Today, October 15th, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
For those new here, I experienced my first miscarriage in February of 2012. You can read about it here. Sadly and unexpectedly, I experienced my second last week. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I thought my odds were good, considering I’d already experienced one. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
I now have two babies waiting for me in Heaven.
I’m not writing this to ask you for your sympathy. I’m writing this to help bring awareness for those who don’t know what it’s like to experience this kind of loss. Let me explain.
From the second you see those two pink lines, your mind starts getting ahead of you, thinking about if this baby is a boy or girl, what will his/her name be, what will the nursery look like, etc. It’s not even something you can help…the mind just goes there. Or at least that’s what mine did. I was so excited for Landon to be a big brother. And this pregnancy happened unexpectedly, which made me even more excited because of all the junk we dealt with last time. We were beyond thrilled. I even have a video of how I told Pat. Miscarriage didn’t even cross my mind…how could it? I already had my 1 in 4. But I was mistaken.
Emotionally, I’m handling this much better than the last time…most likely because this time I’m running around after a toddler (which makes it tough to rest, by the way). He has been an incredible distraction! But I’m also trusting that God knows the desires of my heart and that Landon will be a big brother some day. I don’t want to experience what I went through last time…it was a very dark point in my life, and I refuse to relive it. So I’m focusing on God’s promises, and ultimately guarding my heart.
I feel it’s important to represent my fellow mamas who’ve experienced this loss, and to share with you how to help someone going through a miscarriage. I think because it’s such a personal, emotional situation that sometimes people end up not knowing how to react. It’s important to understand the sensitivity of the issue and know how to respond accordingly, and sympathetically.
***If you’ve experienced a miscarriage and have something to add to this list, please leave me a comment and I will update this as we go.***
1. Please understand that we just lost our baby. While a 6 week old fetus may not seem like a baby to some of you, it is to the mother who was carrying him/her. That was our baby. Our child. Who didn’t make it to experience life on earth. We mourn it as a death because that’s what it is. My baby had a heartbeat. How do I know? Because I saw it 3 days before I miscarried. His or her heart beat was 126bpm, which was perfect for 6 weeks gestation, per the sonographer. My baby had a heart beat. All of ours did at one point. A miscarriage is a death. We are mourning the potential of what we could have had. So please treat it as the loss it is, and understand that we are grieving.
2. Please refrain from the following phrases: “It will happen again!” “It just wasn’t the right time.” “Did you do something wrong?” “Hang in there!” “It was God’s will.” We will respond sweetly to you, but in our minds we are stabbing you in the eye with knives because you just stabbed us in the heart. No mother who just lost her baby wants to hear any of those statements. And we especially don’t need to be questioning if we were to blame. A simple, “I’m so sorry” is enough.
3. Bring us food. I personally hate cooking. It was so helpful when my mom cooked a week’s worth of food for me when I experienced my first miscarriage. And a close friend of mine brought me dinner the night we found out the second time. It was wonderful to not have to worry about what I would be feeding my family, and equally as wonderful to not have to spend money on take out. Just send a text, say you’d like to drop off dinner, and then come and go. We are so appreciative, I promise.
4. Listen to us. We may need to talk. We may need to cry. Sometimes it helps us to just talk about what happened. Please just know when to be silent and listen.
5. But understand we may need to be alone. Sometimes we don’t want to talk. Maybe we just want to sit in our bedroom and cry. This is all part of our grieving process, so just be sensitive to what we are going through.
6. Do not minimize our loss. A loss is a loss. Do not make statements such as, “Well at least you were only 6 weeks.” 6 weeks is still 6 weeks. That’s still a pregnancy. That’s still a baby. Do not criticize our feelings.
7. Don’t just say nothing. Please don’t act as though nothing has happened. To us, that means you aren’t acknowledging the existence of this pregnancy. You don’t need to ask details, but you can definitely ask how we are doing or if there’s anything you can help us with. Again, it’s appreciated.
8. Be sensitive to the aftermath. I became very angry after my first miscarriage. It took us a while to get pregnant, my body was very messed up, and I felt like my friends were getting pregnant left and right. I had to sign off of Facebook for a while because I couldn’t take the constant ultrasound photos and pregnancy announcements. It was very hard for me to be happy for my pregnant friends when I was suffering. Recovering from a miscarriage is a very emotional and difficult process. Even if we seem fine, we are still sensitive. The wound is still open. It still hurts. We aren’t asking you to hide from us or to shield us from your pregnancy, but just be mindful with certain things. For instance, it’s probably not a smart idea to text your friend who just miscarried a month ago with a picture of a positive pregnancy test and “I’M PREGNANT!!!!!!” with an abundance of exclamation points. It’s not that we won’t be happy for you, but every pregnancy reminds us of our lost one, so we just need to receive it in a more gentle manner. Does that make sense?
It’s hard for someone who hasn’t experienced a miscarriage to fully understand what a woman goes through during that time. And those of us who have suffered, surely would never wish it on our worst enemy. It is emotionally and physically draining, and just downright awful.
Tonight, on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I invite all who’ve experienced a pregnancy or infant loss to light a candle at 7pm. Keep it burning for at least one hour to create a “wave of light” throughout the world to represent our lost angel babies.
I’ll be lighting two this year.