Last week, on October 15, the world celebrated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I’ll admit, this is one of those “holidays” I didn’t know about. In fact, I didn’t know it existed at all…until I scrolled through Instagram and saw countless friends and loved ones sharing their stories of loss and grief.
As I scrolled through my feed, clutching my five-month-old daughter to my chest, I was struck by the tragedy shared by so many women. I was also surprised by how little many women (including myself) know about miscarriages—and how scary it must be to navigate that storm on your own. Here are a few things you should know about miscarriages.
1. Your Body Has to Recover
From the moment you become pregnant, your body immediately starts changing to accommodate the growing little one. Hormones rise, your breasts swell, your uterine lining thickens. Your body puts in extra work to make things comfortable for that baby—which can explain why pregnancy is an EXHAUSTING experience.
After a miscarriage, your body tries to go back to “normal.” This process isn’t easy: the uterine lining sheds, your hormones change violently, and if you have to have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage: a surgery to remove the fetus from the uterine lining), you’ll have to undergo major surgery.
You need to give your body time to recover from this rapid change. You may feel tired. You may lose hair (due to sudden hormone fluctuations). You may not get a period for weeks after the miscarriage. This experience can be nerve-wracking and you might feel uncomfortable in your own skin, but trust that your body will heal in time.
2. Your Soul Needs Recovery, Too
It doesn’t matter if you suffered a miscarriage at six or sixteen weeks—losing a child is devastating. From the moment you learn that this little one is on the way, you begin thinking about how he or she will change your life. You make plans, you look at cute baby clothes online, you get excited…only to have those dreams dashed with a word from your doctor.
As I type this now, I am reminded of the day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so excited, so overjoyed. I honestly can’t imagine how it would have felt to lose her—but one thing I do know is that it wouldn’t be easy to overcome that pain.
Suffering a miscarriage is significant, and you and your partner need time to heal and cope with the pain. Allow yourself time to grieve. Don’t think you need to jump back into everyday life if you aren’t ready. You need to recover, and that takes time.
3. No One Knows How to Help (But They’ll Try)
There’s a reason why most couples wait until 12 weeks—the time when most pregnancies are deemed “safe” from miscarriage (not always true)—to announce their pregnancy. It’s because couples don’t want to have to explain their loss to everyone in their lives should a miscarriage occur.
In a way, I understand this trepidation. People are notoriously bad at comforting each other in the face of extreme grief. You may end up hearing countless platitudes on repeat: “It’s not the right time,” “God has a plan,” “You can try again,” etc. Those words may likely bring little comfort after a moment like this, but it’s all your loved ones can do to try and help.
The fact is that your friends and family care about you, and they’ll want to do everything they can to make you feel better. However, even the kindest condolences aren’t always enough to keep the grief away.
4. You Are Not Alone
Many couples avoid sharing the news of a miscarriage with their friends or family because they don’t want to make others uncomfortable. This has resulted in an unfortunate cultural silence; nearly 25% of women have miscarried babies, and yet no one talks about it.
Luckily, the culture around pregnancy and infant loss is beginning to change (hence last week’s awareness day). However, hearing that your girlfriend or your favorite celebrity has also miscarried doesn’t always make you feel less alone. If you need counseling or a place to connect with other women, there are many organizations that can help you find the support you need to get through this time.
If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage or other infant loss, please know that I am so, SO sorry. Your pain may be palpable, and it may feel like it will last forever. But with time, you can heal—and know that a miscarriage is not the end of your parenthood journey. When you’re ready, you can find a rainbow at the end of the storm.