Today's episode will be one that no one wants to have to talk about but it is the side of labor and delivery that is not happy smiles and laughter.
Labor and delivery nurses have the most incredible job in the world. We have the honor of standing in the presence of your family's most wonderful moment in history, the birth of a family member.
But there is a side to birth that many do not talk about, which has to be honored because many parents experience it, and that is the loss of their little one.
This episode is dedicated to the many babies who are born sleeping, and as I write this, I am crying because my entire life has been affected by the loss of a newborn.
My sister, Michelle, came into this world sleeping, forever changing my mother's heart. In 2013, amidst the turmoil of experiencing the first of three miscarriages, my niece brought her daughter, Alivia, into the world, asleep forever in the arms of Jesus.
Grief has left an indescribable mark on my family, touching us in ways words fail to capture.
Today's guest is sharing how she is impacting the world of newborn loss and educating those who care for the ones who have been devastated. Listen as we chat about the other side of birth.
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trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sipping mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering many babies. And my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse, and as a mama of seven, I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth.
So you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only, and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom.
trina: Of the show notes.
trish: Hello everyone So I want to give you guys a heads up that today's episode Is [00:01:00] going to be a difficult one It's going to be an emotional one and it's a topic that A lot of times doesn't get talked about and I am particularly Let's see, I am sensitive to this topic because still birth, the loss of a newborn, however, you want to say it minus the words that we use in the hospital, which I think are very insensitive.
It touched my family and our guest today, which I'm going to introduce her in a second. She doesn't know all of that, but I will share that in just a moment. So Trina is our guest today and she is the owner of Forget Me Not, which is an amazing remembrance box for families who have been touched by the loss of a newborn, by the loss of a baby, which is something I hope that none of you guys ever experience.
So welcome Trina. [00:02:00] Thank you so much, Trish.
trina: It's such a pleasure to be
trish: here. I'm super excited to have you and talk about this. And, we tend to talk about things that some people don't talk about. And I really wrestled about Actually talking about this because one of the things I don't want is for my mom's listening to be filled with fear.
And for those of you guys who are pregnant and listening, if you need to like vacate. That's fine. We are totally all for that. But for those of you who are doulas or health care providers or family members of mamas who are expecting, this might be a good episode for you to listen to because we're going to talk a lot about supporting people who have lost a baby.
And I think that's something that's important. And I, I. I alluded to, but my entire [00:03:00] life has been touched by the loss of a baby, because my mom lost my sister at birth before I was born, and I wouldn't be here had that not happened, and my mom's experience was horrific. As was everybody's back then, because she never got to touch her.
She never got to hold her or see her. They whisked her off and then that was that, never again. And so that has my mom is in her 80s now, and there's still pain from that, and then my niece lost my niece, her daughter, my niece, Olivia a few years back, so our family's been touched by that, and so I'm so glad you're here, and I would love for you to just share, now that I've just been rambling I would love for you to share exactly what you do.
Thank you so
trina: much for sharing that with me, Trish. I'm finding more and more throughout my journey that There's a lot of [00:04:00] people who experience very similar pain and I think over the past few years especially, it's becoming a lot more normalized to acknowledge that pain and realize that you're not in this alone.
So my story began about five years ago. I had my own pregnancy loss. I had Found out that I was pregnant with my second. And this was right around Christmas time. And I decided that I wanted to surprise my husband. Typically we would find out like right around the same time, but this time we were really excited about it and I wanted to surprise him.
And as well as my first, my, my oldest boy, his name is Ollie. So I wrapped up a. A Christmas stocking, a brand new one to add to our fireplace, and I put the pregnancy test in and all of us were so excited. It was a very joyous occasion. And we leave off for Christmas holidays and we share the good [00:05:00] news with our family.
And a couple of weeks later, I am on a work trip. I was, I'm from Fort Worth and I was traveling to Denver and this work trip always brings back very painful memories for me because. I started bleeding and I was in the middle of meetings. And so I'm rushing to the bathroom every other meeting with futile efforts, trying to attempt to control this bleeding.
And it wasn't like bad enough that I needed to go to the hospital, but it was like enough where it was incredibly uncomfortable and I was worried sick. I'm that evening. I called my OB trying to get some answers with very little comfort. And I flew home. Not knowing whether my baby was gonna make it or not.
