Jul 30, 2014

What they don't tell you about having a miscarriage

I'd like to caveat this post by saying each experience is different, but there are definitely things I've learned, that I think should be talked about.

1. Your body changes. You hear that "pregnancy changes things" but you don't realize that applies to you, because you didn't carry a pregnancy to term. Hormone balances, how your body responds to things - all of this can change, and then you spend months trying to figure out why you react differently to something, when you've never had that problem before.

2. The word miscarriage is misleading. It sounds like it's your fault - you didn't "carry" correctly. Plus, the word is so mainstream, it doesn't accurately reflect the hell you go through. A miscarriage sounds like something to be sad about for a little while. I prefer the term "pregnancy loss," because that's what it is - a loss.

3. A miscarriage is a very physical thing. I was amazed at how traumatic this was on my body. I had to have surgery, had cramping and bleeding for a few weeks after, and was visiting my doctor's office for the next month and a half so they could verify a decrease in my hormone levels through blood draws. If you don't have a d&c and have to endure a physical miscarriage it's an extremely painful experience - hours (or days) of bleeding.

4. A miscarriage IS a loss. As I said earlier, this is part of why I don't like the word miscarriage. Whether it took years, or you got pregnant the first month you started "trying," the baby you were excited about - the one you'd hoped and prayed for, and already formed dreams about - is dead. The heartbeat has stopped, and you're either being prepped for surgery to remove your child, or your body is expelling it in an incredibly painful way. Yes it's physical, but it is so emotional - your body didn't do what it was built to do, and there can be all types if guilt and grief associated with it.

5. Triggers for grief may not always make sense. I expected certain things to be hard, like my first time going to Target after my d&c, where I tried to avoid pregnant women and the baby section. But finding myself in tears after talking about a trip was surprising. (I later realized I got emotional because if I'd still been pregnant, we wouldn't have been able to travel). Grief is not linear, and sometimes it's like a boomerang - fading away, getting better, until it comes flying back and knocks you flat. Be gentle with yourself as you try to get up; eventually you'll stand, but even kneeling can be huge progress.

6. You can feel happy, but still be sad. A favorite quote of mine is, "Saying you can't be sad because someone else has it worse is like saying you can't be happy because someone else has it better." If you have a social media presence, you will not be able to avoid pregnancy announcements. They might sting or seem unfair, but you can be absolutely happy for someone else, yet still devastated about your loss. Like their status, tell them congratulations if you want, and know it's okay to stop following their news feed for awhile - you do not need to see their weekly bump shots if you're not up for it.

7. Practice self-care. If your best friend where going through this, what would you say to her? What would you do for her? Do that for yourself. It's easy for a moment when you're feeling down - a pedicure or a trip to Starbucks can be a fun pick-me-up, but self-care is more than that. When you're sitting on your couch sobbing about what might never be, let yourself sob. Don't block those feelings. Allow yourself to cry, and after awhile text a friend, or put on a favorite TV show - something that's a comfort to you.

8. The only way out of grief is through it. I can't tell you how long you'll be grieving. I can't promise you won't be sad every year on the day of your d&c, or the day you were due. I can't assure you there won't always be a little part of you that is sad, and surfaces from time to time. But I can tell you, if you do the work - if you face your grief, and let yourself feel all the feelings, eventually, it becomes less raw, and more bearable.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I wish that you did not have the real life experience to draw upon to write this post... but I also hope that someone else in your situation comes across it and feels a little bit less alone as a result.

You make such a good point about the word miscarriage. It's sort of a sterile, unemotional way to describe an experience that is very much a devastating loss.

Katelin said...

Basically yes, to everything LIsa just said. This is just so real and so open and I'm sorry you know all of this, but goodness it is eye opening and definitely a better way and redefining the situation. Heart you so much friend xoxo

Prairie Anonymous said...

I remember being so surprised when my 1st loss, a natural missed m/c took days. I couldn't say 'I had a m-c', it was 'I'm having a m-c' which was strangely more intimate and gross.

As if today, I'm 2 days away from my first of 2 unrealized EDDs. Although I have a 2 year old a baby coming in 2 weeks, 2 days I am still grieving and acutely aware of the date Aug 1.

When I experienced my first loss I had no idea the true impact it would have. I had no idea it would lead to ultrasounds, true fear that I couldn't stay pregnant, surgeries, 3.5 years IF and more. I had no idea what it would continue to do to my body & my relationship with my body. I had no idea what it would do to my marriage and friendships.

So thank you for your post today. So accurate.

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I also wish you didn't have the experience to write this post.
The physical aspect of pregnancy loss is just so shocking to me. I remember during the panic that was the end of my pregnancy, I kept thinking if I lose this baby I STILL have to deliver!!!!I just can't think of anything worse than already having something terrible like a pregnancy loss happen and then having the doctors be like "oh... ha, you still have to have surgery/have the baby." I know probably the emotional loss is harder but it just feels like kicking someone when they are already down.

I also like your perspective on being sad and happy. I do not know many people like you who can be happy for someone else who has/is getting what you want so so badly like you do. I admire that about you and I know it cannot be easy.

Nora said...

Numbers 5 thru 8- apply to so much of the grief process. I applaud you and thank you for writing this; I know our losses were different but much of what you said here resonated with me, had me nodding my head and then of course cursing the world that you even could write a post like this. You're brave and beautiful, inside & out, my friend. xoxox

Stephany said...

I hate that you have advice to give on surviving a miscarriage, hate that what started with such hope and happiness and has devolved into grief and despair. You are a warrior in every sense of the word, and I’m just giving you a big, long hug from afar.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you decided to post this. I hate that you have to know this, but I also know that these words are going to mean a lot to a lot of people.

Amber said...

I totally agree with your point about the word miscarriage. Also, I totally think miscarriage is one of those things we don't talk about enough! You would not believe the amount of friends I've had say that their mom had ___ miscarriages before conceiving them, or between pregnancies. But i think that generation shoved miscarriages under the rug more. But it's a very real and heartbreaking thing and I'm so proud of you for being so open about it because I KNOW that you are helping others by sharing your journey through this process. I still hate that you're going through it, but I love that you're being so brave about it. Love you! XO

Emily Ward said...

I had a loss at the end of May and I think that the only thing that you missed is how expensive it is! Luckily I have great insurance and just had to pay a $50 copay at the ER but some people on my support board are paying high deductibles. The bills to my insurance were several thousand dollars. I can't imagine paying out of pocket for something so terrible and unwanted.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...


Alice said...

I wandered over here from... Seattle Stevie I believe? And found myself down a wormhole of your miscarriage posts. This post is freaking amazing. Thank you. Yes to everything. (Including Emily's comment above... I am one of those high deductible suckers and wow was it a kicked-while-down scenario to have to pay a couple grand to STOP being pregnant. Blarg.)

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