In the immediate aftermath of my first pregnancy loss, I was lost, too. It was as if I'd been given the gift I longed for, only to have it ripped away. Everything I planned for our future as a family paused and, for a long time after, I wasn't sure how to move forward. Due to my lifelong battle with mental and ovarian health, traditional grief and healing methods didn't help as much as I would've hoped. Thankfully, some unexpected ways I healed from my pregnancy loss came at a time I didn't know where else to turn. These things provided peace, positivity, and forgiveness within, and at a time when they were vital.
The evening I came home from the hospital, after the dilation and curettage (D&C) used to remove my fetus that had no heartbeat from my body, I sat on the couch with an endless stream of tears running down my face, my husband by my side. In a matter of days I went from extreme joy in knowing we were about to have our second child, to such confusion and grief. As a result, I didn't know how to carry on from there. All our plans revolved around getting pregnant and having another baby in the house.
Once I became pregnant, then suffered the loss of that pregnancy, it felt traumatic to defer back to the life I was previously living. I couldn't pretend the baby hadn't existed and, yet, to acknowledge the life and loss hurt even more. With that said, here are some ways I did find relief and healing at one of the most devastating times in my life.
Through Writing About My Experiences
Though I'd been writing long before my first pregnancy loss, it took on new meaning when I was mourning. It's not that I wanted to focus solely on writing about the miscarriage, or linger in the pain surrounding it, but it was the gateway to healing. Not only did I find relief putting my feelings into words, I found that in writing about what I experienced online, others felt less alone, too.
When I was open and honest about my pain through writing, I was able to help others who, in turn, were also helping me. It's a beautiful thing that brought me (and has continued to bring me) a lot of comfort.
Through Spending Time With My Daughter
When my husband and I first started trying for our second baby, we already had our 2-year-old daughter. Her existence was enough, to be sure, but there was a space in my heart fully ready to commit to another baby, too. I had a brother growing up and having a sibling taught me a lot about sharing, compassion, and forgiveness. I hoped she could experience having a sibling, too.
After the loss, I looked at her differently. Time suddenly felt fleeting. I wanted to hold onto every single moment with her and make them last as long as possible. In her laughter I found healing. In fact, it was there all along. I just hadn't appreciated it like I should've.
Through Mandatory Self-Care
For a long time after the birth of my daughter, I had postpartum depression (PPD). This interrupted my usual self-care routine greatly, because it took everything in me to get through a day.
After my pregnancy loss, I (eventually) got into the routine of regular self-care again. The difference? I drastically changed the things I did to take care of myself. For example, I was never someone to be physically active, but I started running so I could clear my mind.. Likewise, I began making healthier choices for myself and my family. I made self-care a priority — even if it was a hot bath or five quiet minutes to myself just to breathe. On the days I wanted to dwell in grief, these things made all the difference in the world. Honestly, they still do.
Through Learning About My Family History
In the days after my loss, a lot of women, including friends and family members, reached out to tell me of their own losses. Of all their stories, one in particular — the tale of my grandmother's baby loss — stays with me to this day. Hearing what she endured, through The Great Depression no less, didn't diminish my loss, but helped put it into perspective.
When my grandmother confessed that she still cried for the baby she'd lost, it also provided me with comfort. She showed me I wasn't alone and it was OK to grieve as long as I need to. This, in and of itself, helped me heal.
Through Playtime With My Cats
My furry friends have been the comic relief at the worst times in my life, because they're cats and cats are hilarious (or jerks, because there's no in between). I spent a lot of time stroking them when I needed to feel calm, talking to them when I felt lonely, and laughing at them when they did typical cat stuff. Some days, it was the only laugh I had.
Do you know how amazing it feels to laugh after going through a loss like this? My cats must have because they were there for me when, at times, no one else was.
By Working Through The Pain
I've always been the type who thrives when staying busy. I'm most productive when I'm almost overwhelmed with work, only because it's how my mind works. Space between projects means I feel useless, and as if my potential is wasted by taking a breather. Ironically, when I'm grieving, I find it hard to concentrate while simultaneously needing a diversion. It's a tricky balance, but it's one I'm (usually) able to find.
At the time of my loss, I found healing through working because, however hard it was to focus sometimes, it distracted me so I didn't sit and cry all day. Not everyone is able to go about it like this, but it worked for me because it revived my sense of value. If I could contribute to something bigger than me, I felt worthy of something and, eventually, could heal because of it.
Through Researching What I'd Gone Through
A lot of my healing came in the simplest of ways. I let myself rest, I cried until I couldn't cry anymore, and, when I felt helpless, I researched to my heart's content. I wanted to know how common my experience was (very), if I could've prevented it (I couldn't), and if I could move forward with a successful pregnancy in the future (I could, and eventually I did).