I thought for a long time before posting this, almost convinced several times that I shouldn’t share it. When I stepped back and thought about the reasons I could come up with for not posting, I realised they were the reasons that keep some people silent and others feeling isolated.
According to the plan we had set out, and the early progress, I should be four months pregnant and telling the world as I begin to show. Instead, I am sharing my experience of miscarriage. This is my overriding experience of 2013.
I thought that I ‘shouldn’t’ because it would be too in your face for a craft blog (those uppity women again telling each other the truth, spreadin’ ideas), or that I was crossing some line by talking about private feelings in a public sphere (well, how is it any different to people blogging about pregnancy, love or the loss of a family member? And don’t get me started on the sexualisation on tv and all over the Internet). I also thought I might embarrass those who know me in the real world whom I haven’t told (again with the programming that we’re supposed to find women’s bodies and miscarriage shameful).
This Conversation Needs to Happen
Ultimately, I am sharing this because I scoured the internet for stories at the beginning of my miscarriage. Considering the chorus of voices talking about ‘just getting pregnant and becoming a parent’ or quiet allusions to miscarriage, and the fact that miscarriage is so common, there are surprisingly few available writings on the subject outside of clinical descriptions or postings on discussion boards about infertility. This keeps the stories separate, secret and Other. I looked for signs that this was as actually as common as we are told and to see whether my grief was normal considering the silence in public conversation. Early miscarriage is invisible, but it should not be silent. If anything I have written makes a reader recognise the emotions or feel less alone, then posting this has been worth it.
What I Learned This Year
Miscarriage is described as awful or horrible. That is only because there are no words to describe how much worse it actually is.
It is okay if what I feel changes hour to hour. Or that I don’t even know what I think or feel.
The way you tell people is important for healing. Listen to what you feel, not what you think you ‘should’ do.
There are so many people who have had miscarriages and it does change your outlook on life. Change is okay.
My miscarriage was a very early one. We found out at 7 ½ weeks. I knew the week before the miscarriage that something was wrong because all of my symptoms suddenly disappeared and I called the doctors but they told me not to worry. So I spent the time convincing myself that they were the experts and had dealt with pregnancy before. At our appointment, we learned that I had been right. I thought at the time how I would have traded months of puking just to know that the baby was alright and alive. Telling myself that the doctors knew better than my instincts knocked my confidence for ages. I’m only just getting it back.
In the first few days, I felt the need to try and figure it all out. To figure out what I had done or not done to have caused it. People told me that ‘nothing’ was the answer, but I needed to rule out any potential blame if I were to deal with it. Knowing in my heart that it just happened, my brain needed to make sense of things so I would suddenly think (maybe I drank too much water- perhaps I didn’t eat enough green beans- it must be because I drank juice from that plastic bottle- maybe I was too angry that time) unhelpful thoughts. It took a long time for the lingering doubts to fade.
I felt like I was going to die from the grief; from a loss of breath while crying, from my head exploding with the pain or from my heart stopping as it raced along.
Everything felt chaotic and f@#^&*%$-ed up. I felt panicky all of the time. I found the things that helped me find moments of calm. These were physical contact with (okay, draped over or clinging to) Honey, cats purring in my arms and in yoga class. I cried freely in all situations, but they were all healing. Intimacy of any kind was hard: talking to the people I needed to (doctors, my line manager and HR) and saying the M word; letting Honey hold me in a loving way; even hugging people without holding my breath or switching off through the fear that I would spill my grief all over them. These things got easier in the order written.
At first, although I thought the whole world could see that I had a miscarriage (I had been convinced that people could tell I was pregnant because things were tighter or my ribs were wider, but now understand that this wasn’t the case) and I didn’t want anyone to see. I didn’t talk about it with many people because it is meant to be an unspoken grief. As if anyone can ever successfully grieve alone. There’s this expectation that until others validate your pregnancy (i.e. they can see your huge belly), then it is inappropriate to bring up, or that you shouldn’t grieve this. Well, we had begun to dream and adjust our lives and make real plans, so that baby was real to us.
