Thursday, January 3, 2008

When Someone Miscarries (updated)

I have created this list based on my own experiences, as well as asking other moms who have miscarried...obviously each person is a little different...several moms commented that it made a difference WHO was saying/doing the thing as to whether it was appropriate or not. For example, many moms felt awkward about a hug from someone they weren't close to, but craved hugs from family members or close friends. One mom said she appreciated when a close friend reminded her that miscarriage is nature's way of natural selection, but that she would have been really hurt if a mere aquaintence had said it...

What to say:
  • "I'm sorry"
  • "I love you"
  • "I've been thinking about you"
  • Acknowlege the baby ("I heard..." etc)
  • If you have ever miscarried, tell her so. She needs to feel not alone. Tell her the things that helped you--they are very likely to help her, and even if they don't, she will appreciate the sentiment.
  • Still talk about the pregnancy (symptoms, how you told people, etc) Just because the pregnancy ended in tragedy doesn't mean it was any less of a pregnancy.

What to NOT say:
  • "You can/will have other babies"
  • "At least you have other children"
  • "At least you know you can get pregnant"
  • "At least you were only __ weeks along/didn't go to full term"
  • "____ would have been harder/worse"
  • "At least you had an easy recovery"
  • "You are young enough to have lots more babies"
  • "It's nature/God's way of getting rid of an imperfect fetus"
  • "You know the doctrine/what the scriptures say..."
  • "He/She is in a better place"
  • "It wasn't a baby yet"
  • "You need to move on/get over it"
  • Nothing (when mom knows that you know, and you say nothing, it HURTS)
  • NEVER call it the medical term "spontanious abortion." That makes it sound like the baby wasn't wanted, and for a mom who wants children, especially if she's miscarried more than once, use of that term cuts deep. I don't care how technical it is (and would somebody tell the doctors this?! They don't seem to get it.)

What to do
  • Acknowledge the baby as a BABY
  • Bring over dinner--don't ask, just do it
  • Come over and clean the house--don't ask, just call and say you're coming
  • Come over and just about the baby if she wants to. Talk about anything BUT the baby if she wants to.
  • Listen
  • Give hugs
  • Help her find distractions if she wants them (movies, books, projects)
  • Don't distract her if she doesn't want it
  • Bring her a little gift--something for HER, such as a sweet-smelling candle, some cookies, or a soft little blanket. One friend brought me a 'hug' in the form of a snuggly fleece was the best thing anyone did for me.
  • Help care for other children (remember this is a post partum period, just as it would be had the baby been full term, and mom needs peace and rest)
  • Pray for her (and her family)
  • If you have been there, help her know what to expect physically (with natural miscarriage, D&C, or subsequent fertility)

What to NOT do
  • Pretend nothing ever happened.
  • Assume that mom (or dad) is feeling fine, just because they are taking care of business again.
  • Change the subject away from the baby (let HER do it if she wants to--she probably won't)
  • Don't assume that her family/close friends are handling everything...if you know her a little (just from church, for example), you can still help a lot. (The lady that brought me the 'hug' was someone I hardly knew, yet her thoughtfulness bonded us.)
  • Don't casually mention that so and so is pregnant with number 1, 2, 5, 10, whatever... it's not about pregnancy in a generic way, it's about HER baby that is gone.

Remember that dad is probably mourning often prefer to shut out the pain by seeking distraction, so they may seem chipper and normal...but that doesn't mean they actually feel that way.

In the following weeks and months, consider the following:
**Mom may not feel up to going to baby showers, or she may cling to invite her, but don't feel offended if she doesn't come, and don't question her about it either way. This is ESPECIALLY important for babies due around when her baby was due.
**Offer to let her hold may be healing for her...but do not pressure her to do it if she declines, because it may also just hurt too much.
**Don't hide your pregnancy from her to 'spare her feelings'. Tell her when you tell everyone else. It's hard to not be pregnant when others are, but it's even harder when a friend or neighbor is obviously pregnant, and yet never told you...
**When you DO tell her about your pregnancy, do so can help to start with something like "I'm not sure how to bring this up, but I didn't want you to hear it from someone else..."


sscmom said...

Wow, last miscarriage was almost four years ago and I thought I was "over" it, but your post made my cry. So well written. I wish there was a way to have it distributed worldwide. Thank you for that.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this post. I feel so awkward when I want to offer comfort but don't know how to do it the "right" way, or what should/should not be talked about. I've ended up not doing or saying anything and causing more offense in the end. This will definitely help for the future. Thank you.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

What a great list--both the things to say as well as (and sometimes more importantly) the things not to do or say. Thank you for writing it.

Brooke said...

I think nearly every one of the "what not to say or do" happened to me. My sister in law recently found out she was pregnant, told everyone but me, and let me find out through the grapevine. I also had nearly every one of the "what not to say" comments said to me and they hurt every time. I wanted to scream at the people saying them, though I know that they were well meaning. This has been healing for me to read about your miscarriages and all of your advice and such. Thanks for being so open and honest.

Abby said...

So true! I have had almost every one of the 'don'ts' happen to me, and I actually had my own list as well and it almost exactly matched yours!

I do have to say though, that it didn't ALWAYS bother me when someone said "At least you know you can get pregnant," because I was happy that I could get pregnant myself, especially after trying for several months.

However, if anyone else says to me,"At least you weren't very far along," or "There was a good reason," I might have to punch them in the face and say, "There's a good reason for THIS!"

Sarah said...

This is so well written, thank you thank you. This was exactly what I wanted from people after we lost our baby.

Jessica Pennings said...

My friend just posted this on FB and I thought it was such a great post! I remember my sister saying to me "well, I guess it just wasn't meant to be." That was over 3 years ago and I still remember it and it still hurts so much. I wish everyone had the opportunity to read this, I think people who have never gone through a miscarriage don't realize how devastating and painful it is!

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