The second pink line on the pregnancy test confirmed my suspicion that we would be welcoming our second child. I was nervous and excited and experiencing all of the emotions that come flooding through any woman when she finds out she’s expecting.
I was about six weeks along and had only told my husband and one of my best friends. I went about daily life working and taking care of our two-year-old.
Then I woke up just a week after taking the test, and I just knew. I knew this pregnancy wasn’t going to last. And sadly, I was right. The word pounded in my head.
Such a sad word, a word that carries so much weight – weight I never thought I would have to bear. And yet there I was. I had joined the ranks of women who know the pain of pregnancy loss.
As the loss progressed throughout the day, my emotions ranged all over the board:
Relief that I hadn’t been further along.
Despair that it didn’t make any difference how far along I was.
Gratitude that I had my toddler to distract me from my grief.
Multiplied grief because he wouldn’t be stepping into a big brother role quite yet.
My son and I were home alone together that day. I didn’t want to burden my husband with our sad news while he still had to finish his day at work. But I had to tell someone. I knew I needed support. So I called my best friend, the one I’d told about my pregnancy.
Through tears, “I guess we won’t be having a baby in November after all” was all I could say. I could feel that she shared my pain as if it were her own. She asked if she could come over later because she had to give me a hug. Exhausted, in pain, and confused, I graciously accepted her offer.
This support from my friend and a fellow mother was exactly what I needed. I never thought I would experience a miscarriage, but they are extremely common. Statistics show one in four women will experience pregnancy loss. That number is probably higher since some women experience a miscarriage without realizing it, or they never tell anyone when it happens.
It’s a sensitive topic, but one that is very real. It shouldn’t be kept a secret. Women who miscarry have done nothing wrong. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
I was so fortunate to be able to call my friend and receive support without any questions or judgment the first time I experienced a miscarriage. Because of that support from her, when it happened again a few months later at 10 weeks along, I was not embarrassed to share the sad news, and I knew where to reach for the support that I needed.
I also knew that I wanted to help other women understand miscarriage.
It’s likely many of us will have the opportunity to comfort a friend who goes through this kind of loss. Here are some suggestions for how to support that friend during one of the most difficult things she’ll ever have to go through:
Comfort care package
Put together a box of comfort items. You probably have things around the house you could gather that would be much appreciated. Supply her with a DVD of a funny movie, a bottle of good wine, her favorite coffee, a happy new mug, or anything that will let her know you’re thinking of her no matter where she is in her grief process. A care package is a great way to support a friend who doesn’t live nearby.
Talk about it
So often, we think miscarriage shouldn’t be talked about. Maybe we assume the mom would rather not. But not talking about it or choosing not to bring it up doesn’t make the pain any easier. If anything, it has the potential to make her feel that you would rather not talk about it.
Maybe you don’t know what to say. That’s okay. Just acknowledging that it happened is helpful. Even saying “I’m so sorry about your loss. Would you like to talk about it?” lets your friend know that you are willing to listen if she decides to share her story or whatever is on her mind.
Take her out for a pedicure. Or get her a gift certificate for a massage or an appointment at a salon. Pregnancy loss has a way of making women feel less womanly.
Miscarriage means that, for whatever reason, our bodies were unable to complete the process they were designed for. Such a uniquely feminine tragedy can take a huge toll on confidence and self-esteem. So provide your friend with a chance to feel girly. It’s sure to restore her confidence in herself as a woman and offer a bit of a boost, at least for a short time.
Bring a meal
Miscarriage is as exhausting physically as it is mentally and emotionally. The last thing a grieving mom wants to worry about is what’s for dinner. Offer to bring her something ready to eat or something she can keep in the freezer for a night when she really just can’t be bothered with feeding herself and her family. Good nutrition will also do its part to help her recover more quickly.
Send a card
Cards are such an easy, simple way to let someone know you’re on their side. No matter if your friend lives next door or across the country; she will appreciate it. You can send a card shortly after the miscarriage, or consider sending one anytime you think of her. Though life moves on, she’s sure to think about her loss several times a week, if not every day. Let her know you realize that just because the pain gets easier, it’s not gone and forgotten.
So if a friend reveals she has joined the one in four of us that know the kind of grief we never wanted to imagine, you’ll be equipped with some tools to love and comfort her through her sadness. The miscarriage grief process brings forth a strength we didn’t even know we had. When your friend can’t find hers, share yours with her.
I know she’ll be grateful. No matter what we’re going through, moms are stronger when we stick together.