Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know. You can imagine and have empathy, but you don’t know. Thank God I had my amazing friend, Alissa, there for emotional support, or I would not have survived.
That may seem a bit dramatic, but that’s how I felt. My body failed me. I couldn’t do the one thing I was created to do. Everything hurt. My body, my heart, my soul. And I felt so alone.
Miscarriage is not uncommon, but people don’t talk about it. It seems to be almost a taboo subject. When you tell someone you had a miscarriage, they either get awkwardly quiet or they say they know someone else who did. That’s how I found out so many people have suffered the loss of pregnancy. It helps to know you aren’t alone, so I think people SHOULD talk about it. Yes, it can be awkward. You don’t want to make people feel weird when you talk about it, so what do you do? You put on a smile and go on. But you eventually talk, because suffering alone is the worst feeling.
I lost my first baby in May of 2011. I was terrified to try again. I just knew I would fail. And not only would I suffer, but I’d let other people down, too. I got pregnant more than a year later and lost my second baby in November of 2012. My biggest fear had always been failure, and my life was filled with it. I was scared to try again, but with my age against me, I pushed through the pain. I got pregnant with my daughter a few months later and spent the next nine months trying to enjoy every second of my pregnancy while being terrified the entire time. Even her delivery was a scary -- emergency C-section after over 12 hours of labor. Some women have no problems with pregnancy and childbirth at all. Their bodies can do what they were designed to do. My body, however, is not one of those.
So yes, my daughter is the only one here on Earth, but she’s not my only child. And that’s something people may not understand. People think nothing of asking women when they are going to have babies and sometimes cause unintentional pain in doing so. When you don’t know someone’s story, it’s probably best to not assume they want to, or CAN, have a bunch of babies. Being a woman is very hard. We have all the struggles men do, and we are expected to grow humans. That’s a lot of pressure!
So many of my friends have had miscarriages, and it breaks my heart every time. I feel like we don’t go through hell for nothing, so I use my experience to offer support to others. I try to avoid offering a lot of unwanted advice, but I always let people know I am here if they need me. My friend Jessica had a fairly recent miscarriage. She is also very open about hers, because people need to know how to deal with the experience.
“The best thing people can do to comfort someone who is going through a miscarriage is to know that there is no right thing to say or do,” Jessica McFarland says. “Understand that they are suffering and that everyone handles that loss in different ways. It was hard for me, when I was going through a miscarriage, to be around pregnant people, especially when they were announcing their pregnancies, celebrating gender reveals, having baby showers or bringing home new babies. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t happy for them, but I felt that my sadness and pain would take away from their joy, so I avoided those situations.
"I wanted to celebrate with my friends and family, but couldn’t get past my pain," she says. "I also didn’t want to ruin their happiness and celebrations or make them feel guilty because they were pregnant and I wasn’t anymore. I wish everyone knew that I was happy for them, even if I couldn’t show it.”
If you have been through a miscarriage, talk about it. Find someone who has been there so you have emotional support. McFarland offers advice from her own experience.
“You’re not alone,” she says. “It happens to so many people. It’s OK to be angry, but don’t let it consume you. Let people in. Don’t shut them out, they just want to be there for you and love you.
"Don’t shut your partner out. He’s grieving too. It’s not your fault. A million different things have to happen perfectly for a beautiful baby to come to term," she says. "You never get over it completely. You move on and you will be happy again, but there will be times you are reminded of what could have been, and that’s OK.”