Losing the dream.
Your skin was glowing, belly was growing, and all signs pointed to a healthy, happy baby (in about seven and a half months). But then… suddenly… it wasn’t.
Some of you may know about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I learned about it the painful/obvious way, eight years ago, when I was eight weeks pregnant with my first baby and had a miscarriage. Yup, the big M. After (and also before) months of the big I. Torture.
I heard the usual from people who meant well (“It’s so common,” “You’ll have a healthy baby next time,” and “Your body must have known,”) but none of it helped. Most people didn’t know what to say, so most people didn’t say anything, which was both a blessing and a curse. I couldn’t talk about it, but I also didn’t want to talk about anything else. It was also troubling to me that there was so much secrecy surrounding loss AND pregnancy. I was devastated when we shared the news of my miscarriage, but I was even more devastated that we hadn’t yet shared the excitement of my pregnancy. It felt like an extra blow.
Here’s what I did to deal:
- Took a week of me-time. My awesome boss was sympathetic, so I spent a week crying, sleeping, reading, listening to music, and DIYing a paint-project or two. Cathartic.
- Yoga. Getting down with my Downward Dog was both soothing and energizing. It was something I could do to be in control of my body without feeling like it was failing me.
- Meditate. You’ve heard me say it before, peeps. Here. And here. And even here. What you haven’t heard is that I discovered the power of meditation post-miscarriage. I was grasping at straws, so forcing my mind to think about nothing was better than the alternative. Much better.
- Joined a support group. This was hands-down the best thing I did. It was hard for me to ask for help (partly because it was hard for me to admit I needed help), but as soon as I reached out to Bereaved Families of Ontario, I knew it was the right play. I met with a group of strangers who’d suffered a similar loss and we all leaned on each other. I felt like I was part of a club, even if it was a sad, lonely, heartbroken club. The most essential element of the support was that we all listened to each other. No one offered advice, no one interrupted, and no one dismissed anyone else’s sorrow. We shared memories, stories, heartache, and cookies. Good times.
- Symbolic rituals. I spent the duration of what would have been my pregnancy drowning in both tears and symbolism. I crafted a card with my baby’s ultrasound pic, which I still can’t look at. I planted a garden of tulips in memoriam. On October 15th, I lit a candle and asked friends and fam to do the same. I took part in a holiday tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. And on what was supposed to be my baby’s due date, I potted a new plant and spent the day photographing it in different light until I got my perfect pic, which I then printed, framed, and hung in what would have been (and eventually became) our nursery. I know this all sounds gloomy and nuts, but somehow it just wasn’t.
- Stopped trying to get knocked up. It took a few months before I took a deep breath and realized the stress of being laughed at by the fertility gods was just. too. much. So we chilled and yup, about a second later, I got knocked up. I might have been in a better place if it hadn’t happened while I was still grieving, but that didn’t stop me from shouting it to the world… BEFORE I reached the second trimester.
Welcoming grief is the healthiest way to work through it. Meaningful rituals, venting, and even wallowing can be good for you. Sometimes the people who love you the most have no idea what you need and no idea how to listen or help you. And that’s okay. Someone else does, even if you’ve never met that person. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t give up.
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