Todays guest brings her experience and wisdom to help us all be more inclusive in our loss. Whether just in everyday life, support group settings or if you have a platform, you will learn something that will help.
We also talk about how to make sure you include yourself and find the support you need. You belong and your grief matters.
Find Aditi at www.pilsc.org
PIL support line: 1-888-910-1551
Ready to work with me? come to a consult call and let’s talk.
If you have any questions, let me know here:
If you would like to share your baby’s story on the podcast, submit here: https://smoothstonescoaching.com/podcast-submissions
Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
Photo provided by Aditi Loveridge
Today’s guest is a coach and she runs an amazing charity support center in Alberta, Canada, and that is actually where I am from. So I love that, and it’s been so hard during Covid, I cannot cross the border and see my family. Um, but it was just nice to talk to a fellow Canadian.
She was actually the first coach I ever found when I was starting my business. Of course, you just look up other baby loss coaches and her name was the first one that came up, so it was a really a full circle moment for me to get to talk to her and interview her here on the podcast for you. And I know you’re gonna love this episode.
It’s gonna be so helpful for everyone. Let’s get started.
I wanna welcome Aditi leverage to the podcast today. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. And. I always start my interviews by asking my guests to tell us a little bit about their babies’ lives. And I think so many times we don’t get the opportunity to talk about their lives since their story is so wrapped up in their desks.
Um, would you just take a minute and tell us about your babies and maybe. A favorite memory or little thing that you’d wanna share? Just like any mom would love to share about their living kids. And then just tell us any lessons that they taught you. Hmm. Yeah, that’s a really good question. I’ve, I, I’ve done so many podcasts and no one’s asked me about, about my baby’s lives, so thank you for asking that.
I appreciate it. Hmm. I would say my, with my first pregnancy, which was my first loss, um, I didn’t know that I was pregnant when I, um, when I started to experience symptoms of loss, um, I went in because I wasn’t feeling good, but I didn’t know that I was pregnant at the time. Um, and I remember the, the, um, emergency room nurse came in and.
And told me, um, she’s like, you’re pregnant. Um, in the next breath, she said, and I think we’re, you’re losing it. But all that I heard in that moment was that I was pregnant. And I’ll never forget that feeling because up until then I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted children. But when I knew that I was pregnant and she said those words to me, it was like everything shifted.
And I remember just. Instantly connecting to this little being that, that was, uh, fighting inside of me. And, um, yeah, that first pregnancy taught me that I indeed did wanna have children, um, and that I could do it even if it was gonna be hard. So I think that was my lesson from my first and their little bit about their life.
Um, and then my second was a later loss that, um, I, uh, gave birth to naturally at home. Um, and yeah, that experience was such a profound experience for me. It was, I. I had a lot of distrust in my body and being able to meet this little being at home, um, on my own terms was really empowering for me. I started to trust my body again, and it taught me that, um, my body.
Is powerful even if you don’t get to see all of the children that I, that I have carried, um, on the outside. So, and as a whole, I think my children, um, my two losses in particular have taught me that I am different. I am different from who I was before them. And I always say this, that perhaps I needed to be different.
Doesn’t mean bad. It can also mean very, very good. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing your babies and I’m so sorry they didn’t get to stay, but I think, like you said, it is beautiful how their lives do change us no matter how long um, they were with us. I really was excited to have you come on and talk because I think that you do such a good job in your work as a coach and also in your pregnancy loss support center.
Of being very inclusive of all the humans and all their different circumstances. And so I was wondering if you would tell us a little bit why that is so important to you to be purposefully inclusive as you support people who are going through pregnancy loss. Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good question. Um, I.
I think the work that I do and not, I think, I know that the work that I do is just a manifestation of, of my personal journey. And so this work for me isn’t work. It’s, it’s definitely, it’s my life story. Um, and I. And I’m very grateful that I, that I have this platform now to, to support others who are going through similar experiences.
So my first, um, experience of loss, um, I dealt with a lot of systemic racism within the medical system. Um, and I almost lost my life because the medical providers that were caring for me, unfortunately, Um, let my brown skin kind of take over the care that they were providing. Um, and that was nine years ago, I believe.
