On Loss and Gratitude | A Personal Story About Our Miscarriage

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On Loss and Gratitude

Somewhere around ten years ago, when the thought of having a baby was basically the most horrifying thing to me, I read about one woman’s miscarriage experience.

It sounds crazy to me now, but I had no idea what a miscarriage was. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that my definition of “horrifying” quickly changed and I have been scared of having a miscarriage ever since, Learning about their prevalence did not help.

When pregnant with Everest, we didn’t tell our family or friends until close to the end of the first trimester, which is, as far as I have heard, a fairly normal choice because of the likelihood of a pregnancy not being viable.

(Word to the wise: don’t Google the stats. It’s not worth it.)

Exactly three years later, I found out that I was pregnant with our second baby, due three days after Everest’s due date. Everest was the first, besides me, to know and he was decidedly a fan of having a baby sister. He kept our secret well and Ian found out a week later (LONGEST week of my life!) when I told him as our friend, Lauren, grabbed this photo. How cute is he?

Couple photo on film at UNC Chapel Hill

Unfortunately, you have most likely guessed this story doesn’t have the happiest ending. At our first ultrasound, we found out that I would likely have a miscarriage. I don’t want to underplay how devastating this was, nor will I go into graphic details here, but I DO have a lot to be grateful for, and I want to focus on that.

However, I want to put this out there first: if you need a real live person to talk about your miscarriage with or what to expect, I’m just an email away.

Gratitude for other women

The week before that heartbreaking ultrasound, Meghan Markle shared about her miscarriage and said, “Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”

I am so grateful that I never experienced those emotions. I owe this entirely to all of the women whose stories I have heard, who spoke openly and vulnerably to normalize this very, very normal experience. Thank you. I also want to add this disclaimer: if you do or did feel shame over a miscarriage experience, or felt like it was taboo to talk about, that is completely valid, and I’m so sorry that you felt those feelings. This is also a really good time to say that whatever you are feeling is valid, even if that includes positive feelings like relief.

The reason I’m writing this at all is because 1) I can and 2) I hope it can help even one other woman to feel less alone or scared or devastated, whether it’s because this will be something she experiences or because she is better able to support someone she loves.

Gratitude for grief

If you know me well, it’s no shocker that my brain immediately went to trying to put limits on how long it would be okay to feel sad, how quickly I needed to “move on,” and what I should do next.

But then I told my brain to be quiet and I asked myself what I would say to a friend going through this situation. I asked myself what I say when Everest feels sad and what I would want him to say to a friend experiencing grief or loss. And SURPRISE! It was radically different and way nicer!

And then I chose to say those things to myself. I let myself feel however I wanted to and I still am. I let myself grieve. Some days are hard. Some minutes are hard. That’s okay. It gets easier.

While talking to a friend, I asked what the purpose of grief is, and she responded with this:

“It serves as an important role in fostering healthy attachments to our most intimate support systems.”

And so, I let my most intimate support systems support me. And, like, wow. They were amazing and I learned a ton that you should know.

I will say that I felt totally unreasonably spoiled and I will also say that that’s exactly how it should be and I’m not sorry! I hope every woman going through this experiences the same type of support.

If you love someone going through a miscarriage:

Do:

  • Ask them what they need and give them multiple choice options because most likely, they won’t “NEED” anything (e.g. do you want to go on a walk or Facetime over lunch tomorrow?)
  • Just show up in SOME way, even if that’s from a “distance” – friends delivered flowers and food and cards, sent videos, distracted me with conversations about other things, etc.
  • Text their partner to check in so you’re not overwhelming the person
  • Most importantly: learn to be with others and their feelings instead of jumping to make them feel better. Spoiler alert — you can’t. It’s so much more helpful to learn to ask questions, listen, and allow others to feel what they’re feeling.

Do not (none of my friends did these things, I’m just sayin’):

  • Tell them about your friend’s friend’s friend who had a miscarriage horror story unless they ask for it.
  • Center yourself or your story — either actively listen to them or get out.
  • Ask them what they need, wait for them to say, “I’m fine,” and then never say anything again.
  • Say things like, “This is just what was supposed to happen,” or “It’s going to be okay,” or “There is a reason for everything.” (This sort of thing is NOT helpful and if you don’t know that yet, you are welcome for this information, my friend!)

Gratitude for my body

Before I found out that I would have a miscarriage, I heard a lot that my “body knew what it was doing” when it came to supporting a pregnancy.

Ironically, this is very true because my body tried its hardest to support a baby even when it could have just stopped because #morningsicknessucks.

But that brings me to the fact that I am so grateful for my body! It has done a LOT to support life. I have friends who have had miscarriages before having a healthy baby, and I am so thankful that I have not experienced that. If you have, I am so sorry and I hope that you get to hold your baby in your arms some day soon.

Having Everest makes this loss real for me in different ways, but it also means that I am coming out of this experience still believing in my very cool body (never thought I would say that…). It also means that I have felt NO jealousy or weirdly conflicting feelings towards friends who are pregnant or when maternity ads pop up on my social media timeline for that bougie stroller I already definitely put on my second baby registry.

What I’m trying to say is: thank you body and thank you brain.

Gratitude for Ian

This gratitude list could never be complete without Ian on it, and honestly, he should probably be at the top.

Let me just put it this way: we love photographing weddings and families. They’re so beautiful and our photos are typically of life’s most joyous moments. But I just cannot cannot cannot stress this enough —

Marry someone that you can be sad with. Marry someone who makes you feel safe.

mom with baby boy at unc chapel hill

This story doesn’t have a nicely-tied-bow-on-top ending. Not yet, anyway. As I’m writing this, I’m still miscarrying this pregnancy.

Today, I’m okay but yesterday was hard and maybe tomorrow will be, too.

Onwards.

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