Life is full of love and loss. Anyone who tells you differently hasn’t lived.
Dan and I have talked about this a lot lately. By deciding to start a family, we opened ourselves up to pain and hurt and sadness. We could have decided to wait longer or indefinitely. We could have planned more fun trips around the world, vacationing and buying ‘stuff’ but we both agreed that ‘really living’ includes children for us. Many children. And children, by default, bring happiness but also sadness and pain and challenges. They are an incredible blessing but they are also challenges. I don’t think either one of us expected the pain so soon. We knew that it was in our future. Children rebel and argue and do stuff that we don’t like. But they also bring so much joy and happiness and blessings into our lives.
While I know that in some crazy sense, we were lucky to lose our little bean so early, it doesn’t change how much I wanted and loved that baby. I can’t imagine having gotten further along with my pregnancy and losing the baby or taking the baby to term and losing it then. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it’s heartbreaking to lose the baby.
This article – link – has been really helpful for me. I have shared it with my friends who have experienced a loss recently. That first link is about the statistics. Here are a few that they share:
The term pregnancy loss can refer to either a miscarriage (a spontaneous pregnancy loss before the 20th week) or a stillbirth (the death of the baby in the second half of the pregnancy or during childbirth). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), miscarriages occur in about 15 to 20 percent of all known pregnancies, with approximately 600,000 miscarriages occurring annually in the United States. These statistics only apply to known pregnancies, but many women miscarry so early in their pregnancy that they are not even aware of it.
The causes of miscarriage remain elusive. According to one study, the cause of a miscarriage is identified in only 19 percent of all cases. In another study, 47 percent of women who miscarried felt guilty, and 40 percent said they felt that they may have done something to cause the miscarriage. According to the latter study, 40 percent of women described feeling isolated by their loss—which may be amplified by hormonal changes—increasing feelings of sadness and anxiety.
Still, 65 percent of men and women believe that miscarriage is a rare event, estimating it occurs in only 6 percent of all pregnancies. One reason for the difference between the perceived and actual prevalence could be attributed to the “12-week rule.” Pregnancy books often encourage women to wait until they reach the 12-week mark in their pregnancy before telling family and friends the news. If a woman loses her baby during this time, she may choose not to tell her family and friends which could contribute to the perception that miscarriages happen infrequently. Still, 66 percent of the study participants believed that the emotional impact of miscarrying is severe.
The second part – link – is about how to interact with someone experiencing loss. Here are a few things that I can reiterate from my own experience:
HELPFUL THINGS TO SAY OR DO|
According to Kelly Morrow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who works with women who have suffered a pregnancy loss or are dealing with infertility issues, “one of the things most women want is acknowledgment that they lost their baby and have a reason to be grieving. Miscarriage is not just a medical event; it is a traumatic emotional loss and spiritual experience for most women.”
SAY, “I AM SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.”
Just acknowledge that we lost something that was VERY real for us.
UNHELPFUL THINGS TO SAY OR DO
The worst thing you can do for a friend who has miscarried is minimize the loss. While perhaps said with the intention of helping the mother move forward, commonly said phrases are, in fact, quite painful:
“You’re young; you can have another.”
“It was meant to be,” or “It was God’s will.”
“At least you have other children.”
“At least you weren’t that far along.”
Phrases like these can add to the suffering, mistakenly giving the message, “your grief is overblown.”
There are more hints in the article, I am pulling out things that I see as vital/have experienced. Telling me the baby that my body lovingly carried for 8 weeks didn’t have a soul so it wasn’t a baby, doesn’t help. Telling me that it was my first time trying so I have SOOOO much time to try, doesn’t help. These phrases don’t change that we lost a baby who I carried in my body and lovingly spoke to and about. It just makes me feel bad about myself and my deep grief. It makes me feel like less of a woman. And this is why I am speaking out. We aren’t different because our bodies couldn’t hold a child. We are still women and mothers and people who love.
At this point in my grief, I can talk about it and share my experience but deep down, I miss being pregnant. The feeling of my body changing and that my life was on the precipice of changing forever. I pray that one day soon I can feel those feelings again.