01.29.2015

The Grief That We Can’t Talk About

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There is a statistic that many women hear, but never really imagine being part of their lives. It is a statistic that only those who experience it know the true pain.

1 in 4 women.

25% of women.

I had heard about this statistic, but never imagined it happening to me. I grew up in an incredibly healthy family. No broken bones, no serious illnesses. Sometimes I feel that many of the great things in my life were handed to me because everything has fallen into place so nicely. I have always felt like the lucky one.

I never imaged being part of a statistic that I didn’t want to have anything to do with. I would never have imagined that me, the lucky one, would have to go through this complicated, emotional roller coaster. But I did. Life threw me a very hard curve ball. I am now part of the statistic. The statistic that I never wanted to be a part of. 

It has taken me over 6 months to get to where I am right now. I still cannot say it out loud. It took me over a week to tell my mother, who I knew would have been by my side through the whole process, but I couldn’t bare to let her know that I failed. Scott told the rest of the family while I curled up in bed, letting my tears soak through the pillow.

Today I should have been holding a brand new baby in our arms. Today I should have been introducing my precious Olive to her baby sibling. Today our beautiful family of 3 should be a loving, happy family of 4. 

But we aren’t 4. We are 3 with a special angel.

Miscarriage.

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I never knew the pain of losing something I never really had. I never knew how one event in someone’s life could change their perspective completely. My life as I once knew it… The important things that used to be… just aren’t anymore. One day all I felt was joy — pure, unadulterated joy, and the next — pain, anxiety, heartbreak. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want to see their “sorry” faces, or their attempts at making me feel better. “Better luck next time… It wasn’t a real baby… It’s better that it happened now”. Those people just don’t understand what it truly feels like. 

We spent almost 10 weeks nurturing our brand new secret. That was 10 weeks of waking up to the enchanting feeling knowing that a precious baby was growing inside you. Two and a half months of fatigue. 60 pre-natal vitamins. I was already planning Olive’s new big girl room and imagining her playing with and teaching her new baby sibling. How can that not be real?

I returned to work the next week. Many people asked where I was and all I could force out of my lips was “family things”. I’d just lost a baby and it had dropped me into a hell of despair so deep that it hurt just to breathe. I’d just lost a baby and I chalked it up to “family things”.

We are taught to forget and move on.

But I will never forget.

Miscarriage is death. It brings with it all the agonizing grief that comes with losing a loved one. But miscarriage is also a taboo topic. It’s the very reason that we hide our pregnancies during those first dicey months, fretfully waiting for the danger to abate before making any announcements. 

When bad news comes, couples that lose a pregnancy tend to mourn in secret, telling only close friends and family about their loss. There are no funerals. No memorials. You don’t get sympathy cards and bereavement time. Instead, routines go on, and you take sick days. The only tradition our society does have regarding miscarriage is that you’re not supposed to talk about it. We expect grieving couples to buck up and pretend that the little life lost never existed in the first place.

We reduce a miracle to a topic not fit for polite conversation.

When it happened to me, I didn’t want anyone to know because that is what our society has made us believe. I have been grieving in silence for the last 6 months. I keep going back to that day when people kept asking me where I was. What if I had just told them what happened? Would I have been able to accept this sooner? As a society, we let ourselves believe the lie that miscarriage is a minor event in a woman’s life. “It happens all the time,” people tell you, as if knowledge of its frequency will put the loss in perspective. Imagine giving that same line to someone who just lost a grandparent. I have lost many important people in my life. Losing a baby isn’t any easier.

Life is slowly returning to normal. I am having way more good days then bad… But I still find myself shutting down my computer when a friend announces a pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for my friends… It’s just a constant reminder of what was taken away from us. I still find myself running around the corner at work when I see a complete stranger with a belly bump, fearful I may break down in tears. Every day I am asked by someone when we plan to have another baby. Every day. It is so hard to be all smiles and come up with some round-a-bout answer to that terrible question. I cannot tell you how many times I just wanted to scream when asked. So many times I just want to say “It’s none of your damn business”… but then I remember that they have no idea what I have been going through. All they see is our perfect family of 3 and they think that our family would be even more perfect with another baby. I have to remember that no one knows.

The thing that gets me through is truly believing that there is a heaven and that all the important people who have touched both our lives are nurturing our baby and letting her know how loved she is.

It took me a long time to decide to write this post. I have written it in my head hundreds of times, but never had the courage to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) The last thing I want is for you to feel bad for me. I think that is the reason I have kept quiet. I don’t want people to look at me as that girl who lost a baby. I want people to look at me as that girl who was brave enough to talk about her loss and the challenges she is facing months after. I decided to write this post to help the hundreds of women out there who are experiencing this same pain. I want them to know that they are not alone.

