Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Survive a Miscarriage

Miscarriage of justice by Lina Scarfi

First off, who do I think I am, attempting to write a miscarriage survival guide?  The jury is still out on whether or not I sufficiently survived my own, how can I counsel anybody else on hers?

Well, maybe I can't. But I'll try, because if my words bring solace, a smile, or at least a moment's distraction to someone else who's going through it, then maybe I'll feel slightly less broken and empty.

I don't presume to have all the answers and what worked for me won't work for everyone. YMMV. But after two first-trimester miscarriages, I've learned a thing or two about what I, personally, need to survive a zombie wombpocalypse.  Those things, in no particular order are:

1. A fucked-up sense of humor that thinks calling a miscarriage a zombie wombpocalypse is kind of hilarious in a warped and twisted way. When just about everything you see makes you want to cry (there are non-zombie babies EVERYWHERE) you have to take your laughs where you can get them.

2. A solid acceptance of the immutable fact that I am going to be emotionally fucked up for a while. If I had broken my leg, I'd wear a cast for weeks. Well, my miscarriages left me feeling like I had a cast around my heart: it was heavy and hobbled, a thick shell protecting a raw and wounded lump. I wouldn't expect a broken leg to heal overnight: I'd expect to use crutches and take it easy until it mended. My heart deserves the same. It's just as important as a leg. More so, because I have two legs.

3. Cupcakes. Miscarriage makes me hungry. My pregnancies left me feeling queasy and pecking at my food, but after the babies died I became ravenous, insatiable. Almost like I was trying to fill the void inside me with food...hmm.

4.  At least two solid days of wallowing. No more than three consecutive, or things start getting weird and smelling bad. I try to spend the first 24 hours sleeping as much as possible. Before my D&C, I tell the anesthesiologist that anesthesia makes me vomit. This is not only true, but it also ensures that they slip an anti-nausea med into my IV, a sweet nectar that helps me pass the rest of the day in a somnolent haze. The ensuing days of wallow are spent in bed. Pity party activities may include: 80's Brat Pack movie marathons, hysterical sobbing, Ben & Jerry's, incoherent ranting on infertility message boards, staring blankly into space, teaching my dogs to cuddle on command, and wrestling with existential questions like "why does God hate me?"  Absolutely forbidden: showering, laundry or housework of any kind, signing on to the work email account, looking at the Facebook feeds of friends who are pregnant or have children, and feeling guilty about any of the above.

5. An "I am Woman hear me roar" moment in which I leap out of bed and assert my control over something in an excessively bold and dramatic manner.  Maybe I can't make a baby but watch me catch up on all the office work and housework that I've neglected during the wallowing AND completely re-do our bathroom all in a single weekend and yes, our health and beauty items have all been sterilized, categorized and alphabetized, is there anything wrong with that?

Artwork/meme courtesy of the awesome Allie at Hyperbole and a Half. 
If you haven't read her blog yet, you really should.

6. A willingness to play the Miscarriage Card. Yes, it makes people uncomfortable to hear that you lost your baby, especially if they hadn't known you were pregnant in the first place, but so what. Life is full of uncomfortable situations. If just hearing about a miscarriage upsets them, they should be glad they didn't have one. But I did and I'm so sorry but I wont be able to attend that baby shower for the girl from Human Resources because it will be too upsetting for me. And I don't care if word gets around because while I don't usually share much of my personal life with my co-workers, I'd rather they know I just had a miscarriage than think I'm strung out on drugs because I'm wandering around the office red-eyed, edgy and too distracted to turn my monthly report in on time.

7. Time. In the end, it's the only thing that really makes a difference. Just like that fractured bone would eventually rebuild, so will my heart. Tortured metaphors aside, your body literally DOES need time to heal, too. It takes 4-6 weeks for your hormones to stabilize and until they do, your emotions will see-saw, yo-yo, flip-flop and zig-zag. Avoid making important decisions and operating heavy machinery if at all possible. But I've found that if I can just hang in there, lean on whatever crutches are handy (friends, family, cupcakes and/or Molly Ringwald), and ride it out, it eventually gets better. The sadness and sense of loss never completely go away, but I can compartmentalize them, put on my tough girl boots and carry on much more easily once some time passes and my hormones return to normal.

What about you?  If you've had the misfortune of losing a pregnancy, what people places or things helped get you through the worst times? 

30 comments:

  1. I've never had a miscarriage (because I've never been pregnant), but I love this post ("zombie wombpocalypse" and all). You are so strong, and I wish you nothing but the best as you continue this f*#@!ed-up trek we all find ourselves on.