Um, and it took me only until recently to actually start processing and, and speaking up about it. And so that experience was super complex and traumatizing. A, because I lost a baby, my first baby, and then b I had all of this trauma around. Um, The mistreatment of the medical care that I received, um, because of the racism.
Um, so there was a lot of layers and I started to the, the layers around the racism recently and in the United States, you all, you all in the United States have statistics. Um, so the way that United States tracks. Statistics, you do track them by race, so you have very good statistics. And we all know that like black maternal health is, is people that are black in the United States giving birth, um, are at more risk of stillbirth, um, maternal death, all of those things.
Um, in Canada, we don’t trust statistics by race. And so I think what that does is when we are not tracking right by race, we as Canadians and people looking at Canada seem to think that it’s not an issue and it very much is an issue. It’s just something that we don’t actively talk about. Um, so that personal experience for me, I took that, um, as I.
As I sat with clients, I realized that many clients were, were white, and I was like, well, I’m a person of color. Why are other people of color not coming to me? And as a previous social worker, I started to dig in and I was like, okay, well it’s for many, many, many reasons, and I can’t just expect people to come to me because I’m a person of color.
I have to actively. Really actively, proactively do the work and find out why they’re not coming. And so there’s so many reasons why, um, marginalized communities, whether you’re black, indigenous person of color, or LGBTQ plus, why they don’t engage in services like this. And the number one reason they don’t, in my opinion and from my personal experience, is that we don’t see ourselves represented in these spaces.
Most of the birthing community, the birthing and loss community is predominantly white. And that’s sort of the, the representation that’s out there. And so when I built, uh, our charity, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Center, that was one of our key found foundational missions was that we don’t just say that we’re in a, a diverse, um, community.
We actually proactively do what we can to. Affirm other people’s experiences. So whether you’re LGBTQ plus, whether you’re a black, indigenous person of color, um, whether you’ve had loss through, you know, surrogacy missed adoption, whether you’re struggling with fertility and you’re experiencing those grief and loss, um, feelings around that, you’re welcome in this space.
Um, We know that our work is not nearly done, it will never be done. Um, I always say to, um, our volunteers and our team that if I ever say to you, okay, our work here is done, um, then you need to, you need to be worried because our work will never be done. We’re gonna constantly be learning and unlearning and shifting and growing, um, to make this space more accessible for every person that experiences loss, uh, particularly those that are.
Are marginalized. Marginalized, yeah. And what I love about all of that is how you said you just decided on purpose from the beginning that this is very important to you and you’re gonna make it happen. And I think that’s so helpful for anyone listening if they’re kind of wondering. Where do they fit and how can they help and how can they be more inclusive?
I think the first step is deciding, um, to do it. Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree with that because I think that, um, you know, this last summer when the Black Lives Matter movement became more, um, predominant, um, oh, there was a lot of. Organizations and, um, quote unquote influencers out there that, you know, put up the black square and then really didn’t do any other work.
And, and for me, it’s not about performative allyship. Um, I am not black. I’m not indigenous. Um, I have a lot of loved ones in the LGBTQ plus community. Um, but I am a person of color who has walked every single day in skin that. Has experienced a lot of, um, I wanna say, well, I guess racism, hate, um, challenges and so I can’t speak for every, every person of course, but I know that for me, I could not advocate for the lost community if I wasn’t advocating for those other folks that I know share similar experiences and stories.
That I experienced, I didn’t want those people to have to walk, um, through this feeling like they didn’t have a place in this community. Yeah. Yeah. And you’ve done such a beautiful job, so can you, thank you. I was wondering if you could give us ways to include everyone or to be more inclusive, whether it’s in our personal life, right?
Like the people we talk to. Maybe in support groups or if we do have like a platform out there and we are supporting other lost parents, what are some ways we can do that or some ways that you’ve been able to do that? Yeah. Um, and, and again, I’m gonna, I’m gonna state that I am still learning. I still have my own biases.
