When we found out we were miscarrying, I spend sleepless nights scouring the web for hope. In place of hope, I found tons of chat threads between women going through different stages of miscarriage, medical articles, but not a lot of things that told me what would happen when it was over. It’s been over two months since we lost our little baby. I know, I know, you probably are thinking that I should be “over it” by now, but if you’ve ever experienced miscarriage, you know that you don’t just get over it. In fact, like most forms of grief, your heart never fully heals, it just gets easier living without that piece of it. I’ve learned so much in sharing our struggling, in sharing it with the world. I’ve learned a ton about myself, I’ve heard some incredible and painful stories of other women who have been through this, and I’ve learned more and more that the world really doesn’t talk about miscarriage.
Just about once a day, an email will pop into my inbox from another woman sharing her story, from families who just got the news, from women who have had years pass without the wound healing. It’s been incredibly therapeutic to stand with these women and say, “I am here, I am praying for you, and everything you are feeling is okay.” I’ve been able to sit on the phone with strangers minutes before their D+C, I’ve prayed over families I’ve never even met, and I’ve been introduced to countless babies who were never blessed to draw in their first breath. As I’ve continued to process the past and look forward to the future, I’ve realized that there are so many aspects to miscarriage that I never understood until it happened to me.
1) The Word Miscarriage Sucks
No, I did not miscarry my baby, in fact, I held onto that life with every fiber of my being. The prefix implies: bad or wrongly… which so many of us apply to ourselves. I was bad, I did wrong, this is why the baby died. But the truth is, many of us going through a miscarriage feel these things, even if we don’t say. We wonder if we shouldn’t have eaten that tuna or if it was that one extra cup of coffee, that yoga session, the way I laid on my back when I fell asleep. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that a term like “miscarriage” isn’t a defining one for the person who went through it. Processing a miscarriage can be extremely challenging on marriages and relationships because the woman often harvests guilt over the loss.
2) Your Body Becomes a Mess
As we had almost cleared our first trimester, my belly was already showing the signs of life, my boobs were huge and tender, my exhaustion was so real it was hard to go on a walk most days. No one tells you what the days, weeks, and months will look like. For me, I had to carry our miscarried baby for two full weeks before I was able to have a D+C which meant a full surgery, anesthesia, and those sweet little hospital mesh undies that everyone who has a baby tells you about. I remember being angry that I was walking out in those undies without a baby in my arms and an empty womb.
It took a solid 7 weeks to get my cycle back and when it came back it was the most painful reminder of how different things were in my body. I had even taken a pregnancy test before it came because I was wondering where Flo had gone (was she mad at me too?) It’s hard to not feel betrayed by this body, to hate the changes that had once reminded you of the life you were growing, and to feel completely uncomfortable in your own skin. Don’t even ask me about the medical bills, they are still coming in and it’s hard to pay thousands of dollars for a baby you were never able to meet.
3) Pregnant Friends Won’t Know What to Do, Heck, No One Will
In sharing our story, it was so interesting to see how different people reacted to the news. Trust me, we were filled with as much grace as we could muster knowing that this was a subject that hasn’t been talked about much by many. We heard things like, “There must have been something wrong with the baby.” We even heard, “Well, what can ya do?” but with some of those hurtful comments came some of the most incredible words we’ve heard. We were pointed to our faith, we were reminded of the importance of community, we were loved on and blessed in many ways we never had even expected. One of the hardest parts of losing our baby was that I was sharing our pregnancy with three of my closest friends who are also pregnant.
Suddenly the daily cravings pics stopped, the conversations of baby names and birth announcements ended, and people stopped sharing the good in their lives in fear that it would hurt us. It’s a hard space to be in because that joy you have for others doesn’t evaporate but it’s also hard to share that (and have people really believe you!) If someone shares that they have had a miscarriage and you’re caught off guard or don’t know what to say, just tell them: “I am so, so sorry for your loss.” Don’t try to explain it, don’t tell them about your friend who went on to have many healthy babies, don’t belittle the experience, don’t tell them that things happen for a reason, just be with them.
4) You Will Feel Lost on When To “Try Again”
In fact, I hate the term “try again.” It’s like that quote: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. No, you didn’t fail, no it’s not your fault, no one won’t be better this time. When it first happened to us, we thought that we wanted to try right away, to get back to that joy-filled bliss that had been rocking our worlds while we were pregnant. We couldn’t imagine just going back to the two of us without dreaming of those sleepless nights, of the nursery, of those cute little shoes and bottles. Once the dust had settled, we really had to think if we were ready to throw ourselves back into the game.
For me, I knew that I would be robbed of fully enjoying a pregnancy early on. I’d be plagued with doubts and fears that we will go back into the doctor and hear the words, “There is no heartbeat” again and I will be crushed into a million little pieces all over again. The timing will look different for everyone, just give yourself time to heal both physically and emotionally and trust that you will know when the time is right whether it’s a year from now or two months from now.
5) You Are a Mom
I stared at my phone the other day when an email popped in that said, “Congrats, your baby’s the size of a coconut.” I swear I’ve tried to unsubscribe from all things mommy, but somehow they still sneak through the cracks. I wanted a button that you could press saying, “Unsubscribe: I miscarried.” It’s this ridiculous limbo of feeling like it never even happened to you mixed with feeling like it’s still happening to you. Part of you will feel like you were never even pregnant and it was all just a dream and the other part of you will find your hand resting on your womb and thinking about the life that should be there. Mom guilt hits, even though you aren’t holding a baby and you’ll compare your miscarriage experience to other women who miscarried. A loss is a loss, a life is a life. Each experience is painful, different, and life-changing. End of story.
For me, there are days where I feel like it was all just a bad dream and I’m still the same Jenna but then there are days where I stare at a mom and child and yearn for that connection, for that love. Please never discount the fact that you were blessed to carry and love a baby for all of its days, you are a mom, no matter what society makes you believe. The moment you saw that + on your pregnancy test or celebrated that sweet little babe, you became a momma. The grief and gravity of it all will come in waves. Somedays you will stay afloat, somedays it will suck you in, just know that your baby was blessed to belong to you and someday you will be reunited.
Miscarriage is taboo but I believe it shouldn’t be. I think the more I share, the more I process, the more I learn, the better I understand the struggles that so many are facing from infertility to the loss of a child, from adoption woes to broken relationships. There’s this piece in my heart that is missing and instead of trying to fill it with things of this world, I want to share it, in case a piece of yours is sitting vacant. The more I share, the more I realize I am not alone in this pain, in this loss. I am now 1 in 5 and you might be too. Whether you, yourself have been through a miscarriage or you know someone who has, I hope that you can just stand by them, grieve with them, and celebrate the life they provided a home for!
This article first appeared on Jenna Kutcher on June 1, 2016.