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How You May Feel

I feel despair.
 
It is natural to feel despair and incredible, debilitating sadness. You may not want to get out of bed, talk to anyone, eat, or even breathe. You may think about killing yourself to be with your baby or just lying in bed until everyone gets the point and leaves you alone. I felt all these things. 
 
You have every right to feel this way. Let it go for a day or two, even as much as a week. By then, it should start to ease a bit. Your emotions may shift to anger or defeat. But when you cry, you do eventually stop. Your mind will drift to other things occasionally. And you will start getting better.
 
If in a week you are not feeling somewhat better,  if you are still feeling like being with your baby would be better than being here, reach out to someone, anyone, email me, call someone you know, find a miscarriage support group, go to a church, do something. Fight to get back to the surface and out of deep despair that you feel.
 
Remember that you still have things to live for, things out there in a future you can't see right now--children you will eventually have, either yourself or through adoption, love you will feel, friends you will make. Don't give up yet. 
 
When is despair dangerous? When you stop thinking about committing suicide and start planning it. If you have taken any steps toward really doing it, please, please, get help immediately. What is happening to you isn't just the loss of your baby, it is a hormone imbalance that is affecting your thinking. It is very possible to get out of your despair with just a little bit of help from a professional. You must do this. You have a future. 
 

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I feel angry. 
 
You are perfectly justified. It's hard to know where exactly to direct your anger, though. God? Fate? Your doctor? Your husband? Yourself? You wonder why in hell you had to get pregnant if this was going to happen. Why did you have to carry the baby so long? Why did it have to happen to you? 
 
Anger is one of the natural parts of the grieving process. It is a healthy emotion right now and will get you feeling stronger. But it will probably not last. Anger usually gives way very quickly to sadness and despair. Sometimes you will feel flushed with anger, and just as quickly you will be sobbing. You may feel like you are out of control. Maybe you want to smash things. I actually did smash some things. It helped for a moment or two. Then I just had to sweep it up. 
 
All these things are real and valid feelings. And we all experienced them. You are part of a large sorority of sad and angry mothers of angels. We all understand. And we're angry too.

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This miscarriage is my fault.
 
I can't tell you how many women have explained to me what they did to cause their miscarriage, or to ask if their stressful job or glasses of wine were what did it. For a long time, I blamed myself too. Then I learned I had a malformed uterus. All that guilt was for nothing.
 
Let me be the one to tell you: YOU DID NOT CAUSE THIS MISCARRIAGE. 
 
I don't care if you were smoking crack--those babies are born all the time. Stand up on the job all day? Doesn't matter. On bed rest but got up a couple of times to raid the refrigerator or use the bathroom (or even to go out to dinner)? Insignificant. Nature is not perfect. Our genetic code sometimes doesn't work just right. It's terrible; it's sad. I hate it. But it has nothing to do with your sins, your stress, your mistakes, your nutrition, or your relationship. There was nothing you could have done. 
 
I know. Some of you still feel a nagging guilt. But try to put it out of your mind. It really, truly was not your fault. And most likely, it will not happen again.
 

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I think I'm going crazy.
 
Remember to give yourself time to handle your grief. IT IS REAL AND VALID. You may want to read some of the other women's miscarriage stories here or on other web sites to help you see that the crazy things you feel are normal. I did and thought many things after my miscarriage that I thought were really unhealthy or insane, including:
  • Wanting to die to be with my baby
  • Cuddling the sonogram pictures like a baby
  • Hugging the tree we planted in Casey's memory (in full view of neighbors)
  • Getting angry with myself for laughing or having a good time
  • Picking fights with my husband for no reason
  • Telling perfect strangers about my baby

It may not get much better for a long time. There will probably be a time, about 3-4 months later, that it will actually get worse. Getting pregnant again may not give you the release from grief you seek. Just give yourself time and surround yourself with people who care and understand. Forget the rest of them, for now.

If I could make one recommendation that has helped me tremendously, it would be to put together a memory box of your baby's things, even if it is only sympathy cards and a positive pregnancy test, or just letters you are writing to him/her. For several months, I went into the nursery and opened that box and cried every single day. I found that if I didn't, I felt like I was in a grief-fog all day. The memory box validates my baby's existence. Since I don't have a grave or a container of ashes, I go to it.

Check the section on making baby memories. You can also place your baby's name on my angel dedication page.

 

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No one will talk about it.
 
Many, many women write me and say that no one will let them talk about their baby, and even their close friends, church members, and family shy away from the topic. This is so common that it has become the number one comment I get in emails.
 
What is really happening? Your friends, your coworkers, your church acquaintances know you are hurting, and hurting deeply. They do not know what to say. They want you to feel better, so they think somehow, if they ignore what happened, you will forget about it sooner. There are a lot of people who honestly believe that the more you talk about something, the worse you feel. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Unfortunately, unless you feel comfortable bringing it up (and you SHOULD; it is perfectly okay), no one else will. Would you want to be talking on the phone with someone, having a perfectly normal conversation, and then suddenly say something that makes the other person burst into tears? This is what your friends believe will happen (and they are probably right), and they don't want to put you through that. They don't understand that this is exactly what you need to do. 
 
