ONE YEAR AGO TODAY…
I woke up so excited. I had finally told Justin the night before and, after the initial shock wore off, he was stoked. Baby #3 was on its way!
I got the girls breakfast and watched the clock until I could call my midwife’s office to schedule that first appointment. I love my midwife and know she’s usually booked out quite a ways, so wanted to call right away.
I had known for over a week that I was pregnant, but since the kids had been sick, I hadn’t found a chance to sneak away to buy a pregnancy test to confirm before I told Justin.
Good thing the girls couldn’t read. This is the only picture I have from that night.
Less than 24 hours after telling Justin I was sitting in the doctor’s office getting blood drawn to confirm my worse fear.
An agonizing 48 hours later we got the official results that I had lost the baby.
My heart broke. The baby that I never got to meet was gone.
As the one year mark neared I’ve found myself trying to decide what to do. Do I say anything? Do I just let the day slip by and pretend everything is fine?
Through this past year I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I thought I’d share some things that were encouraging and some things that weren’t so helpful in those first few days and months as we figured out how to move on after loss. The loss of an unborn child is a tough thing to navigate, especially if you’ve never experienced a miscarriage.
Here are some suggestions of things not to someone who just had a miscarriage, 3 things to say to someone, and just some general support tips.
3 Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Just Had a Miscarriage
1 // How far along were you?
Does it matter? No.
I regret to say I’ve asked this in the past of friend’s that have had miscarriages and I wish I could take it back. No matter if you were 4 weeks along or 12 weeks…a baby is a baby. The second you know there’s a baby growing inside of you, life changes. You move a little more cautiously. You maybe drink one less coffee during the day.
Because I was “only” 6.5 weeks I felt like some people thought I shouldn’t have grieved the loss as hard or maybe I wasn’t really connected yet, so it didn’t matter.
If your friend had an early miscarriage, like mine, there are likely voices in her head telling her it’s less significant because she hadn’t heard the heartbeat or seen movement on ultrasound yet.
The second she knows she’s expecting though, that bond is formed.
When I get excited about something, I go full steam ahead with no looking back.
I had 10 days to plan out how to handle three kids in carseats in our car (yes, that was a serious stressor that I kept thinking about for some reason), I imagined what life would look like with two in diapers, and I had already planned out the nursery. She had a name. I called her by that name. Both Justin and I felt strongly that baby was a girl and we had already chosen our next girl name over a year earlier, so it was easy for me to just start calling her that the second I knew I was pregnant.
As a blogger, I keep an editorial calendar to make sure I’m able to plan posts around important events. I had already put on my calendar when we’d announce the pregnancy and when I’d announce the gender.
It was so real. This little baby was perfectly planned. We wanted our next two to be less than 24 months apart, I don’t want my baby to have a summer birthday (I’m a July birthday and hated it), and we didn’t want a due date in November, December, or January (we already have 3 birthdays the week of Thanksgiving and I just could not risk one more).
Now, some woman aren’t like this, especially if it’s not a first child, because you might have your hands full with other little ones, but I did. I found myself dreaming and planning from the minute I realized I was pregnant. Whether it’s at 6.5 weeks or 20 weeks, the pain and loss is real.
2 // It was for a reason.
Nope. Just no. Yes, there was probably a reason, but unless she opens up about it, do not tell her that it happened for a reason. Would you tell a friend with a breathing child that their precious baby had just died for a reason?
Give her time to grieve and cope before trying to rationalize it.
3 // Well, at least you already have one and know you can get pregnant.
Oh boy. I told myself this one over and over again and people reaffirmed it by saying, “Well, at least you already have two precious little girls.” Ok, true. I am blessed and so grateful for them, but that doesn’t change what happened.
Here’s a snippet of a text I just came across from a year ago that I sent to a friend who had previously miscarried her first. Looking back, I realize I was trying to stuff my emotions and justify why I shouldn’t be sad.
I’ve been hesitant to say something because I should just be so grateful I have my two girls, but I had a miscarriage and man it freaking sucks. I’m angry and sad and, well, just really sad.
She doesn’t need you telling her that it’s fine because you can just try again. Sometimes it’s not that easy. The family I always imagined with little tow-heads spaced two years apart wasn’t going to happen.
I know that people have the best of intentions, but miscarriage is just awkward and uncomfortable. These are the three things that have kept coming to mind when I think about some things that weren’t so helpful during that time.
