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Thursday, December 24, 2015

a miscarriage story : answering questions

I've asked numerous moms to answer some questions for me about their miscarriage experiences so I can feature them on the blog, in hopes of helping other moms get through their own experiences. I figured I should answer these questions also. I wanted to do it before the New Year so that I really could put a little closure on this for myself. I hope this helps even one mom realize she is not alone... 

Thank you for listening to my story, Moms. You've been so supportive these last few months. 

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1. When did you experience a miscarriage? How far along were you?
October 2015. I was 7 weeks along.
2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically?
Lots of cramping- like contractions, bad period cramps. Tons of bleeding and clotting. Physically this was terrible... very painful. I needed lots of Tylenol to get through it the first couple of days. I miscarried on my own at home, did not need a medical procedure, which I was grateful for in a way. It was very difficult though. I laid in bed for two days straight at least going through this. I told my husband I was ok at home alone, but he knew better and stayed with me, which helped me tremendously. We watched movies and slept and I cried a lot.
3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider?
I cried like I've never cried before in my life. It was gut-wrenching sobs. It came out of nowhere, partly from the loss and partly from hormones adjusting from being pregnant. I'd cry at everything, anywhere, daily, several times a day for a few weeks after. It was about 6-8 weeks later that the crying stopped, I'd go a few days without feeling so sad. I also felt angry, really mad that this happened, confused and wondering why it happened, blaming myself and then realizing that was NOT my fault at all. I kept saying it was something I needed to go THROUGH, I had to let it all out of me, even if the thoughts or questions were weird that I was feeling.
4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience? 
Grief - like a form of grief I've never ever felt before. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion. Overwhelmed. Sadness.
5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same?
I wondered what I'd done to cause it. I wondered if because I had told my sister early or because I ran - two things I had not done in the previous two pregnancies - I did something wrong to cause it or jinx myself. I knew these to be false, but they still crept into my head. I wondered if it could be real or not. I was angry, mad at my body, then feeling bad for thinking that. Hormones were all over the place! I wondered if this was a sign that we weren't supposed to have a third child, like our family could not handle an addition. We had waited and wondered about a third for a long time, and then for this to happen after the first try... I really wondered if it was a sign. And instantly as I thought that I knew it wasn't, but the weird thoughts come into your head because you're so emotional.
6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.? 
Nothing medically happened, my body miscarried on its own. I was really glad this is how this happened, because having a D&C terrified me. It was a lot of bed rest, sleeping, hot showers, bleeding and staying in the bathroom for a long time, Tylenol and Ibuprofen every few hours the first few days, drinking tons of water, comfort food, a heating pad. The heating pad was a lifesaver. Rest was the biggest thing.
7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better?
My husband was my rock. He held me as I sobbed. He sat in the bathroom with me when I was in so much pain physically and emotionally. He answered my questions, reassured me, let me say ridiculous things, held me as I was angry or defeated feeling. He took care of our two children and let me sleep, picked up my favorite take out food. He was amazing. I don't know what I'd have done if I'd been alone those few days. I'd told him initially I was OK, he could go to work, but he refused and I really needed him home.

Also, a few friends who texted me daily, flowers from my mother-in-law, little gifts to get well in the mail and cards from friends telling me they were thinking of me. One of my sisters-in-law hugged me tight to acknowledge it one day when I saw her a few weeks later, and it just meant a lot to me. A necklace a friend sent me made the world of difference- I touched it daily and it just made me feel much better.

A stranger friend who I met in the Mommy Stories group and now who I call my real friend. She messaged me daily, and then weeks later when nobody was asking how I was feeling, she would ask and check in. She'd answer me when I'd write her random thoughts or about experiences that happened weeks later. Having gone through a miscarriage herself, it was so easy for us to talk about this together. She REALLY helped me.

The biggest thing that helped me was going through the grieving process... not avoiding it, ignoring it or pretending I was fine. I was not fine for at least 6 weeks. I needed to jump back into work a week later, but I also needed to cry almost every night for a while and let those emotions out. Once my hormones leveled out, I felt a lot better.

Shopping for myself, eating a dinner out alone, indulging in chocolate and good food that I loved... all little things to help me feel better!

Going to church and reaching out to my pastor really helped me a lot also during this time. At first, I was angry with God for "letting" this happen to me, but then realized He didn't do it for some bad reason. Things happen that we cannot explain - good and bad. This was just one of those bad things that made no sense. Finding peace in church helped a lot. During the Christmas season, our pastor asked our family to light the first Advent candle for HOPE. I took it as a positive sign :)

8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time?
I didn't hear any weird comments like many moms have heard. Since my miscarriage was an egg and sperm that formed, but no baby developed at all, it was an empty sac, it was easier for me to let go of the idea of a "real" baby there, in my mind there was one for 7 weeks, but medically there truly was not, ever anything, and that made me feel better actually after it was over. It was weird to say that out loud, but those who have felt this before understand me. If I'd heard a heartbeat, for me that'd have been the worst thing and I don't know how I'd have gone through that. 

So when people said to me "It happened for a reason" and "You'll have your baby someday," those things comforted me, whereas for others those comments don't help. 

