Did you know that 15-20% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage? That means that if you are in a group of five women, the chances of at least one of you having experienced pregnancy loss is very great. This isn’t very common knowledge because a lot of people simply don’t talk about having a miscarriage. For some reason or another, it’s been considered a taboo topic so many women who have experienced a loss feel alone and isolated. If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Today, October 15th, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
My husband and I experienced three miscarriages over a two-year period while trying to start our family. We were ecstatic, as most couples are, when we got a positive pregnancy test just eight short months after we got married. We were bursting with joy and could not wait to share the good news with our family. However, just three weeks before my younger sister’s wedding, when I was seven and a half weeks along, we were devastated to find out that our baby did not have a heartbeat. We found slight comfort in learning that miscarriage was a lot more common than we realized. We knew of a few people who had experienced pregnancy loss before and leaned on them for support. My OB suggested we wait a couple of months before trying again because I needed to have a D&C, and also for our emotional well-being.
When we finally got a second positive pregnancy test six months later, we tried to be cautiously optimistic. However, we were even hesitant to talk about names or nursery themes so that we would not get our hopes up. Everything seemed to be going right this time, no spotting or cramping, and I was even on progesterone supplements as a precaution, but at nine weeks along, we found out that I had a missed miscarriage at six weeks. This time, my body was able to naturally miscarry, and I did not require any medications or procedures.
Unexpectedly, we got a positive pregnancy test the very first month after the OB requested “two cycle waiting period” ended following he second miscarriage. Again, we played the cautiously optimistic card and prayed that the third time would be the charm, as they say. Sadly, at nine weeks five days, I found myself in the emergency room due to heavy bleeding. A few days later, it was confirmed there was no heartbeat. We were beyond distraught and confused. Was this God’s way of telling us that a baby was not in His plan for us? My fourth pregnancy certainly was not smooth sailing, but God has since blessed us with our miracle baby girl.
Needless to say, my emotions ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other during those two years. One minute, I was angry and depressed. The next minute, I wanted to learn as much as I could about ovulation and pregnancy. Sometimes all I wanted to talk about were my little angel babies in heaven. Other times, I didn’t want to talk about any babies at all. I was so incredibly happy for my friends who were announcing their pregnancies, but found myself a little resentful that their bodies were able to do the one job we as women are supposed to be able to fulfill. While on this roller coaster ride of emotions, I found the book, Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake to be the most helpful. It reiterated to me that what I was feeling was normal, and that I need to let go of the guilt that had been plaguing me in the aftermath of the losses.
Some other things to help you during or after a pregnancy loss:
- Find someone to talk to. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to a family member or close friend, try to find a pastor at your local church or a grief counselor at the hospital. It is better for you to talk about what you are feeling than to keep it bottled up inside.
- Our co-founder Ashley shared that she “bought a little memento to pray over for our next “take home” baby – it’s a framed cross, and I just loved the idea of praying specifically for a healthy baby to join us … with the idea that I know ONE DAY that baby will exist … I got this idea from someone else. It feels sort of superstitious to buy for a baby that doesn’t exist, but I think it helps with the being hopeful for the future piece … like buying something and praying over it helped me trust that this baby would come to be in His time.”
- Some people also like to buy something, like a locket or piece of jewelry, or plant a tree in their yard to honor the lost baby.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. For whatever reason, miscarriage is a forbidden topic in our culture, but it shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be. It definitely takes courage to share your story, but it can often be incredibly therapeutic.
- If you’re the reading type, you may find comfort reading as much as you can on the topic. In addition to the book above, some friends we know have found What Was Lost to be quite helpful. There are also many bloggers who have opened up about their stories; one of the best posts is The Tapestry of a Woman’s Heart – After Miscarriages, and many also find Stephanie’s post on natural miscarriage helpful.
- Some women find writing, journaling or even blogging quite therapeutic. Whether you share your thoughts with anyone else is entirely up to you.
If someone you know has experienced pregnancy or infant loss:
- Be there for them. If you don’t know what to say, a simple “I’m sorry” or “I don’t know what to say” is better than avoiding them completely. Consider sending a card by mail simply to let them know that you are thinking about them. For women experiencing a miscarriage, the grief is quite close to losing a close loved one, so take the same steps you might if your friend had lost a family member.
- If you have been in their situation, let them know you understand. If you haven’t, don’t tell them that you know what they are feeling or how uncomfortable the situation is for you. You wouldn’t say those things to a friend after losing a grandparent or relative, right? And, please don’t say things like “at least you know you can get pregnant” or “it will happen when the time is right.” After a miscarriage, most women feel like their body has failed them completely and are frustrated that this baby won’t be coming home with them.
- Be sure to invite them to the baby shower you are planning. Don’t expect them to attend, but don’t leave them out by not sending an invitation.
- If you are ready to announce your own pregnancy, you may want to mention it to your friend before making the announcement in front of the entire group and catching them off guard. Nothing can derail a day after a miscarriage like an unexpected pregnancy announcement, so if you know about a loss it is thoughtful to acknowledge it.
- Check in from time to time. Weeks and months later, women may still be on a roller coaster of emotions after a loss, and it is reassuring to hear that other people remember their baby as well. Cook them dinner. Send them flowers. People have different ways of expressing love, but a small gesture can go a long way towards helping a friend heal.
Today, on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, we all come together to remember our sweet angel babies. Tonight, at 7 pm CST, our family will be lighting a candle in remembrance of our three babies in heaven.