I still mess up. Um, Through the learning that I’ve done, I would say some of the things that we, as people can do, I think language number one is really, really important. Um, so even if you’re not in your professional life, being mindful of the language that you use so that it’s, it’s not. Exclusive. Right.
So on our website, we, we don’t ever say women. Um, although we prominently serve people that identify as women, um, we consciously, intentionally have done that. Um, because we know that not every person who experiences loss is a woman or identifies as a woman. So we use language like individuals and people and folks.
Um, Parents, like you just said, I think that’s a, a, a pretty, a very good, um, inclusive kind of languaging. Um, when we’re speaking about, you know, people’s partners, we don’t just assume that if they are someone that identifies as a woman, that their partner is a man. Um, so we’ll use words like partner and, and then of course reflect back the language that.
Our community is, is, is saying, so we’re not, you know, using partner. If someone has told you that they have a husband, um, then we use husband of course. Um, but it’s just kind of. Opening it up so that people can see, okay, if I go there, I’m not gonna be assumed that, uh, like let’s say as a non-binary person, I do have the safety and the opportunity to let them know what my pronouns are.
Um, or if I’m a same sex couple, which we do have a lot of same sex couples accessing us over the last year, they don’t have to go through great lengths to explain right. That no, no, I don’t. It’s not a husband or it’s not a white, like, um, it just kind of evens. The playing field. So they’re not having to do that extra work, that extra emotional labor, um, right off the bat.
So that’s what I would say. And, and mimicking that language in your personal life, because I think a lot of people, we present ourselves in our professional world in one way, and then in our personal world, we kind of retreat back to the way that we have been brought up or the way that we know. But the thing is, There are people in your life that have lost and they’re always listening to the language that you use.
So if in your personal life you were using very gendered language, um, or making racial comments, those people are gonna remember that. Thank you. And how about, do you have any ideas about including, like you said, there are so many types of loss and I think, you know, a lot of times it’s. Miscarriage stillbirth and, but there’s just so many types of laws.
So how can we, you know, as fellow lost parents or like I said, if you are in support group situations or, or whatever, how can we help bring in people who don’t have. You know, quote unquote, that normal. I don’t know, I don’t know what the word is, but you know. Yeah, I know what you’re, I know what you’re saying.
Mainstream, like mm-hmm. Miscarriage, stillbirth. They’ve gone through a different type of experience and they might feel like they’re on the outside. How can we bring them in? Yeah. I think, I think again, it goes back to language, right? Like not getting wrapped up in, um, not getting wrapped up in the definitions of, of loss, right?
So, Okay, so if we have a stillbirth group and you know, you, this person had a loss at 15 weeks, and so technically that doesn’t fall under the medical, um, definition of stillbirth, but they are defining that experience as a stillbirth for themselves, then, then we welcome them. Right? So it’s like understanding that people get to be in charge and define their own experiences.
We don’t have. The right to do that. Um, so when we’re, again, talking language, it’s like I always say like we’re a place for people to come, um, who have experienced loss as defined by ’em. So we do have people that are accessing our, our supports, um, and our helpline in particular who have never had pregnancy or infant loss, but are.
Struggling with fertility for a number of years, and that is a grief and loss experience in my, in my personal opinion. And those people deserve to be supported through their, through their journey. So kind of mimicking that in the language and, and understanding that the definition of their loss isn’t as important as their experience and their feelings around thought loss, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I love that. And. I’m sure you would agree. Just that simple statement of a loss is a loss and we don’t need to compare them. And just knowing that we maybe can’t understand someone who’s had to say goodbye to a pregnancy that they wanted because of medical issues or had a failed transfer or any of the, you know, there’s just so many things.
That don’t fit inside a neat little box, but a loss mm-hmm. Is a loss, I think is the simplest way. And I think that’s what you’re saying is if someone feels like they’re grieving and they’ve had a loss, that we can just honor that for them. Yes. Yes. Exactly. Um, and I think that as support people, um, that that’s our, that’s our role is to not.
Push an agenda or tell somebody what their loss experience is. It’s just about holding space for, for that person’s loss experience to show up and for them to process it in whichever way they need. Yeah, and let’s talk a little bit about the flip side of that, which is there are so many people who feel like they are on the outside because.
