Pregnancy loss and the recovery process.

August 1, 2018

 

I’ve tried to write this post for weeks. It is never easy to write about the hardest parts of your life. I have not had much motivation to blog at all these past few months, but it is so important to me all the same to speak out about miscarriage recovery. After I wrote about the loss of our baby, it felt like so many of you reached through your screens and came through with so much compassion, love, empathy, and understanding. I heard many of your stories. It helped me tremendously, and I will never be able to thank each of you personally the way I wish I could! A few very important people in my life also told me it was okay to take my time to grieve. If writing about what has helped me in miscarriage recovery can also help someone else walking this difficult road, it is 100 percent worth it to me. If you know someone who is going through this, I hope this post can help you understand the best ways to reach out to them as well.

I accept with peace that I was meant to have that little life inside of me, even though it was brief. I know that even though her life didn’t come to full term, her life had purpose. I see so clearly how she left me changed for the better. I look forward to holding her in my arms at the end of my life, which is my renewed motivation to live a good one. Even though these are truths I hold close, as a human being, I have grieved her loss from the start and will always miss this baby. Cecilia took a piece of me with her. The daily sorrow was strong in the beginning, and it was very hard to keep going forward.

I hesitate to share about what physically happened to me, but because I felt so blindsided by it all, I hope this can be a way to bring more awareness to what women experience in a miscarriage. You have the option of a surgery, but I wasn’t comfortable with the risks of permanent damage or scar tissue. It takes the body a few weeks to detect the loss of a baby, so even though we knew we had lost ours, we had to wait almost three weeks for the contractions to start. Had it not been for a dear friend of mine, a trusted family friend in the medical field, and Gabe’s research, we would have been in a really unprepared situation. I wish doctors would be more clear about the options you are given, and I really wish they wouldn’t tell you the loss of your “tissue” would be mild cramping. It couldn’t be further from the reality of what I experienced. I actually labored with contractions comparable to my natural childbirths at home with Gabe by my side while my mom took our kids to stay with her. It was on and off for two days. At one point, I passed out from the pain and intensity, and Gabe called the doctor to make sure we didn’t need to go to the ER from blood loss. Thankfully I was able to get through the worst of it, and I delivered the full sac in tact. It took everything out of me physically and emotionally, but I think it allowed me to fully grieve and process what was happening. We created a memorial for our baby with a blooming magnolia tree, and it gave us so much peace to be able to do so.

As my body healed, the grief has slowly lifted as well. It still hits me every so often in unexpected ways. Something will trigger the deep emotion of feeling like someone is missing. Driving by a hospital, seeing a dad holding a baby, hearing a certain song, or even seeing someone expecting who is as far along as I am supposed to be. It often catches me of guard, and I am tempted to bury the pain, but as my mother so wisely advised…I let it come. I let myself cry. I allow myself to feel the pain of the loss.

Everyone has different experiences because loss can occur early to full term, and everyone processes loss differently, but I did want to share some things I wanted to share that have really helped me personally.

Acknowledge the loss – I have talked to a few women who felt unsure why they felt so broken even though the baby was only so many weeks old. I know for certain when we hold onto pain and don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge a loss for what it is, that pain will resurface in some other place and time. The reason we named our baby was to acknowledge that I indeed grew a life inside of me for months (and felt every side effect of it), and very much indeed lost that life. Naming her helped me find acceptance and peace knowing that her existence was real and her loss was real. It’s okay if you are the only one who feels the loss as deeply as you do.

