Missing our Miscarried Babies
For some reason a lot of old memories have been surfacing for me lately. I was on a couple of forums recently and was reading the painful and heartfelt posts of mothers who have or are currently miscarrying their babies. Hearing their stories instantly took me back to the days when I was the woman so desperately trying to stay pregnant, worried over every single twinge and then suffering the deep anguish of losing a baby. Twice.
Here’s the thing about an early miscarriage – It’s difficult to explain to someone who’s never been through it how it feels to be pregnant one day and then not the next BUT with empty arms. I don’t profess to speak for all women who have had a miscarriage – I know a couple of women who felt that their miscarriage was a blessing, some who were relieved or who took the news more matter-of-factly than I did. I have known moms who miscarried at one point in their life and felt relieved but when it happened again were devastated. And sadly, I know some moms who carry guilt about their miscarriages. Here’s the thing – even though I’ve been through it, I don’t pretend to know what every woman who has suffered the loss of a baby would want or how she would feel. But I know how I felt and the one word that comes to mind – devastated.
I would say a common feeling among moms who have miscarried is that not everyone understands or knows how to deal with a mom who has lost a baby through miscarriage. Even if they want to help and be supportive some people still don’t know what to say and often end up saying the wrong things. You try not to take it personally but really the last thing you feel like doing is listening to comments that make you feel worse or angry or guilty.
Here are some things I wish had been said differently to me:
|Instead of being told:||It would have been nice to hear:|
|It was for the best||I’m sorry|
|At least you didn’t feel your baby move yet||I know you were already in love with your baby|
|You’re young – you have lots of time||I’m here when you need me|
|At least you can have fun trying again||Nothing…just listen or give a hug|
|I know how you feel||How are you feeling?|
|You need to _________________
(stop working so much, stop exercising, relax, etc)
|It’s not your fault|
Consider these ways to support your friend/family member who has lost a baby through miscarriage:
- Ask the mom who has just lost her baby if she has named her baby or if she would like to hold a ceremony? If so, offer to help plan something even if it is informal.
- Some hospitals or charity groups provide tiny blankets and bonnets as a keepsake – consider presenting the mom with a memory box.
- Acknowledge that she IS a mom – it’s just that her baby is in heaven (or whatever your belief system is). This was big one for me – it was comforting to know that someone understood that I felt like a mom.
- Call your friend or give her a card or flowers on Mother’s Day and acknowledge that she is a mom!
- Write your friend a poem or a beautiful handwritten note.
I know many moms who would have loved someone to reach out to them in such an understanding way. Personally, I would have appreciated such offers because I didn’t even think of these things.
My dear friend Ava, whom you’ve heard me speak so highly of, planned a naming ceremony for all of the women whom she had helped get through those tough times. We all went to a tiny chapel and it was beautiful. We said a prayer and then one by one we all named our babies out loud and lit a candle in memory of our babies.
I’ve heard some people express that they think it’s kind of weird but I don’t understand that reaction. Grieving is a natural reaction to loss – my babies were part of me the moment I knew I was pregnant and I yearned deeply for a baby. While understanding and respecting that not every woman has the same beliefs, in my situation, honoring my babies was and still is important to this day.
In Japan many women must feel the same way. In fact, the photo above shows a burial ground with rows of little statues formed in the image of a diety called Jizobosatusu. When a woman loses an unborn child she can dedicate one of these little statues – and the babies will be protected by Jizobosatusu. The mother may choose to dress the statue, place a bonnet on its little head or leave windmills and other toys. Gifts for Jizobosatusu are often left to ensure the unborn child makes the journey to the afterlife. If I ever get to Japan, I would love to participate in this beautiful custom.
Have you named your miscarried baby? Or had a ceremony? Did someone do something special for you? I’d love to hear any other ideas you’d like to share.