STARK COUNTY, Ohio — Pregnancy loss is a pain that 1 in 4 pregnant women experience, but often times they suffer in silence. Taylor Prelac, of Stark County, is working to change that with her nonprofit Brooks’ Bereavement Bears.
2020 was a year when life as we knew it shut down, but for Prelac and her husband, it felt like life was really just getting started.
“We ended up being pregnant late February of 2020, just the start of COVID, and we were ecstatic. We were just so happy,” she said.
A few months later, at her first ultrasound, things looked good, but the baby’s growth was about a week behind. The officials told her it was nothing to stress about.
Prelac started bleeding eight days after her first ultrasound. Her husband took her to the emergency room.
“I did a bunch of blood tests and then they went and did an ultrasound and the ultrasound tech was quiet, and I knew right then and there,” she said. “They told me ‘your baby's not viable. Please follow up with your O.B. in 24 to 48 hours.’ It was COVID so no one could hug me, no one could hold my hand, no one could just sit and talk to me while I bawled my eyes out.”
She said in the days and weeks that followed she was overcome with intense feelings of grief, sorrow, shock and anger. They are feelings that she mostly dealt with herself.
“It was just the most emptiness that I felt in my life. I carried something. It was… It was my baby. It had a heartbeat,” she said. “I wasn’t talking to anyone, I wasn’t responding to text. I felt alone. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”
Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg, the chief of University Hospitals’ OBGYN Behavior Medicine Department, isn't affiliated with Prelac, but said her struggle isn’t uncommon.
She said despite 20% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it is still not talked about enough.
“Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of the same resources for that kind of loss that we do for other, more visible losses,” she said.
She encourages women to reach out for support and resources.
“Many hospitals, including University Hospitals, have perinatal loss programs because it is so common and it is such a difficult time,” she said. “We have support groups. We have individual and couples therapy. There are resources.”
The day that Prelac got a dilation and curettage procedure, her grandmother gave her a teddy bear.
“It was just so nice to hold and it was very comforting to me just to hold that night and cry,” she said.
And after Prelac’s storm, came a rainbow. She was pregnant with her rainbow baby, a term coining healthy deliveries after a loss.
“The day I got my two pink lines on my test, we went out to dinner and I walked out of the restaurant and there's a beautiful full rainbow,” she remembered.
She had her son Brooks on April 5, almost a year to the day she lost her first child. She wanted to honor her family’s journey, and other women going through loss, so she sent 10 bears to Akron’s Summa Health.
“They loved it,” she said. “I want to do something more. I want to help more women. Miscarriage is not really talked about. It's still a taboo subject and I wanted something more sincere and caring, like someone gave you this bear that has gone through what you're going through.”
That’s where the idea of her nonprofit Brooks’ Bereavement Bears started to grow. She, now, sends bears all over the state, to hospitals and individuals.
All the bears come with a pink and blue ribbon and a message that reads: "You’re not alone."
She hopes that, eventually, the bears will be in every hospital in the statement so that when someone gets the devastating news that their pregnancy isn’t viable, the medical officials can give them a bear for comfort.
If you’d like to support Brooks’ Bereavement Bears, click here.
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