But, now what to say or do to someone who just had a miscarriage. We had such amazing support and, although it sucks, I’m grateful that I had friends who previously had been through it. It made it so much easier for me to process and talk about it with someone who had been there before.
What to Say to Someone Who Just Had a Miscarriage
“How are you feeling right now?”
Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today. Right now. In this moment. How are you feeling about it right now? Especially in those first few weeks, I was all over the place.
Some days I was fine. It doesn’t mean I was still sad, but I was truly okay. If I said I was okay and I wasn’t sitting in a dark room by myself all day, don’t push me. Don’t ask “are you really okay?”
Be supportive, but don’t pry. If she wants to change the subject, let her. If she says she’s having a good day, encourage her. If she’s feeling sad, offer to go on a walk with her. Emotions fluctuate. Match where she’s at in that moment and be the friend she needs.
Be present, but not pushy. Offer a hug, but don’t push her to talk if she doesn’t want to.
If you don’t know what to say, say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Give her a hug. Leave some chocolate on her doorstep. Offer to babysit her other children.
Acknowledge it. Silence is deafening. Acknowledge the loss, the grief, and the pain. Here is an example of a text from a truly amazing friend who explained it so well and was there for me through that grief.
When I went through my miscarriage I discovered people don’t know what to say when they know you’ve had one, and they think you probably don’t want to talk about it so they don’t bring it up or acknowledge it which was hard for me. It’s just hard to navigate. So when you need to lash out or vent, or need affirmation or encouragement I will always try and do that for you in this process. You are so not alone.
If you’ve had a miscarriage, share it with your friend.
I sat in the hospital room the day after one of my friends had her rainbow baby and we sat and cried about the babies we lost. She had miscarried a year earlier and her opening up and sharing about her experience and the heartache, even with her new baby here, was something I will forever be grateful for. It gave me hope and was a great reminder that it was okay to still be sad in the midst of happiness.
Others Ways to Support a Friend Who Had a Miscarriage
Provide a meal, groceries, or run errands.
Some people don’t feel much when they miscarry. I felt like I was in early labor for 3 days and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and not move due to the blood loss and emotions. We had a few meals dropped off and it meant a lot that they were thinking of us.
I’m headed to Target this afternoon and would like to drop some stuff off for you. I’ll leave it at your door. Do you need anything else while I’m out?
Those first few days were tough trying to be strong for my little ones. Clara was 3 and knew something was wrong, but we didn’t feel ready to tell her what was going on. A friend texting and offering to pick up the kids for a couple of hours was a nice mental break.
Don’t forget about dad.
He just lost a child too and it can be really tough (sometimes tougher) on him since he’s trying to be strong for the mom. Offer to take him out for drinks. Play video games with him. Give him a chance to talk if he wants to.
Meet them where they’re at.
Some woman avoid baby showers and babies and pregnant woman. I, on the other hand, just wanted to snuggle all the babies I could get my arms around and dream about the baby I never got to hold.
I ended up having two friends that were due the same week that I was and I actually loved following along with their pregnancy and seeing the joy when their babies were born. Yes, it makes me sad, but it is also such a good reminder of what my baby would be doing right now. Learning to roll and giggling and smiling at her sisters. I choose to cherish those little things. Seeing and hearing their updates bring a smile to my face, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a little painful.
Be gentle around these situations and if you aren’t sure how she feels, ask.
Remind her she did nothing wrong.
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t question whether she had wine or forgot to take her prenatal or went to hot yoga. She already has a recording playing constantly in her head that she’s fighting to turn off.
What if I had exercised more? What if I had lost that 20 pounds I’ve been meaning to lose? What if I had only drunk one cup of coffee instead of two? What if I hadn’t been so stressed?
15-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s 1 in 5 and they assume that number is actually higher since many occur before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. 50% of miscarriages happen due to chromosome abnormalities and not related to an inherited disease from one of the parents. All that to say, it’s likely nothing she did. And even if it is, it’s not your role to talk about that.
Remember the important dates. The due date. The date she lost the baby. Just shoot her a text saying hey I’m thinking about you today. Remind her she isn’t alone.
Having a miscarriage puts me in a category I never wanted to be in, but I’m here and I’ve joined a lot of other women who have been there. If you’re going through this…I’m so sorry. I encourage you to find a way to remember your baby.
I got this necklace off Etsy to give me something to remember baby and I know I’ll cherish it forever. This is the shop I ordered it from and Hannah was so easy to work with and created exactly what I pictured in my head.
We love you, baby E, and can’t wait to meet you someday.
JANUARY 16, 2018