I think the only thing that bothered me was some people in my life not saying a word about it to me. I found it odd... but tried not to take it personally, because I know that this is a very difficult topic to discuss, and sometimes people say nothing because they don't want to upset you.
9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember? 

Ask for help. Let someone stay with you, don't be alone. Cry, be angry - whatever you feel is normal and OK. It will get better. You don't think it will when you're going through it. 

There was a time I wondered if I'd ever stop crying... I cried so much. And then just like that, about 7-8 weeks later I found I could go a day without thinking about it really, which is something I'd never have thought would happen in the beginning. Ask the questions, say out loud whatever you're thinking. I had so many weird thoughts, that I knew were ridiculous to say, but having my husband hear it and reassure me made me process it and eventually made me feel a lot better.

I hope you remember that you are NOT alone. I wrote this a lot and it's the #1 thing I tell people who I know have had a miscarriage. You are not the only one to go through this, even though rarely people talk about it and you feel very alone. I was surprised hearing how many people have gone through it. Reach out... even if you don't want to talk (I could not talk on the phone for at least a week to anyone) at least text or Facebook message. Find someone who you can really talk to. It's good to let it out and talk about it.
10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? 
Be there. Don't ignore it or avoid it because you are afraid of upsetting her. Be patient - she may not call you up on the phone, don't take that personally, just be patient and wait, but use another way to reach out to her. Send text messages, send cards or flowers, drop off a meal for dinner. Let her know you're there. Acknowledge this loss. So few people acknowledge this type of loss because it's painful and awkward. Acknowledge it in some way. Even if all you say is, "I'm so sorry you are going through this. I love you. I'm here," that's enough.

Also, remember milestones- like the day she was going to announce she was pregnant, or the start of a new trimester, holidays, or the due date. Those are difficult times, let her know you're thinking of her.
11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience? 
It's painful and very, very sad. Some women can't comprehend it, so they can't even bring themselves to talk about it openly. Those who have not gone through it have no idea what it entails so they can't figure out what would be helpful. Some women who have gone through it and who did not want to talk about it because it was too hard, well they aren't going to bring it up with other women because they are treating them how they'd wanted to be treated back when it happened to them. There are a million reasons why women don't talk about it.

I think women should definitely talk about their miscarriages... when they are ready to do so and with whoever they feel most comfortable. For me, writing about it on my blog, talking to stranger moms and friends helped me SO much. It was my way of grieving, dealing with it. For others, they need to be alone for a while. Whatever you need is OK, but not talking about it ever, not dealing with it or acknowledging the loss is not a good idea. It impacts you in some way, whether you admit it or not at first. Give yourself space and time to really get through however you're feeling about it.

It's also good to talk about so other moms know they aren't alone. That is my biggest mission in sharing my story, so other moms know they are not the only ones, that they will get through it.
12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience? 
I have a necklace that my friend gave me with a cross, an anchor and then two charms with my two children's initials on them. I wear it daily. I have not taken it off since this happened almost 3 months ago. I touch it a thousand times a day, it's just very comforting. To me, this necklace symbolizes the hard time I've gone through, that I'm strong, that I can handle things, and that I have two beautiful children to be thankful for. On the due date in May, I want to climb a mountain or run a 5k race. I want to spend that day with my husband only, talking and just being together, appreciating what we have.

Next October, the year mark for my miscarriage, I want to run a 5k race also, to symbolize that I'm strong. I ran a race two months after my miscarriage and it just helped me find peace with everything, made me find closure in some way with what had happened. I just wanted to feel physically strong again. During the miscarriage weeks, I could barely walk the first few days, I was in so much pain and weak. Running is my coping skill, it's my happy place and helps me feel like I can do anything. Tying that into the ending of this difficult time really helped me. So I hope to do it again next October.

I also have a small box of fallen leaves and pretty rocks I'd picked up during the few weeks after my miscarriage. I'd gone searching for beautiful things, I think, and kept them. I have some cards from friends in the box. It's just the positive parts of this experience I want to keep in there.

13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother?
It's made me so much stronger. The physical pain I went through was worse than surviving the pain after my C-sections and pregnancies. The emotional pain was worse than losing my grandparents or any other loss I've had before. I was also a mom to two active kids during this miscarriage experience. While I took a few days to rest, I did not stop being their mom, so getting through this tough time while parenting two children also makes me a strong mother.

I think also sharing my story, openly, honestly, talking to other moms about my experience, posting blog stories, and encouraging other moms to talk about it, making that my mission - that makes me stronger, too. It makes me feel like I can handle things.

14. Is there a happy ending to your story? 
Yes, I'm stronger. I'm more appreciative of what I have with my children. I believe all things do happen for a reason, so I'm more spiritual and closer to believing that God will make everything work out in the end. I also see the little things in my kids more now than I did before. I appreciate the little things they do or say more, focus on them more. I'm so grateful to have them, because I know how precious they are and how easily I could have lost them.

We hope to have another child someday, but that does not have to happen for me to already know I have my happy ending. Two beautiful, healthy children, and a very supportive, loving husband. I know I have everything I need right now. Anything more would be such a blessing, of course, but for now I'm so happy with what I have.
15. Anything else you want to share?
If you are going through a miscarriage, know you are not alone. Please email me at I'm here to listen. Sometimes that's all we need. You will be OK.

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