My first miscarriage was the first time my heart was broken. Earlier this year, a friend reached out to me after her miscarriage. Her heart was broken too, and she wanted to know how to get over it. I share with you now what I shared with her.
Everyone has their own timeline for grief. Embrace it. The only way out is through.
Name your babies. Even the ones who didn’t implant. Name them and love them.
If you are an atheist/agnostic/open to Buddhist wisdom, I encourage you to read about Jizo. He is a bodhisattva (one who has postponed enlightenment) for travelers: this has come to mean people in a time of transition, to include mothers, mothers-to-be, children under 5, the unborn, the miscarried, and even the aborted. I loved the book Jizo Bodhisttva by Jan Chozen Bays. In it there’s a mantra I would focus on in the hardest moments with tears streaming down my face: om ka ka kabi san ma eh sowa ka (it’s thought to stop distressing thoughts—see here). It didn’t stop the tears (I didn’t want to suppress them), but helped to channel my grief. I also loved a couple other books: Coming to Term and About What Was Lost.
If you like my writing/want to read my experience, you can start on my blog here.
I had a missed miscarriage. At first, I didn’t understand why my body could be so stupid as to continue a pregnancy when my baby had died. I felt utterly betrayed by this unique brand of mindfuckery. If you’re feeling like this, reframing what happened can be helpful. So, for me, instead of thinking about how my body tricked me, I reframed it as my body did everything it could to give that little baby a chance. And trust that it will do so again the next time. (This reframing proved helpful when we were hit with an infertility diagnosis—knowing I could get pregnant helped us choose egg donation.)
Don’t stress about being stressed. What you’re going through is stressful. But can you let go of some of the tension? How can you be kind to yourself today? Right now?
Join an online community! If you want to meet a group of women who are reproductive warriors, join Instagram and follow me (@onfecundthought*) and I will introduce you to people who understand this unique pain.
* If your profile doesn’t indicate that you are a reproductive warrior and/or if we don’t have mutual followers, I appreciate a quick DM to briefly introduce yourself.
Seek out an in-person support group. Going to an in-person group and hearing other people’s stories made me feel so much less alone. At my first meeting, there was a woman who’d lost her son at 23 weeks. I felt like an imposter, listening to her experience. When it was my turn to speak, I said I didn’t feel like I belonged, but she simply said, “It doesn’t matter how far along you were. A loss is a loss.” She was right. Loss is loss, and grief is grief. She inspired me to write the following blog post…
…which ended up being published on Seleni’s website: Miscarriage Grief is Real.
Scream in the car. Stay safe! but screaming where no one can hear you is really cathartic. Just pull over if you feel like you’ve overdone it.
As a friend of mine who had two miscarriages and one stillborn daughter after IVF said: “You’ll never get over it, but you learn to live with it.” Back then, I couldn’t imagine how right she would be. Easy for me to say now, but without all the heartache (and there was lots and lots for me) I wouldn’t have THESE children—and I can’t imagine having any other children. I wouldn’t change a horrible damn thing. You don’t have to believe me—I didn’t believe my friend—but you will find a way.
Create! Here are some things I did:
Say goodbye. If you can’t have a funeral, perform a mizuko-kuyo:
Check out my Miscarriage Resources page.
If all else fails, remember what Winston Churchill famously said: “When you find yourself in hell, keep going.” <3