A couple years ago, I was so excited to be meeting an old friend at a get-together. It had been almost a year since we had seen each other in person, even though we regularly communicated through e-mail and texting. As I walked into the cookout location, I immediately searched for her. Once I realized that she had not arrived yet, I proceeded to chat with others and eat a few yummy appetizers. The last time we spoke, she mentioned that she had her husband were trying to conceive. That was at least three months ago, so I was excited to find out whether she had good news to share because she called a few days before to insist that I come to the event. About thirty minutes after I arrived, she walked in. Finally! She was glowing, just as beautiful as she always was. Her presence was comparable to a child on Christmas day—elated, yet peaceful. I gave her a hug and we proceeded in catching up on the last few months’ events. I just knew she was expecting. I could feel it and see the joy on her face. So when she told me that she wanted to share something with me, my spirit filled with so much anticipation of what I thought was the obvious. And then she told me: “I lost the baby.”
I guess I had never given much thought to the situations that could occur when I, myself, am ready to conceive. We have been doing our research and learning about pregnancy and childbirth, however we never visited the topic of miscarriage until recently. Some may think we would be jinxing ourselves or claiming something that very well may not ever happen. However, I would like to be aware of how I can cope with this unfortunate situation should I ever experience it. To the women out there who have experienced this loss, I want to tell you that you are so amazing for continuing to live and learn. You are inspirations to many of us and you, too, can become support to those who are dealing with the emotional, mental, and physical healing after a miscarriage.
Miscarriage is an unfortunate loss of the fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), 600,000 women experience miscarriages each year. I heard the term so many times before, but it was not until this encounter that I decided to read up a little more about it and learn the reasons and symptoms. In gathering my own information, I would like to share with you that many women have had successful full-term pregnancies after miscarriage. Do we know exactly why it occurs? In some instances, yes; but, in most situations, unfortunately, no. However, my aim is not to focus on the details of why miscarriage occurs. Instead, I hope we can begin to be more supportive of women of all ages who have had this experience. In educating one another and providing a shoulder to lean on, we can maintain the empowerment bestowed among our bodies. Women can heal. Women can bounce back. Woman can do anything. By supporting one another, we can begin to allow our friends to have the courage to try again for that beautiful baby she has always wanted.
Being a listening ear and remaining empathetic can be the best support provided to your friend in need. Many women deal with miscarriage differently. Some are able to grieve silently, while others may move towards a depressed state. In supporting our friends who are dealing with miscarriage, a great recommendation would be to refer your friend to a counselor, preferably with her spouse or partner. Seeking professional help may help your friend cope in a way that does not make her feel judged. It will allow her to voice her inner feelings, as well as begin the healing process.
Women who have had miscarriages need support that often-times require no opinions or advice. Just knowing that a friend is there may be the kindest gesture you can give. Please refrain from using cliches and comments that have a “by the way” tone. Examples include “Well at least you know you can get pregnant” and “You’re still young, you can try again.” Such comments can be hurtful, even if you are trying to be supportive. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” can be more helpful than you know.
A few days after the cookout, I sent my friend a “Thinking of You” card. I did not fully understand what she was dealing with, but after taking some time to put myself in her shoes, I realized that she was grieving for her unborn child. The best support I could have given her was space and time. In between, I would call to check on her or invite her out to lunch. I never brought up the topic, but if she did, I listened and remained empathetic. She was dealing with feelings of guilt and shame, always wondering what she had done wrong. Through it all, I just could not understand how she was so joyful that day at the cookout. She replied “…because I knew you would be there.” It was at this moment that I realized who I was to her. I was that friend who would not judge. I was the one who would cry with her. I was the one who had invited myself to share in her agony. But I was also the one who knew that there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
We began to speak about hope for the future and trusting that she will have her sweet baby one day. We began to claim positive affirmations and encompass thoughts of fruitfulness and life. Deep inside, I knew that friendship and support was one of the best remedies I could have provided. If I could have done anything differently, I would have offered to clean her house, run errands, or box up some of the baby items she had purchased. Helping her with such tasks would have allowed her more time to rest and reflect. However, I do appreciate her for trusting me and teaching me that we can move on with life after loss. We are strong, abundant women who can weather any storm, for the sunlight shall peep through the clouds again. I often think of ways I could have better comforted my friend even after some of the small steps I took to make sure she was okay. She always tells me that I did an amazing job of “just being there.” Honestly, I believe all she really wanted was to know that she was supported and not alone.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests many useful ways to support friends and family who have dealt with miscarriage. To learn more, please visit American Pregnancy Association – After a Miscarriage: Supporting Friends and Family Through Loss.