter levels of vitamin D can be helped by a break in the tropical sun – or by eating oily fish, liver and fortified margarine.

‘Complex area’

Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “A good diet and sensible sun exposure will be adequate for the great majority of the UK population to minimise their cancer risk.

“The area of vitamin D and cancer is complex.

“There’s some evidence, which is strongest in bowel cancer, that low levels of vitamin D in the blood correlate with the risk of developing cancer.

“But that doesn’t mean those low levels cause bowel cancer.

“We think overall that low levels of vitamin D are unlikely to be major contributors to the chances of developing cancer in the UK population.”

The joint statement also highlighted questions about vitamin D that warrant further research.

These include finding out the optimal levels of vitamin D, and more detail about the role of dietary sources and supplements.

Autism More Likely in Kids Whose Moms Live Near Freeways

Having a mother who lived within 1,000 feet of a freeway while pregnant doubles a child’s odds of having autism.

The finding comes from a study looking at environmental factors that might play a role in autism. University of Southern California researcher Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, and colleagues collected data from 304 California children with confirmed autism and from 259 children who developed normally.

“It has been estimated that 11% of the U.S. population lives within 100 meters [328 feet] of a four-lane highway, so a causal link to autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders would have broad public health implications,” the researchers note.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is suspected of a wide range of negative effects on the fetus. A particularly crucial period may be the third trimester, when the brain develops rapidly.

Air pollution is particularly heavy within a thousand feet of a highway. Volk and colleagues found that the 10% of women who lived closest to a freeway during pregnancy were within about 1,000 feet of center line. Children born to these women were 86% more likely to have autism than kids born to women who lived farther from the freeway.

The relationship was stronger for women who lived within 1,000 feet of a freeway during their third trimester. Children born to these women were 2.2 times more likely to have autism.

Interestingly, the odds of autism remained unchanged when the researchers controlled for factors such as child gender or ethnicity, household education, maternal age, and maternal smoking.

It’s becoming clear that a child’s genetic inheritance has a lot to do with whether that child has autism. But genes do not explain why one child develops autism while another does not. Many researchers believe that something or a combination of things in the environment trigger autism in genetically susceptible kids. That exposure may come while the child is still in the womb.

But what is it about living near a freeway that might trigger autism? Is it really air pollution? Or could it be the noise?

Volk and colleagues note that their findings should be confirmed in studies that measure the actual air pollutants to which pregnant women living near freeways are exposed.

The Volk study appears in the Dec. 16 online issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Pregnancy-related deaths rise in the U.S. — But still rare for a woman to die from birth complications

By Amy Norton of Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – While it remains rare for a woman in the U.S. to die from pregnancy complications, the national rate of pregnancy-related deaths appears to be on the upswing, a new government study finds.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 1998 and 2005, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths was 14.5 per 100,000 live births. And while that rate is low, it is higher than what has been seen in the past few decades.

The researchers caution that the extent to which the rise reflects a true elevation in women’s risk of dying is unclear. Recent changes in how causes of death are officially reported by states to the federal government may be at least partially responsible for the findings.

However, it is also possible that part of the increase is “real.” According to the new data, deaths from chronic medical conditions that are exacerbated by pregnancy, including heart disease, appear to account for a growing number of pregnancy-related deaths.

In contrast, deaths from actual obstetric complications — namely, hemorrhaging and pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders — are declining.

The absolute risk of a U.S. woman dying from pregnancy-related problems is still “very small,” lead researcher Dr. Cynthia J. Berg, of the CDC’s division of reproductive health, said in an interview.

But, she added, the new findings do underscore the importance of women “making sure they are in the best possible health before pregnancy.”

All women, Berg said, should try to have a pre-pregnancy visit with their ob-gyn and, if needed, get their weight and any chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, under control before becoming pregnant.

For their study, Berg and her colleagues looked at data on 4,693 pregnancy-related deaths reported to the CDC between 1998 and 2005. Pregnancy-related death was any death occurring during or within one year of pregnancy that was attributed to a pregnancy complication.

The researchers estimate that for that eight-year period, the national rate of pregnancy-related death was 14.5 for every 100,000 live births.

In contrast, in 1979, there were just under 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. — a rate that fell to as far as 7.4 per 100,000 in 1986, before beginning a gradual increase.

In addition, the racial gap that has long been seen in pregnancy-related deaths shows no signs of narrowing. Between 1998 and 2005, the death rate among black women was 37.5 per 100,000 live births, versus 10.2 per 100,000 among white women and 13.4 per 100,000 for all other racial groups combined.

The reasons for the upward trend in the overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths are not certain, and more studies are needed to tease apart the contributing factors, Berg said.

One factor, according to the researchers, could be two technical changes in how causes of death are officially reported. In 1999, the U.S. adopted an updated system for coding causes of death — one that allowed more deaths to be classified as “maternal.”
Then in 2003, the standard death certificate was revised to include a “pregnancy checkbox,” which increased the number of deaths that could be linked, in timing, to pregnancy.

However, recent years have seen not only a change in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths, but in the specific causes.

