I’ve been working on this blog post for the better part of 2 months. I’ve written, deleted, re-written. Over and over again. It sat in my drafts folder untitled until yesterday afternoon.
I knew my deadline. October 1. The beginning of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. What I didn’t know was how to even begin to put my thoughts into coherent sentences. How exactly do I want to share our story?
Originally, I’d planned on sharing the full story, but as I wrote (and read), it was a lot. I’ve gotten to where I don’t mind talking about our story, and I find solace in sharing about it with other women, but seeing it all in black and white… that felt a bit overwhelming.
So, here’s what I’ll share on the blog: I found out I was miscarrying our second child on July 4, 2019. I was only about five and a half weeks along. We’d only known for about a week. This baby was a surprise (just like Trip was – apparently that’s how we do things), but we were over the moon.
It felt like it was over before it even started. We were devastated and in shock. Spending half of a holiday in the ER to confirm what was happening to our baby felt especially cruel. Not that any part of pregnancy loss feels otherwise. I knew a lot of people who had experiences pregnancy loss – close friends, acquaintances, people on the internet. And then it happened to me.
The grieving process has been strange. In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was “allowed” to grieve. Could I grieve as much as someone who was further along when they lost their baby? Could I grieve as much as someone who experienced a stillbirth? Could I grieve as someone who lost a child they had brought earthside? For some reason, I felt like I was cheating those women and their losses if I felt it too much. Some days I was able to “control” the grief. Most days I wasn’t.
Finally, it hit me that loss isn’t a zero-sum game. My loss doesn’t negate the loss of anyone else. Nor does someone else’s loss negate mine. I still don’t have this grief thing figured out. I think of our baby every day and wonder about who it would’ve become. Was it a girl or a boy? Would it be calm and laid back, or wild and vivacious like its brother? What interests would it have? What would my cravings have been?
I’ll never know. What I do know is what has helped me in this process. It’s something that I had no idea how to navigate, and what worked for me may not work for someone else. But if you’re going through pregnancy loss, or someone you love is going through it, maybe these things will help someone find comfort in their process.
What Helped Me:
- Getting into counseling. This has been the number one thing that has benefited me. I waited almost 2 months before scheduling an appointment with my counselor because I thought I could “handle it.” Turns out I couldn’t and my family suffered for it. Loss and trauma can be triggers for all kinds of unresolved issues to bubble to the top, so being proactive in dealing with those things was a game-changer.
- Prioritizing self-care. And I don’t mean mani/pedis and massages (although both of those things have happened). I mean finding what I needed to help support my healing. For me, that meant getting back into the gym for the first time in three years and making it happen 5 days a week. Getting enough sleep. Saying no to certain events and functions because it would’ve been too hard for me (I missed baby showers for people I love because I knew I wasn’t ready for it). I even took a few months off from blogging and being super engaged with my business because I just needed to take a step back.
- Letting our circle in. Very few people knew about the baby, but the people that did circled their wagons around us. We had dinner sent to us from out of state – we didn’t have a choice, they just sent it because they knew we needed it. A precious friend brought me my favorite flowers and a card with her favorite scriptures from when she experienced her pregnancy losses. Another friend dropped what she was doing to come watch Trip for an evening so Gerald and I could get away for an evening together. My doula sent me the sweetest care package with bath bombs, a journal, and a book on how to navigate pregnancy loss. All around us people came to our aide, in ways we both knew we needed and didn’t know we needed.
- Letting go of any expectations I may have had of what was “normal” grief. This really tripped me up because I like to do things the “right way.” Come to find out, there is no right way to grieve the loss of a baby. Just take it moment by moment and do what is best for you and your family.
- Finding a way to honor our baby. It seemed strange in the beginning to grieve someone we’d never met and barely knew existed. But after some time I knew I needed something tangible to hold since I can’t hold our baby. I now have a precious necklace to honor my angel baby and it is so special to me.
I hope some of those things help someone. Cherry-pick what works for you and those you love to get through.
The day after we found out I was pregnant, we already had family pictures scheduled. We took an announcement picture that day, that I’ve shared here. It’s not how I want to share the picture – I want to share it with a picture of my belly bump and a story about my crazy cravings. But here we are. These are really the only memories we have “with” our baby, and I’m so thankful we have them. Thank you to Amy Maddox Photography for giving us these incredible memories to have for always.