Ask for help – After we saw our baby on the ultrasound, and was told there was no heartbeat, Gabe and I both were somewhat in shock.  As we were both trying to process the news the medical tech had just revealed, our doctor came in to share the options we had for the weeks ahead. I felt like I couldn’t make any decisions, and I just wanted someone to tell me what the best option was going to be. Gabe was also having a hard time with the news, and just wanted to support whatever I chose. I started to try to think of someone who had been through this recently that I could ask advice from. I didn’t have the emotional strength to call anyone, so I just texted a close friend who had just been through it a few months before. She walked me through what to expect if I were to have a natural miscarriage, and what I would need to prepare. Not only would that advice save me from hours on scary google forums, but her understanding of the situation gave me so much reassurance that this is something many women before me had been through, and I didn’t need to walk this alone. She also helped me understand what was normal to feel emotionally and physically. My sisters and my mother both stepped in when they heard the news as well. The day I found out we lost the baby, my sister Angela had offered to be with our kids, and she continued to check in on me almost daily. My mom and dad were always checking in on me. I get emotional when I think about my family, and the strength they were for me during the hardest days of my life. If you do not have family near by, don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help during the weeks of your loss. It is okay to need a shoulder to lean on, and chances are, the people you reach out to will be grateful you asked them.

There is no timeline – We all feel things differently, process pain differently, and recover in different ways. If it is taking you longer to recover than maybe a friend seemed to, that is OKAY. There is no timeline for grief. There is no need to rush healing. Allow yourself the grace to feel, process, and ache. I am currently in the middle of it where I know my heart is healing, but I still have time to go.

Communicate with your spouse – There is no possible way for your husband to understand fully what you are experiencing inside of your heart and mind, but I am pretty sure Gabe had never seen me so hurt. I tried my best to explain the emotions I was feeling and he understood the importance of being present to me during this time. He saw first hand what I went through physically, and he was an incredible strength for me during that time. Even though men may not experience the loss of a child the same way, they do feel it. Gabe was hurting in his own way, and we both made efforts to be a landing place for each other when we needed it. Sometimes Gabe could often tell when I needed to get out some of the emotion I was bottling up. He would sit next to me, ask me if it was okay to hold me, and let me just cry it out. .

A friend of mine told me she made a list for her husband to help him understand what she needed, because he was trying, but would often go into fix it mode or find something positive mode. It is impossible to assume they can understand what we need, especially since they have never been through it. So she shared this list as an example: Give me a hug when I come in the door….even if I look busy or fine. If you see me doing too much, tell me to sit down. If I am short with you, defensive, give you attitude, anything like that… PLEASE just ignore it. Just let it go, and know my mood has absolutely nothing to do with you. Know that even if we are having a good time, and I’m being upbeat – it doesn’t go away. The thoughts, sadness, dread, loss, fear, guilt, etc. Remind me that I didn’t cause this. Etc.

Counseling – If you are going through a loss along, or do not have someone to talk to about your experience (especially if it was a traumatic one), consider reaching out to a counselor trained to help with child or pregnancy loss. Two Hearts Counseling is an example. Karen can counsel even through skype. It doesn’t matter what faith or circumstance you come from.

 

 

Resources for pregnancy loss:

Books – My dear friend from college who has been through two pregnancy losses, immediately sent me a care package in the mail when she saw the news, including a devotional called Loved Baby. It has been so good to go through when I don’t have emotional bandwidth to process emotions. I also really loved “Grieving the Child I Never Knew.” These are spiritually based books that were such helpful aids for me. If you know of any additional books, please leave them in the comments.

Quotes – My sisters who live far away right now all sent me care packages soon after the loss, and inside of those packages were hand written notes, quotes, and prayers that completely lifted my weariness. My sister hand lettered a quote by St. Marie Azelie “We will find our children again up above.”

I wish I knew who sent me a print with the name Cecilia Rose Liesemeyer at the bottom, and a quote that to this moment draws tears in streams from my eyes…. “You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before my throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees the everlasting beauty – he sees my face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for my kingdom and each creature fills a place in that kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for my joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow, and called it forth.” 

Music – Music has helped me so much in the healing process. Sometimes when you don’t have the words to speak to others, or when you don’t have the strength to pray, music can do it for you. A few of you sent me songs that helped you during loss. Here are just a few: Supermarket Flowers -Ed Sheerhan,  Small Bump – Ed Sheerhan, Always Good – Andrew Pederson, I will Trust in You – Lauren Daigle, New Wine – Hillsong

Communities – I know there are several communities for pregnancy loss, and even if you need that support for a short amount of time, it is worth looking in to. Women have the incredible ability to band together and lift each other up, and in this case, other women who have walked a similar road.

