I want to talk about what no one wants to talk about: miscarriage. As women we feel many different things when we experience miscarriage: disappointment, feeling like a failure, feeling physically broken, guilt
because we are afraid we did something to cause it, relief over not having to endure a difficult pregnancy, then guilt over having that wicked thought, shock, fear of never being able to bear a child, anger and a weird sense of loss. These are just the ones that I recall feeling. I am sure there were more and that everyone has their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions that they could add. Physically, miscarriages can be very different for each woman, too.
Though statistics differ, depending on which study or source you look at, but the commonly accepted number is 20% of pregnancies will miscarry. Most of these miscarriages occur very early on. But this does not mean they are not painful or traumatic experiences. I am thankful that my miscarriages all occurred at less than 9 weeks pregnant, but as they began to accumulate, the sheer number of six miscarriages made me feel broken and inferior.
What to say to a miscarrying friend: Focusing on my two amazing children and being thankful for what I have is appropriate, but repeated reminders from well-meaning friends is not helpful. People want to make you feel better, so they try to say things. They are often true things, but
not necessary to say. Do not say, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself?” or “Is your husband going to get a vasectomy now?” What you can do is acknowledge the pain and the loss. You do not need perfect words, just brief validation that something hurtful has happened and that you love and support your friend. Offer to babysit, or hang out in the waiting room during a follow up appointment. Take her out to lunch and ask how she is doing, bring over dinner or warm cookies or send a card. Respect her wishes if she does not want to talk about it, but she may only want to make sure you are a safe listening ear before she will open up. I actually preferred to open up to other moms that I did not know well after my last miscarriage. Whatever your friend decides or decides not to share, leave your ego at home. This is not about you rescuing her. It is about mourning with those who mourn. Romans 12:15.
My siblings have been a tremendous support to me. I have one sister in particular, one that is not great with words, that always shows up and offers ice cream. This one gesture is the one that never fails to make me feel loved and my grief validated. After my fifth miscarriage I invited all of my siblings out to breakfast, to acknowledge the brief life of my child. I know they felt awkward, but they came and made me feel loved.
Don’t forget that dad needs love and support, too. It was very meaningful after one of our miscarriages for my husband to get a call from our friend Michael, whose family suffered a late and painful miscarriage a number of years ago, breaking the tough guy stereotype and acknowledging my husband’s pain, too.
Healing will happen. I learned when my mother died that grief is work.
Grief is acknowledging your feelings and allowing the pain and loss to rise to the surface. You are allowed to cry. I have learned to set aside some time for myself. I allow myself to sit in the hammock and journal and face my feelings. I give my baby a name. Usually we had already given our baby a nickname. Some of my children have silly names, but they will never have to go to school and be made fun of, so no problem. Keep talking about it, until you find healing. You will be surprised how supportive other woman are when they realize you are willing to talk about what so many of us have experienced.
The truth about is miscarriage is that it happens to so many of us. There is no need to suffer in silence and no need to act tough. There is a need to face the grief, to receive support and to heal.
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