Written by Shari Hidary
On Wednesday, January 8th, the SBH Fertility Support Program hosted a Sensitivity Event featuring Dr. Aimee Baron, Founder and Director of “I Was Supposed to Have a Baby.” Baron, a former pediatrician by trade, transitioned to running a social media platform that supports Jewish families going through infertility and pregnancy loss after suffering from multiple miscarriages of her own. Previously, Baron was the Director of Innovation and Growth at Nechama Comfort, a Jewish organization that supports families touched by miscarriage and infant loss. Despite a harrowing personal journey, Baron now uses her Instagram presence to destigmatize these issues and help couples find solace in the unity and support her account provides.
The event started with an introduction by the program’s chairperson, Rachel Hazan. Hazan shared a personal anecdote of how a well-meaning comment can lack the empathy it is aiming for. It is hard for anyone struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, our friends and family mean well, yet when comments like “Everything will be ok” are said, they are not necessarily providing helpful support. Through Baron’s presentation, we learned that responding to someone going through a challenging experience with a statement such as, “That sounds awful; I’m here if you want to talk or cry,” can make a world of a difference.
While the goal of the event was to educate friends and relatives around how best to support their loved ones, one could not help but immediately feel the emotions a woman goes through during loss and infertility, simply by listening to Baron tell her story. Baron shared how she felt comforted by many friends and family around her who understood that she needed to grieve her losses. She explained the common feeling of guilt and shame during these times and that no explanation of “it was meant to be” could fix that.
After Baron shared her story, the audience was given multiple challenging scenarios to discuss and learn how to properly respond. One scenario included a family Shabbat dinner where one sister announced her pregnancy, knowing her sister was experiencing infertility. The latter sister left the room, saddened and overcome by shame. The audience was asked to share how they would have handled the situation differently. While there is no “right” answer, we discussed how to de-escalate the situation from each person’s perspective.
Baron left the 100+ audience members with one unforgettable quote from author Barbara Kingsolver: “A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened. So people imagine that a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. But ask her some time how old would your child be now? And she’ll know.”
Some key takeaways, as shared by Dr. Aimee Baron:
– Never stare pointedly at someone’s stomach and ask when they will have another baby, or how many children they have.
– Try to reach out without prying. Listen if someone is willing to talk, and never pass judgment on each unique experience.
– Always include the person in your celebrations, but understand that she may not come or may need to leave early, especially when these gatherings involve family and children
– Allow each person to grieve differently and give them as much time as they need to do so
We look forward to another beautiful event!
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