faith, miscarriage

What I want you to know about having a miscarriage

January 8, 2013

What I want you to know about having a miscarriage - by Fiona Lynne

Important note: every woman’s response, every couple’s response, to a miscarriage is intensely personal and unique to them. So some of what I write here will not be true for you, some may even have been the opposite. But the topic of miscarriage is so rarely discussed that I wanted to start this conversation, so that maybe someone has the chance to say, you too? Thank goodness…

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The grief can take you by surprise with its hugeness, the way it engulfs you. I’d never had a conversation with a woman who’d had a miscarriage before I miscarried our baby. In my naivety I’d thought the very things that became so hurtful – well, at least it’s earlier in the pregnancy, so you’re not so attached right? In fact, the overwhelming pain of loosing this child knocked the breath out of me.

It doesn’t make it easier that it was an “early” miscarriage. From the moment we knew we were expecting, our whole world changed. We were parents. From now until the day we died, this would be our identity. This would be our child, to feed, to rock to sleep, to play with, to discipline, to advise, to watch grow. Loosing the baby meant loosing that dream.

All your assurances that we will be able to get pregnant again, have little meaning right at this moment. It’s not my greatest worry. We have so much hope of being able to be parents in the future, but we won’t get to be parents to this child in this lifetime. I miss this child, not just being pregnant.

Grief for a miscarried child is similar to any other grief – you have moments of anger, blaming yourself, hopelessness, depression, acceptance. And like any other grief, these feelings don’t follow any linear, marked-out, track. And so I’ve felt fine one day, and not able to get off the bathroom floor the next.

Your instinct is to try and offer advice, to help. But the best way you can help is to keep the advice to yourself for now. Just hug me, tell me you’re so so sorry, listen to me if I want to talk. What was helpful for you/your friend after miscarriage may not be helpful for me.

If you tell me I really should read the book Heaven is For Real, I may punch you in the face. If I manage to hold the polite smile on my lips, be sure I am imagining punching you in the face while I smile.

Don’t tell me there is a purpose in this loss. There is no greater purpose to the death of my child. There is no higher being thinking, I think Fiona and Rasmus need to learn something so I’ll kill off their child. It’s disgusting and hurtful for you to suggest this to me. I truly believe that nothing is wasted in this life, that out of the darkest moments, new light can begin to shine. But that’s redemption, it’s not purpose.

As encouraging and sweet as you are trying to be, if you tell me I am sure to get pregnant again soon, or the next pregnancy will definitely result in a healthy child, you are lying. There is no way you can know that. Yes, the statistics show that most women who have a miscarriage go on to have a healthy next pregnancy. But there are no guarantees, and as hopeful as we are (we are!), it is not helpful to give me an unrealistic picture of the future.

Miscarriage is very common, but each one is unique. I was touched and strengthened by the many women who chose to tell me about their miscarriage(s) after we told our story publicly. It’s a comfort to know that there is nothing I could have done, that it is a relatively “normal” thing. At the same time, it was never helpful to have people use the “it’s so common” line to try and minimise my pain. It may happen to many many women, but the grief is still real, my pain is still legitimate.

The grief lasts. It doesn’t go away in a few weeks or months. It resurfaces – at Christmas, as you approach what would have been your due date. I’ve heard from other women that a next pregnancy or newborn child can cause the grief to resurface. Sadness has been a frequent companion these last six months. I read a few days ago that clinical depression is common for about a third of women who suffer a miscarriage. I have valued the friends who remember I’m still struggling all this time later, who still give me space to talk and those all-important hugs.

It is staggeringly beautiful to be part of a community that gathers around a couple in the midst of grief. Offers of meals, flowers left on our doorstep, multiple hugs and whispers of understanding. It gives me faith in humanity, faith in the goodness and love in people’s souls.

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Please know that I am okay. We are okay. It is hard and it is sad, but we have friends and family to support us, we have each other, we have hope. I process my thoughts here because I hope it can be helpful so others.

Important Update: I need you to know that we have felt so surrounded by love and support this past seven months. The comments that stung were rare and even when they came, I still knew that they were motivated by a desire to help, even if they were misguided. Sometimes, the most hurtful comments were in my own head.
I know it is hard to know what to say, how to help. I know you’ve wanted to. This post is not in any way meant as an attack on anyone. We’ve felt loved. That’s the most important thing. We’ve felt so very loved.

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  • Oh Fiona, I just want to send you a very big hug and all the light. I hope I was not insensitive or said anything that hurt you during this period. Know also that if you ever need to rant / vent / talk I am all ears.

