“I felt horrible. I didn’t get to bury my baby. I would just picture it in a medical waste bag in some dump.”
I remember the first time meeting Cheryl Guinan. It was during a news shoot for a story about March of Dimes. I recall listening to her story about miscarrying and why this organization meant so much to her. But through the pain there was hope in her words and her strength shined through.
“No one ever talked about the other side of pregnancy, the one where you lose a child,” said Guinan. “I had no idea at first where to turn after seeing the ultra sound tech’s face during that first ultra sound, and then hearing the doctor come in and tell me that my baby had no heartbeat.”
After receiving the heartbreaking news, Cheryl recalls the other challenges that ensued. “My miscarriage was hard. My body never expelled my baby. I was prescribed meds to basically start labor to begin the process of removing my Peanut (the nickname we had for him or her from my womb), [and] that in itself was a new form of torture to experience. I was responsible for taking three pills to remove a child from me that I could not come to terms with was not living…I was still in shock, hopeful, that the doctors were wrong.”
Soon after the miscarriage, Cheryl began to battle depression. She needed the strength of others to help her through, and that’s when she learned about March of Dimes. “One day I saw some March of Dimes walk information due to a friend putting a team together to raise awareness. I joined her team and that was the beginning of my healing. It was a way to remember my sweet Peanut and do some good. It was later at the March for Babies that I was brave enough to announce I was pregnant again.”
Cheryl’s daughter, Addison, was determined to make an early appearance to the world. “She was born pretty septic and spent a short period in the NICU. I continued to support March of Dimes, [and] I made friend through it that understood all these emotion of happiness mixed with fear and doubt.”
Healing in her own journey, Cheryl began sharing her story at various events, raising money to support the cause, and helping other moms experiencing similar heartbreak. “I did all this in the hope that with more research, one day we could prevent this pain and loss for other families,” said Guinan.
While Cheryl had a lot on her plate at the time, it was only worsened by an abusive relationship. “When I left my abuser it was overwhelming. I loved him, yet I couldn’t love him anymore. I was not going to let my daughter grow up to think any of that was okay.
“Domestic abuse is an extremely complex situation. It’s never as easy as just leaving and being out of it. I was a new mom [who] was scared and feared I was going to lose my home, my child, and my life in all aspects…I didn’t understand how insane and wrong my actual situation was. When I began to understand, I felt I had to do a lot of the foot work on my own. I was embarrassed by what my life had come to be.”
But once again, through her own trials Cheryl began to advocate for other women facing her pain. “I have now started to advocate for continued support of the Violence Against Women’s Act. I’m sharing my story with state senators. I write to our government about our community’s/state’s huge need of help to handle the high amount of abuse we have here in Nevada, and the very limited amount of resources to help with this massive issue. I open my doors often to be a safe place for someone to ask questions, [and look] forward to one day soon being able to find the time to go through training to volunteer more with actual victims in person at Safe Embrace.”
Fast forward to February 2018… I ran into Cheryl at the Go Red for Women Luncheon and was thrilled to see how well she was doing. She shared all she was doing to give others a voice and a safe place to go when they felt like there was no where to turn to. She also started a blog, sharing more of her life experience’s with others.
“I am also attempting to put together a screening of a film that discuses the court system, how it can re-victimize abuse victims, and bring more education to the topic. I am driven to give back to the groups and community as a way to honor and thank everyone for all they did to support my daughter and I by getting us through that dark, yet empowering moment in our lives,” Guinan said. “I say empowering because I did it and I’m stronger and braver than I have ever been in my life. I want to now help someone else find their own strength again to rebuild and heal.”
Cheryl adds, “I’ve found a bit more confidence in me that had been hiding. So much so, I might actually enroll in college! One of my biggest fears I have to overcome. The biggest change [though] is I’m really the most sure of who I am than I have ever felt in my entire life. I have found an amazing group of friends that have really pushed me out of my comfort zone and are helping me to grow more than I ever thought I could.”
More than 500,000 women in the U.S. miscarry each year, and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men, over the age of 18 in the U.S., have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Cheryl’s message to anyone out there fighting these battles is, “There is no one way to get through what you are going through. While we might share the same events, there is only one of you and a few ways you can go to get through it. My way might not be right for you. That’s okay. Trust yourself, love yourself, fight for what you know is right for you. Go to sleep and repeat the next day. It’s more than okay to feel the emotions and it’s okay to fail. Just try again and learn a little something from your previous fail.”