A miscarriage is one of those things you absolutely cannot understand until you’ve experienced it.
Before my miscarriage, I had an outsider’s perspective on this kind of loss. When I learned someone had a miscarriage, I’d feel for them the way I feel for a friend when they lose a grandparent. It’s devastating, of course. Still, I couldn’t understand their loss fully because that relationship wasn’t mine. It’s life, right? We say “I’m sorry” or “I’m praying for you.” We may send flowers or cook a meal and call it a day.
Though I couldn’t truly grasp what kind of grief comes with miscarriage, I still feared it. Throughout my entire first pregnancy, it’s all I could think about. My pregnancy was considered high risk due to my bicornuate uterus (basically just misshaped), so I waited for something to go wrong for 38 full weeks until I delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl.
I chose to go into my second pregnancy with optimism I didn’t have with my first. After all, the first went so well! My body COULD do this!
I knew I was pregnant for about two months before I found out I had miscarried. Because of my new attitude, I had chosen to tell family and friends earlier this time. I had professional photos taken for the formal announcement we never got to make.
When we found out about our loss, I felt like I immediately needed to tell those who knew about my pregnancy that it was over. I had to delete my pregnancy apps on my phone. I had to unsubscribe from the “What to Expect” emails. I had this urge to throw away the sonograms or delete the pregnancy test photos. I didn’t know what to feel, but I knew that my heart was broken.
So, there I was. Experiencing the confusing grief many other women had been experiencing all my life — the grief I never understood. Even in the midst of it, I couldn’t make sense of the way I felt. I had a relationship with this tiny, tiny baby inside of me that I never really got to know. It’s like experiencing love at first sight with a stranger and never seeing them again.
I was angry at my body. I was jealous of my pregnant friends. I was in physical pain and frustrated at those who would never understand — the people like me, just a few hours before I learned I was “1 in 4.”
Yep. I was a statistic. And you may be, too. You might relate to my experience, or you might have been through something far worse. Still, whether you lose a baby at 6 weeks or 20, your pain is justified. Loss is loss. Grief is grief. You are a mama, and you always will be.
If I’ve learned anything throughout my personal experience, it’s that we deserve to grieve in our own way. We deserve to grieve, but we MUST talk about it.
It may take time. It may take lots of time, but the second I chose to open up to others and reveal what I was going through, I felt lighter. I didn’t have to have conversations with people who knew me and feel uncomfortably sad, fighting to keep my fake smile big and bright because they didn’t know I recently had a miscarriage. I stopped worrying about making people feel uncomfortable and made my own comfort a priority.
When it first happened, I couldn’t imagine myself ever sharing it. It just hurt so bad. But, why do we feel like it’s inappropriate or too intimate to share? The pain is intimate. It’s personal — absolutely. Still, it’s pain. It’s loss. It’s heartbreak. It’s something you go through and don’t necessarily ever “recover” from. It’s a significant, tragic life event that our loved ones need to know about so they can show us the kind of love we need. That’s what I found as I told more people and eventually did a post on my own personal social media pages before Christmas.
Shouting it out isn’t for everyone. Writing is therapy for me, so sharing and connecting with others felt healthy. I still took my time, though. I kept quiet when I needed a break. I didn’t respond to all the text messages, and I didn’t answer the phone every time it rang. But I’ll never forget the text messages I read through tears. I’ll never forget the kindness. That’s kindness I might not have experienced if I didn’t talk about my miscarriage.
Though what brings us together is sometimes awful, the community that results can be beautiful.
My wish for you is that however you choose to work through your grief, you never allow yourself too much loneliness. Alone time is needed. Processing is key. But you deserve kindness, even if it’s a text message you never answer. Let people pamper you. Self love isn’t selfish.
Never ever underestimate the power of community. When you’re ready, talk about your miscarriage.
Mary Grace Pinkard