“Give thanks to the little spirit that tried.”
That’s one thing I told my first client that miscarried. It was her first pregnancy. She and her husband had waited until the time was right in their lives. They had been together for more than 10 years; they’re love for one another was solid. They had fixed up their house in all the ways that were important to them. Their careers were secure.
It was time.
She stopped taking birth control pills. He “pulled the goalie” (stopped using condoms). And it was time to start trying. She began tracking her ovulation, and became pregnant within a couple of months. They were excited. He was proud. She was surprised that it happened in such a short time.
Together they went to their first doctor’s appointment. And something wasn’t right. The baby’s heart rate didn’t match the mother’s timeline. Mom thought she was eight weeks. Baby’s heart rate indicated six weeks. Mom knew she had ovulated later than usual. She saw this difference in expected development as miscalculation on her calendar. Her doctor asked them to come back the next week to check the baby’s heart rate. If indeed the difference came from calendar charting then the baby’s heart rate would at least show developmental progress.
She told me how worried she was. She just wanted to know what her body was doing. In hopes of offering some comfort, I shared the following words:
I hope you find peace in knowing your body has done what you wanted: gotten pregnant. Revel in the mystery and find trust that your body and baby’s body will develop in the way that is healthiest and right for the both of you. Your body is not broken. It is wise beyond our understanding.
When they returned to the doctor’s office the following week, there was another surprise. The baby’s heart rate had slowed, rather than increased. Her doctor explained that the baby’s heart rate slowing down, combined with the initial difference between mom’s calendar and baby’s heart rate during the first visit, was going to be interpreted as a sign that the pregnancy was ending.
My client and her husband were devastated.
The decision was made to perform a D&C (dilation and curettage), a procedure to remove tissue from the inside of the uterus.
The pregnancy was over. She shared with me how sad she was, and that she was struggling emotionally. She wanted to understand why this was happening. And how this could happen. They were both young and healthy. After all they only tried for a couple of months before conceiving.
What came to mind for me to share with her was the following:
I think sometimes we focus on the small. We worry about the little pieces, rather than celebrating the big picture.
To illustrate my point, I used this story:
My mom lives on a farm. I used to be afraid of walking around outside without a flashlight to see where I was stepping. There are no lights around the outside of the farm, but there ARE rocks and animals and animal poop. What I realized while walking at night with no flashlight was instead of only focusing my attention on that small scope of light where my foot would land, I was able to see so much more by the light of the moon and stars. The bigness of the awesome nature around me.
With science we focus on a small section of the big picture, and we worry about that small section. All the while we miss out on the awesomeness and magic of how life happens, even with little input from us.
As life would have it, this couple ended up giving birth to a beautiful daughter one year to the day of the miscarriage.
For those who have experienced loss, the following may help you through the healing process. This is something that came to mind when working with my first client who experienced a loss. Completing the three following items helped her; my hope is that it may help you as well.
- Write a letter to the baby that tried. Long or short, length is less important than content. For this write until all the emotion connected to the concept of this baby is all out on paper. In this letter, your focus is thanking that little baby that tried. Write about the hopes and dreams you had for the pregnancy. Write about life as you saw it changing had that baby thrived and survived. Share your gratitude, then share your forgiveness. Forgive baby for not being able to thrive. Forgive baby for not being able to complete the picture of your hopes. And ask this baby to become your angel.
- Write a letter to your body. Same as before, instead of length, focus on the content. Thank your body for getting pregnant. Some body’s never do. Thank your body for letting go of something that was not developing properly. Thank your body for knowing the time was not right for this baby. And just like you forgave baby, forgive your body. Forgive your body for not building a healthy, thriving baby. Forgive your body for starting something it couldn’t finish in the way you may have hoped. Write these things until you feel at peace with your body. Then ask your body to heal and recover.
- Write a letter to the baby of your dreams who is yet to come. For this letter thank that baby for waiting for the right time to come. Thank baby for being your angel now. Ask baby to put in front of you all the necessary pieces to prepare yourself and your life for baby’s arrival. And if the time never comes for that baby, then thank baby for being one of your angels. Ask baby to bring in to your life people with whom you can share your love with that would accept it as graciously as baby would. Write until you find peace with the baby of your dreams.
There are different kinds of bereavement assistance available to all women. In a future post I will share a list of resources. In the meantime, if you need help finding support, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Loss Support”.