Physical and mental health aids:
Exercise – The science behind what our brain releases during physical exercise explains why it helped me so significantly to break a sweat and release some of the depression and sadness from deep within me. I joined a gym, and have been going a few times a week since the spring. It has helped with my physical post partum recovery as well as given me mental strength.
Nutrients, Vitamins, Oils – Thanks to the advice of my doctor and friends, I continued to take prenatal vitamins following the birth as well as Ningxia juice, CBD oil, essential oils, and liquid iron. Going through a natural miscarriage left me physically weak and dizzy for a few weeks after, and felt completely depleted. These sources of vitamins and oils really helped to get me back on my feet, and feeling energy again. I will try to write more about this in depth sometime.
Time with family – This was so therapeutic for me. My children have been healing balm. Rocco would often stroke my head and offer his blankie when he saw me crying, and Azelie would let me hold her. I know not everyone has a baby to hold after a loss, and I feel deeply grateful for the renewed perspective of the miracles they are in my life. I also was able to get a few days away with Gabe in May, and it was good for both of us to have uninterrupted time together.

I would be remiss to leave out prayer. Over and over again. In good days and bad. Both when I have the words, and when I am numb. God has been so faithfully near through the people who have reached out during this time. The messages, the meals, the notes, and even on days of silence.  A relationship with God takes effort on our part, just like any other relationship, except with God He gives endlessly even when we have nothing to give back. He carries us when we are weak. He holds our burdens, and kisses our wounds. His love is relentless and pure, and it has sustained me during my darkest moments.

These have all been instrumental to recovery.

If you know someone who is going through or has been through a miscarriage, REACH OUT. It is easy to think you won’t have the right words to say, but believe me, even acknowledging the loss is so comforting to someone who is aching. Whenever a friend would send me a text, bring a meal, or mail a note, I felt so grateful that they would take the time to reach out to us. It didn’t matter what they did or didn’t say. It was ALWAYS needed and ALWAYS deeply appreciated.

Our due date would have been November 8th. It is a day I am dreading in some ways. It is hard not to think of what could have been. Despite all of this, I am thankful she came into our lives. There has been small moments when I know she is saying hello, and moments where she isn’t so subtle like stumbling on a giant rose garden on our short trip away. I am thankful that this experience can work for good. The day we found out our baby died, a part of me died with her. Maybe I am a little more bruised, but I know that our baby left me with greater empathy for women around me, and a greater desire to do good in the short time we are here in life.

If you are going through this, or have been through it, I extend my hand and my heart to you.

Thank you for reading, and for your support, love, and kindness!

 

Leave a Comment

  • I am currently in the middle of our third miscarriage. This one has hit me the hardest and the devastation I have been feeling at times is unbearable. Your words could not have come at a better time ❤️

  • I’m never a commenter on blogs I read, but I just needed to, to say thank you so very much for your bravery and honesty to write this post. As someone who’s recently gone through this for the first time, this would have been a really helpful resource. I pray that God continues to work in your healing and brings your family closer in this time.

  • Such a beautiful and helpful post. I will definitely share it. Another book I loved was After Miscarriage by Karen Edmisten.

  • Gosh, this sounds so similar to my first miscarriage. The delivery – and I call it delivery because that is what is was – was so traumatic for my husband and I. I passed out too and hit my head on the bathroom counter. Our sweet girl had arms and legs. Why do doctors downplay this? No one prepare us for this experience. We had our sweet girl cremated. We weren’t sure what else to do. We actually had a D&C scheduled but didn’t make it. I am so sorry you had to experience this. I know this period of time can be very isolating and lonely but know in time you start to see more light. Your heart is forever changed though and has a special place just for that little babe.

    • Nicole – I agree. It is heavily downplayed which does us no favors as we before, during, or after the experience. With every suffering though, we are given an opportunity for greater empathy for others going through it. I am thankful for women like you who have made me feel less alone in all of this! Thankful for her life and what it taught me!