  • The grief you feel is real, and it’s okay to not want to forget. It’s going to take time. Just when you think you have accepted what happened, something will trigger your sadness all over again.
  • I encourage you to find someone to talk to — whether it be your husband, mother, sister, friend, doctor… find someone. Keeping your emotions to yourself is the hardest thing. Losing a baby is a big deal, and the emotions you feel for months following can swallow you up whole.
  • Your priorities are going to change. Suddenly the things that once were at the forefront of your mind – work, friends, school, extracurriculars – just won’t be so important. Miscarrying changes your perspective on life. You will find yourself making an effort to do those things you wanted to do, but never had time for.
  • Don’t be afraid to take more time from work. I took 3 days originally… but 3 months later during a doctor’s appointment for Olive I found myself sobbing, telling my doctor how numb I felt, how hard it was to get out of bed, how I just felt lost. I ended up taking another week off as per doctor’s orders months after I actually miscarried.
  • Remember that you and your husband will likely grieve differently. Scott threw himself into work. At first I didn’t think he was affected by our loss, but one day when he came home to find me in a ball under the covers, cheeks soaked with tears, he climbed into bed and rubbed my back for over an hour. He didn’t say a word, but I knew he was just as upset as I was. Do not get frustrated with your loved one. They do care, but may just show it differently.
  • It’s okay to be scared, but do not lose hope. 

I lost a baby. I am telling the world. It crippled me, but has made me so much stronger. It has made me appreciate life in a whole new way. I now know what a true miracle Olive is. Her smiles, giggles, and funny faces made this time bearable.

I still am the lucky one. I have an amazing little family and a beautiful angel watching over us.

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25 responses to “The Grief That We Can’t Talk About”

  1. marie says:

    i just saw on instagram what happened and i am so sorry… i am a part of statistic too:( sending love to you

  2. Zandra says:

    This post is a success. You impress and inspire me. I think this is a part of the stigma around all things regarding mental health. I’m battling depression and my close friends know, but for some reason I haven’t been able to tell my family. Them feeling sorry for me would not aid my healing process.
    Thank you and keep at it.

    • Stacy says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Zandra. It really makes me feel good about my decision to post this. I hope you will be able to figure out how to let your family know and start the healing process xoxo

  3. Pure Ella says:

    I am so sorry for your heartbreak…. sending big comforting hugs to you my dear.
    I admire your courage to speak out and share your story.
    I wasn’t in your shoes but I also needed to accept our family of 3 for a long time, due to my own health problems. It was hard when it feels like you cannot change your path… but stay strong, learn to let go of the past and leave just enough room for new possibilities filled with hope… ♥♥♥

  4. Lyndsey says:

    xo

  5. Melissa says:

    Stacy, I cried while reading your post, not because I feel bad for you, but rather because I am also part of the statistic. Our baby was due mid June. I ended up having a miscarriage which was also an ectopic pregnancy. I needed surgery and had my fallopian tube removed. Every time I look in the mirror my physical scars remind me of my emotional ones. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

  6. Melissa says:

    I was told this by a friend ” Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in our hearts”

  7. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing with us. I am so sorry for your loss, and I will pray for your healing and for the care of your baby in the next life. My cousin recently lost a child, and my friend lost a sibling just last year– both to miscarriage. It grieved me to see that they had to be so silent about their sadness, and how quickly even close friends expected them to move on. I will be sure to share your story, so that anyone who has gone through this knows that they are not alone, and that they deserve to be able to express their grief to the world. God bless, Stacy!

  8. Annie says:

    You’re very brave Stacy. I’m so sorry for your loss, and the heartbreak that you’ve had to endure. Thank you for sharing, your honesty will be a comfort to many couples who have experienced the same thing.

    Xox. Annie

  9. Linda Roach Amy's Mom says:

    I too am part of that statistic that we never want to be part of. For me it was almost 40 years ago, but every time Nov. 5th. rolls around those memories of what might have been come flooding back. I try to treasure what life has given me. And when I shed tears I know that someday I will be reunited with that little baby and my son Christopher who I also lost in November.

  10. Laura says:

    Stacy, I’m very sorry to hear about your baby. I have seen so many of my friends in the same position, and they felt like they had to keep it a secret. Our society has lost so many of its rituals, and miscarriage is something that we truly need a ritual for. I’m so glad that you wrote this post and I hope it was able to bring some healing to you. God bless you and your family.

  11. Jacqueline says:

    Dear Stacy, I am so sorry and I thank you for speaking the words of my heart. I too am part of the statistic, several times over. I am so proud of you for speaking up, our culture sucks at grief (grief specialists! yikes!!) and we are spectacularly bad at supporting families through miscarriage or the death of infants. I have found people have a particularly hard time understanding your grief when you have another healthy child (or children.) After my first miscarriage I sank into a profound postpartum depression which no one caught because, after all, no one caught my baby. My last miscarriage was also incredibly painful and yet (as someone said to me the day I was burying my palm-sized baby) I am grateful for the children I have. I am grateful, and still I fondly recall every one of my angel babies and keep them close to my heart.

  12. Shari says:

    Not only am I part of that statistic, I have had more pregnancies than I have children. Sometimes there are no words to describe the heartache and pain, but I believe it must be talked about. And so does Devan McGuinness, who started the website http://unspokengrief.com/
    It is a safe place for people to share their stories, connect with others going through the same thing and a place where sharing the pain is accepted.
    I urge you to check it out and share it with others. Being silent only adds to the grief.

