• What I Wish I’d Known Before My Miscarriage*

    When I had my miscarriage last spring, I felt so… lost. Of course I had a basic understanding of what a miscarriage was, it was quickly discussed at some point in each of my previous pregnancies. But when I actually lived it, I realized that aside from a textbook definition, I really had no idea what was going on with my body or my emotions. There was SO much that I didn’t know or didn’t feel was plainly communicated to me by any of the medical professionals I saw in those first few hours.

    The not knowing what would or could happen as I miscarried was really hard. Amidst the emotional devastation of losing the baby we had hoped for, prayed for, planned for came a million questions about what was happening. Looking back now, there were so many things I wish I had known before my miscarriage. Things that would have helped me better prepare for what would happen to my body. Things that are whispered between women and partners who have been through it. Things that would have helped me cope in the days and weeks and months afterward.

    Things that would have made me feel so much less alone as I went through it.

    I read somewhere that a miscarriage is often a lonely, silent grief. I didn’t understand that at the time…

    …but I do now.

    Two weeks ago I posted a question about things I wish I had known and hoped a few women might respond with their own thoughts. My email quickly began filling up and within a few days I had sixty raw, honest answers of what each person wished they had known before their miscarriage(s). I asked,

    What was something you wish you had known or didn’t feel properly prepared for before having a miscarriage?

    Today, the “I” in my title is so much more than my own words. This is a collective response from the things each of these brave women anonymously shared with me. I know this isn’t the experience for all, but I believe it is the experience of many. These are the things that just aren’t spoken about enough.

    This is from all of us.

    Before My Miscarriage…

    I wish I had known how long the physical effects can take to diminish. It is often described as being “like a heavy period”, and for some, it is. For others it is so physically painful and can take weeks or months for symptoms to stop. The recovery is often a long road.

    I wish I had known how actively I would have to seek out support for myself after it happened. There was nothing offered to me. I wish that I had had the opportunity to speak with someone sooner.

    I wish I had known that I would blame myself for it. That I would feel like a failure. That I would feel so broken. That I would feel like I had done something wrong when in fact I had not… and there was nothing that I could have done differently.

    I wish I had known about the lack of understanding about miscarriages in both society in general and the medical field. It’s difficult it is to process the grief of a miscarriage while dealing with the rapid changes in hormones associated with it. There is so much out there about post partum depression and the effects of it, but so little recognition of the same with a miscarriage. I was not prepared for the pressure to “minimize” my loss as doctors and friends commented about how early on it was, or how common it is.

    I wish I had known how differently men and women process this loss. It can be hard to be on the same page through your grief.

    I wish I had known how disappointed I would be with the care I received at the hospital and ultrasound clinic. I wasn’t offered options and was given little information about what would happen. The attitude of the doctors I saw left me feeling lonely and frustrated… as if these medical issues are not worthy of attention and treatment. I didn’t know that I would be expected to stay home and pass the baby alone.

    I wish I had known how common it actually is. Having never had a single friend or family member who had had a miscarriage I was absolutely not expecting to have my pregnancy end. I was emotionally devastated. Not once did I think that after I fell pregnant that I would lose my children. Had I known the full possibilities, I might prepared myself better for the possibility of trauma that comes from pregnancy loss. I had no idea how many women in my life had been through this until I started sharing. It helped tremendously.

    These last few answers were the common thread through most of the responses I received. Each one is the result of so many voices, each speaking to the same things they wish they had known. Each sharing so that maybe someone else who experiences a miscarriage might feel a a little more prepared. A little less scared.

    A little less alone.

    I wish I had known about the roller coaster of emotions that can come with a miscarriage. Grief. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. I wish I had known that the pain is both physical and emotional. I had no idea the toll it would take on my mental health. I wish I had known how empty I would feel… and how long that would last.

    I really wish I had known what the actual physical process would be. I felt so ill prepared for what was happening to my body–how much blood I would lose, how long I would bleed for, that I would experience actual contractions, that my water would break. I wish I had known about passing huge clots and other tissue. I wish I had known that not all miscarriages happen “easily” or naturally and I would need a medical intervention. I did not know how to prepare for a miscarriage because I had no idea that it meant more than bleeding.

    I wish I had known how deep the grief is. I wish I had been more prepared for the weight of losing someone you made plans for. I wish I had known that it’s okay to feel the depth of your loss and hurt regardless of when your pregnancy ends. I was not prepared for the lack of understanding for my grief. I felt like people wanted to find a reason for why it happened, to pin the miscarriage on something (stress, too much anxiety, working too much, not exercising, not eating well enough, my size, etc.) rather than to just simply acknowledge that I had had a loss. I wish I had known that it’s okay to grieve, and that my grief might not look or feel or be the same as someone else’s.

