I’m so sorry.
I wish there was something I could do to make this all go away. I wish you could wake up tomorrow free from your anguish, self-doubts, “what if’s”. I wish I could tell you definitively that “time will heal” all your pain. I wish you would have the support that you need right now. I wish I had a magic wand to give you what you’re longing for.
What I am able to give you is love, and my very biggest and tightest virtual hug. I know that doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. Hopefully, the mamas below, who have been where you are, and have started healing in one way or another, can offer you some comfort and at the very least a sense that you are not alone.
The following brave mamas names have been shortened to initials to allow them privacy. If any supportive information speaks to you and you would like to reach out to the contributor, let me know and I will do my best to connect you. Mama EM is well-known writer and blogger Emily McAllister, and she offered her words to this post from her own blog; go check her website and her Instagram out to see more of her wonderful and inspirational writing.
HH: I wish I would have known to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say the wrong thing (which happened A LOT). I think most people genuinely wanted to help, but just couldn’t fully understand. But — even though most couldn’t empathize — I wish I would have felt rested knowing my feelings of sadness and grief were okay and valid. I wish I would have known in the middle of infertility treatments that it would all be worth it — every disappointment, failure, and loss. If our first rounds of IVF had worked, then we wouldn’t have our daughter who was conceived with IVF later. She was meant to be here and is such an incredible gift. We cannot imagine our lives without her and would go through all of that pain again.
SM: Everyone’s experiences are so varied. What I learned is that it will all be worth it in the end. The thought of holding my rainbow baby eventually did give me strength. Be kind to yourself. Allow your partner to work through things their own way — you can’t force them to grieve in your way. Talk to people when you feel ready; it does help.
KB: It’s okay to talk about it. It’s comforting to know how many people you are close with have gone through the same thing. It’s a topic that is not widely discussed, yet it is something that affects SO many women. I went on to have a son (and now a daughter on the way!). This has put my losses into perspective and given me the closure and understanding that I needed. Everything my husband and I went through was a part of our journey to meeting our kids.
EM: There is almost always a next chapter, even when it seems like you’re at a dead-end. In one week, I found out 10 friends were newly pregnant. I was genuinely happy for each friend, however many of the feelings I had struggled with before, resurfaced. It felt very selfish to make anyone else’s pregnancy mean anything about me, and I tried not to judge myself for it. But, I am human. My hope for anyone who is struggling is to trust that there is a bigger plan for them in life than merely what is in front of them at this moment.
CH: What I wish I would have told myself about my miscarriage (I had two but only one that was traumatic) is to get the D&C! Sometimes waiting for things to happen naturally may seem like the more dignified option but if I had known the length of time I would be walking around with what I lovingly referred to as my ‘dead baby’ (yeah I was very angry and bitter) inside of me would have more negative consequences. There was no mention of the waiting time and the labor-like pains. It was still the most awful pain I had ever experienced, not at all like ‘menstrual cramps’. Definitely would have done the procedure and given myself a lot longer to move on and avoided that awful night in the ER. And I would plead with myself not to be bitter and not to be sad about my friends who all seemed to be having wonderful joyous healthy happy pregnancies that resulted in beautiful bonnie babies. There were friends I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to and that makes me very ashamed. Even if I never had my turn at the happy baby thing, being jealous of other people’s joy is definitely not something I want to be capable of but I now know full well that I am. The problem is when you are in a dark place, there is no reasoning, the most logical things don’t make sense, everything is negative and tainted…so I probably wouldn’t have listened to myself anyway! Also, I would try and make myself realize that thousands of other women are going through the same thing as you, women you know and women you could probably talk to!
AM: Allow yourself to grieve. It is a loss no matter how big or small. That baby had a heart beat and was real to you. Talk, talk, and talk! I guess life goes on for everyone else but you are the one dealing with it. Every baby you see may feel like salt on a wound and the feeling of emptiness may be unbearable. It’s good to let others know how you feel, although they may not understand. The pain gets easier, but you may always be wondering “what if”. Over time it fades somewhat but never goes away, there’s always a cloud at the back of my mind. I’m so unbelievably lucky that I got pregnant so soon after my miscarriage and that I now have a happy cheerful little guy.
VS: Its okay to feel exactly how you feel, for as long as you feel it. There is no roadmap or timeframe for grief. Grief is such a personal thing and everyone’s grief looks and feels different, so please give yourself some grace and allow yourself time to go through whatever place you are in right now. It’s also okay to shield your heart from whatever doesn’t give you joy during your grief. Don’t force yourself to go to your friends baby shower, if it’s just too painful. Send a beautiful gift and allow that to be enough. Try to check in with your partner too. They are often the ones holding it all together, but they are grieving too. And sometimes they need to be asked how they are doing so they feel like it’s okay to not have to be “on” all the time.
CF: You’re not alone. This isn’t a rarity, you’re not a monster and your body is not attacking you. It’s saving you, and the life you’re going to carry soon enough. There are many options after the deafeningly silent sonogram confirming the worst; do what you feel is right. Don’t be rushed into making any decisions unless you’re in immediate medical danger; rushing could result in regret. Guilt will throw you in for a curve ball, but remind yourself you did nothing wrong, you couldn’t have stopped it nor could any medical professional. I had my bout of self-destructing guilt — it’s not worth it. It’s important to trust your partner, or your friends and family. They are there for you. Don’t let their awkward silence make you feel like you’re unwanted. They don’t know how to process this loss either. Talk about it, you’ll be surprised about the number of women around you who share the same loss. No loss is more painful than the other and no love is greater. If you find yourself in the hospital recovery room after choosing a D&C, don’t let the nurses scornful face and irritable temperament make you feel like you’re less than human. They don’t know you or your story. People may judge, and let that be on them, not you. When you’re in recovery, at home, or in the hospital, take care of yourself. Crying is healthy, and let your partner in, they are hurting too. If this is your first or commonly your 2nd or 3rd, don’t give up. There is a reason beyond our comprehension for why this is happening. It happened 3 times with me. I was devastated, depressed, and stressed. It’s important to give yourself space and a mental restart. Within two months of my 3rd miscarriage I was pregnant again. When I had my daughter, it was the most confusing emotion for me because I knew what I had been through and now here I was holding a crying beautiful newborn, and yet I felt a tinge of doubt. That’s okay, it’s okay to be scared. Take it slow. You’ll never forget your angels; you’ll carry that extra love onward forever after. Somewhere over the rainbow, you’ll have your baby.
Important to note is that all of these mamas went on to have healthy babies after their struggles. I hope that gives you hope for your own journey. Your pain is real and your thoughts and feelings are valid.
I am here for you.
Love and hugs,
Photo credit to my in-laws. Taken in England, UK.