What I Could Have Used After My Miscarriage

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:

A distraction.

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?

  1. Lisa R. Howeler

    Distraction and understanding. And one damn phone call from a friend or family member other than my mom. Not one person was concerned over me but I guess that’s because my loss was so early and what they called a blighted ovum. I was told there was nothing there and never had been. When family or friends heard that not one of them cared. The pain of passing it was insane and I did it alone while my husband slept on the couch and my brother told me to stop bothering his wife online because she was on vacation and didn’t need my stress. I held the ovum in my hand, picked it up out of the toilet and wondered how far along I’d really been when the baby stopped growing or if a baby had even been there. Then I flushed what might have been down the toilet and tried to never talk about it again because no one, other than my parents, cared. I was never asked how I felt or even how I physically was and I wasn’t offered any distraction by any friend. This is probably why I don’t talk to any of those people anymore – although I talk to my sister in law if I have to and my brother often, trying to forget what he did to me. My husband, incidentally was horrified I went through it alone but I don’t know what he was supposed to do – hold my hand in the bathroom? Eew. I was just lucky I didn’t need the D&C

    • kat

      I absolutely agree, something that says someone cares. There’s a ton of sympathy and outpouring of grief when a person who has lived outside the womb for any measure of time, but, when it comes to an unborn child, it’s as though no one cares. As if there’s no pain at all involved in the loss. But I’d argue there’s more because of all the what could have beens and the anguish of never knowing for sure. I think most people are clueless about miscarriages and what to do, but it’s still a loss and should still be treated as such. Care and concern should still be given. A life was still lost.

      I think I, too, flushed what could have been. It still haunts me because I was in the ER and it never occurred to me to retrieve the material for testing.

      • Lisa R. Howeler

        I would never have thought of saving it either so I can’t say I blame you for not thinking of it. Even if you know it’s coming it’s still like a shock to the mind. The sad thing is – my family members still don’t get it ..

  2. Salem Bishop

    I don’t think anything could have helped me honestly. I had distraction. I lost my first the day before Thanksgiving. We couldn’t fathom seeing anyone in the mental state we were in, so we spent Thanksgiving playing penny slots at a nearby casino. We spent the day after at home eating pints of ice cream and cookies watching old episodes of Celebrity Match Game. I can’t think of a better way to have spent those dark days. I was just in such a fog. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. What would be the purpose, make them feel bad and make me relive it? I’m so glad I hadn’t told anyone yet because un-telling people would have been hell. We lost a second one early on too and ended up waiting until I was 14 or 15 weeks along to tell anyone about our rainbow baby.

    • kat

      That’s true, having to relive it is horrible. I know I didn’t want to be telling it over and over. Thankfully my husband did that, but having to hear them say we could always try again, tell their own stories, and hear the “I don’t know what to say” was absolute hell. I wish we’d spent those early days just together like you, at least to get past the early grief.

  3. EM

    I’m going to preface this by saying: everyone thinks I’m a hippie for a reason.

    After my miscarriage, I buried et al in the backyard underneath my favorite tree, and created a little shrine with candles and incense around it. Every time I felt sad, I went outside, burned incense, and talked to the baby’s spirit. It’s now one of my fondest memories, even with all the pain I experienced at the time.

    • kat

      That’s absolutely lovely! I wish I’d thought to do that. It sounds like such a lovely way to keep your baby near and bring peace to your soul.

      • EM

        I already had a couple of kids and a good relationship with my midwife by that point, so I had a solid foundation to work on. The story would have been very different if it had been my first pregnancy.

        I don’t think that women realize that they can take control of miscarriages in the same way that they can with giving birth. I know a lot of women who set up birthing pools and affirmations in their living rooms in preparation of home birth, but because no one wants to talk about miscarriages, the assumption is that you have to go to the hospital for a D&C.