I spent the next few weeks at my lowest and Unfortunately, I lost the baby and I think a hard part for me [00:06:00] is that it was just totally checked out I miscarried at home. I was just I was barely there for my son who was two at the time and It was a really difficult chapter. It was just, I was at my lowest and it was very hard to get through that, but that really difficult experience that I went through paved a way and prepared me for my next chapter down the road, which armed me with empathy and a little bit of perspective of what so many other parents go through.
So I want to talk a little bit about my co founder. His name is Jay, and he is my brother in law. He works in labor and delivery, and he's an anesthesiologist. So he calls me up one day, a few years after my pregnancy last, and he says, I wanted to call you because I just found the bereavement box that my hospital gives to patients.[00:07:00]
And something you should know about Jay is he's a wonderful human being and also has that empathy because him and my sister went through a really terrible pregnancy loss as well. They were about 20 weeks and that happened in the emergency room. So we start talking about this and we start doing some digging and we realize that there is, a real disconnect and a real need for better bereavement boxes and bereavement care for patients.
So he was, he's walking me through this box. And the first thing he pulls out is this tiny little Ziploc bag. It looks like a miniature one. You could fit like a coin or a couple of coins inside of. And he says, honestly, we didn't know what this bag was for. I had to ask her for several people and come to find out.
It's a bag that holds like little hairs from the baby. His parents really liked to eat that. [00:08:00] He also walked me through a big full size onesie that would never fit any baby like a month early. And it's almost as he was talking to me about it, I realized this is almost doing more damage than it is doing good.
And... This led us down a whole new road to where we teamed up and we said, we are going to design the absolute best bereavement box because I'm a graphic designer. That's my background. I've been doing this for about 10 years and we went through iteration after iteration. My J, my co founder said, Trina, this looks great.
This is perfect. Let's start building this. And I said, no, it's not good enough. I need to keep pushing. I need to keep pushing. I need to keep refining. This has to be perfect for these mothers and these fathers who are going through this. Another thing we realized is that there's a lot of fathers who feel like they are not Really hurt in their loss.
It's all focused on the mom, which it's [00:09:00] understandable. The mom is really the one who goes through the loss, but I'll talk about it in a minute as I go through the box that we wanted to create an opportunity for the partners to be able to grieve with the mother who was delivery.
So that's a little bit about my story and that's how we got to this point. And. I love my co founder's background as he works with nurses because we really came to understand not just the patient's point of view after interviewing. So many, like countless patients who, and mothers who, who go through this, but we also had the opportunity to interview a lot of nurses and understood their perspective and what they needed.
And that allowed us to actually create a whole part of our braver box dedicated for training for the nurses of how to cope with this. Cause it's really hard on them to, have you seen that Trish, with the nurses that you've dealt with that, or that you've worked with that. After experience, after supporting someone who's had a loss?
What t type of impact do
trish: Oh, it's a side of labor and delivery [00:10:00] that not many people think about. I just in general, when people are like, oh, you're a labor nurse, it's so amazing. And I, every single time. That someone says that to me I see those moms and dads that I've been there for their loss, because I'm, and I'm honored I am honored that I get to be there at such an important moment for them, and I want to back up just a little bit, because when you said that, you said about the dads, and you said she's really the one going through the loss, I really not to disagree physically, she is, she's, But as soon as you said that, like one of the most, like a moment I'll never forget in my life was the wail of a father that lost his child.
So for those of you guys listening this is a loss that impacts [00:11:00] everyone in the family. And It's hard. It's and the nurses, it's hard. And we, most of us, a lot of us are moms that are working with you. And we have to detach ourselves to be able to give you the care that you need. And I can't tell you how many times I've had to go sit in the break room or on the bathroom floor and just weep because I can so easily put myself in their place and feel, and I've had three pregnancy losses.
I've not had any late pregnancy losses. My family has, like I said, and I've seen my nieces. I've watched her. And my mother. My whole life I've watched my mother, and I've had the unique honor of being with so many women. It's way more common than people think, [00:12:00] but it's also, in some cases, preventable.
