It's common to feel so alone after a miscarriage. I felt like most people didn't understand and I just didn't know what to do. So I've compiled a list of several things that have helped me in the days and weeks after my miscarriage to heal and I'm sure will continue to help me in the coming months and years.
Take time to announce When Michael and I got home from the hospital the last thing I wanted was for people to be contacting me. So Michael called my parents to tell them for me because I just couldn't say those words out loud yet and I turned my phone off for the night. The next morning Michael and I decided to go stay at a little resort about 45 minutes away near a lake. I wanted this little getaway to be as peaceful and restful as possible, so we chose not to announce what had happened on Facebook yet. But eventually, as another day went by and several people said things to me about how excited they were, I knew we had to announce what had happened.
Get away As I mentioned above, Michael and I decided to go stay at a little resort. When we woke up Monday morning we were still trying to process so many emotions. Michael had won a free night's stay at this resort with free breakfast and dinner for two. It was supposed to be for a weekend, but he called and asked if we could use it that night. They probably thought we were a little crazy for wanting to stay at a golf resort on a Monday night in November in Ohio, but it was the best thing we could have done (minus going to the beach). Getting away gave me space to process my emotions; to soak everything in. I can't imagine sitting in our apartment all day those first few days. We bought smoothies as we were leaving town and took the back roads to the resort. It was such a beautiful and soothing drive! It was so nice to just be removed from everyday life and we had beautiful weather the first day we were there allowing us to really enjoy the drive and the scenery by the lake. We loved it so much that we decided to pay for a second night because we just weren't ready to get back to our lives yet.
Take care of yourself Once Michael and I had made the plans to stay at the resort for the night I took my time getting ready. I took a long, hot shower, and didn't rush through my routine. I put on a cute outfit, it was actually the only maternity shirt I had bought and it was cute and helped me feel more connected to what we had just lost, so I wore it a couple days in a row. I also curled my hair, I hadn't curled my hair for awhile. But it was just nice to look nice, it was one of the few things I felt like I had control over and I truly think it makes you feel better. Had I put no effort into the way I looked and just stayed in my pajamas with my hair in a messy bun and no makeup, I think it would have made me feel worse. Part of me also wonders if this was my way of denying what had happened by trying to take control of things that I could still control. But regardless, it helped me feel better at the time and once we got to the lake we were able to take pictures that I now cherish (and if I would've looked terrible, we probably wouldn't have any pictures because I would have refused to take any).
Create a memory box We lost our baby on a Sunday and when I woke up Monday morning the first thing I wanted to do was go to Marshall's and buy a pretty cardboard box to put all of the things in from this pregnancy. I had books, a bib, some clothing, a stuffed animal, a CD of children's songs, and several other things that I wanted to keep all in one place. That was very healing to me. For now the box sits on our coffee table but I can't wait to share it with our future children.
Name your baby One of the most emotionally painful things about my miscarriage was that we didn't know for sure if our baby was a boy or a girl. I literally pleaded with the Lord to show me, to tell me anything about who our child would've been. But after telling a friend that I had a dream while I was still pregnant that our baby was a girl she told me that it seemed like the Lord knew my problem before I did and He had already supplied the answer. And I just felt like our baby was a girl. My husband and I had several names for a girl that we liked, and throughout my short pregnancy I just felt like I was carrying a girl with a specific name that we liked. For my husband it wasn't really a big deal for him to know if our baby was a girl or boy, but to me it was agonizing. I wanted a name I loved for our baby, not just a gender neutral name. And I didn't want to have to fumble around with male and female pronouns for the rest of my life. So I asked Michael if he minded if I named our sweet girl. For some reason the name is very personal to me. Michael is the only one who knows her full name. But just knowing that our sweet girl has a name makes it easier. Naming a baby you lost recognizes him or her and the loss you unfortunately have to endure. Don't feel stupid for wanting to name a baby you lost early on in pregnancy. If it helps you feel better then do it!
Use a pretty journal to record your thoughts The only mistake I made was not picking out a journal with more pages. I did not realize in the beginning how therapeutic writing would be for me through this process. But I have come to find that when my mind starts racing with thoughts if I just take time to write them down it helps me to organize my thoughts and I feel more peaceful afterwards. Writing really helps release the pain for me. I also love handlettering, and any song, scripture, or quote that touched me I would handletter in my journal. I find writing and handlettering to be very soothing and relaxing, so if those are things you don't normally enjoy, you might consider finding something else that helps you to relax. But it could also become a new hobby for you.