Of whatever they’re thinking and feeling about, um, the support that they’re seeing or the loss community that, that they’re maybe judging their own loss. I think a lot of us, we’ve been kind of indoctrinated to dismiss, you know, an earlier loss or, you know, just certain things where society doesn’t give us that space to grieve the loss, so, What would you maybe say to someone who feels like they’re on the outside and they don’t know where they fit in?
How can we help them? Hmm. That’s a, that’s a good question. Um, my answer’s probably gonna be a little bit long-winded, but I, I’m gonna try to condense it. That’s okay. Go for it. I feel like. When like, and I think we do this as, as a society, um, that when we see stories, whether it’s in our loss, whether it’s in the world or whatever it might be, like even let’s say with c Ovid 19, right?
If we have a job in c Ovid 19 and we’re struggling, we tend to diminish our struggle because we know it could possibly be worse. Right, and I think that that’s what happens with a lot of these folks who are seeing themselves on the outside. They kind of see other people, or they’ve read other people or heard other people’s stories that are quote unquote, Worse than theirs.
And so we kind of toxic positivity our way out of it. We’re like, well, it could be worse. So, you know, I should be grateful that it wasn’t as bad. And that really diminishes our experience and our feelings that you know it. Yes, things could always be worse and I am still struggling. And both can be true and both need to be true.
And so I think that for people who are feeling on the outside, I think the first step is to go is to, for them to get real with themselves and to admit and give themselves permission that, you know what? I am struggling. And yes, my situation may not be quote unquote as bad. As somebody else’s. And it’s okay for me to be a part of this community and to receive support because if I am struggling, I am struggling and it doesn’t matter, um, that other people situation differs than mine.
I deserve that support. Um, does that, does that make sense? Yes. Yeah. I think that we do it, unfortunately, we do this little, a lot at, um, in societies. We really diminish. Our experiences and our feelings around our experiences, and that can really lead us to further isolating, um, ourselves in, in our journey.
Yeah, I love that. And I would just add too, again, that is sometimes when we’re, sometimes we have this belief that we have to be exactly the same as other people to be able to relate to them. Mm-hmm. And maybe just. This idea that we’ve all been through something really hard, and even if our situations aren’t exactly the same, um, we can make a place and we can find common ground and, and find support.
Even if we, we might have to try a few different places or things or whatever, but. That there’s always a place for us in just believing that, that it’s okay that we don’t look exactly like each other or have the exact same experience, but we can still support one another. Yes, exactly. Well, and I’d just like to finish up with asking you as someone maybe through your personal journey of loss in healing, who’s a little bit maybe on the other side of it, What is a message of hope that you would give to anyone listening, um, who’s, who’s gone through pregnancy loss and is just looking for, I dunno, a little brightness to help them?
Hmm. I would say that, um, to accept that you are going to be different. Except that you’re going to be different. And again, as I said earlier, different doesn’t always mean bad. I am a vastly different person today than I was then. And those babies that I didn’t get to meet, um, earth side are the reason I’m so different.
I moved through this world differently. Uh, my relationships are fuller. I parent in a different way. I speak up in a much different way, and. Honestly, I’m not saying that everything happens for a reason, ’cause I definitely do not believe that. However, if we are open to seeing some post-traumatic growth that that can come from.
Our experience. Um, it can be, it can be beautiful if we allow it to come. So I would say accept that you will be different and give yourself permission to, to be different. Thank you so much. That’s beautiful. And yeah, I agree. The same thing. I think it’s, we don’t need to say everything happens for a reason to people, but also it’s okay to find meaning and depth and.
And learn from the experiences that we go through as a human. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So yes, I agree with that. I love that message. Well, will you just tell, uh, people just a little bit about where they can find you and the resources you have? I know that you’re. You have a physical location, but you also have a lot of resources for people, um, anywhere.
So can you tell us a little bit about that? Yeah, so, um, the charity that I run is based in Canada, Calgary, Canada. However, um, we offer a bunch of remote services, uh, nationwide, so Canada and the United States. So we have coaching with myself and another coach that’s available. For anybody in North America.
