We all experience pain when a loved one passes away. We go through the grieving process and we experience sadness. But there is a totally different kind of pain when we unexpectedly lose someone who never had a chance to experience life in the first place.
You see, my husband and I were expecting a new addition to our family this year. In fact, we happily announced our pregnancy to the world a year ago this week. It took me weeks to think, plan and create that social media announcement. We were so excited, and we shared that excitement with friends and family. We waited until exactly 13 weeks to share the news because the chance of a miscarriage after the first trimester greatly decreases.
Fast forward seven weeks to our 20-week sonogram. We were giddy with the anticipation of finding out the gender – but we left with the terrible news that our little girl would not be joining us after all. The idea of anything being wrong was not even on our radar by that point.
The following two weeks were a sad whirlwind. We said goodbye, grieved and started the healing process. Random things set off tears. For example, I was binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy at the time and it seemed like every episode was about pregnancy complication. I found myself crying on the couch a lot.
We made it through, though. Ten months later, we find ourselves happy and we are a stronger couple than we were before. It was not easy, but these five actions helped us reach the other side. If even one person can benefit from what learned about grief and healing, then my sharing this personal experience was worth it.
We did not blame ourselves
It was tough, but we constantly told ourselves that it was not our fault. The little voice in my head would ask me, “What did you do wrong? Why can women who do not want kids have them but you can’t? Is this karma for times you treated others badly?”
People want answers and people want to have someone or something to blame when things go wrong. It would have been easy to believe my self-talk, but in order to stay sane and tear-free I had to keep the blame away from us. Statistically, miscarriage happens to thousands of women. And it can happen to anyone.
We found something to look forward to
A couple of months after our due date, we were set to move abroad for the first time. We made plans to move as a family of three. We found out our family would stay at two for a bit longer, but we still had a big move that required our attention.
Even though the move was not going to proceed how we had planned, we still had to get excited for our big life change. We focused on moving the dogs with us, we planned little trips to take in Europe and we put in extra efforts to make new friends in our new home. We occupied our minds with this new adventure.
Your months after a pregnancy loss may not be as hectic as ours, but you must find something to look forward to. It can be a big event, a vacation, a career change – no matter what it is, it needs to be something that makes you happy and challenges you. Keep your brain busy so you have less time to hear that negative self-talk. Continue building up your life so you are even more ready when you try again.
We were honest with each other
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Your partner: “What’s wrong?”
You: “Nothing. I’m fine.”
Clearly, your actions are so out of the ordinary that they prompt the question, but you try to minimize your feelings. You try to keep the drama out, you try not to stay positive, you try to tell yourself you are fine. But you are not fine.
Instead, talk openly with your partner about how you feel. If a commercial triggered your sadness or seeing a friend’s new baby brought feelings of loss, tell the other person. Discuss the trigger, share the pain. This is not only helpful with your significant other, but talking openly about your feelings can foster support from your parents, siblings, family members and friends. You do not have to shoulder it all on your own.
We keep it positive
Sometimes we encounter people who are so optimistic it makes us cringe. It can be hard always hearing the bright side and the silver lining. But when your situation is super sad, you need to stay super optimistic.
I am not saying you need to surround yourself with people who constantly say, “You can try again! It happened to me and now I have three kids! Enjoy the time to travel while you can!” Those tend to be reminders of what could have been.
No, I am saying YOU need to change your mindset. You need to tell yourself these positive things. When you are ready, you can try again. Chances are you had friends who shared similar experiences to yours. You CAN travel easier while it is still a party of two. But YOU need to tell yourself the positive side of the unfortunate situation – and you need to believe it. Get in the habit of matching all bad thoughts with at least three positives ones.
We allowed ourselves to be sad sometimes
All of the steps mentioned above will help you through a hard time, but they will not keep out all of the sad thoughts. Random things will remind you of your loss – and that is okay. Pangs of sadness remind you of the delicacy of life, of your humanness. Acknowledge the feelings and honor your little boy or girl, then continue with your day.
Every experience is different, and I do not expect my grieving process to be the same as yours. But if you do have the terrible misfortune of experiencing a miscarriage, I hope that our process provides a starting point for your healing process.
You are strong, you are beautiful and you will have brighter days. I am sending good vibes and virtual hugs to all of you who need them. We can help each other through dark days, and by sharing our experience we can all take it one day at a time.
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