“Flush it and get on with your life.”
Not all that long ago, this was the extent of the emotional support given to a woman experiencing miscarriage. Even less was given to the father.
You may think you don’t know anyone who has had a miscarriage. But medical studies show that 70% (yes, SEVENTY per cent) of all conceptions end in miscarriage! Think of just ten of the women you know. Seven of them have lost or will lose a pregnancy. Can you guess how many women you know in total? Think how many of them grieve or suffer in silence because this topic is still taboo. We can see nearly nude models in print ads. We can talk about erectile dysfunction on TV. It’s time we talk about the 114 miscarriages that occur every hour. And the women who find Mother’s Day difficult because of it.
A woman tells us: “Medical science may call it what they like. The courts can argue until they turn blue whether there was life or viability. I don’t care. To me, it was a child. MY child. I had already sung to him, thought about names, planned the baptism, imagined her starting school. I already thought about parenting styles. I wondered if he would look like my Dad. I saw the look in my mother’s eyes when I told her she was going to be a grandmother. I’ve already cried a river of joyous tears, and a river of sad ones. My baby has died. Please don’t pat me on the hand and send me on my way. My heart is broken. I have lost a loved one.”
A man says “Though I have not carried this infant in my body, I too have lost a loved one. Maybe two, if we can’t recover from this. You pumped my hand and congratulated me when you knew we were expecting. I need my pain acknowledged now. I have thought about what to share with and teach a child. MY child. The role of father has really changed, and I gave a lot of thought to it. I have no idea how to handle this. My heart is broken. For the loss of a family member, my job allows three days to stay home and get over it. Miscarriage is not in this category. I’m expected back at work tomorrow as though nothing has happened. But something has happened, and I’ll never be the same.”
One woman speaks from a daughter’s point of view. “I knew my mom had been pregnant. And I knew that one day something happened, and we spent a few days with grandparents while mom was hospitalized. The pregnancy was never mentioned again, and no explanation given. I was junior high age. I certainly could have handled a simple version of what was going on. I was an adult before I put it all together, and that’s really too bad. It could have been a time for family bonding and pulling together.”
If remembering your miscarriage is painful, the recommendation here is that you find someone to talk to FAST. Prolonging the pain serves no purpose, and takes a great toll on your health. Honor that child by being the best you can be. The suggestion is the same if you don’t think of your miscarriage, or think of it only in clinical terms.
Rocky marriage, fear, rape, secrecy – did any of these cause the miscarriage? Absolutely not. However, any or all of these could be killing you. Still. Take your life back.
The healing starts in the birthing suite, or emergency room, after a miscarriage. Tiptoeing around issues and feelings wastes time that is probably not available.
Call in a chaplain. The recommendation here is for an ordained person. The ordination process has included education and training around issues like this. Right now, you need an expert. While there is much to be said about a family’s faith tradition, this is an okay time to step outside that tradition.
Usually the first traumatic decision is whether or not to see or hold the deceased infant or fetus. The time frame available may only be a few hours. If you don’t see, hold and talk to this child, you will likely regret it the rest of your life. Yes, it is hard. Please accept the voice of experience here. The agony of a parent WISHING s/he had seen the baby, but didn’t, is brutal.
The parent(s) may ask to have a religious rite for the fetus/baby. What is at stake here is ministry to a grieving family. Leave the theological ramifications up to the Lord. Do what brings comfort.
There are no stupid questions, so let the parents ask for the information that is needed. But ask the correct people. Ask the hospital staff the medical questions. Ask the chaplain or clergy the religious questions.
There is one question that cannot be answered, so no attempts should be made to do so. That question is “Why?” The proper response is a hug, tears, prayer, a profession of love, or a simple “We may never know” and “I’m so sorry.”
For a fast education on miscarriage, or to find other people who have been through it, please explore the internet.
The social norm is for a woman to bear this experience alone, silently. So many wounded around us, and we aren’t even aware. So many who would relish the slightest word of encouragement. The hope here is that the taboo on this topic will be lifted.
Bringing it into general discussion gives someone permission to open up. It educates someone who may experience miscarriage in the future, thus lessening the trauma, giving permission to reach out.
Let men and women in on the mystery. Please join the discussion. It takes a village to achieve