Start a blog I already had this blog, but I didn't write posts very often until I had a miscarriage. I've never felt so inspired to write so consistently before. Sometimes what I write is because I want people to know where I'm coming from. Something will inspire me to write on a particular topic and the post is written within the hour. Other times I write because I'm feeling a certain way and I wish I could find more resources on that feeling. I'm not kidding when I say that I read my blog posts often because it's what I want to hear so I'm hoping it's also what other women want to hear through different stages of their grief. However, no matter the motivation or inspiration to write, once I finish the post I let it sit for awhile. I have a handful of posts currently sitting in my drafts that I'm not sure I'll ever post. I like to make sure that what I wrote holds true a week later and that it was written in the right spirit. Every blog post I have posted about miscarriage so far has been written and then set aside for several days before I decided to post it.
Buy something in remembrance of your baby For some reason I felt like if I had nothing to honor my baby then part of her memory would be lost. I had no pictures with her, I was not far enough along to have bump pictures or maternity photos taken, I bought one maternity shirt simply because it was so cute I couldn't pass it up. But I felt like I needed something specifically for this sweet little one. I already had a Pandora bracelet and Michael surprised me with two beads the week that we lo st her. The first was a beautiful bead called Laurel's Leaves, it wasn't the official November birthstone charm, but it was a similar color and I loved it. The second charm was a simple silver heart with the phrase, "You are so loved" engraved on it. There are also many necklaces on Etsy that I would love to have. However there is one in particular that if I don't get for Christmas I will end up buying myself. It is a beautiful locket that says on the inside, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be." My parents used to read the book this song came from to me often and I loved it. I also wanted to pick out something that could apply to future children as well whether we are blessed to raise them on earth or they are taken too soon like this child was.
Read the Bible Reading the Bible was very overwhelming to me the first few days. But I googled and looked on Pinterest for scriptures and passages in the Bible to help cope with a miscarriage and found several great resources. Eventually the Lord inspired me to do a study on His hand. I found that it was and still is much easier to feel inspired to study or read something specific than to aimlessly flip through your Bible hoping to come across something helpful and healing.
Listen to music I've always loved music, but never as much as I did after our miscarriage. Listening to music felt so healing. I don't listen to secular music, and for the first time in my life it was harder to listen to Christmas music because I'd rather be listening to something spiritual. There is honestly nothing like listening to music that was inspired by God when it was written. It often felt like the music and words were a healing balm soothing my aching heart. I made a private playlist on SoundCloud with songs that helped me through that time. I am still adding to that playlist.
Take a lot of time for yourself One thing I found to be so important is to spend a lot of time with myself. I can only go so long being around others before I have to break away and have some quiet time. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I journal or handletter, sometimes I read past journal entries and flip through my art, sometimes I read the Bible, sometimes I pray, sometimes I watch a mindless TV show, sometimes I clean, sometimes I just sit and drink tea. But if I don't have that time it gets bad. It happened at church the other day in a rehearsal. It had been a long day and suddenly I began tearing up. I had to stop singing and focus my energy on not crying. So when I got home I sat on the couch for awhile and then journaled.
Don't feel bad Don't feel bad if you feel like cancelling plans or telling someone you don't feel up to hanging out when they ask. This is something I'm still working on because I'm such a people-pleaser. But if you feel like you aren't up for it, don't do it. You will most likely regret it. I'm learning that I have to focus on me right now and if that makes me not quite as easy-going as I used to be then so be it. But also realize that spending time with those you love is important. Initiate it when you are ready and ask them to do something you like. You don't have to act like you don't care what you do if you really do. Something that I struggle with right now is larger groups of people, so I prefer to spend time with just a few people at a time. Do what helps you and don't do things that don't!
Don't apologize This is a hard one because there are so many insensitive people. But never feel like you have to apologize for the way you grieve unless it is harming others. Many people will not understand the grief you are feeling and that is okay, you can't expect everyone to. Focus on the people that do understand or at least try to understand. But more than anything, focus on Jesus because he knows exactly how we feel. He came down to earth to bear our infirmities, so let him handle your burdens. The burden of a miscarriage is far too big to try to bear on your own. Let Jesus and others help you.
Tell your story Many people assume that you don't want to think, let alone talk, about what happened. So they intentionally do not bring up what happened thinking they are helping you. And for some people that may be the case. But I wanted to and still want to talk about it. It was such a huge moment in my life, it was a defining and life changing event and even though it did not end the way I wanted it to, it still happened. I still feel like part of my heart is stuck on November 15th, 2015. So if someone you trust tells you they'd love to listen to your story, if you want to share it, take them up on it! It is nice to have people in your life other than your husband who know all of the details. I had a friend tell me she'd love to hear my story and that she was a detail-oriented person and not to worry about grossing her out. So I told her all of the details and it felt so good to tell someone the story that for the most part is bottled up in my heart. Don't feel bad about crying as you tell the story, if they asked you, they know it may be painful and hard to tell, so they aren't expecting you to deliver the story with a smile. It was wonderful to have someone cry with you, so when someone asks, let them in. It not only helps you to tell the story and feel heard, it helps the person listening to understand what you're going through and how to help you.