  • Jacqueline

    Thank you. For all of those words and all of that love. Loss is indescribable yet here I found words I could relate to. So thank you. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

  • We grieve hard because we love hard. I too am dreading what should have been my November 30 due date. The healing process is so much easier when you know you’re not alone. Your words are a timely balm. Thank you for sharing.

  • I am here in Alabama, crying for your loss. The part where you said you can’t wait to hold Cecilia in heaven, and that this aspect inspires you to live a better life, broke me down.

    I don’t understand why things happen, but I do have faith in God, and I’m so glad you have a relationship with Him to help you through your grieving. (And the everything else in life, too.)

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking me too, me too..
    My due date would’ve been Nov 19th. I found out at 14 weeks our baby left us for heaven. Then a week ago to my shock I found out I miscarried again at 4/5 weeks. Which almost no one knows about. There are so many feelings about what’s happened and I’m still processing and grieving but knowing that I’m not alone make it’s a bit more bearable, a little less lonely. And I feel more willing to share my own experiences when the time is right. So thank you for being brave and open and vulnerable..

    • Lindsay, a loss of a baby can leave us feeling beat up physically, emotionally, and mentally! I am so sorry for your loss and please know I am keeping you and every woman who commented here close to my heart in prayer! x

  • Oh Anna. I am so heart-broken to hear of your loss. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the baby we lost to miscarriage 5 years ago, and my heart still grieves for that child, even though the grief has changed over time. It’s part of love, I think, and a truth I will live with forever. You brought me back to those early days of grief with your words, and this was a gift to remember how deeply our babies were loved, from the very beginning. Peace & prayers to you, especially with all the dates on the horizon to come.

  • Good morning,

    I just want to say firstly, I am so sorry for your loss.

    Your words touched me very much. I must say, the way you have written this devistating process has shed a new light on me. I for one was so touched with your raw emotion and will be a better, co worker friend, or relative if someone is grieving with this loss. Thank you for sharing, God bless you through your healing.

    Kind regards,
    Liz Beaver

  • Viktoriya

    I’m currently pregnant a second time having lost the first pregnancy early on. My due date was supposed to be October 18th and the miscarriage was completely devestating as it was my very first baby. I’m afraid of the upcoming date as well so having you mention the same worry shared my burden. What made it worse is that nobody acknowledged it as a baby because it was early and that ripped me apart even more. Thank you for this post. For the first time I don’t feel so completely lonely.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve experienced two miscarriages now, and one thing I’ve noticed, is how often, women think they need to suffer in silence. This post is going to be such an a valuable resource for so many women who have gone through this. Thank you for writing from such a placeofvulnerability.

  • I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and I am so grateful that you shared your experience. When I struggle with my miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies I always find comfort in stories that tell me I’m not alone. I also feel that a little piece of me dies with each loss. I still hope to accept that some day. Sharing that you felt the same way was really powerful for me. Thanks again. I hope to someday hold my child in my arms and I am glad that your children have been so loving. Trust me—Self care is the only way through grief!

  • Yes. Yes. and Yes. Doctors need to stop saying you will bleed and have mild cramping just like your regular cycle. It was so physically painful and caught me off guard. For me, next year marks 6 years since our loss. I still feel the weight of sadness. Grief isn’t linear. Thank you for the courage in sharing this. It WILL help so many women. Continuing to pray for you and Gabe.

  • My mother and father had 11 miscarriages before and in between my sister and I. We are 29 and 26 now, and she still calls us her miracle babies. She still mourns for those hard years. Know that strong woman of all ages stand with you. She tells me that she never got to have a normal happy birth experience. The doctors told her (she is a doctor herself) that her and my father were not compatible. Doctors recommended after my sister was born with a low platlette count to not try again for me. She persisted. I was born with low plalettes as well, but my aunt (her sister and a doc) was there to give me her blood the second I was born. She felt the strength of her family. My mother is not religious, but she had faith in what was meant to be, that she is stronger and more empathetic because she knew such intimate loss. Know that as your children get older, and learn what miscarriage means, that they will respect your strength and mourn your loss and heartache. Our hearts are with you and Gabe.

