So – you’ve had a miscarriage.
By now, if you have shared the news with your family and friends, you are probably feeling reassured by the advice and support coming your way, such as: “It wasn’t meant to be”, “at least you can fall pregnant” and “it’s really common, a friend of my cousin had two miscarriages before her three children”.
Because it’s just like learning to ride a bike, right? Brush yourself off and head back into the bedroom! Wrong. Dead wrong.
You are feeling isolated and confused and wondering why it has happened to you. It is taking longer to physically recover than you had imagined, the intense sadness and loss is lingering and you have the strong feeling that nobody understands what you are going through.
Sound familiar? I know because I have been through it several times. Here are some insights I wish I had had back then. I hope they can benefit you now.
1. You are not alone.
A study from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health in 2009 placed the miscarriage statistics close to 1 in 3 women, not the 1 in 6 which seems to be the common myth.
Take a moment to consider this. How many women do you come into contact with on a daily basis? It is likely that at least a couple of them have experienced or are experiencing what you are going through. If you feel brave enough, try sharing a little bit of information with someone you feel a connection to. You may be surprised by what comes back.
This week marks the start of Never Forgotten: Mamamia’s Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week.
2. It is not your fault.
It is so easy to start blaming yourself after a miscarriage. Did I push myself too hard at the gym? Was that box I lifted too heavy? There can be an endless stream of guilt rushing around inside your head. Try not to let it overwhelm you. In the majority of cases you will never know the exact cause. Placing the responsibility solely on yourself only hurts one person – you. With everything else you are dealing with you can do without the added, self-imposed stress.
I will say it again – it is not your fault.
3. You don’t need to share your news with everyone.
While I am a huge believer in healing through sharing, it doesn’t hurt to be selective. Choose your confidantes carefully. There is nothing worse that being judged or patronised at this vulnerable time. You want to walk away from a conversation with someone feeling better, not doubting yourself even more.
4. Keep an eye on your partner.
Miscarriage is 90% about the woman, and so it should be. It is you who goes through the physical loss and is then left to recover both emotionally and physically. But it is easy for your partner to get lost somewhere in the background. As hard as it is at the time, his loss needs to be acknowledged too. For just like you he was imagining a future with your child.
Make sure that there is a healthy way for him to deal with his pain. If there is anything little that he can do for you, let him. Have a computer problem? Need something fixed around the house? Just ask and I bet he will jump in with both feet. Most men need to feel useful. Miscarriage is something that no-one has any control over which can be very frustrating for them, as well as for you. Additionally, if you aren’t in a position to be the one to help him make sure he has a network of family and friends who can support him. Believe me, I am speaking from experience.
Your marriage will thank you later.
5. Say NO to that baby shower if you don’t think you can handle it.
It’s all very well to try to put on a happy face and be a good friend. However, this is a time when you need to put yourself first.
Emotions can go haywire after a miscarriage. You might think you can cope but at the first cute teddy bear present you feel yourself falling to pieces inside. I strongly suggest you do yourself a favour and not put yourself into that situation. If it is a close friend she should understand. If she doesn’t, maybe she isn’t as close as you think. If it is for an acquaintance write a polite note back with your apologies. I believe that white lies were created for situations such as these.
6. Acknowledge your loss.
This is a very individual experience and every woman and couple will be different. The important thing to accept is that you have suffered a loss – the loss of the life you were imagining with your child. For no matter what happens from that point on, the future will never be quite the way you first pictured it.
No-one ever knows how easy or hard starting a family is until they try. Miscarriage is heartbreaking and, although the path you are on mightn’t be the one you imagined, the majority of women who experience miscarriages will go on to have healthy babies. I know this may sound hollow at the moment but it is also the truth.
In the meantime, be kind to yourself. I would like to leave you with one final thought that gave me comfort in my darkest period:
Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, then it’s not the end.
Good luck on your journey.
If you have any advice for someone who's just gone through a miscarriage, share it in the comments below.
For more information, Nicki recommends these resources:
If this has post raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.