Miscarriages aren't talked about enough. In fact, I rarely thought about miscarriages before I started experiencing them myself. Then that's all I could think about. It's so hard to talk about a pregnancy loss, but silence just exacerbates the isolation you can't help but feel after you miscarry. That's why there are things a mom suffering from more than one miscarriage won't tell you, but I will. I believe it's undeniably important to understand what often goes unsaid, so that a woman suffering from such a loss can be supported. Or, so that same woman can support herself, knowing she's not alone.
I've said it before and I'll say it again and again: silence about truth is not helpful. In fact, if you're anything like me, it can be the difference between resiliently overcoming loss and falling down a deep, dark hole of depression. In fact, I hear it over and over again from other women living through the same experiences. Once a person has a miscarriage they want to know they're not alone. They want to know that it's OK to talk about their devastation and loss.
Sadly, however, the message we repeatedly get is that it is not OK to talk about our devastation and loss. Our miscarriages make other people uncomfortable or unsure or sad-by-association, so we should just suffer in silence. Well, I absolutely refuse to accept this flawed and hurtful logic. If sharing the following things I felt after multiple miscarriages helps just one person feel less alone, it's worth it.
"I'm Afraid I'm Damaged"
The first time I was in the hospital for the dilation and curettage (D&C), my outgoing nurse couldn't have been happier. She was chatting on about miscarriages being "no big deal," especially when it was "only your first."
I was numb with devastation. The idea of having multiple miscarriages, when I could barely function after having experienced one, was incomprehensible to me. Then I had another. And another.
My body had two children previously, so the only explanation was that I had become damaged.
"It Doesn't Hurt Less Because I Have Children"
I felt tremendous guilt about feeling so horrible in the process of my miscarriages. I knew that there were other women, women I knew personally, whose first pregnancies ended in miscarriage. What right did I have, with two live children, to be grief-stricken?
But I was.
"Pregnant Bellies Are Triggering AF"
I was not proud of my initial reaction to seeing a pregnant woman. In fact, I'm still not. Still, after my miscarriages I couldn't see a pregnant belly without either being filled with irrational rage or overcome with paralyzing sadness.
"I Form Attachments That May Seem Strange"
If this happens to you, or the formerly-pregnant person you love, just go with it. The day I found out that my 13 week pregnancy actually stopped growing at 9 weeks 3 day, an old college friend announced her first pregnancy on Facebook.
Contrary to the pregnant-belly trigger, I became immediately invested in her pregnancy despite not having spoken to her outside of Facebook for over a decade. I followed her baby belly posts religiously and, to this day, feel a deep connection to her 2 year old. I've never met the child, but he was born just shy of my original due date.
"It's Hard To Think About Anything Else"
In the midst of my year and a half of three miscarriages, there were many times I'm sure I seemed fine. The truth? I was never fine. It was hard for me to think about anything else. If you were in my life it's a pretty sure bet that, at least at some point, I was thinking about my miscarriages while I was supposed to be listening to you.
It wasn't intentional, it's just that my heart and mind were taken over by seemingly endless grief and worry. Still, I know that intention does not trump impact. I am so sorry for not always being fully present for you.
"It Doesn't Get Easier"
With each miscarriage it actually got harder. There was still no evidence of what was wrong with the pregnancies I was losing, so the obvious deduction was that something was wrong with me.
"My Own Pregnancy Is Triggering AF"
After three miscarriages I finally became pregnant with my now 1 year old. I'm so super, over the moon grateful for my incredible Reiki Rainbow Baby. But, you guys, the entire time I was pregnant I was waiting for the next shoe to drop. I was petrified and anxious with each strange pregnancy symptom. Despite having two live children that preceded my three miscarriages, nothing about the post-miscarriages pregnancy felt normal. Everything was a cause for worry, and more often than not I would find myself thinking, "Will this be the last time I feel the baby kick? Will I actually get to meet this little one?"
"I Can't 'Just Relax'"
I realize people were trying to be helpful during my pregnancy with my youngest when they would say things like, "You should just relax," or, "Whatever is meant to be will be," and, "Worrying isn't good for the baby." What those well-intentioned people didn't seem to get, however, is that I couldn't "just relax." It was impossible. Expressing your concern for the baby's wellbeing, secondary to my anxiety, does nothing except increase my guilt and anxiety.
If you truly want to be helpful to someone who is pregnant after multiple miscarriages, here are some ways to do it:
- Tell them their anxiety is normal;
- Offer to take them out for a little bit of fun distraction like a movie or brunch date;
- Tell them that no matter what happens with this pregnancy you are going to be there for them; and,
- If they lose the pregnancy or have the baby, be there for them.