Navigating Recovery and Self-Care while Grieving a Miscarriage
Losing a pregnancy is a deeply personal and heart-wrenching experience, and navigating the path of recovery while grieving a miscarriage can be an overwhelming journey. So, we wanted to offer some help. In this blog, we will explore the profound impact of miscarriage and stillbirth, the importance of self-care in the healing process, and things you can do to find light in the midst of darkness for yourself or a loved one experiencing a pregnancy loss.
Understanding Miscarriage and Grief
Let’s start with the reality: miscarriage and stillbirth is a club no one wants to join. If our club had a password it would be “heartbreaking” and the handshake would be a lingering hug delivered through tears. Miscarriage is a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks. The statistics show for women who know they’re pregnant, about 10-20% end in miscarriage, with most happening before week 12. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after week 20 and affects about 1 in 160 pregnancies each year in the US. I have walked both of those hard paths so let me begin by saying if you have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, I am so very sorry. It sucks. It really really sucks. We unexpectedly lost our second son Cooper at 36.5 weeks from a detached placenta. A few months later, we miscarried another son at 11 weeks. Obviously, those losses felt different but they were both profound and tragic. I would like to note that we had a living child (our son Trey, then two years old) while we walked those grief journeys, so my heart goes out to women who lose a child before having a successful pregnancy. That is a really hard experience in a different way. No matter what your story is (or maybe you are reading this to support a loved one walking this path - gold star for you, friend!), it’s important and it matters. The emotional impact of pregnancy loss is far-reaching. Not only does it affect our physical bodies but it hits on an emotional and spiritual level as well. Be prepared to experience the stages of grief as you go through the grieving process.
Miscarriage and stillbirth are tragic events that mark a person for life. Here, we visit the grave of our son Cooper whose brief nine months in the womb still impact our lives today.
Importance of Self-Care in the Healing Journey
One important aspect in the healing journey after miscarriage and stillbirth is self-care. Depending on your personality type, self-care after a miscarriage will look different for each person but the basics are universal. Take a shower. Stay hydrated. Eat, even if you don’t have an appetite. Sleep when you can. Go for a walk. Talk with trusted family and friends. Consider making an appointment with a mental health provider or join a support group. For many women, miscarriages can be really isolating. Oftentimes, we won’t have announced the pregnancy yet so it can feel awkward to share such personal and sad news with even close friends and family. When we miscarried it was fall of 2016 and we had taken a photo with pumpkins that was going to be our baby announcement. Before I could post the photo, we heard the phrase no expecting parent wants to hear in an ultrasound room, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” UGH. I deliberated on how and when to share the news, if at all. However, since we’d walked through losing Cooper and I’d been open about that tragic loss and had seen how sharing our story helped others, I decided to be open this time around also. Whatever you decide to share and with whom, just make sure you do tell someone. It is so important to acknowledge these losses as we navigate the grief.
Acknowledging a pregnancy loss is so important in the grieving process. Here, a photo I planned to use as a baby announcement turned into a miscarriage announcement.
Designing a Carefully Curated Gift Box
As you start picking up the pieces of your heart, consider ordering a Laurelbox miscarriage care package for yourself or for a friend you are supporting in this process. Long before I started blogging for Laurelbox, I was simply a recipient of their beautiful and thoughtful sympathy gifts. Each item that arrived in the mail with beautiful packaging lifted my spirits just a little bit and gave me hope. The very first item I received was a “Forget Me Not” mug that they don’t sell anymore. I drank so many cups of coffee out of that mug in the weeks following the loss and each time I grabbed it in the morning, it got just a fraction of a percent easier. Over the years as we went from grieving stillbirth and miscarriage to walking through nearly three years of infertility, friends sent me Laurelbox items that became cherished keepsakes and tangible ways to remember our lost babies but also to feel seen and loved. There are a number of self-care items that are designed to support grieving mamas. From items promoting relaxation and stress relief, to those encouraging self-reflection and emotional healing, they offer something for everyone with the option to customize and personalize.
Supportive Resources and Information
In addition to Laurelbox miscarriage gifts, I found these books to be especially helpful in my personal grieving process. “Grieving the Child I Never Knew” by Kathe Wunnenberg as well as “Anchored: A Bible Study for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss” by Erin Cushman. The latter had a variety of stories from real women who have experienced such sad tragedies. The adage “Misery loves company” is real and it helped me feel less alone when I could read about other people’s sad stories too. As I touched on earlier, be open to using your story to help others when you are ready. As I write this blog, I’m texting a friend who was brave enough to share with me that she is currently walking through a miscarriage. It’s only because of our willingness to share the less shiny aspects of life that people feel confident enough to say “me too” and ask for help and support.
Let’s end on a hopeful note. Around 85% of women who experience pregnancy loss will go on to have healthy pregnancies, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Be encouraged that this is a hard valley to walk through, but you’ll make it to the other side stronger, more empathetic and a little bit wiser. Trust me, as I offer a virtual hug to you as a fellow member of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad club. You are seen and you are loved. Hang in there.
Pregnancy loss is a club no one wants to join. Here, I stand with my two rainbow baby girls (conceived via IVF) this past Easter.
Lanna Britt was a national news producer in Washington DC for nearly a decade covering politics, breaking news and current events. She now lives with her husband and three children in Richmond VA. She has two sweet babies she’ll meet again in heaven.