Coping with Miscarriage
So this isn't the happiest of posts today, but it's something I finally feel ready to talk about. Pregnancy loss is such a painful experience and I think talking about it is a crucial part of healing. Maybe not talking to the World Wide Web, that's not for everyone, but talking to somebody is so important.
Miscarriage sucks, to put it simply. My first miscarriage crushed me. There are entire months I can't remember; months where I went through every day like a zombie. How I managed to pass classes, drive around, or even walk across the street during that time is beyond me. I don't remember a thing. I honestly don't know if I talked to anyone about it, other than my husband, and only to tell him it had happened. I didn't even go to the doctor. I called the office, was told to take some over the counter pain meds, and come in if I lost too much blood, and that was it.
The second miscarriage was even worse, I lost myself for weeks after it happened. I didn't want to talk about it with anyone, I didn't even want to wallow in self-pity, I just didn't want to feel or think about anything at all. I wanted to stop existing, and in a way I did. A well-meaning friend brought me a bottle of peach vodka, I drank the entire thing that night. I downed another 5 bottles of vodka in the next 10 days, took all of my final exams (it was the end of my first semester of college) completely drunk- and miraculously passed them all... Don't ask me how, I have no idea. I was 12 weeks along when the bleeding started. We had already told family and friends, we even had a playpen set up in the bedroom and were teaching the cat to stay out of it. I drank because I thought it was the only way I could keep it together and get through finals. It was a stupid decision.
With finals over, I finally was able to open up to my husband more. It was a really challenging time for us both, we were so excited to meet our child. We had already built this entire future with the little one in our minds, we had budgets and plans and schools and names all picked out and carefully put together, all with our little one's best in mind. And then it was over. Just like that, our future child disappeared. Lemony Snicket described the death of a loved one in one of his books as the feeling when you are going up stairs in the dark and you think there's one more step than there is. There's a feeling of sheer terror and shock as your foot falls through the air. That's exactly what the miscarriage felt like.
In the past three years, I've had multiple miscarriages. It's at the point now that when I see a positive pregnancy test, I make sure I'm well-stocked on pads and pain reliever for the coming miscarriage. That's depressing af, sorry. (We actually just started working with a specialist and I'm hoping the next one will be our rainbow baby, but that's for another post.) Today, the tough talk.
Whether the pregnancy ended at 12 weeks or 6, it always felt like the end of the world. Our hearts were always broken, and I always went through the grieving process. No matter how many pregnancies we lose, we are always hopeful with the next. So of course, the loss is going to hurt. Sure, I'll make sure my miscarriage survival kit is stocked the second I see a positive test, but it's still like a kick in the stomach when I realize we've lost another baby.
I just want to share a little bit about the cycle of grieving, and of continuing to hope for a child after multiple miscarriages. It's hard and nobody likes to talk about it, but through all of this what's helped me the most has been talking with others about their losses, and about their little rainbow babies, the ones who made it. And, of course, sharing with my husband whether it's the pain or the hopes for the future, and hearing his hopes too.
If you've suffered a miscarriage, I want you to know it is going to be okay. You will be okay. The pain doesn't stay like this forever, like there's a hole in your chest, like your foot is falling through the air in the dark. It passes. I want you to know however you cope, it is okay. Give yourself a break. Sure, maybe try to avoid becoming an alcoholic, but if you need an extra glass of wine, if you want to eat icecream out of the tub, if you take the longest bath in the history of indoor plumbing, if you run 12 miles, whatever you do is totally fine! It's okay, let yourself grieve.
The miscarriage wasn't your fault! If you truly can't believe that, please go see your doctor about it. They will assure you it wasn't, and they can help explain why it might have happened. It wasn't your fault. It wasn't your thinking, your fears or regrets or frustration, it wasn't sex, it wasn't eating the wrong meal or staying up too late one night. It wasn't sitting too long or in a funny position or the way you slept or wearing skinny jeans. You didn't cause this. Forgive yourself if you need to. You didn't choose this.
Even if you wondered if you shouldn't have this baby, if the baby was a mistake, if you "jinxed" it by thinking about miscarriage... seriously I'm living proof that these things aren't going to cause miscarriage. My mom was 16 when I was born. Do you think there's any way she didn't spend hours on end contemplating if I was a mistake, if she should keep me, if she even wanted me? Of course she had those thoughts! Of course she wondered if she was ready to be a mother, if this was all a stupid mistake, maybe she even hoped I wouldn't make it for a fraction of a second once or twice. We are all human, being a parent is a big job. If you've had these thoughts, that doesn't make you evil or unworthy of being a parent. It just proves you're human and you aren't taking parenthood lightly. Your doubts and fears did not cause your miscarriage. It wasn't your fault. I promise.
