Friday, October 23, 2015

Ten Months Later

**I'd like to begin this post with a disclaimer. A big reason I have been so afraid to post this is because I know how blessed I am to be pregnant again after a loss. I know many, many women and men who struggle with infertility or repeated miscarriages. I hope that you can feel the love I have for you and the reverence I have for your terrible struggle. I am amazed at the strength of my friends who deal with fertility issues every day. Please know that this post was only intended to help those who have experienced a miscarriage, not detract from other experiences.**

I have over ten different "drafts" sitting in my post section, written over the course of the last 10 months, all of which deal with the same subject:

At the end of January this year I had a miscarriage.

I have written sad posts, and angry posts, and posts where I try to laugh at myself. I have written posts about the things you should never say to someone after a miscarriage. I have written posts about all the kindness we received from close friends and family afterwards. I have written posts about how truly terrifying it is to be pregnant again after a loss, especially so soon. And I have published none of these. It has never felt quite like something I was ready to share so publicly. Even today, posting this is terrifying. I'm not sure why, other than the fact that miscarriage is such a personal experience.

In August we grieved and honored the due date of our sweet baby by eating delicious pie and driving to the mountains to be alone. Every night we pray and show gratitude for the baby that is currently growing inside of me, but on that night in August we slept in the back of a truck under the stars and just tried to feel close to our first baby. We miss that baby dearly.

And now, after all of the posts, and after distance, and time, and some healing (though, never complete) I feel like I know the post I really want to write. And it is this:

One of the hardest things for me after my miscarriage was how much pressure I felt to tell other people about it. The loss was so raw that we wanted some time to deal with it as a couple before sharing with others. So, instead of sharing, I spent hours scouring the internet for support. I felt guilty because I wanted all the comforts of hearing other's shared experiences, but I was not ready to share my own. What I didn't realize then, that I realize now, is that each person grieves and deals with miscarriage in a different way. This is okay. This makes sense when you think about it, as we all deal with every aspect of life in our own, personal way. Why should miscarriage be any different? I have friends who gain comfort from immediately telling everyone around them, hoping for a warm and supportive response. I have friends who feel little immediate emotion about the experience. I have friends who never want to tell anyone, or who simply don't want to talk about it.

Personally, we chose to only tell close family and friends for the first few months. It felt safer that way. With 1 in 5 known pregnancies ending in miscarriage I know there are many, many people in my life who have had to decide for themselves how to deal with it. I will never even know who most of these people are.

Now, we are sitting three weeks away from the due date of this second baby. Being pregnant again has not healed the pain of my miscarriage. In fact, in many ways it has complicated it. I told a friend the other day that even now, just weeks away, I still think about this baby as an "if." "If our baby comes..." This may be because I have never actually experienced giving birth to a healthy baby. The fact that this can actually happen is still an abstract to me, not a reality. Miscarriage has instilled fear in me. It has opened my eyes to the true miracle of childbirth.

"It is a miracle any of us even make it here," I think, on a daily basis.

Now, when I see children with their mothers I think "Wow! You survived! Your mom was actually able to conceive. You survived that first trimester when you were so small that anything could happen. You survived months and months of growing and each part of you grew in a way that you could breathe and live and exist." It seems like this shouldn't happen as often as it does. I am perpetually amazed.

Until now I haven't know what to do with all of these feelings and thoughts. Until now I haven't known what to do about the love and support and friendship I have received this year through all of this fear and worry.

Because now, what I want to do with these last few weeks where the fear is becoming so real again is this: I want to be a resource for anyone who is feeling those feelings so fresh and raw. I think that the best thing I can do now is share a compilation of resources and ideas I have found, in hopes that however someone else might choose to deal, or whatever phase they are in of their grieving, they might find some comfort.

So, here it is. As much of a list as I can gather for now. If anyone has anything to add, please send it my way and I will add it.

What to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced Pregnancy Loss: 
  • Here is an article on a woman who has designed a line of cards to send to someone who has experienced a miscarriage. It is tough to know what to say. These cards might help you get started. 
  • This list is incredibly straightforward and helpful. I especially appreciate the list of what NOT to say. I truly believe that anything anyone says is meant to be supportive and helpful. People are so good and kind. However, sometimes words can be unintentionally hurtful. 
Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Affects Men Too: 
  • Many people don't consider how deeply the father might be affected by the loss. Here is a beautiful article written by a father who experienced three miscarriages.  
  • This article discusses the experiences of one Dad after a miscarriage, and also looks at a study done on how Dads are influenced by the loss of a pregnancy. 
Shared Experiences: 

**I have read many blog posts of friends who have experienced a miscarriage but I did not want to post them here without their permission. If you are willing to have your blog posted here, please contact me and I will gladly include the link. I know it was so helpful to me to read the stories of others.**
LDS Resources: 
**I am LDS and found these articles to be very helpful. In the weeks following our miscarriage we found a lot of comfort in our faith in loving Heavenly Parents who knew what we were experiencing. However, I think these articles can be helpful to anyone of any denomination (especially the first one).**
  • This article is SO beautiful, compassionate, and real. It discusses the difficult pain of miscarriage, the things people say that may be hurtful afterward, and how to deal with each of these things. 
  • This article comes from the perspective of an LDS woman and discusses the (somewhat hazy) LDS doctrine of miscarriage. Through my discussions with friends I have come to realize that each person finds their own way to reconcile their beliefs with their miscarried baby. I believe that each person should decide which way of thinking brings them the most peace, especially with no official doctrine on the matter. 
Suggestions for Coping/Healing: 

**These are my suggestions. I would love to add to this list anything anyone else has found helpful.**
  • One thing I did that was very helpful to me in the week after my miscarriage was to paint a picture to help honor and remember our baby. It is pretty common to track the size of your baby in relation to a food (fruit usually, it seems). We had been checking every week for the update on the size of our baby, and so I decided to paint that fruit and hang it on our wall. I am no artists, but it is a precious reminder of our sweet, tiny baby and it makes me feel warm to look at. If you don't paint, you might consider just getting a print done of whatever week you were at. 
  • For us, it helped to plan ahead for the big dates we knew would be difficult. By planning ahead I think we felt more emotionally prepared for what those days brought. This article was helpful in knowing ahead of time which days might feel difficult. I was totally blindside by Mother's Day this year and decided after that to be more emotionally prepared for days I knew might be difficult. I would add to this list the day in this current pregnancy where I was as far along as I was when we lost our first baby. We both took the day off to relax, watch movies, and work through the fear we felt. 
  • In the weeks and months after our miscarriage I felt a really intense need to honor or commemorate the loss of our baby, but didn't know how. This company sets up services across the US and the UK for anyone wishing to commemorate the loss of their child. It seems like most of them are on the east coast right now, but I thought I would post it for anyone nearby. The idea is beautiful and I think that even creating your own event or date to commemorate your loss would be very healing. (The website also offers some great resources and support in general.) 

Sending love and healing your direction, whoever you are and whatever kind of loss you are dealing with.