I forced the issue on my friends for a while, refusing to talk about anything else. All the while, however, I got on the internet, in chat rooms and bulletin boards, talking to other women in my situation who were interested in every detail. When you can't get the support you need in your current circle of friends, reach out to those of us who have been there. I have made countless friends through our shared experiences, and these are people you can count on to understand and not to say anything stupid. They have been there, and for a while, they are the best friends you will have. 
 
Both www.inciid.com and www.parentsplace.com  have good bulletin boards for women who have experienced a loss. Visit them and get the support you need outside your normal circles, for a while. When you are used to talking about your baby, then you may be ready to bring up the subject with your family and friends. I think you will find that many of them really want to know what happened.
 

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People say awful things.
 
Most people don't really know what to say, so they make something up on the spot or repeat old-fashioned sayings that don't really apply. I think that they feel the need to say something, and they want somehow to make it all better. While many of the stupid things that people will say to you upon learning you have lost a baby seem thoughtless and even cruel, do realize that it is difficult to find the right thing to say to you. You will probably be upset no matter what they say. This is okay, you can always just walk away from the conversation. 
 
For those of you who want to retort, here are some replies to the most common comments you will hear. 
 
Comment: "This was probably a blessing in disguise." 
Reply: "I don't see it that way; this is actually very hard for me."
 
Comment: "At least you weren't farther along."
Reply: "I think a baby is a baby no matter how big he or she is."
 
Comment: "Now you have an angel in heaven."
Reply: "Yes, but I'm sure I'd rather have a baby here."
 
Comment: "This was God's will."
Reply: "I don't think I or anyone really knows what God's will is exactly."
 
Comment: "Be glad you didn't get attached to it."
Reply: "Actually, we were quite attached to our little baby."
 
Comment: "Stop worrying. My cousin had four miscarriages and she had a baby just fine."
Reply:  "I am very sorry for your cousin. I know how hard those four miscarriages must have been."
 
Comment: "If you stop thinking about it, you'll feel better."
Reply: "Actually, thinking about the baby is important to me."
Comment: "You can always have another one."
Reply: "Yes, but I still lost this one."
 
Sometimes the best way to handle difficult people is to simply avoid them until you are up to it. If the problem is a mother-in-law (and it often is), ask your husband to handle her calls and keep yourself busy in the kitchen or elsewhere when she visits. Don't take her or anyone else's comments as being critical of you. Even when they seem that way; they are rarely meant to be.
 

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I'm afraid to try again.
 
Of course you are. I was terrified. I remained terrified for the entire 9 months. Even now, with one healthy baby in my life, the thought of another pregnancy still terrifies me. 
 
One thing that was immensely helpful to me was forming a "trying again" buddy group. I went to www.inciid.com and found the "trying again" forum. I posted a message saying that I was looking for women to be buddies with as I tried to get pregnant. Some 25 women replied and we all posted to the forum under the message "August Buddies." 
 
Everyone wrote on their calendars when each woman was taking their pregnancy test. We sorrowed when it was negative and rejoiced with the positives. The six of us who got pregnant that August stayed together our entire pregnancies. One of the group lost her baby again, and we were there for her. The rest of us kept in touch, exchanging birth announcements and birth stories. It really, really helped. I wasn't alone. Every day I could talk to someone else who knew exactly how I felt. 
 
Many women find, as I did, it will get very, very bad at the point in your pregnancy that you lost your baby. Once that time is past, you feel much better. I remember quite clearly the day that we knew the baby was old enough to survive if born. It was as if the world had lifted off our shoulders. Even the doctors and nurses smiled more when we came in for check ups. So it will get better.
 
The fear is not going to go away completely. The innocence of pregnancy and some of its joy is permanently gone. But surrounding yourself with other women in your situation will make it bearable.

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I've lost all faith in God.
 
It is hard to imagine a loving, compassionate God who would let things like this happen. What did an unborn baby ever do to deserve this? What have you done? 
 
You may feel your faith is being tested right now, and it is completely understandable that you will doubt in God. Regardless of your religion, "Why, God?" is a universal question when we face suffering. In many ways, you will have to think your way through your conflicting feelings about a God that you love and believe in, but you feel has failed you. Your clergy, pastor, preacher, rabbi, or priest may be able to help. 
 
I thought of it this way: God is here for us. He will carry us through our troubles if we let Him, but He does not guarantee that life will go as we wish. Death and suffering are part of our life, and our faith is there to help us through it, not prevent it. The last thing I wanted to do in my hour of need was to cut myself off from the only person who would not say something thoughtless or let me down--God.
 
The Christian Miscarriage Web Site is another resource for you if you are struggling with this issue. You can find it on our "books and links" page.
 

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