This week, our post is a heavy topic we feel necessary to bring to light, albeit heartbreaking. A friend of the Where’s My Epidural moms has been gracious enough to share her miscarriage story. This, as we all can understand, is an extremely sensitive topic and for that reason our friend will remain anonymous. If you have ever or do ever face this and need assistance, the Pregnancy and Postpartum Support website might be helpful. This resource is specifically for Minnesota, if you reside elsewhere, check online to see if there is another support group.
Miscarriage, Heartbreak, and Healing
A few days after I missed my period, I had a positive pregnancy test. It felt surreal. After waiting forever many months, we were so excited to finally be parents. I threw away my Irish breakfast tea (40 milligrams of caffeine!), scheduled a doctor’s appointment, and calculated my due date.
I knew that one in four women would have a miscarriage, but I told myself that I would be okay either way. At least I knew I could get pregnant. But when it happened, everything I told myself went out the window.
All of a sudden, I was grieving the greatest loss of my entire life, physically in pain, and dealing with rapid hormone changes. Each of those things would have been a lot, but together, they were overwhelming. I couldn’t believe that one moment I was a mom, and the next moment, I wasn’t. I prayed that the doctors were wrong and that this would just be part of the heartwarming story we told the baby every year on their birthday. I was filled with guilt that I did something to cause this.
I took a day and a half off of work for doctor’s appointments and to physically recover, but it wasn’t enough. When I went back, I felt like I was underwater. Everything was dull. I dragged myself through my daily tasks, trying to fake it until I could get home and cry into the arms of my very supportive partner. The next day, I’d realize I was even more behind than the day before, and feel even more overwhelmed. It was exhausting.
Six weeks later, and I’m still not over it. I probably never will be. But I can hear about someone’s pregnancy without crying. I can enjoy eating really good french fries. I can hug a friend without breaking down in tears.
Here are three things I learned that helped me start to feel better:
It’s okay to talk (or not talk) about it. The first person that I told, aside from my partner, was my best friend. She listened. She agreed about how horrible the situation was. She shared her own miscarriage fears. She acknowledged how hard it was for me that she was pregnant, along with many of my closest friends. She knew I needed to grieve, and didn’t try to make me feel better.
Sometimes, really great people will be really bad at knowing what to say. I still bristle anytime someone responds with, “How far along were you?” or “Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again.” If someone is making you feel worse, or someone brings it up when you don’t want them to, give yourself permission to end the conversation or change the topic. My go to was, “I’d rather talk about you right now,” followed by a question. (K&K Note: Dr. Jessica Zucker has an amazing store for prints and cards to help support those you know going through a loss)
Find what you need to feel better. I felt like I had to return to work as soon as I was physically capable, otherwise I was letting my coworkers down or taking advantage of sick time. Returning too early hurt me and my work, because I wasn’t able to think clearly or focus. The right amount of time off for someone else is not the right amount of time off for you. I wish I would have taken more sick time. I now know I could have spoken with our HR representative to learn more about my FMLA options and temporarily reassigning some of my work.
Finding a therapist I liked was (and continues to be) a vital part of my recovery. In therapy, I felt supported, and I developed a lot of coping strategies. I’m very fortunate that my work offered free counseling sessions for personal concerns. Even if that’s not an option for you, I recommend reaching out to a therapist and inquiring about insurance options and self-pay.
Forgive yourself. I still tell myself every day that the miscarriage wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t because of that glass of wine before I found out or the day I missed prenatal vitamins. It wasn’t because of that extra weight I’m carrying, or because I worried too much.
I lost someone I loved. Despite how hard I try to decide to feel better, my recovery goes at its own pace. I sometimes have a horrible, gut-wrenching day after a couple of good days. I wish I didn’t feel so bitter or resentful towards my pregnant friends. But the way I feel is natural, and it’s not because I’m a bad person, or because I’m not trying hard enough. Everyone’s healing process is unique, and everyone’s timeline is their own. Be gentle with yourself.