Wednesday, August 8, 2012

10 Things to Know About Miscarriages

10 Things to Know About Miscarriages

Having five miscarriages by no means makes me an expert but I have learned a thing or two between my first loss and my last. Miscarriage is often one of those taboo topics that no one talks about.  I find that talking about it at least a little bit helps me to heal.  Its nice to not have to carry the burden alone and for others to recognize your loss.  Thus I have come up with 10 things I've learned about miscarriages.

1.  A loss is a loss.

I've had a miscarriage a couple days after my positive test.  I've had one at eight weeks after two ultrasounds where I saw my baby.  The rest fall somewhere in between.  I use to think that having an early miscarriage meant that I shouldn't hurt as much as someone who lost their child later on in pregnancy or after birth.  Most of the time you form an instant bond with your baby from the second you know and to loose that hope and dream is a loss worth recognizing.  In my opinion you just can't compare a miscarriage with any other form of loss.  They are different types of losses but losses just the same.

2.)  You Can't Compare Miscarriages
This last time of my best friend and I found out we were due withing a week of each other.  We also found out that our babies had stopped growing within in a week of each other.  That's about where any similarities between our pregnancies/miscarriages end.  Our experiences both physically and emotionally were completely different.  Why?  We are two different people, with two different bodies and set of circumstances.  While I did have empathy for her and she for me, I couldn't say which one of us had the easier miscarriage.  Again they were just different and most of the time we don't know all of the varying factors that play into a miscarriage.

3.)  Everyone's Experience Will be Different
I've had others ask me what they can expect from a miscarriage.  Each miscarriage is different.  I've had five very different experiences.  Some were quick while others took weeks to complete.  Some people will need to have assitance from a doctor while others will be able to naturally pass everything.  I've had some where the physical pain was gruesome and lasted forever and others that the pain came and went in ten minutes.  After a couple of my miscarriages I emotionally fell apart and quickly became depressed while others I've been in a better place emotionally to keep moving forward.  That's not to say I'm not sad because I am.  There's just a difference between being sad and being depressed. 

4.)  How One Copes Will Be Different
Are you sensing a theme?  It would only make sense that if each experience is different that the way to cope would be somewhat different.  This is true even for those who have multiple miscarriages.  Some people will want to keep busy or start expercising.  Some will need to start making other big plans.  For me I usually spend at least a couple of days in front of the tv armed with oreos, ice cream, and any other form of chocolate to distract myself.  I let the tears come and after a few days I try and deal with those emotions and thoughts a little more.  After a certain point I have to get out of my house and keep my hands busy.  I try and not remember the exact due dates because for me I think that would make healing harder.  That's not to say the same is true for others.  I once read that someone planted a bush or flower on their lost child's due date or the one year anniversary from the loss to signify healing.  I love this idea.

5.)  People Will Say All the Wrongs Things
It's inevitable.  People will say all the wrongs things to you.  This has happened every single time and it use to get me even more upset.  Why can't they just be supportive and say things that are actually comforting?  The truth is that most of the time those people all have good intententions and are trying their best to be suportive in your time of need.  They aren't trying to minimize your loss but often times just don't know what to say or how to say it.  We can't hold that against them, we're all learning here.  I know that I often have word vomit in situations like this and will walk away from a conversation wondering why I said something.  (Don't worry I have a post coming on things not to say:) 

6.)  There is a Learning Curve to Grieving
This one is for those who are trying to support someone who has gone through a miscarriage.  Just as the comforters aren't always perfect and say the right things, the person grieving may make mistakes themselves.  Maybe they don't tell you about the miscarriage for a long period of time and that hurts your feelings or they just seem to shut everyone out and are rude.  Give them some slack.  It takes a while to figure out how to deal with this war of emotions.  The emotions attack from all sides at the same time.  The first time I got pregnant I told everyone and their dog.  That made the miscarriage really hard because then I had to untell them.  So, the next time I only told one person but then only one person knew what was going on when I lost that pregnancy.  There were times where I would shut my phone off and not talk to anyone, there were others where I needed to text people.  After five times I still don't know that I handle grief to the best of my abilities.  I'm still learning.

7.)  Sometimes You Need To Tell Others What You Need
This tip goes with numbers 5 and 6.  I've been blessed with very supportive friends and family but often we aren't on the same page or they just simply don't know what to do or say.  What they may be doing or saying may actually be counterproductive.  It's ok to let them know what you would prefer from them.  Tell them that their words of comfort aren't really comforting.  My circle of support didn't know if I was coming or going so to say because I reacted SO differently each time.  After one of my miscarriages I went weeks without family calling.  It started to bother me and make me mad.  Didn't they know I was hurting and needed support?  I needed to talk to them and feel like they cared for more than the day or two after.  I started having a lof of ugly feelings when I realized I needed to call them and tell them that I needed more verbal support.  As it turns out they were hesitent to call or email because they didn't know if I wanted some space or not.  Communicating our needs will help all involved to not feel like they are walking on eggshells. 

