Warning, this post may contain things that will be a trigger to some. Please read with that in mind. Also, I am speaking from my own experience, hoping to share to others who have not had a miscarriage, but also for those who have, to know that they are not alone.
Why am I writing this? Out of the blue?
This week, I have learned that three women, who I know and am friends with, have lost pregnancies. My heart is sore, and I would do anything to help them not have to go through what they are going through. I would not wish a miscarriage on anyone. I have heard some things said both in real life, and on social media, about miscarriage and how women going through one should act or respond when they are suffering, and I wanted to clarify, and point out some helpful things.
25 percent of women, of childbearing age will have a miscarriage. That’s 1 in 4 women. Some women will have a miscarriage and not know it, just assuming that their period was slightly later or heavier than normal, and some will be anticipating a pregnancy, with joy, and realise that they are loosing the pregnancy.
A miscarriage can happen for a reason, or for no reason, that medical staff can find. They can happen quickly, and be over in a few painful hours, or they can take longer, as the body tries to deal with the fact that it no longer can sustain the pregnancy, or sometimes a woman has to have a procedure performed to complete the miscarriage. All three are equally horrible to go through, and all as emotionally and physically devastating.
I know this, because I am the 1 in 4 myself, and I have had a fast, painful, very bloody miscarriage, I have had a slow, took two weeks for my body to miscarry, miscarriage and I have also had an EPRC to remove what my body could not deal with. Two of these took place before we conceived Big Girl, and one took place when Little Man was not quite a year old.
Miscarriages are still a taboo subject for many. People don’t know what to say, or how to speak to someone who has lost a baby in pregnancy. I honestly think people don’t realise that although a baby hasn’t been born yet, that it may still only be tiny, and the pregnancy not visible, to outsiders, it is still something that is painful, both emotionally and physically to go through for the women suffering. Sometimes even close friends and family don’t know what to say or do.
When you miscarry, you are not only struggling with the painful physical effects, but the emotional and hormonal ones as well. You go through a whirlwind of emotions. Anger, fear, grief, being the ones I remember most, and guilt, too. (Did I do something wrong, that this baby was not meant to be?) and your hormones are all over the place as your body adjusts to not being pregnant. It’s a very challenging time, and you grieve. You grieve what was lost, and what would have been.
Miscarriages happen. They are a fact of life. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore them, or try to hide them, and if you have never suffered a miscarriage, I am going to suggest some things that you should or should NOT say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage.
DO NOT SAY/DO the following….
“well, it wasn’t meant to be, clearly there was something wrong with the baby, this is your body telling you that” – we know this, our logical minds know this, but we don’t need to hear it, right then and there. In a few months, we might be able to say this ourselves but right now, we don’t need to be told this. It’s ok for you to think it, and to say it to yourself, but please don’t say it to us, unless we say it ourselves. When we are ready we might feel like this is something that will help us with the emotional healing process of recovery.
“well, you can always try again, will that be soon?” Please don’t say this. We may well try again, for another baby, but right now we are grieving the one we lost, and there is no replacement for that. Also, it’s rude to enquire what someone’s conception plans are, I thought I would just point that out!
“well, at least you can get pregnant, so and so can’t…” Yes, we are aware that so and so is struggling with infertility, and that is a dreadful thing, but piling on guilt when we are in this painful place is neither helpful or needed.
“maybe you shouldn’t be having any more children” – I don’t think that is anyone’s business, and if anyone ever says that to me, or to someone in my presence, I probably will slap them.
“Did you eat anything/drink anything/take anything that might have caused it?” Um, really? Apart from the fact that it’s none of your business, and tactless to say such things, it probably wasn’t anything we did, it just happened and if it happened for a reason (i.e. hormone issues or a fetal abnormality or a medical condition, then nothing we did or didn’t do caused it)
“My aunts’s best friend’s daughter had a miscarriage, she was fine, and got over it” or “you need to just get over it” or “it was just a clump of cells, or not very big, you need to get over it” or the worst “It wasn’t a real baby, yet”. Seriously? These are again, all slap worthy. Just don’t say them.
When someone has had a miscarriage, don’t pretend it didn’t happen, or avoid them, or try to make light of things, or ignore them, or stop talking to them. They have had a loss, like any other kind of loss, and need time, and kindness as they process that. Don’t not invite them to events, because that might be upsetting to them (it was worse for me knowing people hadn’t invited time to a baby-shower, when I had just had a miscarriage, because they thought I would be offended and hurt, at being around pregnant women, than being allowed to decided on my own if I was able to cope with the event) let them decide if they want to come, if they feel up to coping, and be gracious if they feel they can’t, right now. Also, don’t expect someone to “just get on with life, and face things” because whilst yes, normal life has to go on, we might need a little grace as we process, grieve and pick up the pieces of life again. We need a bit of time, and that time can vary from woman to woman. Just because your aunt’s best friend’s daughter was apparently fine within a week of her miscarriage, doesn’t actually mean she really was, and isn’t the time frame you should put one someone else. There is no time limit to the healing process from a miscarriage. Everyone is different.
So what can you do?
You can reach out us. You can tell us you are sorry, and that you know we are going through a painful time, and that you want to help if you can. It may be we don’t need help, but it’s nice to know it’s there. You can listen or be a shoulder to cry on, if we need it. Just go about normal life, including us, being our friend, and if we need a little bit of TLC or some time to process and are a bit distant, don’t be offended. If we don’t want to talk about it, or we choose to talk to someone who might have been through a miscarriage because we need to speak to someone who has that experience, don’t be offended. It’s not personal. Give us time, let us grieve, let us deal with how we process it. Be there, if we need, understand that we will come back to normal again, and that what we are going through hurts. Miscarriages happen, no one can say they don’t. How people handle themselves around a person who is suffering during one, can make a huge difference.