I thought my body, not having changed a lot physically, would have snapped back into place. I paid attention to monitor my various internal and external indicators. A friend told me that although my body will return to normal, it won’t be the same normal as before. That was something that hadn’t occurred to me and really helped me begin to learn that this was about learning the new me. What temperatures I’ll get cold at, what shape clothes fit me, etcetera. That helped me stop looking and waiting for the signs of normalcy.
Throughout this process, different things that had been pleasant before were no longer bearable. The foods I ate freely or struggled to eat (it took me weeks to face my prenatal vitamins again), the clothing that didn’t fit quite right (although I did not mind all my tops being too short or tight when pregnant, they only reminded me of my loss after the miscarriage), and the different shape of my body (imperceptible to outsiders, but I hated it for a while for the same reasons that I hated my clothes), were all very tangible and frustrating things I faced each day. I hid this all as well as I could, while being kind to myself because I knew they were all natural reactions to loss. Not only was my body, heart and life different, my priorities were too. I grew past some things, but the important ones have begun to return in time.
I held back from talking about it with anyone but the chosen few because I was hesitant of breaking that unwritten code and I told myself that I was protecting people and trying to follow the rules after the most precious rule for me was broken: I lost that pregnancy. I was really protecting myself because I didn’t yet have the strength, heart, energy, empathy, etcetera, to deal with anyone else’s reaction. I couldn’t let anyone look straight into my eyes without throwing up protections because all I could think about is that they could see all of my pain. My headaches finally subsided.
Right now, it remains hard to leave myself open and readable when I am feeling vulnerable and it is still hard to truly relax when I hug people. I know it is silly, but I still feel that I will cross that line between acceptable and unacceptable levels of grief-sharing. This is strange for me because I used to be a very open and huggy person.
As I clung to the moments that gave me calm, the time between needing them slowly stretched. Not as quickly as I wanted them to, but I did notice small changes from week to week. Speaking about these things in counselling actually helped me notice the small markers of progress. The day I made it through a yoga class without crying, for instance, or the week that my laughter returned.
Laughter and celebration were actually clear markers for me. I recognised progress when I could first do certain things with Honey, and then when they happened in wider situations. For a long time, I could only laugh earnestly when with her. The laughter I shared with others was only in situations where I was being a ‘smart-alec’. Finally, one day, a friend coaxed true, ringing mirth from my heart. That was wonderful. Another week, I found myself breaking into a song (it was melancholy instead of my usually joyful, but hey, it was progress!) while walking in the street. I began to be able to dance in the living room with Honey again. I know this means that at some point, I will again be inspired to hustle my bottom to some internal song.
My yoga teacher always tells us two things that really helped me here: be kind to yourself and acknowledge and accept what you are feeling in your mind, heart and body; and, notice the subtle changes that occur.
I kept doing (and paying attention to) the things that helped my healing, knowing they were stitches for my soul and heart. I began to decide that it was unhealthy and stifling to hide this loss from people and I started to tell friends who were checking in on me. I told the parents in our world and the ones trying to become parents. This was not to seek advice, but because they asked what we’ve been up to and it was what still occupied my mind. Talking about it helped and I got better at faking it in situations that I needed to, like work. At the same time, I found that my moments of calm throughout the day were longer and this was a relief.
I finally got my period and expected it to bring the hope that my body was regulating itself. Instead, it was physically intense and emotionally draining and triggered all sorts of emotions of inadequacy, loss, and fear for the future. I was still exhausted by this stage because I was using all of my energy to stay focused in my day. Days were long and weeks were deceptively warped to several times their actual length. If I thought the early days of pregnancy were long as I waited for that elusive (and false) ‘safe’ line to be crossed, it had nothing on how endless days felt in comparison once I learned that the being I thought I was growing and protecting was no more.
Learning a New Normal
One day, after a few weeks successfully faking it, I looked at myself in the mirror at work and was startled to see that I looked better than I felt. I looked normal on the outside. This was freeing because my face had given me away until then. By not looking like I was grieving, I felt like I could begin to reinvent myself. The week after this, I found that I could actually concentrate again without spending half my energy on concentrating. I also realised that week that I was enjoying my work again.
