For 26 years I lived a very happy, very stable life. I excelled at everything I wanted to, and even did well at the things I didn’t care about. I had, and still have, wonderful friendships. I never had a bad romantic relationship or devastating breakup. Other than the early losses of grandparents and gains of little siblings who stole my mommy’s attention, I was blessed with a very emotionally stable life.
Until I was 26. When I lost my first pregnancy. When the women around me had successfully gotten pregnant and given birth or were happily expecting. My husband and I were devastated and crushed by our loss.
Emotionally, I shut down, while my husband turned to research. I didn’t reach out to anyone, but everyone knew. I heard the statistics one too many times, was told it was a good sign I could get pregnant at all, heard stories of other women who had miscarried, and was told “I’m here if you need anything.”
I dealt with it by shutting down. It probably wasn’t the smartest move, but it was what I needed. My husband is a research scientist and depends on facts. Together, we existed in a place of cold facts and logic. But it was a good thing, because we were able to conceive again right away. The product is currently snoring next to me as I type this.
While my husband was just what I needed at the time, it shrank our world down to two. Not a bad thing, but two people hurting over the same loss drastically narrows the field of vision.
Miscarriage is painfully common, but I had no idea it was until my own. No one really knew what they could do for me other than offer their own stories of struggles and hope. I can’t speak for any other woman who has experienced a miscarriage, but I know what I could have used:
I didn’t want people giving me statistics. I didn’t want to hear someone else’s story. I didn’t want to hear encouragement or sympathy. I didn’t want people telling me they were there for me. I didn’t want to be told to grieve or mourn, as though I needed the permission.
I could have used something to distract me from losing my child. Sure, I could have asked my husband to take me to dinner or a movie or a night out on the town. But putting that on him wouldn’t have been fair, not when he was hurting, too.
It would have been nice to watch a stupid comedy, go out for ice cream, or walk around a museum with a friend, talking about life, love, and books (because I can’t get my fill of books). Anything to get my mind off of my loss.
Perhaps people assumed they had nothing to offer, no real comfort they could give. Perhaps they felt uncomfortable because it’s not okay to talk about miscarriage. Perhaps they thought it was a private family matter they ought to stay out of.
Maybe they were waiting for me to say something, ask for something. Maybe I could have. But I was too emotionally devastated. I was too far down with my hurt. I was incapable of reaching out.
Too much of what I read about to cope with miscarriage centered on just feeling the pain. On letting the loss wash over you, of letting yourself feel the crushing grief. But I’m not the kind of person to wallow in my pain. I process grief in my own way. I don’t try to reason it out. I acknowledge it happened and it hurts, but, if I wallow, I end up drowning.
I could have used a distraction. I could have used something to take my mind off of my loss, something to remind me life is still going on and it can still be happy and fun. Something to remind me there’s still a future.
Yes, losing a child is painful and private and personal. But we women also make it known we are daughters, sisters, wives, nieces, mothers, and more. We are social creatures. If we’re able to reach out and tell others how to help us as new moms and find out tribes, then we can also break the silence around miscarriage and let people know how they can help and support us through a devastating loss.
I know what I could have used when I miscarried. What could you have used?