For me, my ability to be a mother was a huge part of my sense of self-worth; I didn't know that about myself until I lost several pregnancies in a row. I began to feel worthless, useless, like a complete failure. I couldn't understand why my husband wanted me as his wife; I thought his family would be ashamed of me or want someone different for him. And honestly, maybe they do, I don't know. I've never asked. Today I can honestly say I don't care if that's the case. But my brain was quick to flood with these thoughts. I looked in the mirror and just saw a disgusting mess, never a woman. Nothing pretty or worthy or loving or gentle. Being a mother was such an important goal of mine, and when I couldn't it hit me hard. I know I'm not alone in this, which is why I want you to know you are not less of a woman, or any less incredible of a wife or daughter or partner because of a miscarriages. Anyone who thinks that can go straight to hell. Anyone who says that to you isn't worth another second of your time. Drop them. I'm serious.
After my second miscarriage, healing meant talking to people, but it also meant taking care of myself. It meant calling my mom when I needed to cry, going to counseling, being honest with my friends when they asked how I was. It meant saying something nice to myself in the mirror every day, listening to uplifting music... it meant exercising and meditating, getting to a point where my body felt like it was my own again, and like it could do amazing things. It meant learning to admire myself again- trying on new styles of clothes, new makeup, playing with my hair... all that personal grooming and the experiments that girls always seem to go through in high school, creating their personal identity, healing from the miscarriage meant redefining myself and realizing I still have my whole life ahead of me, and as much as I'd love to be a mother, I am already able to do amazing things and I will do many more things in my life besides being a mother. I haven't given up on having children, but I've given myself permission to continue living and enjoying life while we wait for our little one to come along.
While you're going through your own grief, it's important to remember that your partner is grieving as well. It's also important to realize that people grieve in different ways. I drowned my grief in a bottle of vodka once while my husband played video games and skipped classes for a week. We've grown up a bit, our grieving isn't so unhealthy anymore, but that's not the point. I was so angry with him for gaming 24/7, laughing at the stupid things other gamers said and getting lost in the intensity of the mission. How could he have so much fun while I was bleeding our child out? Right? WRONG. He was numbing his pain just like I was numbing my own. He wasn't having fun, he was avoiding falling apart. When we tore ourselves away from booze and games and faced the issues, all I could do was cry for weeks. He couldn't say a word. We would just sit together, holding hands in silence and tears. It took a lot for us to get to the point where we could really cope with our own grief while also supporting each other but it made all the difference in the world. Communicate with your partner. Tell them you're hurting, tell them it's okay to hurt too. Even though you were carrying the child, your partner loved that little one too and was just as excited. Your partner is hurting too and you need to support each other.
The final thing I want to say is that if you want people to talk with you about your loss, you have to speak up. I know it's hard, I know it can be difficult to ask for help and awkward when it's such a depressing topic and people don't typically like talking about it, but your partner, friends, and family should love and support you. Find the person or people you are comfortable sharing with, and let them know what you need. A really simple way to do this is to just say, "I went through a miscarriage and it would really help to talk about it." And if you don't want to talk about it with certain people, do the same. "I had a miscarriage and I don't like to talk about it." You don't have to explain. You don't have to elaborate. Just "I don't want to talk about it" and if they press, just ignore them. Literally ignore them. You told them what's up, they can respect your wishes or get out of your life. (Okay maybe you don't have to banish them from your life forever, but distance while you're healing is completely reasonable.) Bitterness seems to accompany miscarriage a lot, and I've definitely been there myself, but the thing is people aren't generally asking just to be able to gossip about what's going on. They are asking because they care, or maybe because they have their own secret miscarriage. It's weird how taboo the topic of miscarriage is. Just do yourself the favor of expressing your desires clearly. Don't stress about who is going to ask you what or how you will respond. If you don't want to talk about it you have every right to say so and keep it to yourself.
Don't give up on yourself. Don't beat yourself up. You are strong, you are beautiful, you are worthy of every good thing life has to give. You have so many talents, you are a treasure all on your own. You are creating a beautiful life one day at a time.
You have every right to feel sad right now. Or angry or bitter or broken or lost. You shouldn't feel ashamed, but it's okay if you do. What you're feeling right now will pass. You are not a feeling, you are an incredibly strong and beautiful soul inside an equally incredible body and you have every right to feel whatever it is you are feeling right now, but you also have the right to move on and heal when you are ready to. Honor where you are today. It's okay.
I hope you find it in yourself to forgive and move on, I hope you find peace with the loss. If it helps, give your child a name, and pray for them. Imagine them in heaven with another loved one if it helps. We imagine our Lil Pena in her great-great grandmother's arms.
If you are still trying, I hope you meet your rainbow baby very soon. If you've moved on to other goals, I hope you find and create the most incredible life, I hope it feels full and complete every single day.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope this has helped in some way. You are always welcome to reach out to me. I'm not a medical professional, but I can always be a listening ear and a friend to share with.
With so much love,
P.S. If you want to connect more, find me on Instagram and say hello. I’d love to meet you.