8.)  It's Hard on Both Spouses
This one was hard to watch.  As the one going through the actual miscarriage I felt like more people were reaching out to me and comfort me while my husband was brushed aside.  He may not have had to go through the physical pain but all five have been equally as hard.  My husband would go back to work after taking a day off and try and live life normally so of course he appeared to be handling it better.  He still hurt though and the loss is very real to him.  We both grieve differently but both need support.

9.)  Find Support
As you read, there were times when too many people knew and times when not enough people knew when it came to my miscarriages.  The last couple times I found out I was pregnant I told the people I knew would be more helpful than not should the worst case play out.  It is not an experience I can go through alone but I need to be able to trust others with my feelings.  Sometimes this was with a grief counselor, other times it was being more open with my husband when I was hurting more than not.  Besides the obvious reasons, I didn't want just anyone to know about either the pregnancy or the miscarriage.  I needed some to know what was going on and some who didn't to help in the healing process.  I needed to be able to cry and talk through some of my thoughts and other times when I needed "fake it" and push the grief aside for a while.  It's hard to fake it when you walk into church and everyone is giving you pity looks or coming up to hug and talk about the loss.  Maybe that sounds selfish but at least for me I need to have some control over the situation and that is one of the ways I find it. 

10.  It's Ok to Grieve
That one may sound silly but it has been a hard one for me to accept.  I found that I thought others expected me to always be strong and keep moving on, to be ok with what has happened.  After all, I know that everything will happen as it should, right?   It made me into a recluse because I didn't feel like I could meet that expectation.  I didn't want to loose it in front of anyone.  Emotions like that can't be bottled up, never to be felt.  This last time I welcomed all my emtions and embraced them.  There are moments of anger, which is part of the grief process, and it is ok to be angry.  I don't have to try and change that and I don't need others trying to change it.  There are times when I just need to cry and then after I've had it out I get up and continue on.  When it comes to grief there isn't a step by step plan to get out.  I may get to the point where I'm at the top of grieving my trial, meaning that I've accepted it and am ok, it doesn't hurt as bad and the next day be in denail and angry again.  Did I just undo the weeks of healing I had been working on?  Nope, I'm just human.  Loss never leaves us but we are blessed to not always feel it so deeply.

Having miscarriages have changed my life and not necessarily for the worst.  I am a stronger person because of them, I have to be.  A moment hardly goes by that I don't think about them and they affect my everyday life.  I have more empathy for those who've gone through similar experiences.  That sense of loss will probably never leave me but I expect that it won't always be front and center.  Whatever happens I want to let that loss drive me to be a better person.  

For advice on what to say or do, see my next post here.


  1. Sarah, I knew you had had a miscarriage but I had no idea you have had that many. My heart truly aches for you. I don't know if you know this but I had two miscarriges before I had my E. The first one was at 5 weeks and the 2nd at 12 weeks. The 2nd was really hard because we had just started telling people and I thought I was in the clear. I agree with all of your comments and advice. I still cry when I think about my losses, heck I am crying now. :) I know they were suppose to happen for a reason though. Not sure exactly why but maybe I will know someday. One reason is I think it brought my husband and I closer. I often think about how loving and sincere my hubs was. I would wake up in the middle of the night crying and he would wake up too and just hold me. I have always thought you were such a strong women. You are truly an example to me of staying postitive and not being afraid to share your feelings. Thank you for being so open and giving such good advice to others out there that are going through similar experiences.

  2. Excellent post Sarah. You are amazing and I know by being so open and honest will help so many who are also struggling.

  3. Thank you for sharing, I have a newfound respect for you and in how you've come to handle your responses to such a difficult life situation. It's not easy and you've shared some great insight. I def am one of those people who probably say all the wrong things with the right intentions, so I am looking forward to that post! Thank you again for being you :).

  4. What a comforting post for people who are going through something similar. Thank you for being so brave to share your experiences.

  5. Thanks for your post. We always want just exactly the right words to say in a difficult situation to make everything better. Some things like the loss of a pregnancy just can't be fixed with anything but time. Good friends and family can make it easier just by being there with love and support.

  6. Excellent post and everything you said is completely true. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Thank you, great post. Words can only do so much but time helps. So does the loving support of friends and family.

  8. I am so sorry for what you & your husband have been through. Like most people I struggle with what to say when it comes to miscarriage. It is natural for people to want to say things to "make you feel better", but most of those statements just come across as diminishing the loss.

  9. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm so sorry for your losses. Wish I'd had this information a couple of years ago when my daughter miscarried and a couple of months ago when the same thing happened with my daughter in law. I've never experienced a miscarriage myself and had no idea what to say or do. But I lost my oldest daughter 7 1/2 years ago when she was just 28, so I do understand losing a child and used that knowledge to try and help as much as I could. Bless you and your husband.