Here’s what no one tells you.
This post originally appeared on jennakutcherblog.com.
When my husband and I found out I was having a miscarriage last year, I spent sleepless nights scouring the web for hope. Instead, I found tons of chat threads between women going through different stages of miscarriage, along with medical articles—but not a lot about after it happened. If you’ve ever experienced miscarriage, you know that you don’t just get over it. In fact, like most forms of grief, your heart never fully heals, it just gets easier living without that piece of it.
As I’ve continued to process the past and look forward to the future, I’ve realized that there are so many aspects to miscarriage that I never understood until it happened to me.
The Word “Miscarriage” Sucks
No, I did not mis-carry my baby; in fact, I held onto that life with every fiber of my being. The prefix “mis” implies bad or wrongly. And for many of us the natural leap is “I was bad,” “I did wrong,” “This is why the baby died.” We wonder if we shouldn’t have eaten that tuna or if it was that one extra cup of coffee, that yoga session, the way we laid on our backs when we fell asleep. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that a term like “miscarriage” doesn’t define the person who went through it. Processing a miscarriage can take a toll on marriages and relationships because the woman often carries guilt over the loss.
Your Body Doesn’t Feel the Same
As we had almost cleared our first trimester, my belly was already showing. I had to carry our miscarried baby for two full weeks before I was able to have a D+C, which meant a full surgery, anesthesia, and those sweet little hospital mesh undies that everyone who has a baby tells you about. I remember being angry that I was walking out in those undies without a baby in my arms.
It’s hard to not feel betrayed by this body, to hate the changes that had once reminded you of the life you were growing, and to feel completely uncomfortable in your own skin.
Pregnant Friends Won’t Know What to Do
Heck, no one does. One of the hardest parts of losing our baby was that I was sharing our pregnancy with three of my closest friends who were also pregnant. Suddenly the daily cravings pictures stopped, the conversations of baby names and birth announcements ended, and people stopped sharing the good in their lives in fear that it would hurt us. While the joy you feel for others doesn’t evaporate, it’s also hard to share in that (and have people really believe you!). If someone tells you about a miscarriage and you’re caught off guard or don’t know what to say, just try: “I am so, so sorry for your loss.” Don’t attempt to explain it, don’t tell them about your friend who went on to have many healthy babies, don’t belittle the experience, don’t tell them that things happen for a reason. Just be with them.
You Will Feel Lost on When to “Try Again”
In fact, I hate the term “try again.” It’s like that quote: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. No, you didn’t fail, no it’s not your fault, no you won’t be better this time. When it first happened to us, we thought that we wanted to try right away, to get back to that joy-filled bliss that had been rocking our worlds while we were pregnant. We couldn’t imagine just going back to the two of us without dreaming of those sleepless nights, of the nursery, of those cute little shoes and bottles. Then once the dust had settled we really started to think if we were ready to throw ourselves back into the game.
I knew I would be robbed of fully enjoying a pregnancy early on. I’ll be plagued with doubts and fears that we will go back into the doctor and hear the words, “There is no heartbeat” again. The timing will look different for everyone. Give yourself time to heal both physically and emotionally and trust that you will know when the time is right, whether it’s a year from now or two months from now.
I stared at my phone the other day when an email popped in that said, “Congrats, your baby’s the size of a coconut.” I swear I’ve tried to unsubscribe from all things mommy, but somehow they still sneak through the cracks. I wanted a button that you could press saying, “Unsubscribe: I miscarried.” It’s this ridiculous limbo of feeling like it never even happened to you mixed with feeling like it’s still happening to you.
Miscarriage is taboo but I believe it shouldn’t be. I think the more I share, the more I process, the more I learn and the better I understand the struggles that so many are facing, from infertility and the loss of a child to adoption woes and broken relationships. There’s this piece in my heart that is missing and instead of trying to fill it with things of this world, I want to share it, in case a piece of yours is sitting vacant. The more I share, the more I realize I am not alone in this pain and loss.
A version of this originally appeared on jennakutcherblog.com. It has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.