Berg explained that the proportion of deaths from “direct causes” — obstetrical complications like hemorrhaging — is going down, while the proportion attributed to indirect causes — that is, medical conditions worsened by pregnancy — is increasing.

Hemorrhaging, for example, accounted for just under 30 percent of pregnancy-related deaths between 1987 and 1990, but only 12 percent between 1998 and 2005. High blood pressure disorders (mainly pre-eclampsia and eclampsia) also accounted for about 12 percent of deaths in 1998-2005 — down from around 18 percent in 1987-1990.

On the other hand, there was a sharp increase in the proportion of deaths attributed to heart problems. In the most recent time period, just over 12 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were attributed to “cardiovascular conditions,” while just under 12 percent were attributed to cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart.

In 1987-1990, only about five percent of deaths were linked to cardiomyopathy, and a smaller percentage to cardiovascular conditions.

This study cannot weed out the precise reasons for these patterns. But Berg pointed out that “our population is changing.”

More women of childbearing age today are obese or have chronic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes than in years past. So that could help explain the shifting pattern in the causes of pregnancy-related deaths, according to Berg.

The bottom line for women, she said, is that while the odds of dying from pregnancy-related problems remains quite low, it is important to go into pregnancy in the best possible health.

The CDC has information on pre-pregnancy health.

SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/vah38q Obstetrics & Gynecology, December 2010.

Tip of the Day: Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad

This delicious article from JILL REED at the OC Register

I didn’t have too many cravings when I was pregnant with Ben.

I mostly craved salsa. Which was fine until heartburn set in during the third trimester. Then even oatmeal was painful.

But I also had a pretty consistent craving for Caesar salad. Of course, the traditional preparation with raw eggs was out of the question. And anytime I asked about it at a restaurant they said that they did indeed use raw eggs.

So I decided to experiment a bit using mayonnaise. Because of how it is processed, store-bought mayo is OK to eat if you are expecting.

I had great success. And, even though I am not pregnant anymore, I still use this recipe because it is easy and it keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

I do use anchovies in this. I know some people are not really fond of those funny little fish. I like the layer of flavor they add to a Caesar, and they get pulverized when this dressing is blended. But if they are not your thing, just leave ‘em out.

By the way, anchovies are low in mercury and high in all sorts of other good stuff. Anchovies are OK in moderation for pregnant women.

Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad
(makes 6-8 servings, depending on how large of a salad you like)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo and it works great)
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Your favorite croutons
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a food processor (I use my mini processor for such a small batch) or a blender, combine the mayonnaise, anchovies, lemon juice, garlic and mustard and blend until smooth. With the processor on, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until smooth and combined. Season the dressing with pepper to taste.

2. In a large bowl, toss the romaine with the croutons. Add the dressing and toss. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the salad, toss again and serve right away.

3. Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days. Just give it a quick whisk before you use it.

BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours

This article from Australia.

BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours, making them more accepting of different foods as they grow

CSIRO research psychologist Dr Nadia Corsini said studies showed breastfeeding provided infants with a greater variety of tastes compared with formula, which was beneficial when weaning them on to solid foods.

“Exposure to flavours takes place in utero and via breastfeeding, where the baby is exposed to flavours in mother’s diet,” she said.

“A lot of people might not realise this is one of benefits of breastfeeding, the exposure to different flavours.

“Research suggests children with exposure to different flavours are more accepting of different foods as they grow older to those who didn’t have exposure.”

According to a European study of 147 mothers and their infants, both breastfeeding and daily changes in vegetables offered early in weaning increased the child’s acceptance of new foods for at least up to two months.

Dr Corsini said breastfeeding versus formula was a sensitive issue, but mothers shouldn’t feel they are disadvantaging their child if they do not breastfeed.

“Even though these processes exist it doesn’t mean you can’t change or influence your children’s acceptance of different foods after that stage,” she said.

“That’s why it’s important to offer children a wide variety of healthy foods early in life. It is such an important influence on the variety in their diet later.”

Gordana Hopping, 33, is breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter Filipa and mindful of eating well.

“I’m staying away from soft drinks and sugary foods,” she said. “I have a healthy diet so Filipa is too.”

The Advertiser and Sunday Mail Healthy Eating project continues this week, encouraging children to learn more about balanced diets and cooking nutritious meals.

Students can collect daily panels featuring the different food groups as well as recipes courtesy of the CSIRO.

The Lucky One

By Jenny Feldon, blog post at Pregnancy.com

35 weeks. It seems almost impossible that this much time has gone by since I first saw that pink plus sign on a white plastic stick. Holiday decorations are already in store windows; by Christmas I could have a weeks-old infant cradled in my arms. Sometimes I look back and think “How did I get here? And how did it happen so fast?”

Along with my rapidly approaching due date, there’s another date permanently engraved on my mind. A day on the calendar that was supposed to mark the same kind of joy for one of my dearest friends that my own due date promises for me. But that date is empty now, a blank spot where there used to be a big red exclamation point. Because I am the lucky one, the one who gets to keep her miracle. And my friend—an amazing woman, a phenomenal mother—is grieving not one, but two pregnancies she’s lost in the same 35 weeks I’ve been happily, uneventfully pregnant.

