This mom is sharing her story of pregnancy loss so others won't struggle alone.

When it comes to miscarriage we kind of have it all wrong.

Rachel Lewis has had five miscarriages.

They were painful and heartbreaking for her and her family. On top of the intense grief and inner turmoil she was feeling, Rachel was met with a mixture of awkwardness and expectation to move on — and to do so quickly. There can also be an assumption that miscarriage is someone's fault. Rachel found herself scouring her own behavior to find a reason why it happened.

"We blame ourselves because we need to blame something," Rachel explains. "It was our body's one job to make a baby and keep it safe."


Rachel, pregnant with her daughter Ellie. Photo by Sarah Thompson.

Miscarriage holds a stigma in our culture, but many of the things women attribute miscarriage to are old wives' tales.

That jog you took? A stressful day at work? Not going to cause a miscarriage, says Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Irrational as it seems now, Rachel thought not drinking enough water led to her miscarriage.

“Historically, medical professionals have played a role in perpetuating society’s hush-hush treatment of miscarriage,” says Williams. He doesn’t even like to use the term "miscarriage" because of the blame it places on the mother. “It implies not carrying properly," he says. "The woman did nothing wrong.”

When women become pregnant, they are often told not to tell anyone for three months. "The implication behind that is you want to avoid talking about a miscarriage if you have one,” Williams says.

Rachel and her husband Ryan's announcement for their much hoped for "rainbow baby" — their third daughter, Ellie. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

But gun-shy behavior around miscarriage is odd because it is the most common complication associated with pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

High incidents of miscarriage in early pregnancy isn’t actually a bad thing either. It’s a body doing its job.

In those first few weeks of pregnancy, the body evaluates the embryo to determine if it is viable; if it is not, the body will naturally abort the pregnancy. The vast majority of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormality, and according to Williams, there is absolutely nothing a mother or even a doctor, can do to prevent a chromosomally unviable pregnancy.

To put it simply: With miscarriage, your body is not failing and neither are you.

Rachel and her husband Ryan, pregnant with their oldest daughter, prior to any losses. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

But we are failing in our hesitancy to discuss it.

Why is it so awkward to openly talk about miscarriage at work? Why are we told to keep our pregnancies private until we're "sure" they will go to full-term? Why isn’t miscarriage a more prominent part of sex education and health courses? Perhaps if we, as a society, were more educated in the prevalence and often unpreventable nature of miscarriage, we would be better able to cope with miscarriages and provide better support systems to women who are going through them.

Rachel at the OB-GYN office. She had just had an ultrasound where they suspected trouble and an ectopic pregnancy. She says, "I took this picture to remember what heartbreak looked like." Photo via Rachel Lewis.

“My routine OB-GYN care in no way prepared me for the mental onslaught of grief, anxiety, depression and numbness that accompanied my pregnancy losses,” Rachel says. Her miscarriages were early, within the first eight weeks, and she felt that her doctor didn’t take her needs seriously given that miscarriages are so common early on.

"Miscarriage can be scary, overwhelming, and heartbreaking — not to mention extremely painful," she elaborates. "Knowing that our OB sees this all the time does not save us from experiencing all the rawness of the pain and grief.”

Rachel now spends her time writing about her experience with miscarriage in the hopes that she can provide comfort to anyone struggling in silence.

Photo by Sarah Thompson.

Rachel wants to bring the universal experience of miscarriage out of hiding. "Sure, we've broken the taboo about discussing birth control and preventing pregnancies. But admitting that we've endured a loss is still difficult. Secrecy and shame shroud this event, starving both women and men of the support they desperately need."

Rachel is bravely taking the step to start the conversation. We should all follow her lead.

Rachel and her husband Ryan along with their daughters Maddy, Leyla, and Ellie. Photo via Rachel Lewis.

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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