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.
This one made me cry. 2 years later and it’s still too raw for me to share much. So much of what you wrote hits home to me. I wish it was something easier to endure considering it is unfortunately common. Thank you for getting a voice out for those that can’t yet.