The Grief of a Miscarriage

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It was Monday, January 14th.

A day that I never once even considered the vs. in Jeremiah (1:5). Nor have I ever considered Psalm 139:13. However, after feeling a little strange while doing group at work only to find myself bleeding at 5 weeks 4 days pregnant, the verses became a strange reality.

The baby’s name was made official that morning. We were excited to be parents again. We were making arrangements for what to do with the furniture in the house. I had already bought the paint for the living room. Each night, up until that date, me and my husband stayed up fantasizing on what this child was going to be like. We would debate over baby names, what sex it was going to be and why, and how we were going to tell the news to everyone.

They say there’s a glow to you when you’re pregnant. After Monday, January 14th, I started to speculate on that glow. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” I was sitting in the hospital, tearful, because I knew what was going on and I didn’t want to experience it. The hospital staff were arrogant and rude, treating us like we were ignorant. That’s very typical for the hospital when they see me and my husband together. They assume we’re on Medicaid and that we don’t understand things. Making comments like, “Good thing you have three at home. You’re almost 38 it’s not like you needed another one.”  “Is this the baby daddy?” Or the, “Christina, you probably tested early, it’s not going to be any different than your period was.” I’m not dumb. That was all I could think. My doctor knows. Stop patronizing me.

I stayed silent, focused on that glow. After the medical staff left the room, I looked at my husband and said, “It’s because you’re carrying two souls. That’s where the maternal glow comes from. The mom is no longer sheltering her own soul, she has the baby’s soul too.” My husband thought that was an interesting philosophy.

On the car ride home, I was silent. My husband was surprised I didn’t give the hospital staff a piece of my mind, like I typically do. I just wasn’t feeling it. My heart was hurting. I went to bed, exhausted, drained both emotionally and physically.

The next day I wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. I never could empathize with a woman having a miscarriage before. I knew they had to experience grief of some sort, but I never truly understood how it felt. I remember sitting on the couch willing myself not to have to use the bathroom. I think I went twice that day and that was only because I couldn’t wait any longer. Each time you go, everything maternal fights with everything physical. Your heart tries to hold in what your body is getting rid of. It’s a conflict of interest.

You’re ingrained to protect your young and so you try with all your might. The agony of having to use the bathroom forces you to give in to what you’re opposed to. With tears, you feel the glow start to leave you. It’s not instant, it takes a little bit of time. A couple of days. But you feel it slipping away. You’re left feeling empty, hollow even.

The whole time, I was cursing the hospital. I felt bitter, angry, that they could say some of the dumbest things ever. It was nothing like having a normal period. This was far more intense and to be quite honest, never had I had a period where I saw the sac of a fetus and an umbilical cord before. It was a ridiculous statement on the doctor’s behalf, and I hated her for minimizing my pain and every other woman’s pain who has experienced this as well.

That Tuesday is when the phone calls and comments were made. First thing’s first. I have never experienced real grief for someone extremely close to me before and I don’t wish to. I’ve cried at every funeral I’ve ever attended, since I was a small child. I am a true empath and can understand and feel pain regardless if it’s my own. I have learned that if I ever experience grief of someone close, I know I will isolate. I didn’t want to see the comments. I didn’t respond. I avoided. I hated seeing the words I’m sorry. I didn’t believe them. They felt fake. Perhaps not fake, perhaps distant or obligated. Almost like, “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, glad I’m not.”  Or “I have to say something because I’m her friend.”

My daughter convinced me to post it on fb. She was frustrated with me for not sharing my feelings with her or anyone for that matter. I am used to being the one that people talk to. I’m not comfortable being the one to talk. I write. That’s how I experience emotion. I write everything. I had written a little. She wanted me to share, so I could avoid the texts. That sounded reasonable and like a relief, so I did. I never read the comments. I left them alone to sit.

When I started to talk to people, I realized I wasn’t the only one in this position. I realized that most people have a difficult time identifying what it is they’re feeling. People don’t feel that grief is real when it comes to a baby one has never physically held. Abortion is legal and people do it all the time, it’s not a big deal. But the truth is, it is a big deal. When you are expecting, everything changes. Life styles change, plans change, your body physically changes. It’s with you constantly and on your mind even more. When that gets ripped away, it’s difficult.

So many women are talked to like they’re dumb for caring. I was told, “It’s not a big deal, you have time make another one.”

My thought was, “And risk going through all of this again?”

I was perplexed. I was told, “Well this one didn’t work out, hopefully next time I see you, you’re actually in labor.”

“Um thanks.”

“Good thing you have three!”

“Again, thanks.”

“I’m glad this isn’t your first at your age.”

My thought, “Would you say that to someone where it was?”

“30-50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.”

“Thanks.”

“Good thing you didn’t need another one.”

“Thanks, but really who NEEDS one to begin with?”

These are normal “condolences” to women who are in the process of grieving. Sure, the grief may not look the same, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. I’m sure grief doesn’t look the same from when your parent dies to when your dog dies, but guess what, people understand it’s still grief.

What’s worse. When a woman suffers with a miscarriage, they then have to tell the people they let in on the secret. It’s humiliating because one day you were all excited, the next time you see them you’re empty- like you lost your glow.

Does life go on? Yes, it does. Me and my husband are okay. In fact, we’re happy even. We had a really tough week that week. It took two for me to decide if I wanted to try for a fourth child or not. I talked to the doctor and let her know my concerns. She assured me I was healthy, able-bodied, and should have no problems carrying a child full-term. But the choice is mine.

When and if we decide to try again, and when and if we get pregnant, I will pray everyday that this does not happen to me again. I will not give it another chance if it does. I don’t think I would be able to. It hurts too much.

However, through this experience I have learned that it’s better to not say anything than it is to try and help when you don’t know what to say. If you know a woman going through this experience and you don’t know what to say, but feel you must say something, here’s a list of a few things you can say.

“I’m sorry for your pain.” (be sincere)

“I’m sorry for your loss.” (be sincere)

“Dude that really sucks.”

“Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”

“I bought you a candy bar.”

“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”

“Screw the doctors! They’re dumb!”

“Did you watch ___________ tonight? It was hilarious!” (This is my personal fave. Takes your mind off the crap your mind is focused on).

Regardless, just because you don’t understand what they’re going through, doesn’t make it okay to say whatever you please. The woman you’re not understanding is losing her glow and it breaks her heart. Remember the human.

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