Healing After Miscarriage
If the unexpected happens when you're expecting, you will get through it. We've got some advice to help the process along.
Even if your physical recovery is a snap, you may feel very raw and sad for quite some time. I ran up huge phone bills calling two college friends, both of whom had miscarried. One of them assured me that, yes, it was normal to be upset, but also that the intense sadness would pass (she was right). The other reminded me to cut myself a lot of slack, made me laugh, and prescribed trashy magazines and pints of ice cream. More suggestions from moms who've been there:
Let yourself grieve. Many of the women I talked to were surprised by—and unprepared for—the intensity of their grief. “I'm a nurse, so I know how common miscarriage is, and I even knew intellectually that it was probably hormones making me feel sad,” remembers Beth Resweber of Swarthmore, PA, a mom of four who miscarried after having her second child. “But I won't lie to you: I was pretty upset.” A sympathetic ear can make all the difference. If you don't have friends who know what you're going through, find a support group locally or online.
But don't be surprised if you don't feel much emotion at all. “Does it make me sound terribly cold to say that I wasn't that upset?” wonders Georgia Hallinan of Richmond, CA, who miscarried when her son Emmet was 4. “I mean, I cried when I started bleeding, and I felt sad for a few days, but I always knew I'd get pregnant again.” (She went on to have two more kids.) “A few days after the miscarriage, I thought, well, at least I can drink again. So I called a friend with a son Emmet's age and said I wanted to spend the afternoon sitting on her deck with a beer while our kids played in the yard.” The visit was low-key: They didn't even discuss the miscarriage, Hallinan remembers. “But it cheered me up to be back out in the world.”
Expect misguided comments, even from good friends. Angela Ferguson of Fairdale, KY, who miscarried several times between her daughters Savannah, 9, and Raina, 20 months, was astounded by the insensitive comments she received. “People would tell me ‘Oh well, at least you have Savannah' and ‘Maybe it was for the best' or—my personal favorite—‘At least you weren't very far along.'”
Try to remind yourself that people don't mean to be hurtful. They probably feel helpless, and awkward, so they blurt out the first thing they think of. Unfortunately, that first thing is seldom “I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do for you or your family?”
If you're feeling brave, you can meet insensitivity head-on. Tonia Nester of Redford, MI, mom of Owen, 3 1/2, and Avery, 14 months, was devastated when she miscarried her second pregnancy. When hurtful comments added insult to injury, “I'd look people right in the eye, and say, ‘This baby was real to us, not something I can replace like a lightbulb in a lamp. My family and I are devastated by this loss.’ I wasn't confronting them to be unkind, but to make it clear that I wasn't willing to brush my grief aside with clichés.”