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Friday, October 16, 2015

a miscarriage story : coping through the loss

Going through a miscarriage is one of the most emotionally and physically excruciating things I've ever gone through.

I know so many women struggle to make sense of the loss of a baby, regardless of how many weeks along she was. For most, the second they see the plus sign or positive words on the pregnancy test, they imagine a baby. Even if the loss is at 5, 6, 7, etc. weeks and very early on, it's hard to forget that image of a baby growing within you.

Here are some things that helped me cope through the loss of a miscarriage at 7 weeks along. I hope some of these things give you comfort. I felt alone and was searching online for answers, suggestions, things to help make it easier somehow. I hope this blog post becomes a support to women who go through this.

It will be hard, painful, so sad. You won't be sure if you can get through it.

And then someday, long after you've grieved and physically recovered, the sun will rise again and you will see the world is a beautiful place that just has really tough moments along the way.

Sending you hugs, mommas. You are not alone.

Recovering physically:
  • Alternating ibuprofen and Tylenol every few hours helped with the pain of cramping. I took medication for 4-5 days.
  • A heating pad helped with stomach pain cramping. These felt like contractions to me, it was very painful and I was grateful for the relief from the heating pad.
  • Comfy clothing - elastic waist bands. 
  • Drinking lots of water, tea, and anything that felt good and kept me hydrated. This also helped with headaches that I got, I believe from surges in hormones adjusting. 
  • Eating comfort food. This also helped emotionally, but eating all of my favorites like macaroni and cheese and tiramisu, my favorite take-out places were a nice thing to have at night (my husband treated me well). 
  • Rest. Lots and lost of rest. Put your feet up, lay down, watch TV, sleep, close your eyes and cry, snuggle a pillow or stuffed animal. Your body is going through a large transition, it's physically exhausting and painful. Rest is in order. Even when you feel like you're not bleeding as much anymore and feeling better, don't push yourself... you'll need to go to bed early, put your feet up, take a break.
  • My doctor said if the bleeding was so heavy that I went through more than a pad in an hour, I should call them because that was too much. 
  • A hot shower helped me feel more comfortable. 
  • Get outside. I found sitting in the cool air, feeling sunshine on me made me feel better than sitting inside for a long period of time. This helped emotionally as well. 
  • Once returning to work after several days home doing nothing but resting, it helped sharing the news with some of the people at work so they could offer support. I took it easy, walking slowly, using the elevator, sitting for lunch, taking a break when needed. 
Recovering emotionally: 
  • Cry. I sobbed, inconsolably. Loud, gut-wrenching hysterics. And then I'd tear up at the smallest thing. Other times the tears came out of no where, and then it was crying I wanted to do alone at other points. It's all normal is what I've learned. 
This is a very painful and emotional thing to go through. Let it out. Grieve. It's a loss - regardless of how far along the pregnancy was, it's a serious loss. 
  • Go through the stages of grief. There is anger, confusion, disappointment, sadness, and questioning, along with sometimes acceptance. OK those are not the real terms of the grief stages, but that's what I felt… and ultimately someday when you are ready you'll reach the other side of acceptance and you'll feel better. You probably can't imagine that right now, but you will get there. Be angry. Be disappointed. Feel whatever you're feeling. It's all normal. 
  • Open up. So many women keep it quiet that they went through a miscarriage - not knowing how to talk to others, not wanting to upset others, etc. But this is a big ordeal. Talk to someone. Text if you can't talk on the phone. That's what I did. I didn't want to talk to anyone besides my husband and sister. I texted a lot though, and knowing I had friends out there supporting me, praying for me, that helped. It's also helpful to know more women have gone through this than you think… It took me a full week to tell everyone close to me. I hear that's quick. For me, I could only bear enough energy and emotions to tell about 2 people a day. I had to spread it out. They had questions and condolences that took effort and energy from me to face. It was hard telling, yet also very, very helpful. Do it in your own time though, when you are ready. Take your time, but not too long. Talking helps. 
  • Read. For me, reading online about "after a miscarriage" helped me. I was so confused, unsure how this would work, what would happen to me physically. I wanted to be prepared. I needed to understand this part. Some may not want to know, some may want to just let nature take its course. Whatever works for you, it's OK. 
