On loss, taboos, becoming a statistic and relating well

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.

Crying nesting doll

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 helpful thing I found was when a friend acknowledged that I may not want to talk, but if I did, whenever, wherever, however, it was always an option.

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.

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On loss, taboos, becoming a statistic and relating well

12 thoughts on “On loss, taboos, becoming a statistic and relating well

  1. Marylee says:

    I also suffered a miscarriage nearly 18months ago. We found out at our 12 week scan after as you say building dreams, plans, hopes and debating names for both a boy and a girl. For us we had experienced 2 different times of bleeding and had on 2 separate occasions been told everything was fine and so going to our 12 week scan we assumed everything was ok. We had told people as it had accidentally slipped out by a friend so all our friends and family knew that i was pregnant. Even still, you are right, the experience of loosing a baby like this is isolating. Once people hear though it is surprising to learn how many friends have also suffered, silently, the pain of miscarriage. Nothing prepares you for the loss and so many people don’t understand and it is a very taboo subject. We had good friends also pregnant at the exact same time as us so when their baby was born everything resurfaced. This meant however that it was hard for our friends. We are part of a close community and we share in the joys and the sorrows together but sometimes that requires choice and only happens through real community, love and grace with each other.
    People seem to think that miscarriage is fairly common it is something that you should move quickly on from-it just isn’t that easy! 18 months later i still wonder what the baby might have been like. It had further implications for us as our 2 older boys also knew about our pregnancy and were looking forward to having a little brother or sister. Our eldest really struggled and even just the other week was wondering about how old the baby would have been. The pain does lessen and i hope that through my own experiences i am more able to help and offer support to others who also suffer in the same way. One of the most helpful bits of advice to help us through the grieving process was to have a small kind of ceremony for the baby. We went away the four of us and at one point found our way of saying goodbye.
    We now have a beautiful baby girl who is 6 months and brings us so much joy. You still wonder about the other one lost but our wee girl is great.
    There are many things in life that are difficult to get through but i have learnt, through one of the most difficult times of my life, a little more about myself, my family, community and ultimately and i hope a bit more about my relationship with christ, that its ok to ask questions, be upset with him, show him how angry at him i can be but also that he is still beside me holding me though the midst of everything.

    1. Thank you so very much for entrusting us with your story Marylee. It must’ve been devastating to go in to such a promising scan and receive such bad news. I’m sure that there’s a certain degree of the pain we’ll always carry with us. I hope that we both can use it to comfort with the comfort we ourselves have received – and I’m with you in being glad that God can take the anger and blame we throw at him. I truly believe he feels our pain deeply. Telling the story is a great beginning and a wonderful way of letting our babies’ lives and loss impact others. Thanks again and blessings to you and your family.

  2. Thanks for writing about what you have been going through. I have been praying for you and feel for you in your time of sorrow. Tracy and I love you and Rob so much and we grieved with you.

    1. Thanks Juan & Tracy for your love and support and sharing your own story with us as we’ve gone through this. Your prayers and solidarity have been felt. Each day gets a bit brighter.

  3. Nina Vincent says:

    Vickie – this is Nina (Anita’s sister). I can truly say I know what you are going thru. We have a beautiful 14 year old daughter, Sophia. We had a difficult time conceiving and 3 miscarriages after her. I don’t want to elaborate any more than that. It’s a heavy place in my heart that is always with me. People really don’t know what to say and that’s ok. Honestly only prayers helped me. I have no words of wisdom for you even though I’ve walked thru it except that I will pray for you and your husband. xox

    1. Nina, thanks very much for your reply and prayers. I know the pain of losing such a precious small life is just extraordinary and will stay with us in some way as tribute to the value of these little ones. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure such heartache. Much love from London x

  4. C.K. says:

    Sigh. That is the sound I just made after reading your touching words. Sigh is the feeling that I have when I want to comfort you, but knowing that I can’t. Grief has to happen, we can’t stop it but as your family and friends, we can pray that the painful part hurries up.