    I wish I had known how alone I would feel. Even though I had a good support system, it felt like no one truly understood how I felt (physically and emotionally) or what I was going through. I wasn’t prepared to be the only one in my family who has experienced a miscarriage. I was not prepared for how isolated I would feel and how many people would say ‘these things happen’. It’s true that they do, but it didn’t make the pain and grief that I felt disappear. It made me feel guilty that I still felt so sad. I wish I had known there there is no physical closure. No gravestone. I was not prepared for the hidden, uncharted pain I felt… or how fragile I would feel afterward. I needed a community. People who could just come and let me talk and say all the hard things without judgment.

    I wish I had known that there are other women in my exact situation going through it that I can talk to.

    You are not alone.

    Miscarriage is such a lonely grief… but I am writing this because I want you to know that you are not alone. This was not your fault. You are strong. You are loved.

    You are enough.

    We are with you.

    I don’t know if you can ever really “prepare” for a miscarriage… but my hope is that in sharing this, maybe someone else who finds themselves in my shoes might take comfort in knowing that they are not alone. That other women have felt this pain and fear and grief. That other women are standing up behind you. Supporting you. Understanding what you’re going through… because we have also been through it.

    This is a different kind of “Me Too” moment… one that I hoped I’d never be apart of. But as I find myself here now, I’ve realized that standing up and saying, “Me Too” is one of the most important things I can do.

    I know that not everyone is ready to tell their story… this grief is deep and quiet and often steeped in pain.

    …but I hope that maybe I can be a voice for others who aren’t ready to speak out yet. That maybe here I can help others tell their stories and heal just a little. Even through the sadness of the responses I read, there was so much strength. I believe that we can draw from that strength and support one another.

    There is so much that I wish I had known before my miscarriage… but I can’t change that now. What I can do is try to be the person I needed as I went through it.

    So, here I am.

    Let’s talk about it. ❤️
    ________________________________________

    The second series of questions for this project is now live. To participate anonymously, please click the link below.

    >> Supporting Women and Partners Through Miscarriage – Part II <<

    Thank you for sharing with me. Let’s bring this out of the darkness and into the light.

  • Lost.

    I lost P today.

    It was only for a few minutes, but I swear time stops when you panic like that.

    The morning started off really well. S is finally feeling better and went back to school for the first time in a week. I actually had both S & H home yesterday as he has been complaining of stomach pain. This is another post all in itself, but I wanted to get him checked out as I’m trying to sort out what is physical and what anxiety.

    He seemed fine this morning and the weather was sunny and mild, so we decided to walk. Today is my day home with P, so the three of us set out to enjoy the sunshine and snowbanks on our way to school. All was well until we got closer to the school. Suddenly H started complaining that his stomach hurt again. He was grabbing at his tummy and making noises like he was hurting, and said that he needed to use the bathroom. It was still 5 minutes before the bell was supposed to ring, so S, H & I rushed to the gate of the kindergarten pen with P trailing behind us. I called out to him to hurry, and saw him walk towards us.

    The teacher there told us to check his classroom and see if his teacher was there. If so, we could use the bathroom in the class. Luckily she was there (and is wonderful!) and helped us inside. H was on the verge of tears as I helped him out of his snowsuit so that he could run to the bathroom. I had been in the room for 2 – 3 minutes before I looked up and saw S behind me, but not P.

    I gasped and immediately wanted to throw up. I panicked and realized that he was not there. He didn’t come into the room with us. I told S to run out into the yard to look for him while I gave H one last quick hug and had to leave him half undressed and upset on the bench.

    I ran outside and couldn’t see P or S. The bell rang right that moment and there were kids EVERYWHERE. I normally dress P in a bright yellow Minion hat for this very reason– he tends to wander away to do what he wants, but he has always stayed relatively closeby. The yellow hat makes him easy to spot in a crowd. The past few days he has wanted to wear a reversible snowman / penguin hat that he loves… and of course that’s what he was wearing this morning. Black hat and black coat. As I frantically scanned the sea of children, all I could see were black hats and black coats.

    I could feel the panic rising in my throat as the seconds ticked by and kids streamed all around me. I started walking toward the nearby park, hoping he had gone there, when I spotted S’s bright pink coat walking towards me.

    And a small black hat was walking next to her, holding her hand. He was crying his eyes out and started running as soon as he saw me. S gave me a quick hug and kiss before she darted into the school, and I stood in the yard and held P while he cried and said,

    “I was all alone, Mommy. I don’t like when you hide.”

    We had lots of hugs on our walk home.

    Between that and knowing that I had had to leave H upset and on his own in the cubby to rush out to find P left me feeling like the worst mother in the world. I know these things happen and in total, this all happened in the span of about 4 minutes, but… there is nothing quite like the panic that comes with realizing that you don’t know where your child is.

