Saturday, April 11, 2015

12 Tips to Help You Navigate Miscarriage

These tips are not meant to offend anyone, they are simply things that I found useful in the weeks after my miscarriage. Maybe they can help you, too.

1. Take It Slow
Miscarriage is a grieving process. Whether you were just a few weeks along or near the end, it was still a little person that you had hopes and dreams for, and that is all now lost. Knowing the 7 Stages of Grief, I found myself fitting right into them. I was actually amazed by how accurate they were. Because I knew this, I think I was more gentle on myself and my husband, because I knew we were just following along this journey until we found healing. I decided to basically stop life to let myself grieve, because I knew that if I didn't, it would come back stronger and harder later. I wanted to grieve the little life that I had wanted so badly- for myself, and for baby.

2. Your Husband May Grieve Differently 
In fact, it's probably a fact that he will grieve differently. Daddies have less connection with a baby during pregnancy and have their bonding time after birth. If you didn't have that time, your husband may feel very differently than you do. Do your best to not take your anger out on him or say something you'll regret, because BELIEVE ME, you need each other right now. In our case, my husband was in the middle of a busy season of working three jobs and basically had time to eat and sleep. He didn't have as much time to process as I did, so he has had to grieve differently because work always comes the next morning. Give each other grace, talk it out, and respect what the other needs during this time.

3. It Hurts Your Heart More Than Your Body
I won't lie to you, miscarriage can hurt physically. I went through a mini-labor to deliver my little baby. But that few hours compared to what I have felt in the weeks afterwards... nothing. Many friends would try to get me out of the house and distract me, which worked for a few hours, but when I was back home and it was quiet, the grief hit again like a wave. I hadn't acknowledged it earlier, so it came back with a vengeance! Distraction was bad for me. It was easier to wake up, face it, cry, talk through it, and then I could go on with my day. Ignoring it didn't help, only postponed it for a little while.

4. Every Miscarriage Is Different
 I miscarried at the end of March. My baby was 12 weeks along and I delivered it whole. I went to the ER with some bleeding and it happened 24 hours later. Less than 2 weeks after this, my little sister was told she is also miscarrying. She was 12 weeks along, but her HCG was still high. Her only symptom was a little bit of bleeding and her HCG decreasing. It's been over a week, and she is still waiting to miscarry. Although I just went through this, I feel like her situation is so different and I am finding myself Googling "how to comfort someone during miscarriage". How ironic. From the many women I have talked with, there are so many different experiences. Some with bleeding, some with a baby present, some with a D&C. For some it is painful, and for others it feels like a "light period". I put that in quotes because my sister and I have both now heard that, and mine was NOT a light period. I really wish I could tell you exactly what you will experience and how it will feel. I know you're afraid, and I know you don't know what to expect. All I can say is that you will be okay. You can do this, and most of the time our body knows exactly what it is doing.

5. Talk Talk Talk 
This one is debatable, because it may not be your personality. But for me, I needed to talk it out. Talking about it helped to get my tears out and helped to dry them. It made me feel like it was important, like I wasn't alone, and like other people cared. It made me feel loved and taken care of. And it gave me hope. It also opened up the ability for others to tell me their stories or to approach me when they also needed some encouragement. Everyone kept telling me that my words were raw and real, but I feel like that's just the naked emotion that was pouring out of me. There were moments I wanted and needed to talk, and other moments that I wanted to be quiet. If you are shy, jump on Facebook and find someone to message about it. We always seem to be more "raw and real" when we aren't face to face. But please, don't bottle it up. Talk through the emotions so that you can allow healing to come to your heart.

6. Words From People
I received many messages, cards, flowers, songs and bible verses. In the first few days, I glanced over them and filed them away for another day. That day, I just wanted to sit in bed and stare at my walls. But I knew I would want them another day. A few days later I took a bath in the middle of the day and looked up some songs that had been sent to me. It was a moment of grieving and peace I will never forget. A few days after that I needed a bible verse to dwell on- my heart needed some truth to hold onto. Now, you will also get people who say things to you that seem way off-base and may not be comforting but offensive. Try to remember that MOST people are not intending to hurt you, but they also don't know how to comfort you. Let these comments roll right off of you. You don't need to dwell on them, and they probably were not meant the way they were said. Ain't nobody got time for that.

7. Accept Help
If people offer to help you, TAKE IT. My Mama Tribe (who are awesome) had a meal train started within minutes of finding out and told me that they were feeding me no matter what I said. My sister dropped by a few times to pick up my daughter for a few hours. People sent us gift cards and gifts. If someone offers, they usually mean it, so don't turn it down. It was glorious to not have to worry about cooking a meal for 10 days! Or being able to take a bath and grieve in the middle of the day because my child was somewhere safe. People also stepped up to fill in activities that we needed to do, but just weren't ready for. Many times they would ask how they could help and what I needed, and I honestly couldn't tell them what I needed. I didn't know! But I made a metal note to call on them if I did need something. Never turn down a helping hand.