  4. mothertherealist

    I’ve no idea what would be a comfort. In other things, however, I’ve often thought that I hate how many people SAY, “I’m here if you need me,” etc., but don’t actually show up and vacuum the floor.

    …I actually did have one neighbor who came in and vacuumed, so some women get it.

    • kat

      I hate that! Words are empty and easy. Sometimes I just want to make a list I can hand over when someone says that, mostly just to see the look on their faces. Sounds like you have a good neighbor. Can I borrow her?

    • kat

      It is devastating; I’m so sorry you experienced one. They’re awful and so many people prefer to shrug them away because there was no evidence of a pregnancy outside of a positive test, as though it weren’t a real pregnancy.

  5. mrskayspeaksout

    While with my first loss, I held close to his clothes he was wearing, didn’t really know how to focus or understand, while my niece and I was pregnant at the same time I just stayed by her side, mentally telling my self that I will be there for her baby, but deep down inside I was in pain and cried for days. My second I challenge my self to be strong and my third I didnt have any thing to use want or need anymore. Just didnt think it was possible to happen again. And with my last one last year, I’m literally doing what I think will help now, talking about it making pages, websites and I want to start volunteering to make clothes for stillborn and who has miscarriaged under 19 weeks. The reality is once the baby is gone you are suffering while everyone else goes on with their lives, so I choose not to talk unless they show real concern. People say they understand but they really don’t, so I decided to just talk about it to other people that can relate. And I find that it helps a lot. So as of now, I am using all of my strength to rebuild me so that I can help some one else. Lords know my heart was aching and I know what it feels like to lose a baby.

    • kat

      I’m so sorry for your multiple losses. One is hard enough; I can’t imagine how you’ve been able to cope with more. You’re right, people don’t really understand and it makes it so hard to process the loss with support. I think you’re a wonderful person for doing what you can to help others. I hope it does rebuild you and that you will be blessed one day.

  6. Meg Hensley

    I love this post. Having a miscarriage was not only devastating but so confusing. I didn’t know what to do next. I felt like if I talked to my friends/family about it no one understands and I didn’t want to put that sadness on them so I kept it to myself mostly. We are not meant to go through life alone and I wish I would have just talked about it more. I wish I would have said how miserable I really was. I’m not sure what all I needed but maybe some one who said “I know you are miserably sad and I want you to tell me about it”. We can drown in our own silence.

    • kat

      All so true. No one ever seems to know how to support women who have miscarried, and we’re terrible at saying what we need. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s difficult, and always is a weight on the heart.

  7. C.C.Hawkins

    I agree with you 100%. As I am still in the throws of dealing with my first pregnancy loss (June 6), I could have used distraction and more communication. I responded differently to my miscarriage in that I reached out to a lot of people. I didn’t want to feel alone, which I felt deeply alone. I am married and my husband has been awesome. But now I realize, the void I was trying to fill was the loss. I could have used more calls, less texts. More visits, less empty commitments. I could have used anything really instead of the empty call log and people avoiding me because they didn’t want to be around my pain. Thank you for this post. It sheds a lot of light on what we go through.

    • kat

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy, and the early days are always the toughest. I absolutely agree that a larger, more compassionate presence from those around us can do a great deal to help with the healing. With miscarriage becoming an increasingly more talked about topic, I hope the next step can be what we can do to support each other, because going through it alone is painful. I do hope you have the opportunity to have a beautiful rainbow baby one day.

  8. Oizys

    What I needed was someone to talk to. Everyone knew we had miscarried as it was just after our 12 week scan and announcement that it happened. Friends and colleagues put their heads down and avoided me. My poor mum couldn’t talk to me for getting herself too upset. I just wanted someone to either ask how I was or make small talk, anything other than leaving me inside my own head.

    • kat

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s heartbreaking how people are more concerned about trying to avoid you than trying to help you heal. So many people don’t know how to help a woman who has miscarried, but avoidance hurts. I agree; someone to just talk to can go a long way.

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