    I, too have been devastated by miscarriage. At first I wanted to keep it a secret, the secret pain, the secret loss and regret and loss of a dream, and loss of a child. But by not saying anything made it feel as if it was not real, that it did not exist. It was not just a blueberry, it was a child. A soul was created that was part of you and your husband and that is just fact. That child, your relatives in heaven are already holding, knowing that it is yours. So strangely comforting to know that my mom is able to hold one of her grandkids from me, since she never met any of them that are here on earth . And that one day, when you are reunited with those you love, your baby, your child in all of its full potential will run into your arms, knowing you and you will know them as if time never happened. Oh what a glorious day! (I’ll Hold You In Heaven, by Hayford)

    So, I have mixed feelings when medical professionals say not to mention to anyone that you are pregnant until such and such a time. Why the heck not? Why not celebrate from day one? It is a baby, and it should be acknowledged from the start regardless of it’s future or journey. I think that by allowing others into our private lives allows them to give comfort that we desperately need to heal and grieve. And I was amazed at how many people close to me had miscarriages and stillborns and abortions that I would have never known if I never made myself vulnerable first. It is as if we are some secret society of strength. Somehow you earn a badge that you never wanted, but now have been given wisdom (and softness for the suffering of others) for earning.

    What I did not expect was, afterward, to have a heightened awareness for seeing pregnant women everywhere I went. I could not go anywhere without seeing a million of them, trying not to look at their bulging bellies, thinking that should be me, and how lucky they were..as if they were being SO RUDE to me by showing. Didn’t they know they were killing me slowly? So many times tears filled my eyes while waiting for an elevator, or watching my burrito being made, or having to move over so “she” could get though the isle. I felt like Pee Wee Herman and that darned bike!

    But then, it hit me like a ton of feather bricks. I vowed that the next time I was pregnant (and there ALWAYS is a next time 🙂 I would not make a big deal about it in public. I suddenly thought of all of those silent army of women who have experienced loss…or who could never conceive. They are everywhere (!) but don’t carry a sign. I would now be their constant reminder of what they didn’t have. Before my loss, I always wondered why some women averted their eyes when I was pregnant and walking past. I thought I must’ve had food in my teeth, or looked too robust, but now I know. It all makes sense. I now, even now, when I see a prego gal, I think, there are at least 10 around her at any given time that can’t bear to visually see what she represents and I say a silent prayer for their (her, my) pain.

    SO, will you “get over it?” Nope. No one should tell you to either. Will you ever forget it and move on? Nope. And you shouldn’t. Moving a-long, not ‘on’, is at your own pace. Will you ever not worry it will happen again? Nope. Worry never stops..one set while you are pregnant, then that goes away and a new set when they are born, then that goes away, then a new set when they start to walk…go to school…start to drive…and on and on and on. YOU are a MOTHER and that is that and worry means you are attached as you should be. NOW what you can have hope for is of new life, of a new day, of a new blessing. Pain will eventually subside, but there is a place, a hole or just a spot in your heart that is forever tethered to your baby, it is forever part of you and Rob. Having joy and hope for another does not and will not ever replace the one that is no longer with you. But, it is okay to be (eventually) excited for your future and your future with your children.

    When I lost our baby, it was June. I had to go through the “process” of letting nature take it’s course which happened to start on my daughter’s birthday, travel through father’s day and ended at my son’s birthday. The timing really was awful. Here I was being reminded of death while celebrating LIFE with my children on earth! But guess what. God surprised me with another pregnancy. And guess what…exactly a year after my heartache..my third baby was BORN a year later in June! Literally on the same date…heartbreak was traded for JOY! June is now the moth that all of my babies were born or went to Heaven. Wow. Never in a million years if you told me during my darkest time that that same time in one year to the day, that I would be holding a plump, pink, healthy infant. Still shaking my head. And you know what, you will too (wink).

    Now for the practical stuff. Get your hands on Progesterone cream, sold in most health food stores. In a natural source, not from yams. Doctors can prescribe it in pill form, but I used the cream. I had spotting throughout my pregnancies, even the ones that went to term. Scary as all get out, but for some reason my body was like a train going up a hill..chugging and not able to solidly click to get to gear it needed to be in. You can use it to boost and extend ovulation and is safe to use in pregnancy. I was told I only needed it the first trimester but I used it the entire 9 months. I had issues with preterm labor in my first two pregnancies (now that I learn it is also related to hormones) I wished I had known about the cream for that too!