So if you're still sticking with me, I don't want you to let your fear take you, because one of the best things you can do is pay attention to fetal movement. So keep that in your mind, fetal movement. And I tell my girls all the time. I don't care if you think you're being crazy. If you think baby's not moving as much, go in and get checked.
We'd rather you come in 20 times and be wrong than to be right. So that's just my little plug right there. But that again, so What I have seen, and I've done travel nursing, so you've got a very unique perspective here because I've been at a lot of hospitals, a wide range of hospitals from private to, to state to whatever, and.
And I've been a nurse for a long time, so I've seen it morph from where we had the little crocheted things that the little older ladies made for our bereavement [00:13:00] kits to where us nurses would put together stuff at the nurse's station to really nice boxes like what you have. I've seen some really amazing boxes as well.
I think what I love about. Your box and about the collection idea of it is that it's so honoring to this little life and to this existence and what I like about the box in particular, because, for a lot of my a good amount of my career, we didn't have. Like a thing to put it in, what I like about that is then the family has the option to open or not open. To see or not see when they're ready. So I really like that a lot. So I'd love for you to maybe I can take them through my side of it. But maybe you can walk through what's inside your [00:14:00] kit, inside the box.
trina: I'd love to.
And thank you so much for your comments. It was really important to us that we spent a good amount of our energy focusing on the fact that this baby is not going to be forgotten. And I think I find it interesting that when someone's grieving, it's not like they just want to forget about what they experienced, you'll find some people that don't like to talk about it openly.
And that being said. I'll talk more about this in a little bit, but you should definitely support someone with where they're at with their grief and not bringing it up at a time on your terms, but let them talk to you about it on their terms. But going back to what I was saying, I find that a lot of people talk about their grief and that's how they get through it.
They don't want their baby to be forgotten. They don't want it to seem like it just happened and never existed again. This is, they are a part of their family. And for those reasons, [00:15:00] the outside of that box says, forget me not, a box dedicated to mothers who, whose loss will never be forgotten.
So inside, we have actually have two boxes, and The reason we had two, we have two boxes is one for mothers who experienced a loss after 20 weeks. So this is going to look different than a loss that was experienced before 20 weeks. And our last four 20 weeks is for those mothers who have an early loss that again, sometimes, unfortunately, just get swept under the rug.
And we want to not forget them because their loss is significant. And so in our later loss box after 20 weeks. We have a couple of things. So this is going to be a situation where the mother is able to hold the baby and the it and so we include a Swaddle wrap that makes it easy to take photos to put the baby in the most natural [00:16:00] position possible We also include two footprint engraved Bracelets for the mother to wear as well as her support person whether that's her spouse Whether that's her partner whether it's your mother or friend Someone to visually grieve with them.
I've had a I know of a mother who still wears her bracelet after a year. It's something that brings her comfort. We also have a support journal. This is an area where the mother and her partner can write down their story about what feelings they had. During the actual loss and, you might find this as well, but I find a lot of patients who go through a loss aren't ready to look at those keepsakes for a long time.
Some of them, I know of hospitals will keep. We'll keep photos of the baby that they take for up to I think 10 or 15 years [00:17:00] and they get mothers 10 years later that say, Okay, now I'm ready to look at these photos. And so we have a display area to put their photo. We have. An area on the back of the box where they can use our adhesive letters to actually customize the back of our box with the baby's name and the date and this box is beautiful.
It's meant to be put as a display or it can be put in the closet and put away until they're ready. Really? We wanted to create an experience so that it would support a mother on their grave journey ahead because I've looked at this. I've studied grief a lot, Trish, and one thing I've come to find is mothers and fathers, when they have, or anyone who's going through like major grief or major trauma, when they have more resources and support at the beginning of their journey, where they feel like they're not alone and they feel like they have, [00:18:00] they feel like they have support that's going to drastically effectively.
And their grief journey ahead, where it could potentially help reduce further loss. There's been research that has shown that. People who have one loss and have major trauma. It can impact the next pregnancy as well. We also have an area where. They have a support plan. And so for the mothers.
