I never really understood that word until I went through one myself. Of course I had heard the whispers of “oh, did you hear she had a miscarriage?” when friends had lost babies. I always felt a twinge of sadness but never really knew what to say or the immensity of what they were going through. I knew that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, but I never thought it would be me. After our miscarriage, my husband admitted he had never thought miscarriages were that big of a deal before. Now that we had been through it, he felt guilty for all the years he didn’t support his friends well.
We lost our first baby at 11 weeks. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. It was devastating emotionally, yes, and also physically. I bled more, longer, and with more pain than the midwife had prepared me for. I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know where to start healing.
Below are some ideas of ways to cope, process your loss, and move toward healing.
Grieve the loss.
From the moment you learned about this baby’s existence, you started imaging what life would be like with them. You probably had dreams for the kind of person they would become, things you would do together, who they would look like. When you miscarry, you are losing all of those hopes and dreams along with this tiny baby. Create space in your life to grieve. Take a few days off work if you can. Create a safe and cozy place in your home to sit, cry, breathe, remember. Soft blankets, a cup of tea, a hot bath, candles…whatever brings you comfort, surround yourself with it. Allow yourself to cry, to lament, to be angry, whatever feelings come, really feel them.
Gather support from friends or family.
Many miscarriages happen early in pregnancy, before others even knew you were pregnant. It can be difficult to let family and friends know. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it for weeks. If it’s too hard for you to say it out loud, have your partner reach out and let people know. For us, this looked like my husband sending an email to everyone we had told we were pregnant (subject line: “Awkward Email”), asking for support and love during this time. Friends showed up with meals, books, funny movies, hugs, fancy lotion, and lots of chocolate. Most importantly they showed up with presence. Your friends want to be there for you. You just need to let them know how.
Give yourself time.
Losing a baby isn’t something that you get over by your next period and hey, whatever, we can just try again! There are many people who get pregnant on their next cycle and go on to have a healthy baby. But you don’t have to. For me, I continued bleeding for 3 months, followed by another 3 months with no cycle. So it was 6 months before we could try for another baby. While I was often frustrated during those 6 months, wishing that I could just get pregnant again to forget the hurt of losing this baby, I look back at that time as a hidden blessing. I needed that time to do the work of grieving. I needed to acknowledge the loss and feel the pain. To be angry for a while. To process through what it might look like to get pregnant again. I remember my midwife asking me if I was ready for the potential that this could happen again. Was I ready? I don’t think you ever are. But did I need time to sit with that question? Absolutely.
It’s going to take work to trust your body again.
Getting pregnant again won’t erase your loss. At whatever week you lost your baby, that week will haunt you in your next pregnancy. Anxiety will try to overtake you and steal the joy from your next pregnancy. So what can you do about it? I sought out one-on-one coaching from a friend who teaches courses on trusting your body. I recommend having a professional help you walk through this. You will have to wrestle with questions about your body’s capabilities, how to open your heart again to another pregnancy, and how to trust your body was designed for this. It is hard work. It takes time. But it is WORTH IT. Heading into your next phase of your journey having done the work towards healing will open up space for joy to enter in.
Find a way to remember.
I knew I didn’t want my angel baby to be forgotten. My role as Mama began the day I found out I was pregnant with that baby. That baby changed me forever. One sweet friend brought me a Christmas cactus that was blooming a beautiful pink (our miscarriage was the week of Christmas). I still have the cactus. Each year it has grown a little and bloomed a little more, a little like me on this journey. It sits on our bookshelf in the living room, always looking over us. Whatever that might look like for you, a piece of art, an item of jewelry, a scented candle, having something that is a part of your life or home now, that can be a small reminder of the life that was lost, can be a powerful way to remember.
I hope that you found some comfort and encouragement here. This journey is not an easy one. There will be many bumps along the way. As always, reach out to your local mama coach for support.