    My heart is heavy today. P is fine and we’ve had hot chocolate and lots of snuggles since coming home, but it’s hard. When something like this happens it’s so hard not to berate yourself and see all the ways this is completely your fault. How did I not check that he wasn’t with me when I went inside? I always check. There are 34328840239 ways this could have gone so wrong…

    …and I’m just so grateful that none of them happened.

    I promised P that I will never hide like that again, and while I know H is in the care of two amazing teachers who are looking after him… I can’t wait until school is over so that I can give him a hug, apologize for leaving him like that and explain what happened.

    It’s been a day. I’m ready for tomorrow.

  • A Light in the Darkness*

    I’ve been trying to write this post for several days. I’ve written and deleted more “introductions” than I can count, and I feel a little like I’m tripping over my words.

    I guess that’s because for the first time, the words I’m reflecting on are not all mine.

    Since I opened up about my miscarriage a few months ago, I’ve had many women reach out to talk to me about their own. Some were from long ago, but the memories had left deep, lasting impressions in their hearts. Some were from women who had either just experienced one like I had, or were still in the middle of going through it. Every conversation echoed the same feelings of loneliness, heartache and grief.

    The common thread between all of them was the fact that these women and their partners and families has been through a trauma– one that is often endured in silence. Miscarriage is sometimes referred to as a “silent grief” because we exist in a societal culture where pregnancies often aren’t “announced” until after the end of the first trimester. This prevents a family from going through the pain of having to announce a pregnancy and then retract it if the pregnancy is lost.

    But in a way, this practice also makes it that much harder for a family to share their grief and feel the love of their community.

    I always wanted four children. I come from a big family, and I know the chaos and joy that having several siblings can be. When we found out we were pregnant with our fourth last winter, I felt like our family was complete. I landed a short-term teaching contract at a school that I love shortly after, and it felt like all the stars were aligning. I would be able to work enough hours to earn a maternity leave and everything just felt so right.

    I started showing early, so after we told the kids, we happily announced our pregnancy at 8 weeks.

    A few weeks later I miscarried. It was a traumatic and I had complications, but as I was going through those first few awful hours, I realized something: I didn’t know who to talk to. I desperately needed to talk to someone who had been through what my body was experiencing… and in those dark moments I didn’t know who to turn to. I reached out to a friend, remembering that she had also been through this… hoping that she would be willing to talk to me. Miscarriage feels like this dark, shadowy thing that is so heavy to talk about.

    …but talking about it made my grief so much lighter.

    My friend was a light in the darkness for me. She listened as I shared my anxieties and fear and helped me fill in what the emergency room doctors weren’t communicating well. She helped me feel less alone.

    Four days later, as I was navigating through hormones and grief, I decided to write my story. I openly told everyone about our loss, then felt like I was going to be sick as I pressed “publish”. People don’t really talk openly about miscarriages… it almost felt like I was doing something wrong.

    I never could have anticipated the response I’ve had to that post. For me, it was like a weight was lifted. Grief is so heavy. Carrying it alone with my family felt crushing. Sharing my story was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it also lightened the weight of my grief as I allowed a community of women and friends in. I’ve lost track of the number of messages I’ve received about it. It’s been almost 10 months and they are still coming in.

    Those conversations were a lifeline for me… and it made me realize just how important talking about it is. It made me realize that maybe I can be a voice for others who aren’t ready to share yet.

    It made me realize that maybe I can be the person that I needed for someone else. That maybe through this, I can help someone who is going through a miscarriage feel less alone.

    That’s why I’m doing this. I’m hoping to give someone who felt like they couldn’t speak about it a voice. A chance to share their story. A week ago I put a toe in the water and asked one question, unsure of the response I’d receive. I had 60 women respond, and their stories were so raw and real. I was awed by their honesty and their willingness to share so openly.

    It confirmed to me that there is something here that needs to be said. The way we “deal with” miscarriages is so problematic. We need to open up that conversation and rethink how we are supporting women and their families as they go through this. Chances are there are people in your circle of family or friends who have quietly experienced this– many online statistics show that 1 in four 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime.

    One in four.

    I am one in four.

    I saw this quote from Maya Angelou that was perhaps written in another context, but spoke so deeply to me here:

    I believe that miscarriage just isn’t talked about openly enough. I know the agony of going through it alone. I also know the relief and healing that came with telling my story.

    I hope it can come with telling yours, too.

    I have several questions I want to ask… and a week ago I asked the first one. Sixty women stepped up and told me the things they wish they had known or didn’t feel prepared for before their miscarriage(s). On this page I’ll share what they told me… and if that can help even one person feel less alone as they go through this, then for me, it will have been worth it.

    My hope is that maybe we can start bringing the conversation about miscarriage out of the shadows and into the light.

