Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Dealing With Pregnancy Loss

I'm here to talk about what no one wants to talk about. Or hear about. Or think about. But it's Mother's Day time, we've been talking about pregnancy and childbirth and it would be naive not to say anything about the other side of pregnancy. The side where pregnancy doesn't end with bringing a baby home from the hospital. The side that ends with a broken heart instead.

Did you know that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage? That is a lot of women out there who are walking around with broken hearts. Often silently and alone. Why are we suffering in silence when it feels so good to comfort each other? Why are we so afraid to share our experience when nothing makes us feel better than hearing someone's story? Why can we talk about the babies that live but not about the babies that don't?

I lost a baby. Apparently 1 in 5 of my friends have too. My heart aches not just for myself but for anyone that has experienced miscarriage, at 4 weeks or at 40, your first child or your seventh, a planned pregnancy or a surprise, it is always a heart break. Here are some things I learned when dealing with my own loss. Everyone handles things differently and these are not rules of how you're supposed to handle your grief. These are mere suggestions to help you, my way to offer you comfort and to tell you I've been there.

Be gentle with yourself
We are our own worst critics and harshest judges, but this fragile time is a time to put that aside. Please, please be gentle with yourself. I was beating myself up about all sorts of things. Why hadn't I started trying earlier? What if I caused this by taking a particular medication or eating a certain food? Am I ruining my son's childhood because I'm not giving him the ideal sibling spacing that I wanted? Am I a failure as a mother if I can't give my son a sibling? At one point I imagined that it was my best friend who had gone through this and I was the one comforting her. None of these negative thoughts of blame would ever cross my mind, I would be nothing but compassionate and gentle to her. So why couldn't I treat myself the same way? No matter how much support from others we get, the biggest support we need is from ourselves.

Be honest about what you need
A few days after my miscarriage I had two friends approach me about watching their kids while they attended their obstetrician appointments. It was nothing I hadn't done before and I love helping out my friends, but it hurt. It hurt to see people going on with their pregnancies right when mine had ended. My wise husband knew I was upset and gently told me that no one could give me what I needed if they didn't know what that was. I could have told my friends what I was going through and that it was too hard right now and they would have understood. The people in your life want to help you, they want to ease your burdens, but they can't if you don't tell them what they are.

Give yourself time
Life's tragedies seem to happen at the worst possible times. For example when your husband is about to go out of town for three days and you have a toddler boy who strangers frequently describe as "very active" to chase after. But you need time, physically and mentally. It won't do anyone any good if you jump back into life too fast, you need time to start healing.

Become closer to your partner
The way I see it, everything that happens in life can either bring you closer together with your partner or further apart, no matter what it is. Let this bring you closer. Help your partner and let your partner help you. Men are different than women. Men grieve differently. Men see pregnancy differently. Men react differently to loss. This doesn't mean he isn't heart broken too. Keep communicating, keep leaning on each other, keep being honest and open with your feelings.

So to those heart broken women out there, may you be gentle with yourselves this Mother's Day. May you have the courage to ask for help. May you be strong enough to allow yourself to grieve. May you love yourself enough to put yourself first. May you find healing, not the healing that makes you forget the past, but the healing that gives you hope for the future. May each day bring a little less tears and a few more smiles. May you be unafraid to talk about your loss, to open your heart up to the love that others are waiting to pour in. May you be patient with the time it takes to start feeling yourself again. May you embrace the new you, for you will never be the same again but you can still be great.

1 comment:

Cara said...

I love this post so much! I've had several friends have to go through something like this and your words help articulate something I can only imagine. Plus, that quote in the image is perfect--it's all about love. Thank you for sharing this!