I have never felt more rooted here than I have come to realise this year. Through the various stages of this grieving, I have been well supported by my American and Scottish family and friends, and my by workplace. I am now finding it healing to talk to a wider group of family; talking about our fears for the future with those who knew about the miscarriage and our larger hopes with those who did not know we had been trying.
I am working to grow and heal, nourishing my soul so the scars do not become the lines of dead things past but instead become like tree roots ready to give water and direction to the things that can still blossom. Sure, the ground is harder now, but some plants thrive like that.
At this point, my heart still aches several times each day but it no longer defines me. I cry disproportionately at happy or beautiful things (tears streaming and almost sobbing at the opening number of the Lion King, for instance) and recognise that I may stay that way. Considering the fact that at one point I didn’t think I would care about much ever again, being moved by emotions or beauty in the world is a positive thing. Sometimes, crying happy tears makes my heart ache and then I cry sad tears a while later, but I would rather feel my emotions than stunt myself by repressing them. I also think that each tear shed brings me closer to healing.
I know that certain dates in the future will hurt, but I know that we can move on. I know this because I have been privileged to hear stories from many women about their losses. People whose children are teenagers still feel a sadness when thinking about their miscarriages. I didn’t expect this and yet it reassures me that I am still grieving in a healthy way. Ultimately, when you ask a spirit to join you on earth and have begun to nourish and protect it, you will miss it.
In terms of trying for a successful pregnancy and birth, my body and brain are ready and I am sitting patiently with my heart as it processes its fears because I know that I will be strong enough to face it again. Our desire to become parents and share this amazing world with children is too strong to be kept back by fear.
Thank you for posting this. Kendra had an early miscarriage on our first try after having Addie. We saw a heartbeat, and two weeks later it had stopped. She had a d&c – so difficult physically and emotionally. A chemical pregnancy followed a few tries later. I remember looking up miscarriage info, and also found little info. Crazy when you learn just how many pregnancies end in miscarriage. Hugs and love to you both. It’s not easy, but you are not alone.
Thank you Jen. Seeing you go through the fertility processes, and reading your blog posts, has been really helpful and inspirational to us. I am glad that we are putting our stories out there so that others can find a glimpse of information that resonates with them.
I’m sorry you are going through this.
Thank you. I am doing better each day and felt that my experiences needed to be accessible to the world for when others find themselves feeling lost or alone at the beginning of this process.
Thank you for posting this. I have so often thought about what I could say or post myself. I can talk to certain friends about this, but struggle so much for words. I have even sat down with a friend to work on her guest post as I write my experience as a prelude. There was a lot of typing and a lot of deleting. Thank you for finding the words that escaped us.
Learning a new normal seems to be the new trend for our family.
I felt like I would never be done writing this post; so much was deleted or continuously edited that I just had to take the leap and finish at some point. I think it is important to get things out there, no matter how imperfect they may seem. There are so many things that I didn’t get the chance to go in to. Still, a percentage of the experience shared is better than nothing.
I would be happy for you to feature this post as part of your series. I’d happily send you the text and photos, etcetera, so just let me know.
Here’s to our new normal!
This is a wonderful post. You put words to many if the exact emotions I felt when I had a miscarriage (at 12 weeks, another one of those with no explanation or answer of what I did wrong, because come on, it had to be my fault, right?—or so I felt at the time). I also didn’t want to talk to anyone, I couldn’t stand the thought of having to experience their reaction or hearing that they were sorry for my loss. Kind words felt like they would break me. My story was unique and horrific as anyone who experiences a miscarriage. My particular flavor of unique horror: hubs out of town, I had my 2 year old daughter to care for, no family or close friends less than 1500 miles away. …..however, my unique and wonderful ending to my miscarriage story is the beginning of another, much better story …Exactly a year later Oscar was born.
Kelcey, thank you for sharing your story! It must have taken a lot of strength to deal with that a distance at such a confusing and devistating time.
He certainly sounds like a happy ending! I am glad that this speaks to some of your experiences. Thanks.
Happy new year!