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    1. Thanks, Daryl! I worried that zombie wombpocalypse was a little too over-the-top but Mr Wren pointed out that I had earned the right to call it whatever I wanted. Thanks for the good wishes and the same to you.

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  2. Jenny, my friends (including blog friends) who had been through miscarriages helped me. Sometimes it just really helps to know that someone else has been there and understands. I also relied heavily on the Lord, Scripture, songs, prayer...
    On a side note, that painting you posted with this post is just breathtaking. I've never seen it before. It captures the loss of miscarriage so completely... Wow.

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    1. Yes, friends helped me get through it, too. I should have mentioned that they were an important part of the process, both internet friends who could relate to my pain, and real life friends who reminded me how to laugh again.

      Isn't that painting amazing? A friend told me about a sculpture with a similar theme and I was trying to find a picture of it. I found this instead and think it's perfect.

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  3. I am going through miscarriage # 5 and I haven't the slightest clue what helps. Maybe some wine.

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    1. I am so, so sorry for your losses. Yes, I would think that wine is definitely called for. I hope you find peace and healing.

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  4. Crying. Crying while lying in the hospital bed after my d&c. Crying while lying on the couch. Crying while eating chocolate. Crying while drinking wine. Waking from a dream in the middle of the night crying. Crying while your father in law says it was for the best- there was probably something wrong with the baby. Crying while you send your husband with a vegetable tray to a Christmas party that you can"t attend because you don't want to talk to anyone yet.

    Jenny, I hope you end up with a beautiful, happy, healthy baby. I was lucky - i finally had sucess. Best of luck.

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    1. I found myself alternating between bouts of hysterical sobbing and stony, stoic silence. On one of the crying days I had to call in sick to work because I couldn't stop bawling. Thanks for writing and for the good wishes. Congratulations on finally having success....I hope I can follow in your footsteps.

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  5. I research. What can be done next time? What do I need to do differently? I read, I google, I started my blog. After my last miscarriage I was so angry that no one could really understand what I felt like, and the blog really helped to meet people who do.
    Oh yeah, and I do a lot of crying too.

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    1. I also started blogging after my first miscarriage. It's been therapeutic on so many levels, writing out my anger and meeting women who have been through similar things and understand how I feel. I do the research thing, too.

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  6. I just found your blog today and I have been reading your posts. I can relate to you so much. Like you, I can't picture a future without children. We have been trying to conceive for the last two years (there doesn't seem to be any "problem" all my (and my husband's) results come back normal; however, I do suffer from an autoimmune disease), and after each IUI (our insurance does not cover IVF) I always dreaded the pregnancy tests - and the negative results.

    Then,in April, we found out that we were FINALLY pregnant. We were so happy... we went for the u/s and everything was going find. Then, last week (at 9 weeks) we went for our second u/s and we found out our baby had died at 6w3d... I had had a missed miscarriage: no symptoms. I had to have a D&C done (and I was surrounded by pregnant women or women who had just given birth). It was beyond dreadful... I have no words to describe how I felt.

    I feel devastated and empty. I feel cheated.

    People tell me: "God must be planning something beautiful for you" or "You know you can get pregnant, so chin up" or "If the baby was going to have problems, it is better this way," or they tell me: "next time you get pregnant..." I know they are trying to help. They are trying to give me hope, but It. doesn't. help. It makes me feel more isolated and crushed. Knowing I can get pregnant doesn't really help either: now I know I am going to be afraid not only of the HPT results, but if I ever get pregnant again, I am going to be afraid the whole pregnancy.

    What have I done to try to survive? cry myself sick... google about miscarriages, and try to work (I say try, for everything takes longer than it should, my mind is not really in it). I try to be strong, I try. But it hurts badly and I can't really talk to anyone. I can't tell them how broken up I feel.

    I really wish and hope you get your little miracle.

    You have no idea how reading your posts have helped me today.

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    1. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can really relate to the feelings of devastation and emptiness. And isolation. But remember you are not alone. Everything you're feeling is completely normal. It sucks and it's unfair and I wish there were a way to make sense of it all.

      Thank you for your very kind words, I'm so glad you found something here that helped a little. I'm sending hugs and hopes for your little miracle, too.

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    2. Your post really hit home. I'm so angry. My baby died at 9 weeks. I feel exactly what you put down in your post. To feel such joy, after 8 years of trying to then experience cramping, a dreadful run to the ER only to be told your baby is gone. No one but another woman who has experienced a miscarriage can understand. I'm so glad you posted. I don't feel so alone.