  • Spicy Sausage Soup*

    This is a little different from what I normally post, but it’s my FAVOURITE soup and I get asked for it all the time, so… here I am. I hate recipes that basically have the poster’s life story before the actual cooking instructions, so I’ll keep it quick. In short, M went to a cottage with an old friend, and while he was there his friend’s mom made a soup that was to die for. There was no real recipe, it was just one of those “kitchen sink” recipes that had been made over and over and was never really written down.

    (Aren’t those always the best kind?!)

    When he got home, we went to the grocery story and walked around as he tried to grab all the things he remembered from the soup. After a little experimenting, this is it. It’s our favourite soup, and I am asked for this recipe every. single. time I take it anywhere. So, without any futher ado, here you go!

    Spicy Sausage Soup* (Serves 6ish)

    Prep Time – 20 Minutes
    Cooking Time – 40 minutes

    Ingredients
    * 1 tsp Oil (Olive, Canola or Avocado work well)
    *3-5 Hot Italian Sausages (This will determine how spicy your soup is.)
    *7-8 Cups Chicken broth
    *3 Stalks of Celery
    *1 Head of Broccoli
    *1 Zucchini
    *1/2 Onion (White or Spanish)
    *1/2 Cup corn (frozen or fresh)
    *1 Package Potato Gnocchi
    *3/4 tsp Dried Basil (You can add more to taste)
    *Salt & Pepper

    Cooking Instructions
    1. On your stovetop, heat oil in a large pot. Remove casings from three (or more) sausages and brown the meat. (If you want a bigger batch of soup, you can cook all five!) While the meat is cooking, I like to break it apart into small chunks with a wooden spoon.

    2. When your meat is mostly cooked, add in the chicken broth. Do not drain the meat–that’s what brings the magical flavor to your soup! Bring to a low simmer.

    3. Add in your basil, salt and pepper. Let your soup simmer for a few minutes then give it a taste–feel free to add more of each if you like!

    4. While your soup simmers, chop the veggies. Dice your onion, celery, broccoli and zucchini into bite size pieces. Set aside.

    5. After your soup has simmered for 15 minutes or so, add in the veggies. Toss the onion, celery, zucchini and corn into the pot.

    6. Start cooking your gnocchi according to the package directions (in a separate pot). As they boil and rise to the surface, transfer into your soup pot with a slotted spoon.

    7. Stir everything together and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. If your soup looks too thick, just add in more chicken broth (or water) to get your desired consistency.

    8. Serve & enjoy!!

  • I’m Closed*

    P was in fine form tonight.

    It started after school. We have swimming lessons right after school, so I pick everyone up then it’s a whirlwind to get everyone over to and into the pool.

    P wanted to go home and play with his toys and wasn’t impressed when I told him we had to go straight to the pool. We may or may not have had to carry him out to the vanimal and strap him in to get him there, but… you know.

    The swimming itself was uneventful and we survived without any major mishaps. Our regular routine is to divide and conquer when we get home–I whip up a quick dinner while M tubs the kids. P was not happy about having to have a bath… but we eventually got him sedated with a little Steve and Maggie and got through it.

    After dinner and a bit of playtime, it was time for bed.

    It’s amazing just how slow a child can go upstairs when they have decided that what is up the stairs is the worst in the world. When he finally made it to the top, he was adamant that he needed to be the one to squeeze the toothpaste out the tube.

    Which he did, successfully. It also happened to be almost the entirety of the tube, but he definitely got some out! When I asked him to let me help him brush his teeth, he lost. his. mind. He kicked into major meltdown mode and was flailing and yelling and crying, and every time I tried to get him in his bed, he would scream and run back out.

    I’m not proud of it, but by this point I was just… done. I’m exhausted after picketing / walking for four hours this morning and my patience was worn through. So, I yelled. He cried and still didn’t get into bed, but we eventually made peace after I laid down with and hugged it out.

    When I left his room I thought that I was done for the night. S & H were asleep, and he was quiet so I slipped downstairs to watch some TV with M. We were sitting on the couch when I saw an mail pop up on my phone about an amazon Kindle purchase. I was a little confused and asked M if he had bought a book on my account. I showed him my phone, and he was as confused as I was. As we puzzled two more book purchases came through, totaling about $50 so far. We worried that someone had hacked into my amazon account and was making purchases, so I ran up the basement stairs to get my laptop from the living room.

    As I got up the stairs, I noticed a shadow move. There, sitting on the steps was P… playing with my Kindle. My child that I thought was in bed, instead sat there swiping the screen buying books. I didn’t even know that you could BUY books through the Kindle… I’ve only ever purchased through Amazon on my computer.

    I grabbed the Kindle out of his handle and pointed up the stairs. He dragged his feet back up to his bed and I went down to figure out if I could return all the books he had purchased. Thankfully Amazon is good and all is well… and I will never again leave my Kindle where small hands might find it!

    Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a little less combative… this mama is tiiiiired.

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