I love you, B. You and J are STRONG people, and the best at putting down roots, whilst still spreading your arms out to welcome the new. Does that make sense? It does in my head 🙂
Thank you Marie.
Yes, it makes sense. Our arms a lovingly open to the universe and life around us.
Ouch. What a story, and how strong you are my darling. It comes across pretty clearly.
I’m so proud of you. Spreading all my love from this side of the world, hoping it reaches you and Honey and your families. I wish you a 2014 full of blessings and success; may all you most desire come to you!
Big hug and much love xxx
Thanks my dear! I feel the love from across the hemispheres : ) Hope you have a blessing-filled 2014 too!
My cousin, as I read this as I do all your posts, I couldn’t help but feel like my heart was being ripped out, Kim and I went through this as she lost the baby at almost 3 months,,,, I was heart broken, at the time we did not know what to make of it and who to talk to about it. So we kept it to ourselves and didn’t let the world in, we wanted a child before I was to old to be a fully useful father as there are a good number of years between Kim and I… Finally it happened and she was pregnant again, I was so thankful, I was also so over bearing and protective that I would not let her do anything at all. Every day I would think the worse, and I do mean everyday…. The slightest pain she had I was a nervous wreck, my mother in law was no Help as she was the cause of most of the stress that caused the miscarriage in the first place…. So I guarded my wife day and night, finally in the end we had our baby, of all the life changing events that could happen to a person this one event changed me forever, everything I say, do, think all has my daughter in mind…. She’ll be three but I still think and so does Kim about what could have been, and what we could have done different….. Anyway to you I send all my love and thoughts and prayers, time will heal your wounds and eventually make you a mommy…. You so deserve to have a child and give that child all your love… You won’t be amazing, you will be absolutely Fantastic….. My love to all….
Thank you so much Ronnie for sharing your post! Thank you for sharing the perspective of the non-pregnant parent too. I am so sorry that you two had to experience that. : (
I know that if we are lucky to get pregnant again, that I will likely question every tiny feeling and possibly never relax. Although it is not positive, it is helpful to know that that was your experience for the next pregnancy. It’s good to know to prepare.
Maybe someday we can, as a society speak more freely about these forms of grief and then people can feel less alone when dealing with the devastation.
I am glad you shared your feelings and experiences because you are right it is so hidden in many ways unknown to the outside world and so hard when responses seem to deny your grief as if what is not seen is not felt and not imagined a full life in your own mind mapped out and taken away. I am so sorry you have been through this.
I has none to talk to when we lost ours at 12 weeks it was as though what is not seen is not living to everyone else. so from google I really took comfort in words from the poem below and a song (I Cried for you – Katie Melua) I found connected for me as I am no wordsmith and a social person but for everyone it is unique.
‘The world may never notice If a Snowdrop doesn’t bloom,
Or even pause to wonder If the petals fall too soon.
But every life that ever forms, Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small way For all eternity.
The little one we long for Was swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted Is a light that still shines on.
And though our arms are empty, Our hearts know what to do.
Every beating of our hearts Says that we love you.’
excuse my typos haha can not get on with my tablet.
No problem, I didn’t notice! My tablet makes me type all sorts of silly things.
Thank you for sharing your experience and so beautifully articulating what is taken away.
The poem does seem like a good match, especially with what you said about things living to the outside world.
My heart breaks for you. I wish I could do more than send virtual hugs to both of you. Thank you for sharing your journey. I hope that helps your heart and mind to heal in time.
Much love from waaaaay over here across the Atlantic.
Thanks my dear!
We feel the hugs! : )
You often pass through my mind, you know. I’m glad that I know you. x
Thanks H! I am glad to know you as well. Please let me know next time you’re up this way for a visit!
