When Jenna shared her experience with miscarriage here nearly a year ago, I was eager to follow her post with one of my own, based on my own experience with miscarriages. But at the time I was pregnant, and my previous pregnancy had ended in miscarriage. When I sat down to write, I found it made me too anxious to try to share my thoughts and decided I’d rather wait until after my baby was born. Now that Pooter is six months old, here are my thoughts.
I remember having moments of crippling fear, back in high school, that I would one day get married and discover I was unable to have children. I don’t know where that fear came from, but it was very real and very upsetting. When my first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage, I felt like that fear was being realized. I felt that I had somehow failed in one of my most basic roles as a woman – that of child-bearer. My body had failed, and my baby had died. I blamed myself. Many years, one more miscarriage, and four healthy children later, I have come a long way and learned a few things I’d like to share with you.
For those who have experienced (or will one day experience) miscarriage:
There is no right or wrong way to feel. Some people are able to take it in stride, while others need to go through a grieving process. You are not callous if you feel okay about it, and you are not weak if it brings you to tears to think about it even months or years later.
People don’t know how to talk about miscarriage, and as a result you may receive some insensitive comments. Try really hard to be patient and understand that it’s unlikely someone is trying to make you feel worse by saying, “There was probably something wrong with it anyway.” or, “You can always try again.”
Take as much or as little time as you need to process what happened. If your experience was particularly difficult physically (if you had to have medical intervention, for instance), be sure to rest and recover.
Name your baby, if you’d like. After both of our miscarriages my husband and I felt certain of the baby’s gender, and we chose to name them Sophia and Thomas.
You may find some comfort in finding a way to remember your baby, whether it’s planting something in your garden in their honour, wearing a special piece of jewelry, marking their due date each year, etc. We say grace together every evening, and at the end we give thanks for each member of our family by name, and we include the names of our miscarried babies to show our other children that they are still part of our family.
If someone in your life experiences a miscarriage:
Tell them you’re sorry for their loss. Do not use the words “little loss”. While the baby may have been physically small, the loss itself is not.
If you know them well enough, you can ask if they would like to talk about it.
But let them talk. Don’t feel like you need to say anything. There is nothing you can say that will make them feel differently, so you don’t need to try.
You can also ask if they need anything, particularly any practical support. Especially if they have other children to care for, they may really appreciate a bit of babysitting, a load of laundry being put in, etc. When I had my first miscarriage, hardly anyone even knew that I was pregnant. But one of my friends who new I was miscarrying showed up at my home with cheeseburgers, salad, and chocolate. I will never forget that gesture of love and support. (As a general rule of thumb, in times of grief a gift of food is always a thoughtful thing.)
In a culture that so openly accepts abortion, it’s sometimes hard to talk about the loss of a pre-born baby as a loss that needs to be grieved. It’s sort of invisible, especially when so many miscarriages take place before the parents have shared their pregnancy with the world. Mothers are often left feeling uncertain of how to feel, or how to cope. We are accustomed to mourning the loss of people we’ve had the pleasure to know and spend time with, but a miscarriage is the loss of someone we had yet to meet – and yet still loved deeply.
I don’t know what your personal beliefs are, dear reader, but I will tell you mine: I truly believe that each lost baby is now in Heaven, I believe they are grateful for the parents who loved enough to bring them into existence, and I believe that they rejoice with the Father for all eternity. And I live with the hope of one day being reunited with my Sophia and my Thomas.