In that moment when that pregnancy test turns positive women experience an array of emotions. Surprise, fear, joy, uncertainty, excitement, awe, and for the most of us, a sense of love. Already we feel connected to this little life inside of us. It is an amazing revelation when we realize that we’ve created life and that our bodies are helping to nurture, grow, and develop a baby. It is an awesome and mystifying experience.
But what happens when that 1 out of 4 women discovers that she is bleeding or suddenly starts to cramp? What happens when that life ends in a miscarriage? All of that joy, excitement, and expectancy is ripped from us as we deliver our baby without life and we realize just how fragile and just how precious life is.
If you are reading this then you may have had a miscarriage and I have much that I want to say to you. I wish I could meet you for coffee and sit beside you and hear your story. I wish I could give you a hug. But for now this virtual connection will have to do and the first thing I want to say is this: I’m sorry. I am so sorry for your loss. I know what you are going through right now. As I write this I am shedding tears for not only the baby that I loss but for your baby too. It seems so cruel that a mother should lose a child. I hurt with you. There are some things that I want you to know as you grieve. Things that people told me while I grieved and things that I learned through my own miscarriage. I hope this blesses you.
1. It is okay to grieve.
Miscarriage is generally an unspoken loss. And it’s different from other losses. We typically don’t hold funerals or memorial services for first trimester miscarriages. It isn’t something that is publicly acknowledged as a loss so we wonder if it is okay to grieve. We feel sorrow and hurt, just like anyone does when they lose someone they love, but can we grieve as others do?
Yes, you can grieve. It is okay. You have experienced a loss. Grieving is a process that will bring healing. No one can tell you how to grieve, or how you should grieve, that is up to you. I would, however, like to offer some suggestions. If you are feeling dazed and unsure of how to proceed in your grief then maybe this will help.
2. You are not broken.
Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean that your body isn’t capable of carrying a baby. Miscarriages just happen, for reasons we don’t really know, and they can’t be predicted or prevented. You are not broken, this is not your fault. You are not to blame. Release your guilt. Holding on to it will only prolong your grief.
3. Embrace the rollercoaster.
The days and weeks after a miscarriage take you on a rollercoaster ride. Your emotions will be everywhere. One reason is because you are in a state of grief but another reason is because your body is trying to get back to a pre-pregnant state. The pregnancy hormone will still be in your blood and will still cause a hormone shift which will still cause mood swings. It’s a rough ride because there isn’t a lot of peace but it is a part of the grieving process. Don’t fight it. Ride it out.
4. Don’t be afraid to be honest with God.
There was one particular day during my miscarriage that I became very angry. I literally shouted at God for what He was allowing me to go through. I wrestled with Him and told Him exactly what I was feeling. It wasn’t pretty but I needed to get it out. I never stopped believing in God’s sovereignty or His goodness but I wasn’t happy in how God was choosing to display His sovereignty and I let Him know it. I think that’s okay. I think that in those moments of coming to God in anger and desperation we open ourselves up to Him and His will. God didn’t stop the bleeding like I had asked and He didn’t keep me from losing my baby but I wasn’t angry at Him anymore. I had surrendered. So don’t be afraid to be honest with God about how you feel. Don’t be afraid to tell Him why you’re angry and hurt. He doesn’t expect us to not feel the heartbreak.
5. Don’t be afraid to accept help from friends and family.
I had one friend offer to bring a meal and another friend came to help me clean my house. During my grieving I did not feel up to cooking and cleaning so I gladly accepted their help. If someone offers help to you don’t be afraid to accept it and tell them specifically what you need. Many people don’t know what to do when they learn that a loved one is going through a miscarriage but they want to do or say something. Not everyone makes good choices on what to do or say but if you specifically tell them then you can spare yourself more grief.
6. It is okay if you don’t want to see anyone.
I had many people offer me their condolences and I truly appreciated it but you may not want to talk to anyone and that’s okay. You may also not want to see anyone and that’s okay too. I didn’t go to church the first Sunday after my miscarriage because I didn’t want to see anyone that I knew. I was afraid of what they would say and I was afraid of breaking down in front of them. It is okay to give yourself some time to heal before being around other people.
7. Talk with your husband.
Now is not the time to drift apart. You need each other as you work through your grief. A miscarriage can be hard on a couple but talking it out and getting through will bring you closer together. Your husband may grieve differently than you and that’s okay. Talk with him about what you are feeling and what he is feeling so you can walk through this together.
It took a while for my husband and I to talk about our miscarriage but when we did it opened up the doors of communication as I continued to process my grief.
8. Name your baby (or not).
I had no intention of naming my baby because I didn’t know the gender but deep inside I wanted to give the baby a name. I grew tired of saying “it” or “the baby.” It didn’t feel right. So I did a Google search because I wondered if it would be strange to name an unborn baby. It turns out that a lot of people name the baby they miscarry. Some don’t but many do. So at the encouragement of a friend I spoke with my husband and we chose the name Rylie.
Once we gave the baby a name I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I felt that in naming my baby I honored and acknowledged his or her life even though it was short lived. Because Rylie wasn’t just a baby but my baby. The baby was Rylie and I will never have Rylie again. Never again will that life exist. That is what we mourn. It’s not just the loss of a baby but that baby.
It’s up to you whether you give your baby a name or not. There is no right or wrong way to handle this. It’s about what you want and what will most help you grieve. So give your baby a name if you truly desire; or not.
9. Do something as a memorial.
Again, this is up to you, but some women like to do something in memory of the baby they lost. Some people plant a tree but I chose to buy a necklace with a charm that reads “hope” and it has little footprints and the date of the miscarriage inscribed on it. I wear it everyday and every time I touch it I remember Rylie. It has become so precious to me.
10. Set a goal for yourself while you wait.
Your doctor will tell you when you can start trying again. All doctors say different things but if you have to wait a while then I encourage you to set a goal for you to focus on and accomplish during your waiting period. Maybe make a list of all the books you’ve been wanting to read or start a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. I’ve decided to start exercising and lose some weight. I figure now is the time to do it while I’m not pregnant and can’t get pregnant until the summer. And maybe by the time I am pregnant again I’ll be 10-15 pounds lighter!
Having a miscarriage is one of the most devastating experiences a woman could have. It is traumatizing and painful. But in time, the pain will hurt a little bit less. You’ll always think back on the experience with sadness and you’ll always miss your baby but it’s going to be okay. Your heart will heal. God is still sovereign and He is still good. There is hope for healing and there is hope for another baby. And in the bigger picture, there is hope that God will make everything right. In the end, God wins; and all of our sorrow and tears will have a purpose.
You will pull through. And at the other end of this dark tunnel is a light. And that light, it is called hope.