    This resonated so much with our situation:

    “Don’t tell me there is a purpose in this loss. There is no greater purpose to the death of my child. There is no higher being thinking, I think Fiona and Rasmus need to learn something so I’ll kill off their child. It’s disgusting and hurtful for you to suggest this to me. I truly believe that nothing is wasted in this life, that out of the darkest moments, new light can begin to shine. But that’s redemption, it’s not purpose. ”

    I did this to myself for a very long time, I spent hours trying to understand, to figure out the reason, to know what it is that I had done to deserve this…. when you see healthy pregnancies happen with no apparent difficulty all around us, all the time. I thought I deserved to go through fertility treatments because I indirectly (as a student) subjected cows to it. I thought many times it was punishment for I don’t know what. It really does feel that way, and sometimes those feelings resurface. It is difficult to believe in God (like I do) to know all good things come from Him, to know He knows us and our deepest wishes, to call the Holy Spirit “Lord and giver of Life” in our prayers and yet rationally understand that there is no morality in the Universe. That bad things happens just because they do, to good people for no good reason.

    I wish you Joy, and Love.

    • fionalynne

      Oh sweet Amanda, you’ve never said anything to hurt me. I’ve been so touched by your support these last months. And it’s wonderful to me that in very different situations, we can still find ways to help each other understand a little better. Much love to you.

  • Thanks for this post, Fi.
    I’m sure it was hard to write, but it’s so helpful. I’ve realised more and more recently how damaging it is when we don’t talk about the hard things, it’s dishonest about the reality of this life, and causes everyone to feel like they’re the only one who feels the way that they do, but at the same time, it’s so hard to put yourself out there and be honest about pain, so thanks for being brave and doing so.
    You’re swell! xxx

    • fionalynne

      Thanks hun. I have really prayed hard the last two hours (!) that this would be received well. I don’t want to hide the difficult parts, and I know that I wouldn’t have been sure how to react to anyone who told me they’d had a miscarriage before it happened to me. It is such a common occurrence that it needs to be better understood. This is my story, my attempt to help open up a hidden subject.

      p.s. so looking forward to your visit!

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  • I am sorry for your loss and wish you all the best. Many, many hugs…

  • I was just sent a link to this post and I wanted to say that I simultaneously want to give you a hug and a round of applause. Thank you for talking about this and your experience, because for something that is statistically so common it’s surprisingly hard to find avenues to talk about miscarriage.

    Over the summer I went through a miscarriage of my own, and while each person’s experience is so intensely personal you’ve really done a great job at summing up the commonalities to the experience and a lot of the most common pitfalls well meaning people fall into when they are trying to be supportive.

    • fionalynne

      Sheryl, thank you for your kind comments. It means a lot to me that you can find something here that you think is helpful. I think people genuinely have no idea how to talk about this. I don’t always know how to talk about. But I have to try! Thanks for being here x

  • Cecilia

    If i could hug you right now, I would. We went for a routine ultrasound last week only to find out that our baby died the week prior. I was 15 weeks pregnant, and I am still going through the process of miscarriage. What you’ve said in this blog is incredibly and 100% true and to the tee about how I feel. I am so sorry you went through this, and am sending you the most positive vibes your way. Please do the same with me.

    • fionalynne

      Cecilia, my heart goes out to you. It sucks so so much and I’m just so sad anyone has to go through this. Sending you so much love and hope. xxx

  • Mindful Mimi

    You have been and are brave. And there is and will be joy! Always!

  • What an incredibly brave and powerful post – I don’t know you (found you via a tweet that someone I follow had retweeted) but I am so thankful to have read this. This will so resonate with others and I wish I’d had the courage to talk about our (definitely 1, possibly several) early miscarriages. I still know the dates, they still matter, there’s always a what might have been. As you say, the advice/unhelpful comments don’t soothe but rankle. I also worked with small children and planned building nurseries including facilities for babies so had to talk about them/see them and not break down while watching everyone else watching me. I’m afraid that I probably gave pregnant ladies some grim looks at times. I have been fortunate to go on and have 2 children but I think I am a more paranoid mother than I would have been – and certainly a more grateful one. Anyway, enough from me. I am sorry for your loss – I do feel for you and thanks again for this writing.

  • Candace

    I am one of those that can say “you too? Thank goodness” I am currently going through my third miscarriage in less than a year. This post is exactly how I have felt to what people have said to me and if it’s ok with you I would like to share this on my Facebook page for others to read. Others who have gone through it and others who have not and do not understand how what they say affects me. Thank you for this incredible article and I am so sorry you have experienced a loss.

    • fiona lynne

      Candace, I’m so sorry to hear of your losses. Sending so much love and strength your way. Of course you may share the post, I’m so glad it was helpful to you. xx

  • Candace

    I know what else I’d like people to know…that there is no real closure with miscarriage. There are no graves to visit, no services held. At least not for us. The first and this loss were first trimester and the second loss was second trimester.

    • fiona lynne

      YES. This is hard. I’ve thought a lot since our miscarriage about how it might be possible to mark it somehow, to be able to provide women with that sense of closure we need…

  • You did a great job hitting all the most important points that the people around me are ignorant of. Thank you.