And the father is whenever they feel like they're at. Their lowest, they can look at their support plan and say, okay. This is what I wrote down. These are three activities that bring me joy. I'm going to start doing those. Or here are three people you can call when you need support now. Or here are three professionals that you can contact now.
We also have an area for support groups for people you can call if you need help. And then, and we also have, this is one of my favorite parts, actually. It's, there's an area in this, my story journal where The nurse [00:19:00] can write a custom letter to the patient because I have such a bond with my nurses That were there during my pregnancy deliveries They like I have such a love for nurses like you trash like that you guys You have this amazing combination that I don't feel like a lot of people have where you have this intellectual superpower, but you also are armed with empathy.
And those two just aren't combined that often, which make you remarkable human beings. And I'm just so honored to be able to speak. With you and with so many nurses as I go through this journey of getting our Bravement boxes into hospitals
trish: And this is a good point to say until they're not because you and I were talking Before we started About what to do and this is for those of you guys listening who have not had a loss Or those of you who are listening who have or whatever [00:20:00] but if you have a labor and delivery nurse Who is not treating you well, or who is disrespectful, who you aren't jiving with.
It is really important that you are connected with your labor and delivery nurse. This is your birth, and I say this all the time. You guys might be sick of it, but this is your birth with this baby. This is the only time this moment will happen. Only time. This experience, you and this baby. So if your nurse is not doing what she needs to be doing and that's what you decide it's supposed to be, like if you're not connecting, it's okay.
You're human beings. We don't always connect. We may not always have that thing, but it's very important in birth. And in death that you feel supported and respected, honored. I am very passionate about [00:21:00] teaching my students and my members especially and all of you guys feeling empowered enough to fire your nurse.
If you guys are in a position ever where you do not feel that you're getting the care that you should be getting, because it's more than her just doing her job. It's more than that when it comes to nursing, it is more than that. So if you don't feel like you're getting that, and I'm going to leave it there, then you can always shoot me an email, but you can very politely say, Hey we're not connecting.
I don't feel like you're giving me what I need right now, and it's not personal, but could you please ask your charge nurse to reassign a nurse to me? And if she acts, is she acts like a stink, then you've made a perfectly wonderful decision. You know it, you just got confirmation. If she starts crying or she sincerely apologizes and ask for a second chance, then you decide what to do in that moment, because you may have just [00:22:00] woken up a really good nurse who brought in her outside junk and she didn't mean to where people, it happens.
I've done it. And you may end up connecting with her forever. Like I have connections with some of my labor patients that I mean, 15 years ago that are still friends with me on Facebook. So I just want to encourage you all, no matter what your situation is, that your labor nurse should be your one number one advocate.
You should know beyond a shadow of a doubt, no matter what it is you want, that she is on your team. Done with that. I'm off the soapbox. Sorry.
trina: I love that though. That's important because sometimes there is a disconnect and that's a big part of why we offered nurse training is I've I'm coming to find that when There's a as a patient in the hospital that is having a pregnancy loss It is a really hard thing to support as a nurse not just [00:23:00] for the patient as you mentioned And so a lot of times what ends up happening is nurses are terrified.
They're terrified of knowing the right thing to say. They're worried they're going to say the wrong thing. And so a lot of times, like two or three nurses on their unit are the ones that take on the majority of those. And it is an emotional toll. I just heard the other day a nurse was saying, I can't even go into the same room that I helped deliver that baby.
And because it is so much trauma for me.
trish: In a good facility. Nurses should be required to have continuing education and I personally have taken seminars and workshops on my own time to get continuing education in that area because I am so passionate about it because I told you it's touched my family and I've had some students that have had losses.
But I think it's really important to note. That not all people have a [00:24:00] gift of coming alongside people who are grieving and to know that about yourself is also admirable. And so in most labor and delivery units, they rotate us. We haven't a chart or what have you, and they know who has had the losses and when so that something like that doesn't happen.
But what will happen behind the scenes is. There will be some swapping because someone will be like, I just, we never give a pregnant nurse a loss. That's just a, we don't do it type thing, but, I love that though.
trina: I also really appreciate the charge nurses that are sympathetic to people's needs and what they're capable of doing.
