I still remember it like it was yesterday. On the week of Sept. 29, 2009, I was elated to discover I was pregnant with my second child after only a few months of trying. Then, on my first prenatal visit a couple days later, that excitement ended abruptly when the doctor told me the baby I had dreamed about didn't have a heartbeat. While devastated, there were some surprising sources of support I found after my miscarriage that helped lift me up when all I wanted to do was cry in a ball on the floor, forever.
It's hard to explain the feelings I went through after that life-changing visit. Even though I wasn't far along in my pregnancy, the loss hurt. How could my body do this to me? My husband and I had spent so much time healing from my previous postpartum depression, then planning to expand our family once I was well enough, so the weight of this news crushed me. That day, as I sat draped in the paper thin gown, the only words that hung heavily in front of me were about "the tissue." My doctor, though a kind and compassionate man, refused to say the word "baby," and it was a baby. My baby.
I never expected something like a miscarriage to happen to me (who does?), so my confusion and grief controlled my life for weeks after I left that doctor's office. Going from talking about names to suddenly scheduling a D&C to remove "the tissue" made me feel like I wasn't in my body. Instead, I was watching this all play out from the outside.
While I'd go on to suffer another loss, struggled through fertility and health issues, and eventually bring my healthy baby boy into the world in late 2011, I still think of this first loss like it just happened. My first miscarriage has never really disappear from memory. Instead, it sunk into my bones, forever becoming a part of every move I make. Goodbyes aren't something I'm good at and I suppose, in a way, talking about my miscarriage is another way of hanging on and remembering a life not granted. It's my way of remembering my child. So, with that in mind, here are just a few surprising sources of support I leaned on, and continued to lean on, after my miscarriage:
While my mother-in-law and I have always had a complicated relationship, she was the one who cared for my daughter during the week of my recovery. There wasn't any one conversation, hug, or words of comfort shared between the two of us, but her actual actions reminded me I wasn't alone, even when I felt like I was.
My Male Friends
I had female friends offering support and condolences, but I was surprised at the outpouring from my close male friends, too. Two of these gentlemen in particular — big, burly guys with emotions generally tucked away — were some of the first people to be there for me in the aftermath of my miscarriage.
Even now, and almost eight years later, one of them texts me on Sept. 29 every year to tell me I'm in his thoughts. Without support like this, I wouldn't have made it through.
At the time of my first loss, my daughter was just about to turn 3 years old. We'd been planning her birthday party for the following weekend and, while she didn't understand exactly what I was going through, she was empathetic enough to surround me with all the compassion I needed. In fact, she was with me when the doctor gave me the initial news. So, while the details didn't make sense to her, my sorrow was universally relatable. I'm grateful she was by my side that day.
Before all this, I knew nothing of my grandmother's history or that she, too, had lost. We'd always been close, but when she pulled me aside soon after my surgery, she confessed her own pain. Not only did it help me feel supported, it reminded me I'm not the only one who's been through a loss that threatens to break you.
My Long-Lost Friends
Once the news was out about my loss, I began hearing from people I hadn't heard from in months. Years, even. People cared who I thought wouldn't and, because of that, I was able to move forward a little sooner.
At the risk of sounding like a cat lady (which I totally am), I found great comfort in my fur babies. Maybe it's because they don't care what's going on with me as long as their needs are met, or maybe it's because they genuinely sensed my sadness. Either way, their presence and silent support was everything during those days my husband first returned to work and all I had was time to think.
Having people ask, "When are you due?" stings when you're suddenly and unexpectedly not pregnant, especially when you still look pregnant after a loss. After being asked that very question a time or two, I just starting saying, "Well, I was pregnant, but I miscarried."
I was always shocked to see how many people I didn't know rushed to give me a hug or tell me a story of their own. As a time when I felt anything but understood, it helped. It really did.
At the time of my first miscarriage, I'd only been blogging a few months. Still, after my miscarriage and after I wrote about it, my inbox flooded with words of encouragement and support. I'll never, ever forget the lengths some of those friends — who are still my friends today — went to to provide me with a little comfort.
Support after a pregnancy loss feels hard to find when you're in the middle of mourning. Grief acts like a dark cloud, and it's hard to see through it in any capacity. The thing is, though, the support you need is literally all around you. I know that without the support of every stranger, online acquaintance, and friend, I might not have healed.