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I waited until I was 12 weeks along to announce my pregnancy to my "web of people" on social media.

"HEY, YOU GUYS. WE'RE HAVIN' A BAYBAY!" was plastered all over my wall, along with some super adorable pregnancy announcement photos my friend snapped a few weeks before. The support and love flew in. The predictions of the sex and the hunt to find the perfect name started. We had just announced our pregnancy to thousands of our friends and family.

Photo by Amy Lynn, used with permission from Rebecca Swift.


We were over the moon excited. And then, two days later, I started bleeding.

I called for my partner, Patrick, from the bathroom with a shaky voice. It wasn't just a dot of blood. It wasn't brown. It was bright red and there was a lot of it. I remember how huge his eyes were.

We both immediately knew this couldn't be right. After friends assured us that a little bleeding is fine and that everything was most likely OK, we called the clinic and set up an appointment for the next morning.

There wasn't any cramping (yet), and we spent the evening scouring Google and WebMD for any answers we could find. The most information we could dig up was from equally worried women begging for answers themselves on random forums. The conversations always started with blood. "What color was it? How much was there? Was there cramping? How far along are you?" But still, this was all speculation and every case seemed to vary, so we looked forward to seeing our doctor as soon as possible.

As we arrived for our appointment the next day, we walked hand-in-hand and attempted to ease the tension with jokes and banter. We opened up the famed Pokemon app our kids had been playing while we waited, and we giggled about finding a Pokemon sitting on the exam table between the stirrups and my legs. We were nervous, but at least we would have answers in the near future.

The doctor came in and we got right down to business. He poured the goop below my stomach, lifted the heart monitor, and placed it down against my skin. Pat and I took a deep breath and waited.

Image via iStock.

I heard a slow heartbeat and almost knocked the doctor over with excitement, and he said "No ... that's your heartbeat." And then, nothing. We couldn't find a beat. The tears immediately started streaming.

We moved into the ultrasound room, and once again, it was confirmed that there was no heartbeat. We cried.

We were shown that the embryo had actually stopped growing at seven weeks. They asked if I wanted the ultrasound picture. I whispered "no."

I learned there are two separate functions in the growth process, and while the fetus growth had halted, the amniotic sac had not, which is why my body continued to think and operate like I was pregnant several weeks after.

Then, I learned there are two options to remove what they now referred to as the "contents of the uterus." I could get a D&C (dilation and curettage), where they surgically open the cervix and remove or "vacuum" out the contents, or let nature run its course. I didn't know much about either, so I didn't decide right away. If I wanted to, I could have the procedure the next morning. I told them I would be in touch.

As we walked out, none of the nurses made eye contact. I have never felt so cold or alone while surrounded by a group of women. I sniffled hard one last time and tried to keep it together.

The rest of the night was a blur. We held each other, told family members and close friends. Then I thought of the thousands of people we told on Facebook. I quickly felt embarrassed. How would I dodge a million questions in parking lots and at parties and over social media over the next few months?  We would think about that later, we decided.

I was told having the D&C procedure was a "pleasant" way to speed up the process and obtain some closure, so we chose to have the procedure and scheduled an appointment for the next day. Then, the cramps started.

It was around 8:30 p.m. when I started feeling the discomfort. These "cramps" were more painful than any period cramping I had experienced. And over the next hour, as they kept coming back, the time in between was shortening from 15 minutes, to 10 minutes, to five minutes...

I decided to sleep it off and mentally prepare myself for the next day. But I couldn't sleep. I was tossing and turning.

The cramps were more painful than ever, and I raised and contorted my pelvis and scrunched into the fetal position to try to suppress it. It was excruciating.

This was more painful than giving birth to either of my two daughters (and, yes, I had pain meds back then). I realized as the cramping grew more frequent and painful, they weren't cramps at all — they were contractions. I was going into labor.

Patrick carried me to the bathtub and we ran a warm bath with Epsom salt. The words of my doctor flashed through my mind: "You may feel pain. You might not. It can happen naturally. You might not even notice."

I winced through the pain, and every time I had a contraction, a wave of blood filled the tub. Patrick held my hand (in between dry heaving into the bathroom sink), and after a half hour of the most pain I've ever experienced in my life, I said "it's coming." And I pushed out a small fluid-filled amniotic sac with a tiny embryo inside. The pain stopped all at once. We could breathe.

Image via iStock.

We didn't know it could happen this way. I didn't know you could go through the pain of childbirth with a miscarriage.

I didn't know how I felt about being 31 and not knowing that this completely natural thing thousands of women go through every single day was physically possible.

How is my body's natural way of flushing out a baby that wasn't going to thrive, and the pain involved, something I had never heard of before?

Even as we had researched our options online, nothing had led us to believe that not immediately having a D&C could leave us in this position. I feel my doctor could have better served me by preparing me for the worse-case scenario, not the best case.

I dried off, tossed on a robe, and scooped up the amniotic sac in my hands. I placed it in a tiny gold jewelry box of my daughter's. It was the best thing I could find at 1 a.m. Somehow it felt to me like a gold encrusted shrine wouldn't have sufficed for this poor little baby. Biased mother, you know.

It rained that night. Patrick and I found an area in our garden in the backyard. He grabbed a shovel and started digging as the rain fell on us. It was serene and quiet out, and I was thankful to have his support and kindness there by my side.

Watching a father-to-be dig a hole and then place a golden box into the dirt — something I thought was going to be our child we would raise for the rest of our lives — was one of the hardest things I have experienced in this lifetime. I was glad it was over.

The next day, I woke up tired, defeated, and sick to my stomach because, although the hard part was over, I still had to admit to the world what had happened.

I like to keep a positive attitude on social media, but I couldn't ignore this. So I trudged over to the computer and laid it all out:

Image via Rebecca Swift.

"It's with a heavy, heavy heart that I share this. Although it's not the preferred platform, you have all been so wonderfully supportive in sharing our happiness. I thought we were in the clear at 12 weeks, but unfortunately our little one didn't make it past that. Thank you so much for the kindness, the love and support, and the thoughts and prayers. It means the world to us."

The thing I was mortifyingly embarrassed to admit and dreaded putting out there quickly became my saving grace. Love surrounded us. The support and the uplifting messages poured in. We didn't feel alone.

Friends and acquaintances from high school and college and all walks of life, husbands of wives who had gone through it themselves, women who had braved the dreaded bathtub scene all reached out to send their love. It felt so good to talk about it. I know a lot of people suffer in silence.

An estimated 1 in 6 pregnancies end in miscarriage. There are up to a million cases in the United States alone per year.

For me, learning these statistics and knowing how common miscarriage is hugely helped me with the grieving process. I know we all grieve differently, some publicly and some privately, but the support and stories that have been shared with me since publicly announcing my miscarriage have made me feel less alone.

I wonder how more prepared I would have been in making a decision about my D&C had I been able to find more detailed information from women who had been through this.

That's why it's been heavy on my heart to share my personal experience. As real and painful and horrifying as it was, I've decided not to sugarcoat it for a second. Because if I'd known what a miscarriage could really be like, I would have been more prepared for what happened to me that night.

For those of you who have gone through or are going through a miscarriage, know that I'm grieving with you and surrounding you with my love. Know that it's more than OK to talk about, and there are millions of women just like you. You are not alone.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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