Elated. Excited. Hopeful. These are just a few of the emotions I felt when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. Then comes the morning sickness and being tired. Feelings that were bothersome, but reassuring all was going well.
Then 12 weeks in, I hear the worst news. News I never thought I would hear. The doctor told me they could not find the heartbeat. Devastation. Heartbroken. How could this be? What did I do wrong? Weeks went by and I felt empty and lost. I wanted answers as to what happened, and there were none.
Three more miscarriages followed. I was always so hopeful, and now I wondered if it was even worth trying again. This was a hard year and filled with so many emotions.
However, even though it was a devastating year for me, it also brought to my attention that so many suffer miscarriage or infant loss. To be exact, 1 in 4 women will experience this loss. Never did I think that it would happen to me once, let alone 3 more times. No one thinks it will happen to them. What I also learned is that miscarriage is not discussed too often. It is was a taboo subject and well-meaning people did not know what to say to me.
This started me on the path to figuring out how to break the silence of miscarriage and infant loss. In the beginning, I reached out to other women who experienced this pain to lean on them for support. As a birth doula, I knew women needed to be supported during and after birth, but I never thought about support during a loss. I began my journey to become a certified bereavement doula.
The training was intense, and it opened my eyes that each person grieves differently, but still deserve to be supported through this difficult circumstance. My desire is to support a woman and her family during the time of loss. That can be a variety of ways. It can be making meals, making plans for a service, or just listen. Even though I have experienced this loss, I know that each loss is different.
If you are reading this and you are experiencing a miscarriage, please know you are not alone. The pain is real and not to be ignored. Take time to grieve….as you see fit. If you feel comfortable reach out to your family or friends and be open with how you are feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable or feel that you should be over the loss, reach out to Well Mama, Stillbirthday.org, or another support group. Know that there is no time frame on grieving.
If you are reading this and you know someone who is experiencing a loss, I encourage you to listen. Avoid saying something that begins with “At least…”. Let them talk…even if it is hard to listen. Let them know they are not alone. If it is too overwhelming, put them in contact with a local support group. Being present is the best thing you can do for them. Let them know they can (and should) grieve however they deem needed. If for some reason, you are concerned that the person is struggling and may need some extra support, I have included some resources that may be a great help for those walking this difficult path.
My hope is that this becomes a topic that people feel comfortable discussing. This is part of the reason I become a bereavement doula. The other reason is that no one should walk this alone and I hope to support them however they need.
-Sarah Boothe, CD (DONA & StillBirthday) Blissful Beginnings Co-Founder
WellMama – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group
Footprints on Our Hearts (Facebook page)