It’s at her recommendation—and with her blessing—that I write this very difficult post. Miscarriage is a very common, very real part of many women’s journeys toward motherhood. I’m particularly inspired by Project Pregnancy blogger Lexi Walters Wright, whose beautifully written, brave posts remind me how incredibly fortunate I am—how fortunate every mom is—to have a healthy child growing up before my eyes, and even luckier to have rolled the dice and conceived a second time. But remembering how lucky I am is not enough to provide support to my friend, to help her through her grief without being a living, breathing reminder of her pain. What do you say when you desperately want to ease a friend’s pain—but can only make things worse?

We met when our babies were just a few months old, and it was instant friend karma. Our daughters are less than two weeks apart, and we’ve tackled every challenge of new motherhood together, from breastfeeding to pureeing broccoli to those first trips down the big kid slide. We made stay-at-home mommyhood into an adventure, with coffee playdates, music classes and field trips to the aquarium. She has parented my daughter almost as much as I have; she is one of the reasons my long months with J out of town have been bearable.

Around the same time, we decided it was time for #2. My friend had lost a pregnancy before her daughter C was born, and was considerably more cautious—and anxious—about the conception process than I was. Still, we bought ovulation sticks together, peed on pregnancy tests together, and looked at each other wide-eyed with shock and joy when we realized we’d both hit the jackpot—and were expecting our #2s just two days apart.

I had complications early in this pregnancy I hadn’t experienced with E. Bleeding started around 6 weeks, and I would sit in the bathroom, terrified and alone, wondering what was happening. She was my sounding board, my reassuring voice. When she also started first trimester bleeding, I blithely assured her everything would be fine. Wasn’t she just being overly neurotic because she’d had a miscarriage before C? If she was allowed to reassure me, I was allowed to poo-poo her fears too. Or so I thought.

Just before our 12-week milestones, my friend’s ultrasound showed no heartbeat. In an email more concerned with my feelings than her own, she broke the news, letting me know she and her husband were drowning their tears in sake and sushi, and were focused on being grateful for the gorgeous, smart toddler they had at home. They were optimistic about trying again. Typically brave, typically cheerful. Heartbreakingly honest.

I cried for hours. Why her? Why not me? Suddenly, irrevocably, my joy and her pain were inextricably woven. And there was nothing I could say, no help or soothing words I could offer her, that could excuse the fact that I was still pregnant and she was not. I desperately wanted to trade places. At least if it were my pain, I could deal with it, be in control of it. But to watch someone so close to me suffer and not be able to a single thing to help—it was intolerable.

Selfishly, I was grieving a little bit for me, too. I wanted to take this journey with one of my dearest friends. Everything was supposed to work out perfectly. I’d envisioned joint baby showers and shuffling down the hospital hallway with my IV pole to have the world’s first post-partum slumber party—just her, me, and our newborns. Our #2s should have had birthday parties together, gone to the DMV together to get their driver’s licenses. All those silly, selfish dreams were shattered. I wanted to be unequivocally elated and excited about the new life inside me. Instead I felt sad, lost, and so, so guilty.

My friend is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. But no amount of bravery can take away her pain, and I hate that my own healthy pregnancy is a constant reminder of what she should have had—twice, now, since I conceived #2. Our conversations have become an elaborate dance, with her asking me about the pregnancy to prove she’s OK with it, and me trying everything to avoid the topic entirely so as not to cause her any more sorrow. If I could make my growing belly disappear in her presence, I would. I do my best to pretend there’s nothing more important going on in my life than preschool and potty training, because those subjects are things we can still share. But despite our best efforts, the chasm between us grows ever wider. It‘s the exact distance between the baby that is, and the baby that is no longer.

Is there ever a right thing to say to a friend or loved one that has suffered this kind of loss? Can women who haven’t had fertility problems ever say the right thing to a woman who has? Even with the best of intentions, every word out of my mouth is potentially the most wrong thing I could say. I can’t understand what it feels like. I can’t make any of it better. And what I am doing—growing bigger and more pregnant by the minute—is, in some ways, the worst thing of all.

I know how genuinely happy my friend is for me, and how much she hates that I feel guilty when I should be celebrating this upcoming new life. I believe with my whole heart that she will have another child, one as healthy and precocious and absolutely perfect as her sweet daughter C. She is an incredible friend, a loving wife, an amazing mother. She doesn’t deserve the sorrow she’s been dealt (who does?) but she’ll triumph anyway, because that’s who she is. She inspires me every day.

And so do all the other women who have struggled with the pain and loss of infertility and miscarriage. To all of you out there who have suffered like my sweet friend: Is there anything us “lucky ones” can do, or say, to support you the way we so desperately want to? Or at the very least, minimize the damage our happily pregnant selves can inflict on still-raw wounds? Nothing can take away the pain of loss, and in many ways that chasm will always exist. But I’d love to hear advice on what to do, what not to say, and how to bridge the gap that inevitably grows between women whose paths have turned away from each other.