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    3. I miscarried at 9 weeks and 2 days. I passed it on my own shortly after finding out that my baby's heart had stopped beating. Some days are harder than others. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my baby. Physically my husband and I could start trying again, and as he chose to remind me the other day he's "not getting any younger." But mentally I just can't. I'm at the pint in my grief that I don't know that I ever want to get pregnant again because I can't go through this again. The possibility of a second or third miscarriage terrifies me and I wish there was a way to ensure a completely healthy and normal pregnancy with no sad ending. For now, I'm trying to focus on bettering myself so should the time come and I do have another pregnancy and that one survives I can be an even better mother. My heart goes out to the other mothers (we are STILL mothers no matter what anyone says) who are going through this. I know your pain. Your words of sorrow and grief echo within my heart. I feel like an empty vessel and wish no one would have to go through such a heartbreak.

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  7. Wow! I hope you write that survival guide! I miscarried while at my in-laws house on vacation and it was awful!! All I wanted to do was lay on the floor and cry. I still haven't told most of my family. I really enjoy reading your blog because it help me see the bright side of everything. =)

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    1. Oh, wow. I can't imagine miscarrying under those circumstances. My heart goes out to you. I am so, so sorry for your loss AND the situation you were in when it happened. Thank you so much for reading my blog and for your extremely kind words.

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  8. I have had one blighted ovum, that didn't bother me too much because I got pregnant and had a healthy daughter a few months later. Then years later we got pregnant with our second and suffered a late miscarriage/stillbirth at 21 weeks along. My daughter, now 8, was with me at the ultrasound to find out if baby was a girl or a boy. Instead we are informed by rather insensitive radiologist that baby no longer has heartbeat. Words cannot desribe the pain that followed. And of course, suddenly I am surrounded by co-workers and family members excitedly announcing their pregnancies and growing swollen bellies. It has been 8 months&I am still sad. I feel alone, because everyone has long forgotten and invites me to their baby showers, complains about pregnancy symptoms, etc. Are you kidding me?! I am still devastated and we have been unable to get pregnant again. Some days are better than others, but the pain and grief is still very real. My heart still aches when I see another pregnant woman or see newborn babies. I still have days where I sob uncontrollably and ask God, why? What helps the most, is knowing I am not alone.

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  9. My husband and I have been trying for 8 years to get pregnant. Finally, the joy we had been waiting for. I did everything right, no soda only healthy food nothing processed. At 9 weeks, I started experiencing extreme cramping. Made it to the ER only to discover that my baby was dead. I'd miscarried.
    We were in the process of moving, so for the last 3 weeks I've been able to suppress the death. Now it's here in full force. I can't stop crying. I'm so angry. Even my husband telling me I should be happy that our baby is in heaven with our family members that have passed really pissed me off. Not because of what he said, but because I'm JEALOUS! They are experiencing my baby, and I'm here without him. Friends are avoiding me like the plague. My mom is being supportive, but she can't understand, she had 3 healthy babies no miscarriages. A minister suggested that we go ahead and name the baby. So, we've done that. I've suppressed that to because I just didn't want to deal. His name came up today. I also decided that I need to celebrate my son, even though I never got to know him.
    We have also been told that I can't have children, there are too many problems with my uterus and my ovaries don't work right either. I've gotten a second opinion that I need a hysterectomy. I will never know the joy of holding my child in my arms. I'm about to become completely barren. I feel like a failure. I keep hearing the old adage " a woman isn't really a woman until she becomes a mother." I'm haunted by that. I feel I'm being punished for something that I have no idea what. I have to stop, the tears are not stopping. This grief is just too much to bear! God Help Me Please

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  10. I started blogging about my twin miscarriage I had this summer.
    It all sucks. Getting thoughts out helps. Especially once you are past the point of people wanting to listen anymore.

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  11. Me and my husband are zombie feaks so I was laughing with the zombie reference. Thank u for that.
    I had the dnc 5 days ago. I knew for about a week and half before that I would loose my baby. My first sonogram baby only measured @ 6 weeks when I should of been 9 weeks. Hormones went down another sonogram with no growth and I was ready to get everything done and over with.
    This was my first pregnancy and first miscarriage. Everyone is saying I can try again but screw that. Emotionally I don't know if I can handle another miscarriage.
    On saturday (a day after the miscarriage) I drank a box o wine and cryed my eyes out. During my drunken stupor I lit a two candles for my baby. My husband and I buried one at my mother in laws grave and one on our property. The candles helped because now I have a place to go mourn for my baby and I know my mother in law is taking care of my baby in whatever after life there is. Everyone keeps asking about the significance of the candles but there is none except to me. It's what makes me feel better.
    I keep crossing between want to curl up and cry to wanting to beat the crap out of everyone. The next statement is not politically correct so if u get easily offended stop reading now. I'm a CO in the county jail and what pisses me off to no belief is I see these scum bags come into jail, pregnant or with babies at home, who don't take of themselves who are in and out of the system their whole lifes, having their kids taken away but they can have babies! I can't even carry one past the first trimester. I would have been a good mother! Why do these scum bags get to have babies and I don't! Ok enough of a rant for now. All I got to say is this really sucks!