  • Be distracted. For me, there were parts that I wanted to go through it, I wanted to sit and wallow and cry and be angry about this experience. Then I wanted to move on for a moment, be distracted. I ordered some Christmas gifts on Etsy. I uploaded Shutterfly pictures. I even checked my work email late that first night. Those are all things that one may think, she shouldn't be doing those things… but honestly, sometimes you aren't strong enough to keep going "through" the feelings, sometimes you need a short break to be distracted by something else. Caution: don't get so distracted that you don't grieve, that you forget to feel and cry. Those are important. But don't feel guilty if you need to be distracted for a moment, if you laugh at your kids or if you forget for a second that this happened to you. It's OK. 
  • Focus on what you have. It's important to realize what you've lost, to grieve that loss. But then it's also good to focus on what you have, the good in your life, the positives, the children you are blessed with or the partner who's right there beside you. I found myself being so grateful for my children and their smiles and how great they are. I tried focusing on what I had. 
  • Write about it. I have a blog, where my purpose is to share honest experiences and hope that this helps other moms. Having a purpose helped me. You don't have to write a blog piece though to share your thoughts. Post a discussion question. Write to a friend. Write in a journal. 
  • Let yourself ask the questions and wonder. I think there is purpose in helping you grieve by asking a zillion questions, by talking out loud, by breaking down in random moments. You won't get answers, as nobody can know for sure why these things happen, but keep asking, in the asking you'll somehow end up at acceptance when you are ready. I made myself just say what I was thinking, every time something came to my mind. My husband listened to every bit of it. Some of what I felt was hard to articulate in words, but I had to say it in order to get through this… so let yourself say and think and feel whatever comes to mind. It's OK. It doesn't have to make sense. Just let it out. 
  • Be patient with yourself. You may not cry right away. You might be numb or pretending it's not happening. You may not be able to leave your house for a few days or weeks. You may not attend that baby shower or maybe you'll stay off of Facebook for a week because it's too painful scrolling the pictures of your friend's babies. That's OK. I saw a picture of my niece on the first morning of the miscarriage and it made me burst into tears. I didn't go back on Facebook for days after that, just wanting to pretend I didn't lose something they have. That sounds terrible… but feel whatever you feel. It's OK.
  • Find your strength. For me, this was having my husband home with me for a few days. I needed to be taken care of. It felt nice, it felt like I was less alone in this experience. I also prayed a lot and reached out to my most religious friends, asking them to pray that I got through this physically and that I could mentally make sense of it. I also found courage in getting into a regular routine as a mother, seeing the little things my kids did or said to remind me that I'm lucky to have them, that they need me to recover and be there for them. Find whatever your strength is and grasp onto it. In the days when I could feel myself really healing and moving through this, I searched on Google for images and quotes related to hope, healing, grief, encouragement, etc. and it really helped to read those words.
  • Ask for and accept help. I found many friends didn't know what to say or do. A few offered to watch the kids, put them to bed for us, pick them up from school. Some offered to make dinner for us. Say yes. Allow them to support you. It all helps in the healing process to know you aren't alone. Ask for what you need. In asking for help, I found myself praying that I would have strength to get through this. It's not an easy process, praying helped me feel less alone. 
  • Watch Friends episodes. At some point you'll want to laugh, to be distracted in a positive way. I found watching reruns of Friends helped me a lot, it's so mindless and funny, it's good to have a break to laugh. 
  • Believe people mean well. I know so many friends and mothers who had someone say something stupid, naive or ignorant to them after they experienced a miscarriage. In my experience, anything people said to me was SO comforting and uplifting, really. But the random comments that didn't make sense or weren't helpful, well, they were said by well meaning people who truly were just confused, unsure what to say, and doing their best. This is one reason I want more moms to talk about this... I think others would support mothers better if only they knew what would be helpful, what to say and what to avoid mentioning. Believe that they mean well. Don't take your anger out on others who truly are just trying to help. Ignore their dumb comments if they upset you, and focus on the positive words of encouragement that you receive from others. 
A friend texted me this quote below. You are not alone, moms. You can get through this. 

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