"what i wish people understood about my miscarriage"
"what i wish people understood"
on coping with pregnancy loss
I started L & B a few years ago as a personal blog to talk about the ups and downs of life as a mom. Over the past year or so, it has slowly (did I say slowly?) transformed into a life and lifestyle website for young moms looking for more relatable content. At the center of L & B is the awareness that motherhood is super challenging (did I say challenging???) and that mothers frequently lack the support necessary to get through it all. This is the place I wanted to create for us to talk - not just about the crazy, hilarious, and sunny moments - but also the darker aspects of life and motherhood. Our mission is to encourage an understanding of and appreciation for mothers everywhere, as well as to build an infrastructure of support we all so desperately need and crave as we try to raise our babies into grown, responsible adults… while also doing lots of other things. Indeed, as I write this I can hear one of my kids waking up (it's nighttime). I'll probably be writing the rest of this intro in 15 second intervals over a six hour period of time.
So without further ado, the topic for today’s post is something that hits home for me as well as many other moms. In the past few years I’ve had two miscarriages. In the thick of those experiences, I was confronted with incredibly painful emotions I didn’t know how to handle. I felt anything from excruciating loss and grief, to loneliness, to (perhaps the most horrifying of all) relief. Relief from the anxiety and crippling nausea of my pregnancy, which in turn lead to terrible guilt.
These complicated, conflicting, and powerful emotions of pregnancy loss are what we hope to shine a light on today. We surveyed mothers on social media and received hundreds of responses. In an effort to do all of their stories justice, we’re using some of their quotes (anonymously) to highlight six “themes” that mothers spoke to the most.
Thank you again to all the women who wrote to us. We are so grateful to them. We'd also love to hear your thoughts on the post in the comment section below. Is there something that resonated with you? Do you feel the insights they shared relate to other areas of life as well? We'd love to know what you think.
Thank you again.
on gestures that are appreciated, and comments that are not...
Oftentimes people want to help you grieve but are afraid to say anything or say the wrong thing. Just be there for that mom who miscarried. Check up on her once in a while. Call or text "thinking of you, is there anything I can do for you". Most likely they will decline the offer but don't forget about them. Reach out and just be there for them!
A nice note, card, email or phone call is appreciated just like any other death. Don’t ask when the person might try again, don’t chalk it up to bad genetics, don’t say the person is lucky it happened now opposed to later in the pregnancy, don’t say “oh maybe you should have waited longer to tell people you were expecting”. Try to bring something like food to the couple, keep in touch and see when she might want to go out for coffee.
It helped me so much when people called and listened to my story and shared their stories – I felt less alone.
...No amount of "at least you can get pregnant, so it's actually good news" will be of any comfort until you're holding a baby in your arms and looking back.
People need to understand that women deal with this differently. Respect their decision on how they want to handle their own mourning. Let them know you are there and then step away, if thats what they want.
Being told you should be grateful you already have a healthy child(ren) doesn’t lessen the sense of loss and just makes you feel guilty for feeling bad
on feeling left out from future pregnancy announcements
...I was also saddened that after one of my miscarriages (it happened a bit later than the others), my friends and family were afraid to share their pregnancy announcements and positive experiences with us. It was as if I was being 'left out'. While I understood WHY they were doing it, it DID hurt and even after I mentioned it to some, it continued. Still....I understood why, and for some people that would be 'kind, understanding and empathetic' but for me? It made me feel left out and lonely."
on dealing with it alone
I really needed to talk to someone about it... but there was no one at the time. Because I miscarried fairly early in my pregnancy I felt that I didn't have a right to be too upset about it. This was echoed by the people who knew about it. They tended to say things like "you'll try again". But I was affected terribly.
How hard it was to keep pretending like nothing bad was happening--- I was miscarrying my first week back at school for a new school year (as a teacher). I was just waiting for it to happen and had to teach and go on like everything was okay. I then had to have a D&C because it wasn't progressing. I wish others could understand how agonizing those two weeks were, and how hard it was for me that I couldn't just take time off of work and be in bed or alone. A miscarriage coupled with infertility issues (this was after IVF) seemed like a double hardship.
This is true not only of miscarriages, but due to the private nature of a miscarriage – sometimes your hardest day, or the day of someone you love, goes totally under the radar. The time when you need the most love and care might be a time that you’re not openly sharing with people. It’s a good reminder to judge kindly and always make yourself emotionally available to your loved ones when possible.
Some people will not disclose it and it’s not about shame.
…What I want people to know is that women may experience more guilt than grief. I was guilt stricken that I willed my pregnancy away. I was guilt stricken at my conflicting sense of relief. I was guilt stricken that my husband was genuinely destroyed by our loss. I was guilt stricken that I didn’t tell him my fears of having new baby so soon, or willing it away, of feeling relief. It was an endless cycle that took me three years to recover from. Therapy and accepting that I didn’t do anything to lose my pregnancy. Guilt is a terrible feeling. It doesn’t even allow you to accept kindness or condolence…
It's dosen't matter how early it was. You still connected to that baby and the loss hurts. I wish there was some way for the mom to not feel guilty, like she caused this.
on the physical reality and emotional pain
The physical part of it alone can drag out for days, weeks, even months (like mine) depending on the circumstances around it. Then the emotional part of it takes a toll even longer. Stay present with your loved ones who are going through it. Know it will be a while. Crawl down in that trench with them and just hold their hand. You don’t have to fix it, solve it, make it better. Just be there with them. Check in. Let them know you’re thinking about them and that you’re there if they need you. And this goes for Dad’s too. It “happens” to them also. Don’t forget about them and the pain they’re also feeling.
After losing my child, I still looked pregnant for weeks. I felt my body was mocking me.
...[At the D&C] The nurses kept asking me why I was going for a procedure. Over and over again, I had to respond in the affirmative that I was having a D&C. Didn’t they all know already? Why did I have to keep saying it over and over. I became so anxious airing for the procedure. I was literally shaking so that they had to give m some meds to come me down. I was screaming in my head... Even though it’s been quite a number of years I still mourn every year the date I had the D&C...
I felt that some women dismissed it as “something that happens”. It wasn’t casual, it wasn’t early and it certainly wasn’t something that I waived away as a regular occurrence. The loss was devastating and I think about her often.
I had no idea that if you are far enough, your milk will come in... Such a hell.
I don’t think people truly understand how devastating it is. I waited my whole life to become pregnant and the first time I did I miscarried. Next to losing my mom, it was the most horrible loss I’ve experienced. I didn't care how “common” it was. The moment that test said positive I became a mom and when I was told there was no heartbeat, I felt like I failed my child. I literally felt empty inside. Within a matter of moments I went from having life in me to having the biggest void I’ve ever felt
on being nervous for the future
I was not overwhelmed and in grief with my miscarriages. I didn’t need days to recuperate at that moment. I really had a “Oh, that sucks” feeling, and figured it was meant to be… I felt the anxiety and worry during the next pregnancy. In fact, I didn’t want to get excited until the baby passed 32 weeks. My last child arrived at 31 weeks and no one really knew because of the “don’t want to get excited” planning.
It's the loss of hopes and dreams for your family. It’s the fear that you may never have a child. It’s the isolation you feel when it seems everyone around you has kids or is pregnant and your body is failing you… The only appropriate response to telling someone you had a miscarriage, is “I’m so sorry.” Not “everything happens for a reason.” The loss of your future child is devastating, plain and simple, and it can’t be rationalized nor is there any silver lining. It hurts.
We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below...