Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Personal

Something Happened: A book for children and parents who have experienced pregnancy loss.

When I started this blog a little over a month ago, my goal was to present it as a forum where people could log on and get meaningful, heartfelt answers to life's questions. An advice blog, if you will. But not actually advice; I wanted to offer what I hoped to be a fresh perspective to problems that we may or may not have in common. Since then, however, the blog has consisted of me speaking about whatever falls upon my heart.

Not today.

Today, we have a question about a hurt that many know, but few, if any, understand. It's about the aftermath of a miscarriage. Please listen with empathy and offer your own fresh perspective if you can.

"Dear Well-Fed Spirit,
I don't know if you can even help me with this, but I don't know what else to do. I feel so lost. About two weeks ago, I had a miscarriage. I feel like I should be over it by now, but I can't seem to move on. My heart hurts so much. I can't stop thinking about the moment that my doctor told me there was no baby. She was so nonchalant. She said sometimes when all the tests show that you're pregnant, you're still not. She said that there was an amniotic sac, but no baby. I had never heard of anything like that. In all the baby books I've read and all the crap I've read online, they never ONCE said anything about how you could be pregnant, but not really. WTF is that about?  

And now I feel like I can't even grieve, because people are looking at me like I shouldn't be sad because there was never really a baby. But I THOUGHT there was! I loved and nurtured that "baby" for three whole months. I thought about baby names and what color I was going to paint the nursery. I made room in my heart for it and now there's just an empty space where my baby should be. I feel empty. But then I feel guilty because I have a living, breathing daughter that needs me and all I want to do is cry and sleep.

I don't want to deal with people right now because people can say some stupid shit sometimes. I know that's probably unfair because they're just trying to help, but that's how I feel. I wish they would shut up and leave me alone to deal."

First, I want to say I'm sorry for your loss. The death of a loved one is always heartbreaking. The loss of a child is so unspeakable that parents shudder to even think of it. A miscarriage, though, is something that is so incredibly personal that, if you haven't experienced it, there's no way to fully understand it. I have experienced it, twice in fact, so I will share with you what I have since learned from my loss. I pray that it helps.

There is no time limit on grief. I don't care if your miscarriage was two weeks ago or two years, you take as much time to grieve your child's death as you need. As long as you do actually allow yourself to grieve. Numbing yourself so you won't feel the pain or pretending it didn't happen only prolongs the grieving process. It won't make the pain go away. You have every right to mourn the loss of your baby and I encourage you to do so.

I also encourage you to talk to someone. I know that people will sometimes say awkward or even stupid things when someone they love is hurting. Realize that your grief is difficult for the people around you as well. They want to help you, but they don't know how. Tell them how to help you. If they can help you by taking your child to the park so that you can scream at God for an hour, tell them. If they can help by just sitting beside you while you stare silently at the walls, tell them. They love you and they sincerely want to be there for you. Please allow them to do so. The worst possible thing you can do is shut people out right now. I know you don't want them, but you need them now more than ever. If there isn't anyone whom you trust with these sacred emotions, please talk to a professional. Everyone needs help sometimes; there is no shame in it.

The type of miscarriage you experienced is called a blighted ovum. Your body develops the amniotic sac in anticipation of a baby, your period stops, you have all the symptoms of pregnancy, but for some reason the baby doesn't grow. That isn't an official medical description of it. My first miscarriage was also a blighted ovum and I found information online because my doctors didn't tell me much. There may not have "technically" been a baby growing inside your womb, but your heart didn't know that. Your heart, your mind, your soul, and your body were making room for your baby. Everyday, your spirit connected with that of your unborn child a little more; everyday your bond grew stronger. You lost your baby and it is okay to mourn accordingly.

Talk to your daughter about it. You may not realize she's hurting, but she lost the baby, too. She may have kissed your belly as a way to show her future baby brother or sister affection. She probably imagined what it would be like to be a big sister and planned all the things she would teach him/her. She may have told her friends how excited she was. She had a bond with the baby, too and she needs help dealing with the fact that he/she isn't coming now. Helping her cope with her grief will help you cope as well. There are books specifically written to help children understand miscarriage and you could read one together. My daughter and I would draw pictures of how we were feeling. One of her pictures was of a baby with wings flying happily in the sky.

Soon you will find that it gets a little easier each day. One day you may even understand why it happened to you. I like to think that it happened to me so that I could help another woman when it happened to her. I pray that you find peace.

To those of you who may know a woman grieving a miscarriage, I'm going to give you a list of things NOT to say to her. I don't want to be negative, but when a person is dealing with this, there are things you just shouldn't say. You may be surprised by some of them. And that's exactly why I'm going to tell you.

1. Nothing. If you say nothing, it may come across as uncaring or unfeeling. A simple "I'm so sorry" will suffice.
2. "It was God's will." No mother wants to hear that God's will was for her child to die.
3. "Maybe it was for the best." There is no scenario you could think of that would make this true in the mind of a grieving mother.
4. "I know how you feel." Again, this pain is so personal that, even if you've miscarried also, you can't know how that mother felt about that baby. You don't know the hopes and dreams she had. You don't know what being pregnant meant to her. You don't know her pain; you know yours. What you could say is "I know how I felt when I miscarried. There's no pain in the world like it." And then give her a big hug.

Until next week...

Feed on love; subsist on peace.

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