Moving On From Miscarriage

Women who have suffered a pregnancy loss need to be kind to themselves, even when others aren’t, writes Michelle Hayward.

I am a mother and a survivor. I am currently ‘recovering and healing’ from a pregnancy loss – a miscarriage at 10 weeks – and I am feeling very overwhelmed and disgruntled with the reactions of some people.

I have been the recipient of every observation under the sun each time that I have lost a child. It is overwhelming for a grieving mother to hear “It just wasn’t meant to be, dear”. The casual “You’ll have another” is long since past for me. I am the mother of eight healthy, live, boisterous children (my eldest being 17 and my youngest 16 months) so people automatically think I should be ‘over it’. What could I possibly want another baby for?

For the reckless few who seek to destroy my soul, there is the common belief that parents of big families don’t know what ‘causes it’ (‘it’ being pregnancy); that we must not be well educated or too smart. For who, in this day and age, would actively choose to have so many children? It is so rare that it causes many to stop and stare, to comment freely about my life choices and to make moral and value judgements about my personal life in general. This becomes a terrible invasion of one’s right to choose.

As recently as the day before my curette, a grandmother stopped me at dancing class. “I hear you’re having another baby?” she began. “No. Not any more,” I muttered trying to usher my five-year-old to the car before it began in earnest. “Oh really. What happened?”
“I miscarried,” I explained through clenched teeth.

It is overwhelming for a grieving mother to hear “It just wasn’t meant to be, dear”.

And so the tirade began. “Oh you wouldn’t put yourself through this again, would you? You’ve got little children to care for. What if something happens to you? You have to think of the kids and also start looking after yourself.” Hang on. Who died and made her judge and jury? And who said I am not thinking of my kids? This is not about me looking after myself. The reasons for miscarriage are many and varied.

I consider myself to be very blessed. I have friends who are unable to have children and my heart breaks for them. I recently had the opportunity to sit by the bedside of one of my longest and dearest friends when she recently lost her baby (which was due two weeks before mine) the week after me. “I know what you are going through. I am so sorry,” I offered. What else could I say? “I know,” she said. I knew she knew. I did not utter those words lightly. “You shouldn’t be here,” I said. “In a few weeks, we should have been comparing bellies, discussing names and nursery colours.” We had waited 17 years to be pregnant at the same time. How did this happen?

Miscarriage is a silent partner for some women – the transparent shadow that nobody sees.

It is a heart-wrenching outcome, and nobody can know what agony ensues until they have lived it.

Right now I am existing; breathing in and out; wishing well those who are pregnant, and continuing to be a mother to the eight children I have. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt and that this pain just won’t go away. My heart and my stomach are in knots all the time and I just wish it was all a bad dream which I could wake up from. But the reality is that I have just lost a baby and I have to heal. There is no time frame. It is something that just happens – we heal – slowly but surely. I don’t believe we ever truly get over it. The fact is that each time you lose a child, a little part of you dies with it. You are never really the same again.

If you are a mother surviving the agony of having lost a child in any way, be kind to yourself, even if others aren’t. Take time to heal, to pamper yourself, and to journey through all of the emotions that go with grieving so that in time you can recover (for the most part). Don’t watch the clock. You don’t have to be okay in a month or a year… That part of the journey is different for everyone.

I have taken solace in hugging the children I have, and I have coped better because I have the love and support of a wonderful husband. But it is not an easy road and I will not be forced into making decisions I am neither ready to make nor capable of making at this present time. I will not force the healing process, and I will not be bullied by those who think they know better. I will put my children and myself first, perhaps not in the way some people suggest, but in my own way – which is all that counts.