Um, we have social workers. Those are for the folks that are particularly in Alberta. Um, I think our biggest and most impactful, um, Initiative that we’re, that we offer right now is our pregnancy and infant loss helpline. So it is a helpline that you can text into or chat on our web, and that is a helpline.
Uh, you get connected to peer support workers that are trained by us, um, who all have lived experience. We’ve got over 65, uh, peer volunteers with us right now. So, um, at any point of the journey that you’re in, You can text in and get some, um, peer connection and support from, from our volunteers. The number that you can reach out is 1 8 8 9 1 0 1 5 5 1, and then you can also find out more about all of our other We’ve got.
Like seven, eight different, um, peer support groups that we offer. Again, all remotely, we have people accessing from the United States and all across the world. Um, and you can find out more about our peer support groups and our one-on-one professional services at our website, which is, uh, www pils, so pi p i l ss c.org.
So pregnancy infant loss support center.org. Awesome. And you. Are you still taking volunteers for that support group if people feel like that’s something they would, or for the support line? I mean yes. We’re always looking for both our, um, group facilitators. ’cause those are also peer led. Um, and our helpline, we’re always looking for people to volunteer and you can be based anywhere, um, in North America.
Um, if you would like to volunteer. So if you’re looking for a way to give back in honor of your own journey, um, The helpline is a very, very powerful, meaningful way as well as our peer groups. Um, so yes, if you are interested in volunteering, you can, um, connect with us on our website or send us an email@example.com.
Okay. Awesome. And you do, you just recently started a podcast as well. What’s it called? Yeah. So yeah, thank you. Yeah, we started a podcast, it’s called Beyond the Loss, and so it’s myself and my co-founder Danielle, um, who host it. And we really give a platform to, you know, those diverse stories that really aren’t being told within the lost community.
So whether that’s. The diversity in the people that are telling the stories or the diversity in the stories themselves. Um, it’s, yeah, it’s been a really awesome experience so far and we talk about many, many things. So if you wanna listen to that, um, and come out in September, I will be, um, Facilitating a, a coach training.
So I will be from start to end. It’ll be certified coach training for those who would like to become a pregnancy and infant loss, um, coach. So, uh, if you’re interested in learning more about that, you can just, um, watch my social media pages and more information will be available for that. Yes. Amazing. And sometimes you sleep, I’m guessing some, sometimes I sleep, yes.
Oh, I just, even the support line, I have to just say that. I mean, it’s an incredible thing that you’ve built to have a vision of something like that where anyone from anywhere at any time can just call in and get support. Um, that’s gotta have been like a huge goal and just to see it happening. I just think it’s so amazing.
Yeah, it’s been, it’s been really cool. Um, we don’t actually do calls. It’s all through text or web chat as of right now. Um, we’re hoping that with increased funding then we would be able to expand into calls, but the text support has been, So phenomenal. We’ve, we’ve just really grown over the last, it’s been running almost a year now.
Um, and yeah, it’s just grown so much and just the community that like the volunteers have built amongst themselves too is just so beautiful to witness. And yeah, it’s just such a privilege and honor, um, to be able to have that. Pathway for people to access. Um, ’cause I think I would’ve, I would’ve found a lot of value in something like that when I, when I first experienced my loss.
So, yeah. Or when I was pregnant. When I was pregnant after loss. That was a really hard time. So, yeah, for sure. Well, and thank you for clar clarifying that. And I actually think so many people prefer text anyways. I think it’s, it’s beautiful to do it that way. So, yeah. Thank you. Thank you. So much for being here.
I really appreciate everything that you shared with us and everything that you do. So thank you again for, for being here. Well, thank you so much for having me on and for all the work that you do. And yeah, just having a platform where we can have these conversations. Thank you so much and I hope that any of you listening know that you are welcome here no matter what your circumstances are.
I would love the opportunity to hold space for you and to be your coach. I wanna remind you about my Drop the Mom Guild for Good Masterclass. You can register at the link in the show notes and come next week. It’s gonna be amazing. I hope you have the best day. I’m sending you all my love, and we’ll see you next time.