But I also think there's an opportunity for nurses to rise to a level. With the right tools to be able to be there. So in our trainings, we offer like really specific details. Like here's what you say when you have to tell someone that there's no longer a heartbeat. It is the [00:25:00] hardest thing ever. Here's some things to say when a patient opens up to you.
Here's some things to avoid doing things like that. It's we want to empower, not just patients, not just mothers and fathers, but we don't want to empower nurses through this because this is everyone's in this together. We can get through it
trish: Yeah. And I think the important thing, if you're a nurse or a doula or someone who supports a birthing person, I think the important thing to know is that from what I've heard from my own patients that I've supported through loss, is that they.
I can I, I've, I'm doing my best right now not to cry because I can very easily go right back into the rooms with some of these moms. And I've crawled up in the bed with them and cried with them. When my job is taken care of, like I have to do my job. So I can't like become a mush ball who can't [00:26:00] finish her job because the same labor nurse who does the delivery, who does the baby pictures, who does the footprints, who does all those things, does the same things for a baby who has Who you know, who's born sleeping either way and does the same things for the mom the fundal rub All those things have to be done.
But at the same time it's okay to show her That you feel with her and that you're crying with her You don't have to hide that but you have to do your job. We can't fall apart So it's also okay to go out and say I need someone to walk in there. I need a moment Both things are okay so Absolutely.
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. So I would love to hear, maybe real quick, if you have any tips for partners [00:27:00] after a loss. Is there anything that you educate the caregivers? What is your tips for navigating the loss and comforting the partners?
trina: It's a really great question. The first thing we have to understand is with grief, it's not a linear progression.
You don't go from A to B there's not really a destination. It, it doesn't have an end. It comes and goes like waves, but that doesn't mean that these traumatic experiences that we go through have to hold us captive forever. So to your question, whether it's a partner, whether it's a loved one that's going through this, that you're close to what do you say?
How do you be there for that person? So here are five guiding principles that I like to stick by. First of all, don't shy away from the reality of the situation at hand instead acknowledge their loss. So here's some phrases you can start out with. I'm so sorry for the loss of your [00:28:00] son.
I'm here to support you in your grieving journey ahead. Your grief is unique to you. There's no wrong feeling. My priority is to support you. How can I be here for you right now? Or what's the hardest part for you right now? And some people might respond with something like, it's really hard, but I'm okay, or find some way to spin it away from their pain.
And this is a really natural response to shy away from the pain for both parties so that the other person doesn't feel it doesn't feel uncomfortable. My thought is embrace the pain, feel it with them. So you might say things like, thank you for sharing that with me. This must hurt so much. I can't imagine what you're going through.
The third thing I like to talk about is approach your loved one with quiet presence and be flexible to their needs. Pay attention to cues that indicate whether they want to talk or maybe they want some [00:29:00] space and be mindful of this when it's a good time to bring it up. I talked about this a little bit earlier.
Like. When I was experiencing my loss, a really hard thing for me is if someone didn't know that I had a loss and they brought it up and they said, Hey how's the baby doing? Oh, I actually lost it. And they can't do anything about that because I didn't know it, but. Think of another situation where someone does know that you experienced something traumatic and approaching it with a quiet presence means you can discuss it gently, but don't go right to the painful feelings that they're feeling.
Maybe they're having a great day and they're not even thinking about it. And if you bring it up, not on their terms, it might be like, Oh, that is really hard to handle right now. As opposed to when the person who's going through the pain is bringing it up. That's when you need to be there for that person.
So another thing I said, number four is keep the attention on their experience. And it's natural to [00:30:00] want to relate with your own personal experiences. And if it feels right, or if they ask, then absolutely share. But when in doubt, I would lean more towards listening is your best option. And number five is I hear people worry probably mostly about not knowing what to say or saying the wrong thing.
But just remember your job is their support. is to offer support. It's to, it's not to offer solutions. It's not to be their therapist. You don't have to fill the silence with your solutions. Sometimes just filling in the silence means just being there in silence with them. Just being there can provide an enormous sense of comfort and support.
I'll close with this is always do something rather than nothing.
trish: Yeah, and I want to throw in a couple things because I have been the mouse in the corner in a [00:31:00] lot of losses because I am doing my job and family are coming in and they don't see me per se, because I'm staff and I've heard things like, oh, I'm so sorry but I'm, I'm so thankful you can have another baby or or even, what happened?