  • Thank you so much for this.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I had our second miscarriage in May and it was completely different from the first. I was so thankful for a friend to walk me through wheat to expect. We also plan on planting a magnolia tree and I’d like to get a tattoo of two magnolia blooms for our two babies in heaven. Again, thank you for sharing your story and this wonderful piece. God bless you and may our sweet saints in heaven watch over us and intercede on our behalf.

  • Thank you for your honesty and raw emotions. It’s so hard to talk about and all of our experiences are different, but we have a common thread. Reading these comments and reflecting on my 2 losses that were so very different, but both heartbreakingly traumatic make me so thankful for the support I had throughout my experiences. Learning a lot more about self care this time around because I have a little one to take care of now, but I know that November 21 and March 17 will never be easy. Loved everything you shared in this and praying for peace for you.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m so thankful that you are writing about miscarriage. Our family has been through three losses and each one was heartbreaking. The first two were early and I was not prepared for the physical trauma of my third, later miscarriage. St. Bernard of Clairveaux wrote the following to a family enduring miscarriage and I found it so consoling: “Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”

  • Kristina Chatfield

    This beautiful, Anna. I never experienced the loss of a baby, but my sister miscarried twice – her first two pregnancies. Her second miscarriage came right before I found out I was pregnant with our first child. The hardest thing I ever had to do was tell her I was expecting. It was a challenging time for both of us, because she wanted to be happy for me, but she was still grieving her own baby, Thankfully, she became pregnant with her third shortly after, and our two babies were only 4 months apart and have grown up together. I so appreciate you sharing all these things – both for mamas who experience loss and for those of us who want to know how we can best support our family and friends when this happens.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I haven’t personally experienced child or pregnancy loss, but my SIL delivered her baby boy earlier this year at 32 weeks and he did not make it. It’s been a rough year and my daughter (6) especially has grieved so hard for her lost cousin. I’ve struggled with how to be there for my SIL, but not be too overbearing. I still don’t like to bring the loss up, but I’m always there if she wants to talk. After reading your story, I realize it’s ok to talk about and that it really does help with healing. Thank you for that.

  • I would have been due Nov 8th too, and am am now experiencing another loss. This one would’ve been due in February. I am so, so sorry that you are going through all of this but I am grateful for you sharing your experience. Your words are comforting. I agree that this whole journey has made me want to be a better person: a better friend, spouse, sister, daughter, and one day – hopefully – mother.

  • Your story was very moving and a wonderful tribute to your daughter. So often we are encouraged by well meaning people to just move on from our lost like it never happened.

    I read your story tonight and remembered the little one I lost and not long after I finished, my little rainbow boy woke up needing extra hugs. Little does he know I needed his hugs just as much tonight.

    God bless you and your family. Someday hopefully we will all get to meet all our little ones face to face.

  • I’m so very sorry for your loss. We lost twins at 20 weeks so I’m familiar with so much that you wrote. One book that helped me so much especially since I had a healthy 2 year old at home to be mommy to was “Mommy please don’t cry: there are no tears in heaven”. It’s a children’s book with beautiful illustrations. I read it to my son (and now my daughter, who is my rainbow baby) every year on the twin’s birthday. You spoke of fear over the pending due date. I knew that would be a hard day so we celebrated their lives by having a dinner party serving what I craved during my pregnancy (roast beef and mint chocolate chip ice cream). I told my friends via Facebook and on that day I received pictures from all over the country of people sharing that meal with us. The love we felt was overwhelming. It helped me re-claim that day and not dread it so much. I also blogged my whole grief journey (http://called2bow.blogspot.com/2015/11/so-what-actually-happened.html?m=1).

    • Meghan, I cannot fathom going through the loss of twins so far along, and I am so sorry you had to go through. Thank you for sharing this book and the idea of celebrating the due date. What a beautiful though. This was so touching to me!

