I know, I know. It's been over a year, I should accept the miscarriage and move on. Most of me has, and yet... I still want my story to end with a baby. A baby I carry or a baby we adopt, I don't care which. I'm really trying to quit looking for a baby as the end result, but it's so hard. So, if you know a woman who's suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, here are some things you can say or do to comfort, even years later.
1) Say her baby's name. Write it, type it, say it. Every mom wants to see her child's name in print. Most of us only see them on tombstones or sympathy cards. People don't talk about the baby, because they don't know what to say. Just give her a hug and say "I saw this and it made me think of you and (insert baby's name)..." and tell her your story. Send cards or messages on due dates and angel dates, even years later. The pain lessens, but it never goes away.
2) Encourage her to share. Some women will tell you every detail, others won't talk much at all. Most fall somewhere in between. Let her know you're always there to listen, and then ACT on it! If she messages you in the middle of the night, make it a priority to respond right after your morning cup of coffee. She needs to know you mean it when you say she can talk to you. It's hard to determine who you can reach out to, and it takes a lot of courage to start a conversation.
3) Give her a hug. You may not know if she needs it or not, but human touch is always a wonderful thing. If she's crying, offer a shoulder to cry on. Understand the tears don't stop. They may not come every day, but there will always be a giant hole in her heart. There will always be something that triggers her tears.
4) With her consent, strike up conversations with her husband or kids about the miscarriage. My princess always has something to share. It's not something we bring up, because I don't want her to feel pressure to feel any certain way, but there are days when she just wants to cuddle and cry. I know if someone asked her about William, she would jump at the opportunity to talk about him. Shaun desperately wanted a man to talk to after our loss, but men aren't always open to talking. Have your husband take him to shoot pool or play golf, something to get out of the house and relax for a bit. Take her kids on outings with your family. Let them know they're loved.
5) Understand that it will take time to heal, and everyone's journey is unique. Just because your great aunt got pregnant immediately following a loss doesn't mean your friend will. For a woman who's struggling with carrying a baby to term, these stories can do more harm than good. I know so many people told me their positive stories afterwards, I was certain we would conceive right away. Now seventeen months later we still don't have a baby, and there's no indication that I'll conceive anytime soon.
6) Know that miscarriage is a mysterious thing. Doctors don't want to bring it up during visits, because they don't want to worry patients. Many families don't have an autopsy performed, and even when they do it won't necessarily explain why it happened. We know William had a Chromosome 13 defect, but we don't know if that caused his death. We won't ever know for sure. Also, it doesn't matter if she was eight weeks or thirty-eight weeks, she loved her baby. The pain is the same.
7) Also know that with every subsequent pregnancy her first thought will be "Will I lose this one too?" It's not that she's not excited, but she now knows how easy it is to lose a baby you barely know. Some women will delay announcing a pregnancy because of this, others (like me) will use it as a reason to announce right away, maybe even before a doctor confirms it.
8) You're pregnant? Congratulations! She wants to be happy for you, and she may be, but she's also fighting jealousy. You already have two (or three, or more) kids you didn't plan/want. You may have planned each and love them dearly, but still....why is it so easy for you when it's such a struggle for her? While I know you want to update everyone on every kick, every sickness, every pound gained, understand these posts will be hard for her to follow. She may out of loyalty, or she may distance herself from you for a time. Don't be offended. Just try to understand she's a mess of emotions. Whatever you do, DO NOT complain in front of her. She would swap every grave, every tear, every painful memory for weight gain, memory loss, nausea or any other annoying pregnancy symptom.
9) Tell her she's an awesome mom, even if she only has children in heaven. Point out how she's changed her diet, exercised more, or done anything to make her body ready to conceive and carry a baby. If she has a child or two, point out the amazing things she does with them. We all should encourage each other, but moms struggling with fertility desperately need it.
10) Pray for her, and tell her. Tell her how far you've seen her come since her first loss. Tell her how inspiring she is. She won't believe it the first time, but after a while she'll begin to see. Send notes of encouragement, years after her loss. Every mom I know still thinks about the babies they lost, sometimes decades later. The pain never goes away. It may lessen, but it will always be there.
I hope all these make sense. It's hard to reach out to someone after a miscarriage, and we often think we should stop after a while. These are just my opinions, based on my experiences and observations. Thanks for reading!