Miscarriage: A Dreadful Thought and A Painful Process
6 Things You Can Expect After Losing a Baby
Miscarriage. It’s not talked about nearly enough, even though 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. According to the Mayo Clinic, the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur before a woman even realizes that she is pregnant. While there are so many fun books and apps geared towards giving birth and expecting, I have found that there isn’t enough literature on how to survive or even begin to process a miscarriage.
Because the experience of losing a baby is uniquely painful, many women are left feeling alone, devastated, and unprepared for the long journey of healing that lies ahead. Thus, I write this blog for every woman (correction, for every MOTHER) who has ever lost a baby. While I realize that nothing I write can heal your wounds, I am hoping that my insight into this process can be helpful.
Here are 6 Things you can expect after enduring such a loss...
1) Insensitive Responses
Prepare for ignorant and insensitive responses- statements that clearly aren’t well thought out. While many people will respond in an appropriate and supportive manner, others may find themselves at a stand-still in terms of what to say. Sitting in heavy emotion and responding in an empathetic and gentle way isn’t something that everyone knows how to do.
During a time of crisis, it is common for many individuals to freeze, look for a solution, or attempt to find a silver-lining. For example, you may hear comments that start with “at least” (e.g. “at least you can get pregnant,” or “at least you lost the baby sooner rather than later,” or “at least you have other children,” etc.). This. Is. Difficult. While your family or friends may have the best of intentions, it can be painful to have others minimize your experience.
2) The “Calm down” or “Don’t cry” Scenario
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “don’t cry” or “calm down” to a partner or loved one during a time of crisis. Prepare yourself for this type of response- whether it comes from an ER doc or nurse, a family member, or a complete stranger. It may happen and I am truly sorry if it does.
If you find yourself crying and someone tells you to “calm down,” embrace and own your outpouring of pain and emotion. It’s OK to cry (even the ugly cries are welcome). The last thing you need to worry about is slowing yourself down for the sake of someone else. People may be uncomfortable with emotion, but that is THEIR stuff. Try to turn to those who have historically responded in empathetic, safe, and loving ways.
3) The Dreadful “It’s Common” Statement
Prep for this gem of a comment: “it’s so common to miscarry.” Yes, it is common, but then again, losing a parent at some point in your life is common, too. Knowing that something is “common” doesn’t mean that it’s any less painful. Losing a baby is a devastating experience. It does not need to be minimized.
Should you find yourself engaging in a conversation where someone says “it’s common to miscarry,” do your best to ground yourself and try to tell that person that you just want them to listen (if that is what you truly need in the moment).
4) Psychological and Emotional Pain
I didn’t intend for the theme of this blog to be centered around doom-and-gloom, but I would like to shed some light on one thing: not everyone has a miscarriage in one day.
The process of miscarrying, sadly, can drag out for weeks or even months (as if losing a baby isn’t hard enough on the mind, soul, and body). While some women miscarry naturally, others may have to resort to taking medication and/or undergoing a surgical procedure. Emotionally and physically, all processes are sad, painful, and exhausting. There is no “good” way to have a miscarriage and simply taking an Advil doesn’t quite take care of the pain.
Bottom line: losing a baby can be a long and grueling process- both psychologically and physically. Don’t let anyone make light of your loss. Take as much time as you need to heal and recover. Your body will experience many changes and hormones alone can be the devil.
After the loss, surround yourself with those you love and engage in as much self-care as possible. Feel free to crush tacos, take a bubble bath, or spend a day in bed. Just. Do. You.
5) Profound Loss
Expect to grieve, make time to cry, and create space to mourn the loss of your baby, as well as the loss of your dream(s). You may have brainstormed names, you may have decorated a nursery, or you may have envisioned holding your little one in your arms. Whatever your dream is/was, it can be terribly devastating to realize that you won’t see your dream to fruition. I am so sorry. Please know that the loss is not your fault in anyway.
Expect that your heart will need time to heal, your mind will need time to process the grief, and your body may crave (and need) nurture from a loved one. You will most likely experience a wave of emotions as you go through the various stages of grief.
Whatever your process is, take care of yourself. Losing a baby is a profound loss and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
6) Relational Stress
Experiencing a miscarriage is not an easy feat for any couple. Even the most secure and intact relationships can suffer during a time of crisis. Miscarrying is a process that deeply impacts both partners. As such, you may want to engage in dialogues where you and your partner are able to discuss each other's feelings and needs.
If you feel as if you are both spinning your wheels or getting stuck, couples therapy is a viable option. If you do not have a partner, talking to a professional therapist can be extremely beneficial.
Tips for Taking Care of You:
- Access your support system (you may need an army). If you don’t have a handful of people to lean on, try to turn to just ONE reliable loved one.
- Remember, seek-out people who are SAFE. You need individuals who can sit with you in the pain- people who will not minimize your experience or judge your process.
- Don’t let anyone tell you to “just try again.” We aren’t talking about buying a pair of shoes here. Sure, you may decide to “try again,” but even if you do, the loss can still be traumatic.
- Engage in self-care. Find ways to take care of YOU throughout your difficult journey.
- Don’t be afraid to share your heart.
- Allow yourself time to heal and grieve. Take all the time that you need and don’t let anyone tell you that you should be doing something different.
- Try not to blame yourself. You did nothing wrong.
If you’re struggling to heal from the loss of a baby or if you feel as if you don’t have the proper support, I would love to walk alongside you during your time of need. Request a FREE discovery call with me today and let’s do this together- one step at a time.