Friday, January 2, 2009

Dealing with Miscarriage and Loss

I've buried this post so that it isn't on my front page. I'm not ashamed of my miscarriage, but I also think it is very personal. If you've come here looking for it, then please read on. If you've been sent here by a friend, I am so, so sorry for your loss.


No one wants to talk about it because it hurts so much. No one wants to tell their story, because it hurts to recall.

I've had a few experiences lately where I have either been asked, or have offered, to share my miscarriage story. Some women need to know that their feelings are valid, other's have questions about the physical aspect of having a "natural" miscarriage. I have typed this story more times than I am okay with, because it means another mother wanted or needed to hear it. I hate miscarriage so much. Unfortunately, it is common, and I don't think that pretending it doesn't exist will make it go away, or hurt less. I share my story because I don't want you to think you're alone.

I've written about the actual miscarriage here. It is graphic and unless you are looking for details of a "natural" m/c for your own research, it's really not worth reading.

I am no expert. I just have my own experience to talk of.

The emotions that came during and after the miscarriage were overwhelming. Initially, I hated myself and my body. I believed that I had done something to cause the m/c and I hated that my body had "failed" me.

The truth: There was something wrong with my baby. I never had an u/s, so we don't know what it was. But my body didn't "fail" me. The baby wouldn't have been compatible with life outside my womb. It isn't because I exercised, or because I missed a prenatal vitamin. It just was.

I slept with a teddy bear. I held it and cried into it and threw it. I screamed into it. I carried it around the house. It was a comfort to me. I didn't care if my husband or anyone else thought I was crazy. It helped. If you have a stuffed animal or a special pillow or sweatshirt, allow it to be a comfort to you. Anything you can hold.

I didn't answer many calls or texts. I let them go to voicemail. It's okay to not answer calls and to not respond to texts/emails. It's also okay to say "I don't want to talk about it" for as long as you need to. If you're the friend calling or texting, please continue. Don't forget about your friends and don't forget about their baby.

Dad's hurt too. Their pain may be different than mom's, but it's still there. I remember my husband's guy friends calling him to see how he was doing. I love them for it.

Things that I did every day became painful things. I remember the first time I walked into Target after the m/c. I had to hide in the bathroom, crying, because all I could think was "the last time I was here, I was pregnant". I'd hear a song on the radio and think, "the last time I heard this song, I was pregnant". Be prepared for these things, but do not be afraid of them, and do not deny them. It is part of the healing process.

You will see or talk to people who knew you were pregnant, but didn't hear about your loss. I don't have a good response here, because when this happened to me, I didn't know what to say. I still haven't returned to the dentist I was going to, because they knew I was pregnant. There will also be people who don't believe in such a thing as "the right time, the right place". In the middle of a party, they may bring it up. This is one of those times where it is perfectly acceptable to say "I don't want to talk about it" and walk away. If they haven't been there, chances are, they are curious and they just don't get it.

I remember a friend telling me that the grieving period would be different for my husband. I say the following things with the most respect possible for my husband, because I love him and he really is wonderful to me. But, he didn't get it. I became a mother the second I saw those lines on that pregnancy stick. He never had the morning sickness, the tiredness. While he knew I was pregnant, all he ever saw or felt was the pregnancy test. While it may have been enough to prove a pregnancy, it wasn't the same. When I realized this, it changed the way I expected him to respond.

Also, my husband is a "fixer". He wanted to make it better. He would ask me how he could make it better and the only response I had was "give me back my baby". He obviously couldn't do that, so he couldn't fix it. I didn't expect him to "fix" anything, but I resented him for not trying. Once I was able to identify the differences in our grief, I realized that's exactly what they were - differences. It didn't mean he wasn't grieving, it was just not like my grief. Your husband may not grieve like you at all. He may be ready to "move on" much quicker than you are. Be understanding of one another.

Finally, one of the things that helped me the most was to give my baby an identity. If you haven't read about Angel yet, her story is here. Naming Angel made her real to me. I could talk about her as Angel, not as "my baby". I still call her "my baby", but she was and is very real to me. It was truly one of the defining moments in my healing, I don't know if I can stress it enough. If you don't know if your baby was a boy or a girl, follow your intuition. It's funny actually - I just knew that Angel was a girl, but I didn't have a strong feeling about this pregnancy either way. Angel made sure I knew who she was so that I would never forget her.

One more "finally" - share your story with others. As much as it hurts to recount that day, and the weeks and months that follow, it is healing to grieve with other mothers. Not only does it bond you as friends, it brings honor to our babies.

So much love to you as you walk this path. I am available to answer questions or just listen. Feel free to email me at nataliejcline at yahoo dot com.


Sara said...

Thank you for having the courage to share this. Many of my friends and family IRL read my blog and don't know about the roller coaster my husband and I have been on, so I hadn't written about it. No one knew. I just finished writing a post that will post on Wednesday, my due date from my first loss. It's more about the actual events than the emotions, but that's the best I can do at this point, and I found that writing it was a step in my healing. Miscarriage is a lonely place for a woman, and I think the more of us that have the courage to share, the less alone other women will feel.

Holly said...

thank you so much for sharing your experience and for being such an amazing source of support during such a difficult time. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am to have you to turn to for guidance and a virtual hand to hold on to as I face this situation myself. It is also so comforting to know I am not alone with my thoughts and feelings. I have such a whirlwind of emotions every second and sometimes I feel like I must be crazy, thanks so much for sharing this so that I know I'm not. You are a great source of comfort and hope for me right now. Thank you again for everything