So sorry for your loss, sweetie xoxo But thank you for sharing your experience, so beautifully expressed. When you eventually do become a Mom, you are going to be such a great one! Don’t give up 🙂 Love & Hugs
Thank you so much Jess! Hugs right back at ya! : )
I don’t think anyone can truly know the loss, until they’ve experienced it for themselves. You’re right, there isn’t a word that’s strong enough to describe the despair, the betrayal of your own body, the feeling that you’re failing in something that should be innately simple for your sex. All the words in the world can’t help the pain of losing a baby, but never be worried of ‘over-sharing’ your grief… your friends love and cherish you and (no matter on what continent they reside) would do anything to lessen your load xxxx
Thanks Abbs! I no longer feel as though I can’t talk about it- because that keeps things silent and I want people online to have one more thing that they can potentially find in their search for people’s stories. Also, the number of inbox messages I’ve received about people who haven’t spoken about it humbles and overwhelms me and makes me realise why posts like this are so important!
[…] Read some reflections on miscarriage here. […]
Re-read this post just now & it is true that to fully comprehend the anguish that someone goes through you have to have experienced this pain. I would never wish this experience on anyone as it is soul destroying. When I was told ‘I’m sorry your baby seems to have stopped developing, you are going through. Miscarriage’ my heart stopped beating momentarily. How could something so innocent and perfect be taken from me. I went through everything that I could have done different and still do. It didn’t help that after a week people were saying things such as ‘well loose a bit of weight and get back on it’ or ‘your baby would have been beautiful but you can try again’ I didn’t want to try again I wanted this baby, why was it taken when I would have been a bloody great mum! To this day I cry on a daily basis but (tears are free flowing now) this is somehow not deemed socially acceptable so I wait till I am at home and have myself a pity party. I signed up to a website which sends you weekly updates on the progress to your baby and the other day I received saying I would have been 21 weeks, how my phone survived I don’t know. How come life continues around me? How could people go about their daily routine when the life that was my child was simply being flushed away every time I went to the loo? Even writing this I know some people are going to be digested but that’s how I felt and still feel. I am better and I thank my family, friends and pupils in my class who are just full of energy and fun. I can say that going back to work helped me get some of sparkle back. I have had one period since the miscarriage and it was like reliving the whole experience again. Writing this is hard as I don’t share my emotions very well, my husband has been my rock and has been there every step of the way as we ride this rollercoaster of emotions. I pray our lives will be blessed with children and that is how I get through each day as I hope that we will be blessed in the future. However I will never forgot the one we didn’t hold in out arms as this one will always be in our hearts, it has shaped who I have become. Thank you for sharing your experience and for chipping away at the stigma of a miscarriage. As I hope for myself I also hope for you and Julie and anyone else who has had their hearts ripped open. 💜
Thank you so much for sharing this. The hard thing about the terrible things that people say is that they are usually trying to help but just have no idea at all what it feels like. Because we are taught to not talk about it!
Your post is beautiful and I know you’re still in the whirlwind but glad you are starting to find things easier. Wishing you continued healing. Hugs. X
I have a beautiful, amazing and wonderful son. But I’ve also had two, probably three losses. The first official loss was August 27, 2007. This was our second anniversary. I had my first doctor’s appointment scheduled for the next day, at 8 weeks. I woke up bleeding. I really can’t write the emotions. 2007 was a tough year. We lost my husband’s uncle, a friend’s ex-husband, this baby, my husband’s father and my grandmother. The amazing part of this, is that after getting thenough all clear from my doctor, we conceived our amazing son without me having a period in between. It had taken over a year to conceive the one we lost. I found out I was pregnant while visiting Oklahoma for my father-in-law’s funeral.
The mixed emotions and fear were all over the place. Then, to lose a second one on Halloween in 2010, was both more heartbreaking and less. Thus second child would have been born on or near Boo’s 3rd birthday. There are always days that are hard, almost 8 years later. My heart still aches for the children we didn’t have. But it is a mixed thing, because if I hadn’t lost the first, I wouldn’t have Boo, but some other child, and I love the Boo-boy that I have, but will always wonder who that first one would have been.
Thank you for your story and for letting us know the ache can be there 8 years later. When I had the miscarriage, I had people telling me that 20 years had passed and they still felt the pain.
The shadow children pop into my mind often- the one we didn’t have and the ones we dreamed of before that.
[…] lot of my posts have been about finding clothes that fit and letting go of those that don’t. My body changed in several ways since October and now I find myself just differently shaped. My shoulders, ribs and hips demand just a bit more […]