For an event that happens to one in every four women, miscarriage is an uncommon word rarely used in public discussion. While many women fear the word itself and the negative connotations surrounding it, many find comfort in understanding and relating to the experiences of others. That’s why I wrote this article. In an effort to cover all the perspectives, here are three things you should know if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, and three things a friend should know – if you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage.
If You’ve Miscarried:
This is a medical diagnosis. Yes, it is unfortunately common. An estimated one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. That being said, it is most likely not common for you. Ask questions to your doctor or your physician’s assistant. You are paying for treatment, and you have a right as a patient to try to learn as much information as you can. Keep an open line of communication with your doctor as you and your partner work through this trying time. Never feel afraid to call with your concerns. Your doctor will assist you in the handling of your miscarriage, as well as when it is safe to try to conceive again.
Do not feel guilty for healing. You have earned your sadness. Take time to grieve, heal, and regroup. If you need to skip the baby shower, skip the baby shower. If you need to leave the grocery store because you can’t walk down the baby food aisle, you are not less of a woman. Losing a baby is utterly awful, and you need to heal. Having said that, try to recognize when you might be in need of more assistance. In some cases, miscarriage can lead to post-partem depression, clinical depression, and anxiety disorder. If you feel yourself slipping into a place of darkness, don’t hesitate to talk to a counselor or psychiatrist about talk therapy or safe medications. You are not less of a person for admitting you may need more help.
Do not lose hope. Miscarriage can be such a harrowing place to exist. You may feel like you will never have the family you have always envisioned for yourself. But you will. The vast majority of women who miscarry will not miscarry consecutively. There are so many options to women struggling to get pregnant and stay pregnant. No matter which path you choose, medical intervention, surrogacy, or adoption, if you see yourself with a family, you will have a family.
If You Know Someone Who Has Miscarried:
Realize the severity of the situation. Miscarriage is not only emotionally and physically painful, but also financially painful. Aside from handling the grief, many couples who miscarry are now facing large medical bills and empty arms. Avoid clichés, and directly address your friend’s struggle.
Be patient. We don’t tell people after a week of losing a loved one to move forward and try again. Your friend lost her baby. Be patient in her grief, and give her time. Giving someone time doesn’t necessarily mean giving her space. Try to regularly text or call your friend with a “thinking of you,” message. Make the suggestion to meet for coffee. Make it clear to your friend that they are not going through this traumatic life event alone, and that you will be there for them when they are ready. If there’s a partner in the picture, remember that he or she is grieving, too.
Be gentle. Living in a digital age, women who miscarry are highly sensitive to the vast amount of pregnancy announcements and pregnant family, friends, and coworkers. Your friend who miscarried is happy you are having a healthy pregnancy, and she loves you and your unborn child. But right now, your friend who miscarried most likely doesn’t want to see your ultrasound pictures or know that your baby was kicking so hard last night you couldn’t sleep. Be gentle with your friend. She lost what you still have.
After my second consecutive miscarriage with no living children, I felt defined by my barrenness. It took time for me to come to the realization that this was not my defining moment. Miscarriage is not your defining moment either. You and your partner are strong and resilient. And though you may not feel so right now, you will persist and persevere.