  13. Molly says:

    Thank you for this post. I lost my baby on April 8, 2012. It was Easter. I still hate Easter and the whole season. This is the first time I have written about my loss; but not the first time I talked about it. Like you, I could not say the words for a very long time, for fear that I would break down. After some time, I forced myself to tell some friends, just in casual conversation, if the moment seemed right. I still do that from time to time. The reactions are interesting. Most people, completely unintentionally, say the worst things. I heard things like: “It wasn’t a real baby.” or “You almost made it!” This latter comment, from a friend who heard I miscarried at 11.5 weeks pregnant, typifies some of the feelings that mothers who miscarry feel that the fathers cannot understand. Feelings of guilt, of shame, of ineptitude, because we somehow failed to grow a baby and that was our fault. Even when we intellectually understand why the baby was lost and that we as mothers are not at fault, we feel that we are. That shame is hard to lose; even when you are fortunate enough to successfully have a healthy baby after your miscarriage, as I was. I thank you for sharing your feelings – they are universal to all mothers who have suffered the loss of an unborn baby.

  14. Erin says:

    This is the most beautifully written description of what it is truly like to experience a miscarriage. I have unfortunately experience 4 miscarriages but I have also been blessed (after finding the right doctors) with three amazing children. I suffered through a three year depression, and your words ring so true. The hardest part is feeling like your loss doesn’t matter and knowing that so many people are uncomforable even speaking about it. Let’s hope your words can help break this stigma and help people to be more understanding. I would never wish this kind of pain on anyone and I hope you find healing and peace. You never forget, but it does get easier with time. I remember my little angels every day 🙂

  15. Melanie says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss. I too had a miscarriage, just a week before Christmas, and 10 weeks in, like you. The best way for me to heal was to not be alone, to spend time with my beautiful little toddler (who I pray will be a big sister soon), and to open up about it. I was very open about it with my colleagues…I took a week off but let them know why I wasn’t there). Being an open book like this is going to help us, but also others like us, letting them know that it’s not something to be ashamed of. Because it isn’t. When I opened up about it, suddenly, a lot of other people did too. (Just like your article is doing for others). I found comfort from people I didn’t expect. We have to keep doing this,telling our story, and pave the way for others who are hurting in silence. I hope for good things for you. xoxo

  16. Molly says:

    This is almost exactly what I wanted to write to myself. You described the pain so accurately.

    Thank you for sharing, so I know I’m not the only one. Any other PCOS sufferers to swap ideas and hope with one another?

  17. Tami says:

    Thank you for publishing your story.
    I have had 4 miscarriages and it gets more difficult
    telling anyone after each loss.
    Tami

  18. Autumn says:

    I’m so sorry the loss of your precious baby and what you are going through. I too am a member of the club I never wanted to join. 10 years ago now, my first baby, and I still think about that baby every single day. I remember the waking up the morning after my D&C (missed miscarriage that wasn’t happening on it’s own) to a beautiful sunrise and all the traffic going by and wondering how the world could carry on as usual when mine had come to a screeching halt. Your comment “The thing that gets me through is truly believing that there is a heaven and that all the important people who have touched both our lives are nurturing our baby and letting her know how loved she is.” is exactly what I have envisioned and also got me through. I didn’t know anyone who had miscarried due to all the secrecy and my husband just didn’t get it. An online chat group for pregnancy loss with people going through the same thing at the same time was truly healing for me. I’m now at the point where I’m truly grateful for the brief amount of time I was blessed to carry that baby and look forward to having one more baby to meet in heaven one day.

    • Stacy says:

      Your story is touching Autumn. Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m glad you were able to relate to what I said!

  19. I’ve typed and deleted this many times. A part of me hasn’t shared this news with anyone except family and 3 close friends. I feel your pain – my thoughts are with you. I’m scared to publish this, but at the same time realize that you and I are not alone. We spent our New Years Day in the hospital with our loss – although I wasn’t “that far along” it still resonates. Anytime I hear a babies coming in the same month ours was to be here makes me teary. I hope you’re doing well and in a place of peace.

    xo

    .:Marta:.

    • Stacy says:

      Thank you for being so brave Marta. It takes a strong woman like yourself to say it out loud. I’m thinking about you!

  20. Erin says:

    I was there as well. However, I was 19 weeks and 5 days. So everyone already knew. There was no avoiding it. I had to be induced to deliver him and then I hemorrhaged and had to have surgery. No explanation for his heart stopping suddenly but I knew something had not been right from the beginning. The nightmares told me something wasn’t right.
    I was off work for more than 2 months. The panic attacks when you saw someone or just a tv show with babies or pregnancy – Grey’s Anatomy is still a minefield. But now exactly 6 years later, no one talks about it. No one mentions it but now I’m ready to. Since its just part of my brain now. And I can do that without breaking down. My 7 yr old asked about the “Angel” sign on her wall the other day for the first time – on the anniversary. So I finally told her in vague details. But I could smile about that fact she had a baby brother that looked exactly like her.

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