Baby hand in adult hand

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January 13, 2003 - 12:26 am

I will never forget that day or the image of looking at the clock to see what time it was when the pain woke me up.

If you found this page, you most likely just went through this same horrible experience yourself. I'm sorry for your loss, and I understand it. When it happened to me, I did the same thing. Looked on the Internet, tried to find some answers especially to the consuming question: is the grief I'm going through normal? Do other people feel the same way?

We do. Like you, I lost the baby I was carrying, 8 - 9 weeks old. I went through guilt thinking I caused the miscarriage somehow. I had done a lot of physical exertion that day, and I swore that caused it. Then I worried about all the days I didn't know I was pregnant and things I did: taking cold medicine, aerobics... did they cause me to lose my baby?

I learned it wasn't my fault. Something went wrong in the pregnancy -- I don't know what -- and my body's natural reaction was to do this. No one and nothing could prevent it. That left grief, shock, and sometimes the feeling of unreality, that I'd wake up from this nightmare just fine. Even typing this page is unreal. I sit in a bright "normal" room and can't believe I'm forming such words as miscarriage and loss.

Why do it then? Why put myself through it again? It's too soon and so painful.

I do it for two reasons.

  • When I went out on the web, looking for support from other people who lost babies through miscarriage, I found it was perfectly normal to want to leave some memorial, some marker that says "I had a child and they died before they got a chance to come out into the world so I could really know them." One site said "Make your own web page"; I swore I couldn't do it. Too hard, I never could. But then I thought of how that web page helped me feel better, and I owed it to the next poor person looking for information to pass along the same comfort I was given.
  • It's a catharsis. Like the diary I keep and all the emails to the very supportive friends -- it helps me to talk it out, to reach some peace.


These are the sites and articles that helped me. I give you the same warning you'll see on one of the below pages: do not read too many of these at once, especially if it's early in your grieving. I did, at my desk at the office, and it sent me crying into the ladies' room.

These pages helped me see I was grieving naturally, and that I must allow that grief. It's a special mourning, as you saw in the articles. With other deaths, we mourn the past for all the memories, and the present because of the empty hole now in our lives. With a miscarriage, you mourn the loss of a future that you'll never know with the child gone.

I also saw that my wanting some memorial or marker of this loss was natural. There's no funeral or service for the babies lost in early pregnancy. Make your own. Find what's feels good for you -- planting a tree, make a web page, find something with your child's birthstone...

I'd like to add one piece of advice not on these sites. I went back to work after three days. Do not do this. It was too soon. I ached badly; it sent me back to bed with Alieve and a heating pad.

Getting questions

And I learned to understand that people don't know what to say when they try to comfort you. Don't be upset with a question that seems wrong at the moment. Unless you are talking with someone who has been through it, you might get questions that put you on the defensive or worse, hurt you inside.

Once, in a moment of sarcasm and typing in my diary, I made the following list:

1: Were you planning on getting pregnant?

Does that make a difference?  I feel like I have to defend my grief because I wasn't planning on this baby.  This question is especially stupid from my family, because out of the 7 siblings, their six children, and then their 5 children, one baby was planned: my niece Dawn. I want to say to my family, when they ask this, "No, my baby wasn't planned.  It was an accident, like you."  Of course, I don't say that.  Because that’s cruel, and these people don’t mean anything bad with their questions.

2: I thought you weren't having kids.  And that you couldn't!

So did we.  Nature likes to laugh at people.  Hence the 17 unplanned babies in my family.

3: Are you going to try to get pregnant again?

Good god, would that mean I don't care about losing this one?

4: It was too early for it to be a baby. It was just tissue.

OK, no one has actually said this to me. But I thought a couple people might. It was remembering research I did in college and that I repeated recently for a short story (that came back to haunt me) that I remembered the stages of development and I pictured what my baby must have looked like.

However, for the jackasses who might saw this horrible statement to you -- it's not a baby yet -- here's what he would have looked like (I put these as links in case you didn't want to see them):

Picture with diagram of all the development
Picture showing size

I finally looked up these pictures so that I could see my child in the only way I can. Let's face it; all Caucasian unborns look like that picture: little gray-black eyed, large heads like the images of aliens coming out of flying saucers. I don't know if these pictures gave me closure; they confirmed the picture in my mind and made me cry a little. But they did give me something in looking at them; some tie to the baby I lost.

Anyway, if I do get this statement, or if you do, email me. I'll help you feed the jackass his teeth.

Where I got lucky

One word: support. Support, support, support. I hope you get the same. I do warn you that after a time -- in some cases, 1 week - I stopped hearing from people. They'll give you a bunch of excuses, but be prepared. And be honest. I talked it out with one friend of mine, and she stayed there for us after that.

Look for forums on the web and a support group in your area. I suggest you focus on forums that are for miscarriages, like the I gave you up above (A Secret Grief), and not including stillborns or SIDS. My support group included these families, and though they never intend to make me feel this way, I did feel like I had no right to grieve next to them.

By all means, PLEASE feel free to email me by clicking here. I will be glad to talk to you and listen to what you have to say. The best support I received was the women who had been through it. If I can give that to you, please reach out.

A little thing that helped me too: my Mom had a miscarriage, and I finally got to sit down with her and really discuss that. I found out nobody did that with her before, and she needed to talk as much as I did. She told me something that helped: she told me to put something soft in my pocket. To find a piece of soft cloth, and lay it on my pillow. Then take that cloth with me in my pocket so that I could hold it in my hand whenever the loss hit me hard. The softness is comforting and eases your mind a bit, even when you don't realize it. I didn't have cloth (she suggested flannel), but I had this beanie baby someone gave me that was VERY soft. I laid it next to my pillow, and I'd roll on it in my sleep. And it fit perfectly in my coat pocket. I squeezed that thing a lot in the first couple months.

Where I got unlucky

As I said before, the support disappeared. People are around for the first week, the first couple of weeks, and then many of them (not all, thank goodness) disappear. I grieved alone for a long time. The day my son would have been born, nobody cared except my husband and I, even though these people knew what a tough day that was for us. But they were too busy with -- no lie -- the new Harry Potter book and Lord of the Rings coming out on DVD. In talking about how hard they made this, a few were better when it came to the first anniversary.

It Does Get Better

I don't cry at the sight of baby boys or shopping for them anymore. I always remember and I do still think about it, but I found peace.

Just remember: patience. Patience in allowing yourself to grieve and patience that someday it will get better. You'll never forget that child or stop wondering What If. One woman, a mother of other children, told me "My daughter would be 20." and how she pictures what that daughter might have been. Erma Bombeck, the famous humor writer, talked openly in one of her books about her miscarriage and how she thinks of that child. She wrote:

I lost the baby.

The personal pronoun is important here. It is always, “We are going to have a baby,” but when it comes down to the termination of a pregnancy, it’s always the mother who confesses, “I lost it”.

As I lay there mumbling “I am so sorry,” the guilt was unbearable. Feelings of self-recrimination came and went like waves of nausea.

I had now joined a group of women who had to give a child back. They look like other women and they function like other women. But there is an emptiness inside of them that never goes away. At any given time of year when no one knows what they are talking about, they will look wistful and remark that the baby would be three years old today, or five, or ten. They play with the probabilities...the would have beens...could have beens... should have beens... and forever question, “Why?”

I finally take some comfort/pleasure as my one friend told me I would. I was pregnant once. I had that experience. As my husband said to me that awful day as we held each other: We were parents for a little while.

Copyright 2004 - 2009 Erin Blackwell