If you have had the awful misfortune of experiencing a miscarriage, you know the senseless pain. That deep, gut wrenching grief and the sadness that fills every breath you take. You know, all too well, that loss of a real baby that didn’t finish growing. The loss of a real baby that didn’t see the light of day. Of the baby you didn’t get to wrap your arms around and hold close to your skin.
This loss is real.
It is tragic and unfair.
It is heartbreaking.
This loss might feel invisible to the world.
Perhaps nobody knows.
Perhaps nobody is acknowledging your baby, the baby that had began growing inside you.
Even worse, perhaps people are trying to help by saying careless, senseless remarks.
Side note…no one has to “help” by trying to alleviate your pain or by justifying what has happened. I absolutely did not want my pain alleviated. I wanted to feel, and be allowed to feel, every aspect of my grief and anger and sadness. And trying to justify why this horrible, unfair thing has happened… please don’t, please do not go there. Sometimes, awful, sad, senseless, tragic things happen. They just do. There is no good reason. And to attempt a justification diminishes feelings and the intense reality of what has happened.
When I had my first miscarriage, seven years ago, it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I’d had other times in my life where I’d felt grief stricken and that deep, deep sense of loss. My brother had died when I was a teen, I’d been through a difficult marriage break up in my late twenties. This miscarriage was up there with those big events. I recall curling up under a blanket on our couch feeling so much pain, anguish, anger and disappointment. I felt so many different emotions. I wished for a miracle. Wished that my body would stop bleeding and that my baby would be ok. I feel like I wished so hard, that my body managed to trick itself into behaving like it was pregnant. It kept producing more blood and more clots. I bled for almost two months before doctors decided to do a curettage.
The worst thing that well intentioned people said was…
“Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again before you know it.”
I can’t even begin to convey how wrong this statement is. Or how much I wanted to scream when people said it. I know I will be pregnant again one day. I know I will most likely have a child/ren one day. But today, here and now, I am grieving for THIS life. For THIS pregnancy and for THIS baby that I have lost.
Please, if you’re in the position of supporting a loved one through a miscarriage, please never say this. It doesn’t make someone feel better. It makes them feel like you are ignoring a precious life that has been lost. Please just acknowledge that what has happened is awful and tragic and not justifiable. Just be with someone. Let them grieve, let them feel angry, and let them cry about it.
Miscarriages are common, surprisingly common. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks. Click here for more information. After 20 weeks the losses are referred to as stillborn babies. Of course, babies lost before 20 weeks are are no less real. Your loss is no less real.
Despite miscarriages being so common, they are rarely talked about. They are rarely acknowledged. Parents going through a miscarriage are not encouraged to express their grief or to honour the baby they lost in some way. Why? Why is this a weird taboo, at least in our culture?
The fact something is common does not make it any less painful and real and worthy of grief.
The fact that there is no tangible baby for the world to see, does not make it any less real and worthy of grief.
A miscarriage might be messy, misunderstood, uncomfortable and even connected to a woman’s body. A body that society has said for too long is private and needs to be hidden away when it comes to breastfeeding or menstruation.
I want to say it loudly and clearly. If you have had a miscarriage…
* It is real and heartbreaking.
* It was a baby, your baby, that didn’t finish growing into a little person that would be born into the world.
* You deserve to feel and to express everything you are feeling.
* You do not have to act like you are ok. You don’t have to hide this ordeal to ensure everyone else is comfortable and free from anything confrontational or disturbing. If YOU want privacy and YOU don’t want to talk about it, that’s ok. How you cope and navigate this pathway, is your choice and only your choice.
* You are allowed to acknowledge and honour your baby’s life however you see fit.
More than anything, please know that your loss is real. Your baby is real and worthy of your grief. Your baby’s life is worth honouring, even if it’s just in your heart in some way. All the hopes you had are worth acknowledging and grieving. You are not alone. I know and feel your pain. Many women and many parents know your pain.
Please, if you would like to, feel free to share your story.