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New programs hopes to help families coping with the emotional toll of early pregnancy loss

Posted at 8:02 PM, May 24, 2023

CLEVELAND — News 5 Anchor Courtney Gousman continues her series, Delivering Better Results, with a subject that so many women and couples experience but don't often talk about: early pregnancy loss.

The National Institutes of Health estimates 26% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage, and a miscarriage is defined as a loss of pregnancy under 20 weeks gestation.

It's a journey that can be filled with grief and a flurry of other emotions. A woman Courtney frequently works with shared her story with Courtney, and it's one that's led her to create a safe space for others who may experience this kind of loss.

It's been a year and a half of trying for Dorsena and Andrew Koonce. Just days after Valentine's Day, the couple finally got the news that they were expecting. Dorsena took a pregnancy test at MetroHealth and got the call hours later.

"She goes, 'It's positive,' and I literally did not believe her. And I was like, 'Are you sure this is mine?' I'd never seen a positive pregnancy test before. It felt like a dream," Dorsena said.

Dorsena also works at MetroHealth as a Media Relations Specialist. Dorsena told News 5 that everything changed as soon as she found out she was pregnant.

"A lot of checking apps to see the progress of the baby and everything," she said.

The couple was already thinking about nurseries and baby names. Several weeks passed, and Dorsena and her husband went to see her doctor for their first appointment.

During the ultrasound, "He's like, 'alright, we see the amniotic sac, we see this. This is good. Alright, everything is looking ok.' And then he paused for a second. And I was like, 'ok—we're good to go!' And he's like, 'I don't see a flutter. I'm supposed to see a flutter.' I said, 'What is a flutter?' He's like, 'It's a heartbeat. I don't see a heartbeat,'" Dorsena recalled.

The doctor informed Dorsena and her husband their pregnancy was not viable.

"I could feel his sadness. And he started crying before I did. And at that point, I just lost it. Yes, it was eight weeks, but a lot had changed for me and our family in that time," she said.

During her loss and grief, Dorsena felt she needed more support. Somewhere to turn, with someone who had an intimate understanding of what she was dealing with.

"What I wanted was the hospital that diagnosed me also to give me a resource, and I didn't get that. I love MetroHealth, but I felt like we were lacking in that instance."

So Dorsena decided to create that resource within MetroHealth. Just days after her loss, Dorsena went to work talking with colleagues and executives at MetroHealth, proposing her plan for a free monthly support group for those experiencing early pregnancy loss.

Metro's CEO, Dr. Airica Steed, and Kimberly Green, the vice president of Women and Children Services, both gave their blessing.

"That's the last thing a woman wants to do; to try to find resources to provide support for early pregnancy loss when she is already devastated," Green said.

MeteroHealth is also partnering with Cornerstone of Hope. This local nonprofit offers therapy and support surrounding loss to help families dealing with early pregnancy loss.

Katherine Zucca, the programming and grant coordinator for Cornerstone of Hope, said, "When you leave the hospital often after a pregnancy loss, you have nothing in hand and nowhere to go. And this gives somewhere to go, a safe and compassionate space to be with other people who are experiencing the same thing."

To give those families something to hold on to, the hospital system will give out Forget-Me-Not baskets to participants.

The locally-made baskets are filled with mementos so families will never forget their unborn child.

"There's a community of people that want you to get better. That is what we want for you. That is what I want for you because it's what I want for myself. I want to feel whole again," says Dorsena.

MetroHealth's Early Pregnancy Loss Program is set to roll out its monthly meetings starting June 7 at 6 p.m.

Again, it's free, which means you do not need insurance, nor do you need to be a MetroHealth patient.

The group will meet every first Wednesday of the month at MetroHealth's Rammelkamp building.

For more information on how to register for a session, CLICK HERE.

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