Here's the deal. Unfortunately, one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Can you believe that?
One in four.
A quarter of all pregnancies.
So, as much as I hate to say it, this is something that most people will experience in one way or another at some point in time. Whether it is a friend, a family member, a coworker, or yourself going through it, it is bound to happen at some point. (I feel so horrible even typing that...I would never wish this on my worst enemy.) Yet, even with how often this happens, I've noticed the majority of people still have no idea how to react. I'm not saying everyone should know the exact right thing to say and do, because...quite frankly...the situation is different for everybody. However, there have been a couple of things I've experienced over the last month that I think I'm safe to say people can cross off their "How To Treat A Woman After A Miscarriage" list.
- Do not downplay the life that was growing in my body. I realize I only carried my baby for 13 weeks, but I was with my baby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those 13 weeks. I talked to my baby. I made plans for my baby. I prayed for my baby. Chris and I planned for over a year for our baby and from the second we found out I was pregnant, that life that we had been waiting for was a reality. Comments like "Well, at least you know you can get pregnant" or "This was God's way of getting rid of a defective baby, you should be thankful" or "At least you weren't further along when it happened" don't do me a whole lot of good. They make me feel like my broken heart is invalid and that is not your place to judge.
- Please, as hard as it is for you, don't avoid me. I have been on both sides of grief. I understand how awkward it can be to reach out to a person who is hurting. We had so many people reach out to us the week of my surgery (which was incredible and I will be thankful forever), but a month later, nobody knows what to say to me. A couple of days ago, I went to a gathering which happened to be my first big outing since before my loss. I was greeted by a few excited friends that I had not seen in a while, but a lot of the time I was dodged by people who were (in reality) too nervous or (my perception) didn't care enough to even come up and say hello. I don't need you to ask how I'm doing if you aren't comfortable bringing it up. If you are comfortable, go for it. I'm not as fragile as I seem. I just need to know that I didn't lose my friends and social life on top of losing my baby. I want to feel included...loved...normal.
- Unless you are at my baby shower or I have a huge, obviously pregnant belly, don't run up to me screaming to congratulate me and rub my stomach. This also happened at above gathering. Four times. I know it takes a little while for a woman's body to return to "normal" after a miscarriage, but I also know I do not look almost twenty weeks pregnant. This is one of those things where I had to just breathe and remind myself that they were just excited and I know it left them feeling more uncomfortable than me when they found out what happened. However, all of this could be avoided. You don't have to feel uncomfortable when I tell you the belly you are rubbing is empty, and I don't have to feel the sting of a "Congratulations!" that I would have and should have been thrilled about but I'm not.
- I'm begging you, don't judge my pregnancy. My husband and I talked about how we would handle every step of my pregnancy together and we do not regret the decisions we made. This includes our decision to tell people after our 9 week appointment when we heard our baby's heartbeat for a second time. I understand that by a lot of people's standards, this is "early." However, if we had waited until the more "correct" announcement time of 12 weeks, we still would have had to "untell" everyone. Now, everyone is different on this, but I was thankful for the support we had after we lost our baby. I would not have felt right knowing my husband and I were mourning our loss alone when that baby had the right to so much more love. Now, this is just my personal opinion and I respect those of you who chose to do things differently. I just ask for the same respect in return.
I have a feeling that after posting this I will hear either on this blog or in person something along these lines: "Well you can't tell us not to judge you for telling early, then expect everyone to just act normal around you and be mad that people are treating you weird after the fact. That is why people wait. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Blablablablabla."
To that I say: Yes I can. I have every right to be treated with respect after my loss. I also have the right to mourn as loudly or as quietly as I want to for as long as I need to. I had the right to tell people about my pregnancy and be excited about it. My baby deserved to be known and celebrated and now my baby deserves to be missed and I do not regret that one bit. I will not allow people to make me feel ashamed for feeling as I do. I will also try my hardest to not make the same mistake and judge their actions because obviously I don't know how they are feeling either. I just pray that this will shine some light, not only on my story, but on so many of the stories out there. Like I said earlier, this will not be the last time a lot of you are in this situation (and I'm so sorry for that.) Let's all learn from this together and maybe a little something positive will come out of this pile of negative we've been handed.
To all of you who have been amazing through all of this (you know who you are), thank you. It is appreciated more than you'll ever know.