Journeying Through Miscarriage – Shared by Deb
Some of the hardest times in life are best experienced with a supportive person at your side. We recently gained a few ideas about what is helpful to do for you, if you are going through miscarriage, and what your support person can do. It is important to remember when reading this article that everyone’s experience of grief and life is different so the ideas suggested are designed to be a guide to a very personal and sensitive topic. You can just take what is helpful and leave the rest.
The emotional rollercoaster associated with any kind of loss or grief is huge. Miscarriage is particularly hard; a baby is lost, often before the woman has even told anyone that she is pregnant. She may have been trying for a baby for a while and had just got excited and was looking forward to having a baby.
If you or someone you love is about to go through a miscarriage, here is some idea of what to expect. (Written by our Guest Author Deb who has been through this)
Miscarriage usually begins with excessive abdominal cramping followed by bleeding. It is important to remember that abdominal cramping is a normal symptom of pregnancy and many people who bleed during their pregnancy go on to have completely normal beautiful babies. If you have any bleeding in pregnancy it is important that you go and see your doctor or midwife who will check your hormone levels.
If you’re bleeding you will be given a blood test that will measure your HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels. HCG is the hormone present when you are pregnant. In early pregnancy it doubles every few days. HCG levels are then measured again, in a few days to determine if the HCG levels in your body are going up or down. Usually after this you will be sent for an ultrasound.
If you are the woman’s partner it is a good idea to go to the ultrasound – she will need your support. This an emotional time as it will be when you find out for sure that the baby is lost. Deb says “I just wanted to see on the screen that everything was ok and it wasn’t. I was devastated”. Sometimes the ultrasound shows that the baby is still present although not alive, if this is the case then you may be booked in for a Diltion and Curettage (D&C) in hospital, this is a surgical procedure that prevents infection following miscarriage and your doctor will discuss this with you if you need to have one.
It can take a while for your HCG hormones to return to a level when your body doesn’t feel pregnant any more and you miscarry completely. The time between knowing you’ve lost the baby and waiting to bleed can be so hard. Deb says “The experience was something like being hit by a freight train; I just wasn’t prepared for the gaping emptiness and the lonely ache inside. I felt like my dreams for us, our family and this baby had been shattered into a million pieces. I cried so much I didn’t think I’d have any tears left. And I’d say to my husband as he held me- Please say it will get better than this”.
It did get better but it was a day by day process with supportive people around.
What can you do if you’re going through this yourself?
- Take it day by day.
- Don’t worry about the myriad of emotions you feel and how these change many times a day.
- Try to get as much rest as possible and eat at least something for each meal, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Try not to expect too much of yourself and do something each day to make yourself feel special and beautiful.
- If you have the energy go for a walk or out for coffee.
- Try and do something you enjoy.
- If you think it would be helpful write a letter to your baby, a poem about them or plant a tree in remembrance of them- these can be nice way of acknowledging that your baby is special.
- Tell people how you feel. Especially your partner, it will be easier for him to support you if he knows where you’re at. This may often be a hard time for him too, as he tries to support you and juggle his feelings.
- If you have to return to work, try to give yourself a lighter workload initially if possible.
- Go see a counsellor or life coach if you would find this helpful.
- If you can, tell a few close friends or family who can help you through this time. Often people ask to be told what they can do to help out. Although it is often counter intuitive to do so, ask them to cook you a meal, feed the dog while you go away on holiday, or babysit other children if you have them.
What can a support person do:
- Cook meals.
- Call before visiting to see if they want you to come, don’t assume they will want time to themselves; maybe they want company.
- Offer to look after other children or feed animals while they go away for a weekend.
- Try listening without judging or interrupting. Even if you know of people who have had worse experiences than your friend, do not start telling that story while your friend is sharing hers. That may make your friend feel like you don’t see her experience as important.
- Your friends miscarriage is not a problem for you to solve so don’t try and offer solutions; this may make her feel like you don’t care.
- There is nothing that a woman can do to cause a miscarriage. Try not to make her feel blamed or guilty.
- Buy her a beauty treatment that she wouldn’t normally get or shout her to the movies; send her a special gift if you live far away.
- Try to offer hope, reassure her that life will get easier, that no matter what you’re always there for her and happy to listen; acknowledge that while you don’t understand what she’s going through, you care.
Want to know more? Miscarriage Support Auckland and SANDs are two helpful New Zealand based websites about miscarriage and stillbirth, they also offer support groups in some areas.
Shared by Debs Mum to a two year old and two angel babies.