I don't often show this side of myself. Maybe I felt compelled to finally speak out because I'm tired of seeing so many women suffer in silence on the subject...Maybe because I am one of those women.
October was pregnancy loss and miscarriage awareness month. The weekend before last Thanksgiving, I discovered I was pregnant. Some people will read this and probably judge this post and say that maybe I shouldn't write about something so personal, but let me be clear, I don't write to relive my hurt; I write this so someone else can learn to find joy in the midst of suffering, like I did. Don't get me wrong. Almost a year later, I'm still a work in progress, but I'm so thankful for the friends that reached out to my husband and myself during that time.
The Reality of Emotion
Does this mean I don't experience sadness when I think about Alex, and how old she would have been and her limitless potential? No. Does it mean I don't experience just a hint of sadness every time a friend or family announces that they're expecting? No. Am I still happy for them? Yes. Do I still love being around children? Yes.
What friends and family need to understand:
One of the most common misunderstandings about pregnancy loss is that others often assume the intended parents somehow experience less hurt because they maybe just found out they were expecting or hadn't had their first ob/gyn appointment yet or maybe this was a surprise pregnancy. This simply isn't the case. I remember crying for weeks...and weeks... and weeks... and being physically and emotionally exhausted for weeks. There is an emptiness there. A family member gave me a stuffed elephant to remember Alex....such a simple act meant so much to me, and really helped me to heal...
How you can help:
Be a shoulder to cry on. Ask them if they've been back to the doctor, but allow them to open up to you. Don't pressure them for answers, in many ways, they may be trying to sort through their emotions and thoughts. I am so thankful for my friend, Julie, yes, I have a close friend also named Julie, who allowed me to vent...which I desperately needed...Your friend or family member may feel dysfunctional, much like I did...being in the age group where all of our friends and family were having babies...I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt the glaring awkward silence at family gatherings when yet another family member would announce that they were expecting...and I felt like the elephant in the room.
If you're a relative, don't ignore that this has happened, all you have to say, is "I'm saddened that this happened to you. How can I pray for you?" I've learned this from friends and family members and dealing with many situations. Be a listener, not a talker. Women who've been through a miscarriage don't need a psychoanalyst, they need a friend. Scripture says that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
Another common misunderstanding is that the family doesn't need to grieve at all, especially if the pregnancy loss is early term. This is a tremendous mistake. I'll be honest... I think when I first told people, they thought I was joking. Someone told me, "you don't seem upset." Huge mistake. I felt like dying on the inside. Be aware that this person is coming to you in confidence, and that they need your emotional support. The most difficult thing I heard during the process was "why didn't you tell your families...?" We were so unsure about telling our families because we didn't want questions, we wanted to be supported.
"A person's a person, no matter how small." Those are wise words from Dr. Seuss. Once again listen, don't lecture. Personally, I believe who a husband and wife chooses to tell when they're expecting is their personal business. Allow them to grieve and don't deem their grieving as silly. Don't try to psychoanalyze them, don't ask them how their pregnancy test looked. They will open up to you, when they feel they are in a safe place. Just letting them know you're there is the best thing you can do...because that is something, the mom will need to hear. I know I needed to hear it.
To the woman and family experiencing pregnancy loss or miscarriage:
Know that there is hope. God is the healer and mender of all things broken, including hearts. Psalm 139: 13 says, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." Your baby's life matters to God.
Give yourself time to heal. Make time to process what has happened. That s
is something my husband and I didn't do at first, and as a result, we regretted it.
I think the healing process took longer because of it.
Find an outlet to pour your heart into. Maybe it's journaling, walking, painting, songwriting.
Talk to someone you trust to listen, and allow yourself to be emotional. Job was. David was.
Talk it out with God. I think I must've done this hundreds of times. Scripture says, " For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses." He understands the temptation to stay angry...he understands.
My hope and prayer is that someone will read this post and share it with someone who needs to hear it.