8. Workout
This one has a couple parts to it. First, I had to buy some transition clothes because I was already in maternity clothes. The thought of putting on my maternity pants dissolved me to tears, but nothing else fit. I wore sweatpants for 2 weeks. So I worked out a small budget with my husband to get a few things to get me through- physically and emotionally. Think maxi dresses and flowy tank tops.

Second, I started a workout/eating program about a week after my miscarriage- once I had stopped bleeding and some of my energy had returned (and all of the donuts were FINALLY gone). I am not saying you have to workout after a trauma like this, but what I am saying is that looking in the mirror and seeing my extra baby weight with no baby to show for it, killed me every day. I had to do something. I had to "get my body back". I am taking this slowly and trying to do it in a way to bring health and strength to my body, not just lose weight. I want to feel strong again. I want to push myself. Exercise it also a great outlet for all of the pent-up emotion. I was in a cycle class last week and it was dark and loud. My legs were just about breaking and I was so mad- mad that I couldn't push harder, mad that my body was failing me. I kept telling my brain "come on! You've done WAY harder things than this! A 4 day labor! Reconstructive surgery! A painful miscarriage! You can do so much more than this". This moment was good for my body and my mind. I am stronger than I have ever given myself credit for. Right there in a dark room full of people, I had a small turning point in my recovery process.

9. Make A Goal
As I stated above, I stayed in my sweatpants for about 2 weeks. I did go out a few times here and there, but I didn't wear makeup or get myself ready. I really felt like I needed the mourning on the inside showed on the outside, and I didn't feel ready to cover it up. Plus, I never quite knew when the tears would flow. One of the mamas in my Mama Tribe was schedule to have her Mother's Blessing a few weeks out. So, that was my goal. I wanted to grieve and heal enough to attend it and be happy for her, and also not draw attention to myself on her day. I wanted to use that day to finally get dressed, put on makeup, do my hair, and feel pretty again. It was 2 weeks away- I could do it. And I did. And it felt so good to feel 'normal' and celebrate life again.
 
 I also took two weeks off of church. I wasn't ready to worship or have pity glances. Once I finally went back, it was easier than expected. This weekend I will lead worship again for the first time since this, and it will be another step and another goal reached.
Give yourself something to look forward to, and a small ending point to work your healing further. And this leads into my next point...

10. You Are Not a Victim
This is another point that some may not agree with, but this is my side. I really hate that I can now be referred to as a "miscarriage survivor". I understand the term, but in my case, this was not life-threatening. Yes it was something that happened to me, but it does not define me. I believe that God allows circumstances to build and shape me into the person he has planned for me to be, and also to be a lighthouse for others who are experiencing the same thing (which I hope to be!). I am not a victim. I am not a survivor. I am simply a girl who had some yucky circumstances come my way, and I hoping to learn and grow from them to become a better ME. And in the beginning, your grief will be so big that you feel like a victim, that you are a victim. But you don't have to stay there forever. Feel it, and let it go (sorry...Frozen.).

11. Invest In Something Special
Immediately after deciding to call our baby Shalom, I felt like I needed the word on me; I needed it around my neck. It reminded me of Proverbs 6:21 that says " Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck". I needed the promises of this word on my heart and in a place that was close to me. I messaged a friend at 2:30am to ask for her to stamp out this necklace. She did it right away, and the next day I had my word "bound around my neck". It gave me relief. It made me feel like I was still carrying a piece of my baby. My sister has had the same feeling. She has asked for a necklace with her baby's due date, and has felt the same urgency I did. I also had a friend send me a sweet little nest necklaces with two eggs in it... I love feeling that heaviness on my chest! Let yourself find an item of comfort, and hold onto it.

 12. "Grief Changes Shape, But it Never Ends"
This quote that I read from Keanu Reeves has stayed in my head for the past couple of weeks. I don't feel like I fully understand it yet. My grief has absolutely changed in the last few weeks. Some days it feels so severe that I physically hurt. Other days I can talk about it without shedding a tear. Some days I forget about it for a few hours, and other days it looms over my head. From what I have experienced so far, it stands true. I can see myself in the future grieving again, in a different way, because I will never watch that baby kick a soccer ball. I can see my grief rising to bring comfort to others moms who experience miscarriage. I think that grief can stick with us, like a scar, to remind us of where we've been. But it doesn't always look so raw and it won't always be so apparent.

So as you navigate this process, just remember that there is no right or wrong way to go through it. Let yourself ride the waves as they come, and take each day, each hour, EACH MOMENT as it comes. You are stronger than you think.

 P.S. Please keep my baby sister Hahna in your prayers as she is just beginning this journey herself. The grief is so big right now.

2 comments:

  1. Sigh. I feel like so many mothers are going thru this heart-wrenching process right now (or something similar). It's so hard for me to fathom. My heart grieves for Hahna now as well. I will most definitely be praying for her in the weeks ahead.

    I have not yet followed thru on my ideas to do something for the memory of our baby in heaven, but I love your best necklace/pendant. Can you tell me where you found it?

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