It is estimated that around 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and yet we rarely talk about it. That can make it difficult for people who have experienced it to seek support or know how to cope with miscarriage after it happens.
I had what is referred to as a ‘missed miscarriage’. That means there were no real outward signs and it was only picked up when I went for an ultrasound. I won’t go into too much detail of my own particular story now because I plan to write another post about that. But I will say that it was a huge shock and the most devastating thing I have ever been through.
When it first happened I didn’t really know where to even start with trying to get over it. I ended up just muddling my way through and finding different things that worked for me.
So in this post I’m sharing a few of those things that helped me cope with miscarriage along with some of the things that didn’t help so much.
The Things That Helped Me Cope With Miscarriage
My boyfriend, Dom, was amazing after my miscarriage. Even though he was dealing with his own grief, he still managed to be incredibly supportive of me. He did all the shopping, cleaned the flat and made sure I got out of bed on days when it felt impossible. He also brought me wine when I needed a glass or three of red (sorry, not sorry).
Being Open With People
Whether or not you tell people about your miscarriage is a very personal choice. I made the decision early on to be open and honest about mine. It just didn’t make sense to me to keep it a secret.
Talking about it meant that friends were able to give me support at a time I really needed it and I felt less pressure to act as though everything was fine and normal.
As a result, I found out that a surprising number of my friends have also experienced miscarriage, many of whom went on to have healthy babies. It helped to be able to speak to people who had been through it and were able to offer advice.
Doing Normal Things
I obviously didn’t feel up to much in the first few weeks following my miscarriage. However, there was the odd day when I was able to muster the strength do something normal – brunch with a friend, a walk, a trip to the cinema.
It helped take my mind off things and made me feel more connected to the World. At the very least, it made me get out of bed and put on actual clothes.
Remembering My Baby
After my miscarriage, I didn’t want to just forget about it and move on. It was important to me to have something to remember him or her by.
Soon afterwards, Dom bought me a gorgeous angel wing necklace for our baby that I never take off. I also plan to get a small tattoo of a dove (the dove symbolises peace or a spiritual messenger who can pass between worlds) and of course, I made sure to remember our baby when the due date came around.
Avoiding Social Media
I avoided social media altogether for a while. I found it too difficult to see photos of pregnant friends and people with children. And that’s before we even get onto the subject of targeted ads bombarding me with images of baby clothes and nursery furniture.
When I did go back online, I temporarily muted any accounts with the potential to upset me and hit the ‘hide’ button on ads I no longer wanted to see.
I also followed accounts and blogs by people who talk openly about their experiences with miscarriage. In a World where miscarriage is seldom discussed, I found it refreshing and comforting to see it out in the open. Here are a few of my favourites:
The Things That Didn’t Help Me Cope With Miscarriage
Returning to Work Too Quickly
I returned to work two weeks after my miscarriage. At the time, I hadn’t had time to fully process everything and it was way too soon.
Although I was very open with friends, I only told a few people at work about the miscarriage. So I had to pretend everything was normal even though I felt anything but.
One of the hardest things about being back at work was that I had a pregnant colleague whose baby was due around the same time mine should have been (she ended up having her baby three days after my due date). That meant I had to watch her pregnancy unfold in front of my eyes in real time.
Two and a half months later I had what I can only describe as a mini breakdown and had to take more time off. In hindsight, I wish that I had just taken more time off to deal with it in the beginning instead of rushing back so soon.
Some of the terminology around miscarriage can be a bit dehumanising. There were occasions when a simple choice of wording could have made me feel so much better.
There were the medical staff who referred to the remains of my baby as ‘products of conception’ and the friend who talked about my ‘fetus’ with no heartbeat.
Those terms may very well be technically correct but they don’t convey the depth of emotions you feel when you have a miscarriage. For me, they only served to lessen the gravity of what I was going through and made me feel almost as though I was overreacting.
Lack of Professional Support
At one point I did go to my GP to seek help with the grief I was feeling, thinking that maybe he could refer me to a grief counsellor or similar service. Unfortunately he wasn’t the most helpful and simply told me to Google what support was available.
In the end I did not receive any professional help. I can’t help but think that a professional counsellor could have helped me process my emotions and develop strategies to cope with miscarriage.
Well Meaning Comments
It can be really difficult to know what to say to someone who has just had a miscarriage. I totally get it. And I was of course grateful for any offer of support.
However, there were a few comments that didn’t necessarily help me feel better. Comments such as ‘it’s probably for the best’ and ‘at least it happened early’ didn’t reflect the loss I felt for that particular baby. Again, they almost made me feel as though I was overreacting about the whole thing.
So there we have it. The things that helped me cope with miscarriage and a few of the things that didn’t. I’m sure I’ll remember a ton of other things the second I hit publish on this post so I’ll update accordingly.
If you have experienced miscarriage and need some support, The Miscarriage Association has lots of great resources including a helpline and a UK-wide network of support groups.