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  12. Believe it or not, I miscarried at a baby shower (I was the host) and felt that I couldn't leave (said baby shower was held at a victorian-themed restaurant). The plumbing was very victorian, there was only one bathroom, and I left blood stains on a white doilied seat cushion. I knew the miscarriage was coming because I had been told the week before that I had a blighted ovum, but it was still very real, very bloody, and I felt a lot of shame. I didn't tell anyone at the shower, and actually walked home afterwards. Needless to say, I've sworn off baby showers. About to start cycling with an egg donor. I miss your posts, Jenny Wren. I think you are one awesome chick. Lots of LOVE to you!

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  13. I had my second miscarriage last week.
    For whatever reason, I decided to work through. I don't know the logic, except that I had to be doing SOMETHING, so I worked damned hard all week.
    At some point I was on my lunch break, looking for some inspiration on the internet... and I came across your blog.
    I think it has been the biggest help around.
    The bit about teaching your dogs to cuddle on command? I relate so much to that, that I had to drive home and hug my doggy-boys before going back to work.

    I've laughed and cried at this "survival" guide... and ya know what? I DID survive too.

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  14. I just came across your blog today, about 2 hours after finding out I miscarried at 10 weeks. I am sad, but worst of all even though I am surrounded by a loving husban and family I feel so alone and empty. Your post made me smile, even laugh. I hope you keep writing so other people can stumble across your words like I did and smile.

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  15. i have a 7 month old, but when he was born, his sister was the size of a 3 month old fetus, she was still-born. before i got pregnant with them, i had a previous miscarraige, and was too busy figuring out who i should or shouldnt trust at that time. i just had another miscarraige new years eve, and i dont know what to think... i dont know how to explain how i feel to my boyfriend without getting upset and bawling my eyes out. the pregnancy wasnt planned, but it doesnt make a difference

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  16. I just keep thinking that I will not ever have a family again. That it is going to end with me, and I won't get the chance to be a mother and a grandmother someday. And it's ironic because I never really liked kids that much, and I'm terrified of being a mom, but my husband and I tried regardless of all that. I've had 2 miscarriages and they just suck the life out of you. And men don't understand because they don't physically have to go through the process of being pregnant one day and then not pregnant the next. It's hard there is just no way around that.

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  17. I recently miscarried quite early, we weren't trying to get pregnant and even though I am extremely broody, we cannot have children because I take medication that harms the foetus. So, I had my Miscarriage and am waiting to see the obgyn next week, but I am unbelievably hungry. Can't stop. Mainly dairy and carbs. Also, my boyfriend really isn't talking about it, or even listening to me when I talk about it. I can't tell if he doesn't want to hear about it, if he simply doesn't listen to me, or if he finds it hard to talk about. My ex, coincidentally, has been wonderful. But I know he had motives. I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm very lonely through this time, bf being unsupportive and having to be confronted with my inability to have kids. I'm 24, and bipolar.

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  18. I just miscarried on Sunday after my first round of IVF. Im already back to work but still trying to make sense of it all (Im a nurse on a postpartum unit. yay.) Going to the internet and forums for comfort tonight at work and I came across this and I have to thank you. This was the first thing, other than my husband, to make me laugh out loud since. Thank you!

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  19. I just want to say thank you for your blog. I have never had a miscarriage before and I am stuck with the knowing I will have one any day because I do have zombie wombpocalypse going on right now. I needed that too. :) I love your sense of humor and beleive me I really needed it! I hope your right in knowing that I will evenditally get threw this. By the way my last name is Wren too and love the picture. Again thank you for sharing something so person. It really did help and good luck to you :)

    T. Wren

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  20. First slightly humorous post on miscarriage i've found... I like it. Thanks for sharing. I can relate to everything, 100%. Hardest thing I've ever been through, especially after infertility. Crying has been my outlet. Crying every private and quiet moment I can find. Writing. Writing and venting. Yoga, when I feel i'm spinning out of control. I just stretch and breathe for hours, as if my life depended on it. Photography, finding light, in this misery.

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