That is not the time. It doesn't matter. What happened that feels so guilt filled and shame filled don't ask them what happened. It doesn't matter. They've lost their baby like you can just say, I'm sorry, like I'm here for you. Like asking questions, not the time unless you're like, Hey, what can I do for you?
And the other thing that I would really recommend having gone through some. Trials in my life that involved hospital type stays and different things is [00:32:00] practicality like provide meals. If they have other children go and babysit because. She is still postpartum. She is still going to have her milk come in.
She is still going to have to take care of her perineum. She may even have stitches. She is still going to have to go to follow ups, along with, depending on the age of the baby, Planning a funeral, planning services, and doing all these other things on top of healing through postpartum. So I just want you to be mindful of that if you're listening, that she still needs to be taken care of.
That is really important to remember, and I really agree with Trina just don't say nothing. If you can't feel, if you don't know what to say, don't say nothing, because it's way better than just talking for talking's sake, and I am one to talk because I am a talker. It's [00:33:00] just better, I've learned after years and years of doing this, to just sit there, to just sit in silence, hold her hand, and cry with her.
It's enough. That's what they need. And let her talk. Let him talk. Yes. Let them feel this, feel the silence. And it's uncomfortable at first, but if you wait long enough, they're going to feel permission to talk about their baby. And to tell you how they feel about what's going on, or just maybe how they felt when they saw the baby, or the baby's hair, or their fingers, or their toes, or the things that any parent wants to talk about, and that's what they need.
I absolutely love that.
trina: I could add to that as well. I think sometimes, by no fault, Their own mothers and fathers sometimes feel this sense of shame. Like your question earlier that someone else [00:34:00] said, what happened? So inappropriate, but. But it happens. It happens. And it's that's something I tell nurses, is tell your patient, this is not your fault.
In fact, Brene Brown, she said something so impactful to me. And she said that, When we experience shame, we come up with these narratives in our minds to support this shame that hold us captive. And so sometimes it's helpful just to recognize that narrative and think, what am I telling myself? Am I telling myself there's something I did wrong?
You didn't do anything wrong. One in six pregnancies end in a loss. I'm sure your listeners are going to find, a lot of your listeners are going to find that they, there's, they're
trish: not alone in this. They've experienced loss in some way. Yeah.
trina: Yeah. So that's one thing to keep in mind is this is not your fault.
This we're, you have a support and you are not alone in this. And we just forgive me, not, we just, we [00:35:00] care for our moms so much. And if there's, if we will have made the smallest impact to make this horrible situation, just a little bit better, we will have seen this as an enormous accomplishment.
trish: I love that so much. And I think, it's so important inside of our membership. We have some. Unbelievable. Conversations about things that just don't get talked about. And we talk a lot about pregnancy loss, and you're right. Because on my team, I alone have had three losses. And the rest of my team it's astounding.
The number of losses combined. The number of children combined. Because I also have seven children. We've got a lot of children. We have a lot of babies that are... No longer with us. And so I want to say from that side We those babies existed for us and it doesn't matter if we had a loss at [00:36:00] seven weeks or 40 weeks like those babies existed for us and We want to honor them.
So to all of our listeners that have stuck with us this far I don't want you guys to be filled with fear Because we just don't want you to be filled with fear. That's that. That simple. Remember that the number one way that you can tell that everything is going well with your pregnancy, that baby is well oxygenated, is by fetal movement.
So this is why we are so passionate about if you feel anything is off, go in, get checked. It's okay to go in. At any time, no problem. Do your fetal kit counts. Thank you so much, Trina, for coming
trina: today. Thank you, Trish. I love everything you stand for. I just want to say how amazed I am by how you empower these mamas and give them the opportunity for a choice [00:37:00] with, within their birth experience.
So thank you so much for all you do. I've really enjoyed listening to your podcast and thank you so much for having me as a guest. I'm truly honored.
trish: Awesome, thank you so
trish: I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Birth Experience with Labor Nurse Mama. I know it was a heavy one, but it's really important that we honor these mothers and these babies and talk about it. Join me next Friday. Bye for now.