It seems almost surreal to me to think that my first miscarriage was ten years ago. That time period was filled with so much pain and emotional turmoil that it’s hard to believe an entire lifetime has passed since then.
My journey to become a mom wasn’t as easy as I’d imagined it would be. I got pregnant after a few months of trying, but at eight weeks I lost the baby. We tried again and the next one ended in a chemical pregnancy. Then a year and half went by with nothing but tears and frustration.
I know I’m lucky. I now have two beautiful children and those days of tracking my temperature and praying that not only would I get pregnant but that the pregnancy would stick are long over.
But I haven’t forgotten. Every February I remember the child that might have been. Every December I remember the excitement I felt for a brief 24 hours, thinking “this is it!”.
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Miscarriage happens. It happens way more than people think it does. And slowly, we’re starting to talk about it. It’s not as “under the table” and “behind closed doors” as it used to be. I know many, many friends who’ve experienced it right alongside me.
So since October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I thought I’d put together a few tips on what you can do if a friend has a miscarriage. These ideas may seem so simple, but I’ve found that in troubled times, we are often at a loss as to what is appropriate because we’re uncomfortable.
I get it. I’ve been there. But doing something is almost always better than doing nothing, even if it’s just a note to say you’re thinking of them.
1) Let them talk about it.
I think many of us feel like we shouldn’t talk about loss, but I promise you the parents want to talk about it. It validates the pregnancy. It lets them know that, yes, this was real. It’s okay to ask how they are doing. When in doubt, just ask them if they want to talk about it. They’ll tell you if they don’t, and will appreciate you asking.
2) Bring a meal or some sort of comfort food
After my first miscarriage, I remember one woman, who was merely an acquaintance, dropped off a big bag of candy. Her note said she was sorry, she’d been there and that wallowing in some candy had helped her and she hoped it helped me. It was one of the most thoughtful things anyone did for me, and something I try to do for others.
3) A gift of remembrance
For some parents, especially those whose loss was later in the pregnancy, a reminder of the child, is a sweet gesture. For some that may be a piece of jewelry, a book or even a stuffed animal. You know your friend best. Do what feels right.
4) Just be there.
I had one friend who showed up with chicken salad and croissants and just hung out with me. I remember sitting on the couch with her for a few hours, talking. There was no agenda, but she was there and that mattered to me. Know that we don’t always know what to say either, but having a friend near by is a great comfort.
5) Know that the grief stays.
My grief wasn’t smaller because the baby was never actually in my arms. Yes, the magnitude of losing a living child is overwhelming. I don’t even want to imagine that kind of grief. But my grief was still there. I still had to work through it.
My biggest struggle was watching everyone around me move on. I couldn’t. I am grateful for my close friends who would check on me, even months after. That meant the world to me. As friends around me announced pregnancies, I appreciated those who stayed behind to see how I handled the news. I was, of course, happy for my friends, but it reopened up the wound each time.
Miscarriage isn’t a dirty word. It’s a topic that shouldn’t be shied away from. In fact, one in four pregnancies end in one, so it’s something that should be discussed openly. My heart goes out to all who have experienced one. Hugs and prayers, my friends.
For more information on miscarriage and dealing with a loss, click here.