It’s October 15th, pregnancy and infant loss day. Chances are good you or someone you know has had been impacted by a lost pregancy as 1 in 4 women have experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Chances are also good you also had no idea how to comfort or care for the person going through the loss- be it your partner, a close friend or even yourself.
I remember very vividly the first miscarriage I had, even though it has been at least 9 years. I was 24, my husband and I were greeted with a very big surprise before he had secured his “real job” and it was a scary yet exciting time for us. We were paying rent to live with friends until we knew for sure where his job would take us. I remember riding my bike home from work, getting home feeling crampy and my back was hurting. I had forgotten my keys at work and my roommates weren’t home so when I realized something was really wrong, I sat in the garage crying until my husband got home from work. The hospital told me to stay lay down and relaxed and put ice on my tummy. The next day, an ultrasound confirmed the baby was 6 weeks, 5 days old and there was no heartbeat. 2 weeks later the actual miscarriage occurred. I’ll spare you the details, but it was a painful, mentally draining, bloody nightmare. We had already told our friends and family and explaining the miscarriage felt shameful and embarrassing as though my body had failed to do something so simple. Many women I know can relate to the feeling of failure, worrying about later pregnancies, thinking will I ever have kids and so many other emotions.
If you are the one miscarrying: It’s completely normal to feel a huge range of emotions between the hormonal drops and the entire situation. I had a lot of hate during that time. I remember going from happy to sad to angry to have a complete meltdown. I remember being furious with God, hating my friends that were pregnant, hating my job (I worked at a daycare at the time) and hating anyone that said the wrong thing. If you’ve had a miscarriage and are having trouble coping, call your hospital to see if there is counseling available or check out forums about pregnancy loss. While it’s normal to be upset, long periods of depression are not healthy and you should talk to your doctor if there is a concern. Find a friend to confide in. Try to practice self-care and do things that are beneficial to your body rather than destructive such as excessive exercise, dieting, drinking or other destructive practices. I understand this won’t be a popular message for some: It’s your body, but remember the father of the baby has emotions too. You’ll be feeling a different sort of pain, but he will be confused and won’t know how to comfort you, and won’t understand the physical pain of a miscarriage. Communicate and share your fears. You don’t need to share every gory detail, but keep in mind a part of him will change too and he may need a little support or direction on how to support you.
If you have a friend or loved one that is going through a miscarriage and have never been through one it’s hard to know what to do. Every woman handles a loss differently. The best thing you can do is say I’m sorry for your loss, what can I for you and just listen to her. As encouraging as it may seem to say “maybe now wasn’t the right time” or “everything happens for a reason” it probably won’t be comforting. It will be a slap in the face. She will be wondering what caused it, what could she have done different and why her baby. DO NOT suggest things that she may have done wrong that caused a miscarriage (such a working out, stress, a glass of wine, riding a bike etc). Don’t you dare make comments regarding how far along the pregnancy was. It hurts deep no matter how far you are in the pregnancy. Just listen. Suggest going for a walk or a movie to get them out of the house. If you’re uncomfortable approaching them but want to do something nice you can always send a card, a gift certificate or flowers just to let them know they aren’t alone.
If you’re a man whose spouse is having a miscarriage, it’s okay to have feelings too. I remember the hardest part for my husband was not knowing what to do with me. I was a mess and he couldn’t fix it. Time will heal wounds. Take her out on a date, get flowers, and offer to listen. Emotional support is really important during this time. If she’s crying, hold her- don’t run away. If she’s angry, understand she’s not mad at you, she’s mad at the situation. If you are struggling with the loss, talk to someone. I was shocked to hear my husband was upset about the loss. I was so caught up in myself and how I was feeling I didn’t even think about him. If sex is on the brain, don’t ask “so when can we have sex again?” It will take time for her to heal physically and mentally, try not to take it personally. Just love her.
Our miscarriage story didn’t end with 1, it ended with 4 miscarriages and 2 rainbow babies who have transformed our faith and marriage for life. I wish I could say it gets easier if you have multiple miscarriages like myself, but it doesn’t. Fear replaces the joy in pregnancy. You don’t tell your family for 13 weeks because you don’t want to look dumb. You go through emotionally and physically painful medical testing to find out if there’s anything wrong with your body or genetics. You watch friends get pregnant and have kids while you sit there trying to be happy for them. You’ll still wonder why me, why my body and will I ever have kids. Don’t be afraid to be real and set boundaries if you’re going through infertility, miscarriage or pregnancy loss.
You are NEVER alone. You are loved. Your body is a good body, even when you’re going through something like this. Keep breaking the silence my friends.