  • Wow. Reading this post and all the comments has helped me so much. Both of my sisters and many of my friends have experienced miscarriage and infertility whereas I have not. Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about with them because I’m not sure what to say to comfort them and don’t want to say anything offensive considering I have two healthy kids and don’t have first-hand experience.

    I tried talking to one of my friends about her miscarriage, but she brushed it off like it wasn’t a big deal, and that was so confusing to me.

    Up until last year when I read another woman’s blog post about miscarriage, I didn’t even know that a woman could naturally deliver a miscarried baby. I feel so ignorant, but like you said, people don’t talk about this! Why?? Why don’t doctors acknowledge these things? Do they think women aren’t strong enough to handle the truth? Goodness, if anything women are the strongest for having gone through it. I admire any woman who is strong enough to brave the unknown and trust God with a human life!

    Praying for you and Gabe! Men definitely feel it too.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Anna. I particularly appreciate your mention of the physical process, because no one really talks about that. I haven’t had a miscarriage, and from the little I’ve heard I never would have guessed that the process can actually be the labor experience with contractions. Thank you for your openness and honesty!

  • Anna,
    I’m so sorry for your loss of little Cecilia Rose. This month will be the 5th anniversary of us losing our little boy Peter Jude on Aug. 29th. That quote from St. Zelie Martin was a huge comfort to me during my loss as well. Prayers for you all.

  • This post was honest and real and had some great resources for other women going through something similar. Your experience and feelings are yours and you have a right to feel all of them.

    Respectfully, something I have painfully noticed is that you have not once mentioned since first announcing you had gone through this, the acknowledgment over how truly blessed & lucky you are to have 5 healthy kids. Some people cannot have children, have endured miscarriage after miscarriage without any kids and are desperate for 1 child, let alone several. I think it’s important to speak about that because it seems like you are so focused on your pain and how hard this has been for you but you can’t even begin to understand what one feels like when you are desperate for children and this happens.

    I’m not trying to say your pain is not valid but I just hope you can see the other side of many women reading this and feeling frustrated because you have 5 children and they have none and you have not once said how you know how lucky you are and your miscarriage (with 5 children) compared to what other women go through is different. Just having some perspective…

    • Hi Heather, Thank you for your note, and I see how you might come to this conclusion. However, you must have missed my first post. I specifically talked about how much this experience has helped me to see my children for the miracle that they are, and how much of a light they are. I am so deeply grateful for them, and am acutely aware of what a gift they are to my husband and I. I have watched many friends, and even my own family members struggle from infertility, and this is something I am also so sensitive to. This post is simply just an experience of a pregnancy loss so that it can be of help to other women going through it. I think it is possible to draw conclusions about someone quickly when only reading a small fraction of their life, and believe me, this is the last thing I wanted to write about. I don’t have the answers of why some women experience loss, some infertility, or some able to have children. I do know that we are all fighting our own battles, and the best we can do is lift each other up along the way.

      • Shauna DG

        A beautifully graceful response Anna, thank you for always being so honest even on such a vunurable part of not only yours but your family’s lives. Even the blessed fall and even the blessed feel pain. This is your story to tell, and again thank you for doing so. ❤️

  • Thank you so so much for writing and posting this. Having gone through two consecutive miscarriages, I really appreciate having this resource. Not only for myself, but to pass onto those near and dear to me. Although I do not have any books to recommend, I found this website helpful (http://adrielbooker.com/miscarriage-memorial-ideas/) for how to remember your child if and when you feel the need. I also strongly agree with either chatting with someone who has had a similar experience or doing some research (or, if too painful, having a spouse or sister, dear friend, etc. do it for you). Being prepared in every sense (material needs, spiritual direction and support, etc) will truly help when the moment you’ve been waiting for arrives. It’s so hard to make decisions when you’re in the middle of it. So much love to those who have experienced or are currently experiencing this. Our hearts are made to love.

  • […] *The post I wrote on pregnancy loss recovery and resources here. […]

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