So you had yourself a little miscarriage were the first words out of my Nana's mouth. Her sapphire eyes whispered sincere sympathy, but her words pierced me.
Words have a way of halting our hearts. We, who have experienced pregnancy loss, all know the words miscarriage and stillbirth don't adequately portray the big, huge, momentous significance of our precious child dying inside our bodies. The loss of our babies is not insignificant or little. It's weighty. As if it could swallow us whole. Some days we wish it would just go ahead and swallow us.
The word miscarriage is such a misnomer, isn't it? The prefix alone goes with words such as mistake, misspoke, mislead. It's such a terrible prefix to attach to such a significant event. It implies the mother is at fault although we aren't. The word stillbirth isn't better. Neither are pregnancy loss or born sleeping.
Spontaneous abortion is the wording that sits on my insurance forms. But those two words sitting side by side also prick the soul as it implies choice.
But my two miscarriages were not a choice.
Nor my fault.
The emotions. The semantics. They physicality. It's all hard. It's no wonder that women are also at an increased for depression and anxiety--even PTSD after pregnancy loss.
We, above all, need support.
Will you support us? 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. Will you help us establish a cultural protocol that treats the death of a child within the womb the same as the death of any other loved one?
Because what died inside our bodies was life. A baby. A future. We labored and our arms are empty.
We mourn the loss of our particular child.
My friends showed me support. And I know you want you to show support to your loved ones as well. You just might not know how.
Let my friends be your examples.
Tonya brought boxes and boxes of Chinese food, Leighann brought a dozen hot, still-gooey, straight out of the oven cookies, Amber brought the most delectable chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten (& offered me her uterus), Chrissi brought a beautiful flower for me to plant, and Mary sent me the most heartfelt letter via email because she was hundreds of miles away.
I didn’t want them in my house. I thought I wanted to be alone. But like good girlfriends do, in they pushed. There I sat with my eyes swollen and my stomach contracting with pain. Their eyes were soaked with tears, too. They hugged me & loved on me & then departed. Words were sparse but love was abounding. I needed them.
My husband cried. He listened. He pulled me close to his chest and wrapped his arms around my body. He fielded phone calls and told people I didn’t want to talk. He protected me. He told the sweet people at my church not to mention anything to me in a public setting. She’s just not ready to talk. Private yes, public no. Please pray. He told me how much they cared. He took me to the doctor. He made sure I ate. He let me mourn. He mourned. I needed him.
My brother called. Every day. He left messages. He sent texts. I’m just calling to check on you, Sis. I needed him.
My mom, dad, father-in law, mother-in law, and step-father in law each offered to babysit my son. They took care of him while I laid beside the Kleenex box in my bed. I needed them.
The strangers on the internet understood. The ones in the support groups and chat rooms were brutally honest. The bloggers who wrote about their losses gave hope. I needed them.
My Professor at University nodded her head and said I’m sorry with her gentle glance when I entered class for the first time after my loss. I needed her.
My girlfriend’s husbands hugged me. They squeezed a bit harder when I placed my head on their warm shoulders. They didn’t utter a word, but I knew they cared. They told my husband they loved him. They asked my husband if he needed to talk. We needed them.
My doctor and the nurses at the office hugged me. Their cheeks were landing grounds for tears. One nurse sent me a text the next day telling me she was thinking about me. I needed them.
My best friend forced me to go on a weekend getaway. Just the two of us. It wasn’t fancy. Just a hotel with a pool. We were the oldest people slipping down the waterside. She even brought a book to read. She hates to read. We laughed we giggled. She asked how I was doing. I needed her.
I need you to know that you can’t take away the pain. Tears will still pour from our eyes & our hearts will still ache. But I need you to know that we need your love.
Simply showing up means more than you’ll ever know.
Ideas for Offering Support to Someone Who Has Experienced Miscarriage, Ectopic Pregnancy, or Stillbirth
- Say I’m so sorry
- Send a letter, email, or text expressing your sincere condolences
- Send flowers
- Gift a necklace, bracelet, or other piece of remembrance jewelry.
- Show up at the funeral or memorial
- Don’t bring it up in a public place. You can nod, whisper I’m so sorry, or gently squeeze our hands, but please don’t ask us about our loss right before the company business meeting. Talk to us in a private place.
- Respect us if we don’t want to talk
- Listen if we do want to talk
- Let us grieve
- Give us no timeline for grief
- Don't be surprised by our anger, jealousy, sadness, depression, yearning, nightmares, and all the other grief reactions that commonly occur.
- Drop off food
- Offer to babysit our other children. Ask us twice so we know you are serious, but don’t force us if we say no.
- Husbands-don't be offended if sex is out of the question for a bit.
- Offer to accompany us on future doctor visits.
- Help us unsubscribe from pregnancy apps and emails.
- If we ask for space don't be offended. Many of us like to grieve privately.
- Gift a book or devotional on the topic of pregnancy loss. Search your local bookstore or online. Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss is one option.
- Ask us if we need anything from the store. There are physical side effects to pregnancy loss.
- Give a Christmas Tree ornament, candle or some other memento of love that can be displayed in the house
- Gift money to help pay for the medical bills. The medical bills are atrocious.
- Ask our partner if he needs to talk. Listen.
- Offer to have a blanket or quilt made of the clothing that had already been purchased
- Use the name of our baby in conversation
- Gift a picture frame for the ultrasound or any pregnancy photos to be displayed
- Invite us to dinner or coffee the weeks and months after our loss. Invite us to talk. Listen.
- Choose your words carefully. Please don't say: At least it was early, You can always try again, Something must have been wrong or any other equally offensive phrase. We mourn for a specific soul.
- Remember our due date and show us love on that day. Write down the date of death and support us on that anniversary the following year.
- Invite your loved one to join a support group. Our Loved Baby Facebook Group is one such option.
- Know that any subsequent pregnancies may (will be) emotionally challenging.
- And you know what else you can do? HELP US LOBBY to get the the word "miscarriage" changed. EMAIL American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and urge them to develop a policy that uses wording that does not inadvertently imply guilt. You can contact them here: firstname.lastname@example.org I believe James Van DerBeek was on point when he said the wording needed to be changed. Now let's join arms to get that accomplished.
- Understand that you can’t fix it but you can love on us
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; Mourn with those who mourn" Romans 12:15