Andre and I had our first miscarriage in May 2015. I was only about two or three weeks along, but I still felt an incredible amount of sadness. The following August, at about eleven weeks, we had our second miscarriage. We named this one Chris, going with a gender-neutral name since it had been too early to know. My emotions and grief multiplied and it took me months to work through it all.
The Oxford dictionary describes miscarriage as the expulsion of a fetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently, or the unsuccessful outcome of something planned.
Oxford is right, and the summary of my ER visit probably said something similar. It’s also what I often tried to tell myself when I wasn’t yet ready to face the reality of what had happened. I used it to try pushing back the flood of emotions that threatened to drown me. I even remember making jokes with the ultrasound tech about how pretty the blood in my ovaries looked on the screen just half an hour after losing my baby because I wasn’t yet ready to face the reality of what just happened.
If you’ve just had a miscarriage, you’re probably doing the same thing, too.
But miscarriage is so much more than what the dictionary or the ER summary says. It means no first breath. No cuddling, bonding, or feeding. It means no diaper changes, first teeth, first steps, or first words. It means no toddler tantrums or potty training. No bedtime stories or soft baby kisses. It’s no first day of school, no homework, no tests, or graduation.
In one instant, all of your hopes, dreams, and fears for your child’s future are torn from you with razor-sharp claws, leaving you bleeding and hopeless before you’ve ever had the chance to look at your sweet baby’s face. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Miscarriage means your child has died. And unless you have the presence of mind to ask the hospital to return the body to you after tests, there’s no funeral or any sort of burial process to help give you closure.
You may already have living children, have been trying to get pregnant for decades, or this was your first try. Either way, you have just experienced a loss that cannot accurately be put into words. You’re going to hurt more than you ever thought possible. You’re going to be angry at yourself, at God, and at women who have successful pregnancies.
You’ll feel inadequate. You’ll feel like a failure as a woman because you couldn’t bear this child. You’ll start to wonder if you ever will have children. You’ll be afraid that your partner hates or despises you because you couldn’t give them the baby they’ve wanted so badly. People will try to comfort you with words like “now you know you can get pregnant,” or “everything happens for a reason,” but they’ll fall on deaf ears because you’re hurting so much.
It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be angry. And it’s okay to cry. You don’t have to hide or put on a mask. Feel the emotions, grieve for the life that should’ve been, and know that you are not alone. Seek help if those emotions lean toward the unhealthy side, because postpartum depression and anxiety after losing a child are just as real as after having a living child.
Go to your partner and hold them, because they’re in just as much pain as you are and they, too, can’t be left to deal with it alone.
Whether this has just happened to you, or you’ve been holding onto your grief and emotions for too long, it’s time to break the silence. Allow yourself to grieve and process what you’ve just experienced, because only then will you be able to start finding your way through the wilderness. Only then can you start to heal from this gash in your soul.