12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Miscarried
I was trying for a second child when I experienced a miscarriage. I was shocked and disappointed and sad, but I was also kind of relieved. That last emotion filled me with guilt, and I didn't know how to express my complicated reaction to my pregnancy loss without putting myself in a position to be shamed or judged. Knowing that so many women also feel relieved when they experience a miscarriage is just one of the many things I wish I knew when I miscarried; things that would have given me the perspective I so desperately needed; things that would have helped me feel, well, not so alone.
My family of three had just moved across the country to a brand new (and rather intimidating, not to mention expensive) city. I was working full time, my partner just started school and we had a 2-year-old toddler. My partner and I wanted (still do) another baby, so when we found out I was pregnant we were excited and happy and, while nervous and anxious, looking forward to adding another member to our family. I was also unsure if I really and truly could handle another baby at this specific moment in my life. I was starting a new, very demanding job; my savings had been drained thanks to our cross-country move; my partner wasn't working but going to school full-time; my son was demanding because, well, he's a toddler. How in the world was I going to do everything I was currently doing, with a newborn in the mix?
Then, as quickly as the pregnancy arrived, it left. I had a miscarriage and while I was sad and upset and felt a little bit lost, my anxieties and fears also vanished. In other words, the entire experience was confusing and I was feeling so many juxtaposing feelings and, in the moment I miscarried and so many moments after, it would have helped if I knew the following:
How Often Miscarriages Actually Occur
I didn't realize how many women experience miscarriages — even the women in my life — until I experienced one myself. Recent studies have revealed that anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. While every experience is unique, including my own, knowing that my experience isn't uncommon would have helped.
Until I felt comfortable talking to people about my own miscarriage experience, I had no clue that so many of the women in my life had one, too. While it made me so upset to know that those women knew what this felt like, it was also somewhat comforting to know that I wasn't alone and that my friends could be there for me in a way no one else could.
That I Am Entitled To Whatever It Is I'm Feeling...
I was somewhat taken back by how I felt about my miscarriage. While I was sad, I was also kind of relieved. I have a 2-year-old son and a full-time job, I had just moved to a new city and I was unsure if I could balance my life in a somewhat healthy way if I added a newborn to the mix. Could I be a good mom to two children? Could I continue to work if I had two children? Would we be able to continue to feel financially comfortable with two children? I was nervous and scared so, while I was sad that my pregnancy ended, I was also a little bit (for lack of a better word) thankful.
I spent far too much time feeling guilty about that feeling, because I didn't think it was "right" to feel that way. However, everyone has different feelings about pregnancy loss, and all of those feelings are valid.
...Even And Especially When That Feeling Is Relief
Not only do we (read: society) not talk about miscarriage, we don't talk about the wide variety of feelings a woman can (and usually does) experience when she has a miscarriage. Not every woman is devastated when she miscarries. Not every woman is horribly sad. Some women are relieved; some women are just disconnected entirely; some women don't think it's a devastating scenario because they didn't notice they were pregnant in the first place.
There are so many feelings a woman can have, including relief, and I wish I would have known that my feelings weren't "wrong" or "inappropriate."
Sometimes, It Will Be Someone Else's Reactions That Hurt Worse Than The Miscarriage Itself
I didn't feel particularly "broken" by my miscarriage, but it was someone else's reaction to my miscarriage that really upset me.
How people process pain or loss is just a diverse as people themselves, and since we all have our own baggage and our own life experiences that shape how we react to certain situations, I understood that this individual's reaction wasn't born out of vindictiveness, but almost necessity. However, to be told I wasn't handling my miscarriage the way I was "supposed to," was hurtful.
Sometimes, it's not the thing that hurts you, but a specific reaction to the thing.
There's Nothing I Could Have Done
I spent the few days after my miscarriage re-tracing my steps, wondering what I could have done differently. Was it something I ate? Did I have something bad to drink? Did the walk to and from work cause my miscarriage? Was it the stress at work that caused my miscarriage?
Turns out, it's none of the above. There's nothing I could have done to prevent my miscarriage from happening, and while it's difficult to feel so powerless over a situation it's also nice to know that it's not my fault.
My Miscarriage Was Going To Be Difficult For My Partner, Too
Initially, after I found out I was miscarrying, I thought about myself and myself only. I was the one experiencing the hormonal fall out; I was the one who would have to make an appointment and have a minor procedure; I was the one who was, you know, physically experiencing the miscarriage itself.
However, the miscarriage affected my partner, too, and in a very different way. It would have been so very helpful to be cognizant of something that seems so obvious, but is so easy to forget when you're in the thick of a pregnancy loss and just trying to go about your day-to-day life.
I Didn't Have To Hide The Fact That I Experienced A Miscarriage...
A miscarriage isn't something shameful so it's not something anyone needs to hide.
...But I Didn't Have To Tell Anyone, Either
However, you don't have to announce your miscarriage, either. Who you tell and who you don't tell is completely up to you.
The only people I told about my miscarriage were my coworkers (and not all of them), my partner, my boss and my best friend. That's it. I kept it to myself because, well, that's how I wanted to handle the situation. I didn't want to continuously answer a bunch of questions and I didn't want to share details and I didn't want to emotionally purge myself every single time I told someone what had happened. It was easy to just keep it to myself and move forward.
There Are People And Resources I Can Talk To
I didn't realize just how many resources are available for women who have experienced a miscarriage. From Planned Parenthood to your healthcare provider to resource centers like mymiscarriagematters.com, there are people who will speak to you and forums you can engage in.
I Didn't Have To "Get Over It" In A Certain Amount Of Time...
There's no timeline for grief. There's no "set schedule" that you have to keep and you don't have to "be over it" in a certain amount of time.
Maybe you feel "back to normal" in a day or two. Maybe you don't feel "right" for months, maybe even years. It's entirely up to you and your own path towards healing is yours, and yours alone.
...And I Didn't Have To Show Others Your Pain In Order To Meet Their Expectations
I honestly think this is why I didn't tell too many people about my miscarriage. I know that when you tell someone you've experienced a pregnancy loss they, for the most part, have an idea in their head as to how you're suppose to react. I knew I wouldn't fulfill their expectations. I wasn't particularly devastated or upset, so I kept it to myself so that I didn't have to placate others by putting myself in a position that didn't feel authentic or true to my experience.
I'm Not Alone
So many women have experienced miscarriage. So. Many. Women.
It's such an isolating experience and I know that I felt alone after my pregnancy loss, but I'm not. I wasn't alone then and I'm not alone now and, well, neither are you.