I’ve read that experiencing a miscarriage is the most profound experience of death a person can experience. No other form of death occurs in and must pass through your own body. The journey of moving through and finding this new normal of being a mother without a child is hard, really hard.
Not only is there natural grief and loss that follows losing a child; all the what ifs and why me. There is also the massive physical and hormonal upheaval that just seems to exacerbate everything 1000-fold. For me the loss was profound. All I have ever wanted was to become a mother. After suffering a chemical pregnancy a few months earlier, getting to 8 weeks and experiencing extreme hormonal symptoms which should’ve indicated a ‘healthy pregnancy’ I had become very attached to my baby; the loss was devastating. I was also in the position of my relationship ending, so that only compounded my loss. The physical implications of my miscarriage went on for months. I had been told to expect my body to take 8-10weeks, the length of time I was pregnant, to go back to normal. This was true for part of it, it was amazing how the oppressive cloud of depression lifted almost exactly 2 months to the day of my D&C. I was still sad and at times triggered, but until that day I couldn’t breathe. Whenever I was alone or in the company of people with whom I felt safe, I was physically unable to stop crying. So yes, that overwhelming grief did lift precisely when I was told I would ‘go back to normal’, but my cycle did not return to normal until after my due date – 7 months later.
I wouldn’t wish the experience of miscarriage on anyone. There were many things that I did to help myself and support my grieving process during this time. I wanted to share them so that maybe they may help someone else. You may only need to do one of these things, or you may find other things that help you. Feel free to add anything you tried to the comments.
- I named my baby.
I didn’t name the baby until after my D&C. I hadn’t told many people until then; I had just been in shock. It felt like without a name the baby wasn’t a person, and I needed my baby to be a real person – to matter. I didn’t know the gender of my baby, but I had always seen her as a girl. I could’ve chosen a non- gendered name, but when I found the name it was just meant to be her name. I named my baby Mya. At first it was because I saw that it means ‘mine’ in American. It also means ‘Beloved’ in Egyptian, ‘Great’ in Greek and ‘Spring’ or ‘Brook’ in Hebrew.
- I sought counselling.
I had professional counselling with a psychologist who specialised in miscarriage. It was very helpful to have someone outside of the situation to talk to. She also gave me some beautiful ways to work through my grief, like writing a letter to Mya. She also gave me some breathing exercises to help calm me when I was feeling overwhelmed.
- I bought a charm for my pandora bracelet.
I got a little heart, because that’s where my baby would always be, in my heart. I got one with a stone in what would’ve been her date of birth.
- I joined an online support group.
Sometimes this was overwhelming, and I had to mute the notifications, but having people going through the same thing to vent with and get ideas about how to process everything was invaluable.
- I got a ‘My Missing Piece’ keepsake.
These are beautiful resin hearts and inside is a model of your baby at the age you lost them. You can get them made with several models for multiple losses.
- I ordered a special Christmas decoration.
I love Christmas, it’s a very important time for me. My first baby was due on Christmas Day also. Although, I didn’t process the loss of my first pregnancy in the same way, Christmas was an important time for me to remember and include Mya.
- I donated Christmas gifts in Mya’s name.
I purchased a bunch of gifts for Mya and donated them to a child in need (through the Target Wishing Tree). I will continue this tradition, buying gifts for whatever age Mya would be.
- I made a keepsake box.
I bought a wooden crate and attached Mya’s name to the front. I knew that someday I wouldn’t need all these keepsakes around but wanted a special place to hold my baby’s memories. Inside is the outfits I bought to tell my partner we were pregnant; some little outfits I bought for Mya and my nephew to announce to my family I was pregnant; a photo album with my photos either marking my pregnancy or of my ultrasound; a little toy elephant my Mum had bought for Mya after we went to the first ultrasound; I added the keepsake heart when I no longer needed to have it beside my bed; a candle I will light on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day each year (which is October 15th) and; anything else that I gather along the way (for example one of the books I bought to donate I got two copies of and put in her box, I will let her siblings read it one day, when we talk about their big sister).
- I marked her due date.
My best friend lives in Canada, so we met in Hawaii for Mya’s due date. I had decided I wanted to make a Mandala on the beach for Mya. It was really a very beautiful, quiet, reflective time to honour her. I would suggest doing something with your baby’s father, if you’re in a relationship – I was not.
- I gave myself permission to be whatever I needed to be. If I was crying – I was crying. If I was laughing – I was laughing. If I wanted to lay in bed watching Dawson’s Creek, then that’s what I did. Obviously if you think it’s becoming too overwhelming, it’s OK to seek professional help. But part of healing is giving yourself permission to ride and experience it all – if you don’t, you risk staying stuck. Some things I did when I was feeling overwhelmed with grief included; using the ‘Console’ essential oil blend by Doterra; taking a shower. I actually took about 6 showers a day! I sat in the bottom of the shower with a shower cap on. I found the warm water along with the noise and light pressure on my head often broke my thoughts from spiralling and calmed me; sometimes, I slept with the toy elephant my Mum had bought for Mya; I asked for help.