    Darling, my heart goes out to you and Rob. This is a tender time for both of you. Let the words of those that love you sink in to your core, allow our prayers to give you comfort through His holy spirit when you lie awake at night or are hit with a sea of tears. You are not alone in this, we are your family, spanning the globe! And know this, there WILL be a day where your tears are traded in for joy. At the birth of your next child, you, like the rest of us in the silent army will appreciate how very precious life is as your lips sink into the fresh and supple sensation of your newborn’s skin. For mourning will turn into dancing and how great we will REJOICE with you on that glorious day! Thank you for sharing your words and your life. You are never alone. I love you. We love you.

    1. Caroline, thanks for the message. I’m sorry that you too have felt this loss. I’m absolutely gobsmacked at how many people I know have- it’s both comforting and saddening. God has definitely comforted- though it felt like it took longer than I’d hoped, that was in part due to how long it took for us to actually lose the baby physically (which it sounds like you understand far too well). Thanks for your practical advice. I shall do some research. And yes, seeing these women with lovely large bellies is difficult, especially as my small pooch is no longer evident to me. I wait in hope that some day I’ll join them, and as you say, while glowing and pleased for the life inside me, I hope to somehow bring comfort to others who hurt at the sight of me. Thanks for your love and prayers.

  5. greendoorproject says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your and Rob’s loss. Even more sorry to hear you two had to carry this alone. I appreciate your willingness to be so open about it. Thank you for sharing Vickie! I’ll be praying for the two of you and send my love!

  6. Lynn Cirelli says:

    Vickie, This is Lynn C.
    I too lost my first baby. I was into my 14th week. I didn’t know the Lord at the time, so we did not have any idea about heaven or such. But even then, we decided to name the baby. We called him/her sunny. Later on the Lord spoke to me about my child. I believe with all my heart that one day in heaven I will meet my unborn child. It was not a blob of tissue as the doctor had reported to me. I remember how empty I felt back then. You are grieving for your child, plain and simple. Just because you have never met them, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that you have a loss. Allow yourselves to cry. I will pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort you and Rob. Love you!!

  7. Hello dear Vickie and Rob,

    I really am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your very open and honest sharing of your experience – I am sure that it will help a great many others out there and go some way to, as you say, break this sort of “taboo” surrounding miscarriage, especially when it really is so (for want of a better phrase) ‘commonplace’.

    Obviously, kids are not on my horizon, but most of the women in my family have all experienced miscarriages (including my Mum), including missed miscarriages, but each of them dealt with their own experiences in very, very different ways.

    I very much admire your grace and poise throughout all of this, you are an incredibly strong woman, and you and Rob have been (from what I have gleaned from fleeting texts over these last few weeks) rock solid in walking through this together. God is so evidently right there in your lives. 😀

    Love you both very much, and please know that I am praying for peace and healing for you both.

  8. Jessica Farris says:

    I agree with Lynn C. We WILL see our little angels in Heaven. I found out my last miscarriage (the one right before Caleb) was a girl. I guess someone, sometime, somewhere decided after the 3rd miscarriage, they can run tests, and that’s how we found out… She was a missed miscarriage, too… That is very difficult to know… although, the day after they discovered she wasn’t alive, I went in for a D&C. I actually felt like a real idiot: going around thinking I was pregnant, acting like I was pregnant, telling friends I was pregnant… only to find out I’d been walking around with an unliving baby in me for 6 weeks. And, Vickie, you’re right… I always hated it when people would say things like, “oh, you’re young, you have plenty of time to have children!”, “it’ll happen… just be patient!”, or someone even said, “I guess that’s why most women don’t tell anyone until after the 1st trimester.” OOOOOOHHHH! I as SO mad! (I was past my 12 weeks anyway, so telling people or not telling people doesn’t matter- besides, you’re friends will be there to mourn with you if they were with you from the beginning). No matter what anyone said to try to comfort me, only time and God healed our hurt. So, with that, I will be praying for you! XOXO

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