I never thought it’d be me.
I always thought it’d be difficult to conceive. I never thought it’d be so easy. I felt so blessed- finally something had gone really really well in a summer filled with housing fiascoes, unemployment/reemployment, depression and riots.
Then what was so incredibly right went terribly wrong. Not only did we lose our precious little baby, no larger than the size of a blueberry, but I then carried it for weeks knowing its very inner being had left us but the shell remained behind. I felt like a walking coffin. But it was somewhat comforting to walk through the grief this way, holding it closely both physically and emotionally, as we waited for our ‘Blueberry’ to join the earth again, hoping that nature would take it’s own course.
We did things the way it’s all recommended- don’t tell anyone til 12 weeks has passed. In the first trimester, the incidence of miscarriage is incredibly high- over 1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage in their lives and the odds are that about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I must be in good company. In fact I discovered that my mom also miscarried in her first (known) pregnancy, though I suspect it was a spontaneous miscarriage rather than a ‘missed miscarriage’ as I suffered.
The hardship with telling so few people we were pregnant was that when we lost our baby we didn’t have many people to turn to. In fairness, I’m not sure that most of our friends had any idea how to cope, never having encountered a miscarriage let alone this mysterious missed miscarriage/walking tomb scenario. I certainly wouldn’t have known what to say to a friend in the same place as I found myself. Miscarriage is a devastating experience in and of itself, compounded by the fact that it’s a taboo to talk about (reinforced by the fact that you shouldn’t say you’re pregnant til 12 weeks, just in case).
As a result of this terrible ordeal which has stretched about six weeks between initial spotting to finally becoming unpregnant, and not in an effort in any way to make those who did try to offer support feel like failures, I’d like to just offer my experiences and feelings on how best to relate to someone suffering a miscarriage, particularly a missed one.
How not to respond:
- “You will have children some day.” I heard this from a couple well meaning people and it was partly infuriating and partly soul-crushing. As these words were spoken, I carried my first baby (maybe not first-born, but my first pregnancy that I know of and therefore very special and loved). I was pregnant, I felt pregnant, and I was still very much connected with and to a baby.
- “I will pray for a miracle.” I don’t even know where to start with this one. So I won’t. Please just don’t ever say this, particularly if the miscarriage is several days/weeks in.
- “Doctors have been wrong before” or “Maybe they missed something.” It goes without saying that if the doctors are wrong, there will be cause for some serious celebration. But going there emotionally is like dragging someone’s hope and faith through something very dark and hurtful. Denial is definitely not helpful.
- “At least it happened early on.” It may be only a few weeks on and no movements had been felt, (or perhaps the pregnancy was a blighted ovum, in which case the woman was still pregnant – emotionally at the very least), but make no mistake that this young life already had so many dreams, plans and hopes built up for it. After a bit of time has passed, this may feel more true to the parents but it doesn’t matter at the start how far along one was.
- Avoidance. Not asking how the mother- and the father – are doing if you’ve been entrusted with such knowledge makes one of the most isolating experiences that much more lonely. If they clearly don’t want to talk about things (perhaps the thought of opening up is too frightening as the tears may never stop) just remind them that you’re there if they want to talk at all, or even if they don’t want to talk. Even just being silently present in solidarity can help.
The most powerful words were, “I am so sorry.” There really isn’t much more that can be said. It just plain sucks and there’s no way to make it stop hurting.
I would be very interested in hearing if any of you have suffered a miscarriage. Not to draw up any old pain, but to do something towards destroying this taboo we’ve reinforced. I believe in rejoicing with those who rejoice- but it goes hand in hand with mourning with those who mourn. Let’s get some solidarity going on up in here.
Thanks for the joy you brought us, Blueberry.