October is miscarriage awareness month. (At least that is what the many articles and banners sprinkled across my Facebook page tell me.)
Mustering up my courage and facing a lost baby who would now be almost 6 years old, I’ve decided to finally write a couple articles on miscarriage.
Helping someone who has miscarried is hard.
If you’ve wondered what to say to someone who has lost a baby – or if you have lost a child, and you don’t know how to express what you are feeling and going through, I’m writing this article for you. I hope it will be a help.
What is the Mom Feeling?
I do not know of a loss more lonely then a miscarriage. The mother KNEW the baby. She felt it’s movements, dreamed dreams, fell in love. NO ONE else did.
She lost one of the greatest loves of her life, and the rest of the world is unaffected.
Whether she told others or not, it is a very isolating time.
Most mothers struggle with guilt of some sort.
(Did I eat well enough? Did I sleep enough? Could this because I didn’t take good care of myself in college ___ years ago? Is something wrong with my body? Does God think I would be a bad mother?)
Usually the guilt does not even make sense – and usually it is not voiced.
Asaph died 4 days before I miscarried. Somehow the inside of my body bruised up her dead little body during that time, and she was black and blue when I delivered her. I felt guilty for that. The guilt grew in my mind and eventually even made me feel insecure in parenting our second child.
(Now that I voice it, it makes no sense, but in the deep emotions of grief and loneliness, foolish feelings of guilt make sense.)
It took 3 years, and a realization that her death was because God had a BIGGER plan – outside of me and outside of her – before I ‘got over’ that.
One of the best books on miscarriage is called ‘Empty Arms.’
After a miscarriage, it feels like you should be holding a baby – but the baby is gone. Your arms ache – and your heart throbs, but you can’t hold your child.
No baby is easy to lose, but I’ve been told the first is the hardest because there is no other child to hug and love. Your heart and arms are just empty.
Being around babies and pregnant women can be hard for awhile.
A Different Child Will Not Replace the One Lost
Just because a mother has an older child or gets pregnant again right away – doesn’t change the value of that child. It helps (a little – not as much as you’d think) to fill the heart void of wanting a child, but the miscarried child is still dead. The mother still misses the lost baby.
Constant Reminders (At least a month of physical reminders)
It takes a month before the hormones leave your body so you basically ‘feel pregnant’ for 30 days after your baby dies.
The first week, when the pregnancy-feeling nausea hits, you have these split-second moments that you think you are still pregnant – but then you remember – and you have multiple moments a day to relive the loss.
After a week, you just wish the nausea, cramps and pregnancy- like symptoms would end because you can’t bear the reminders anymore.
Huge Loss of Blood
When I lost Asaph, the doctor said that I’d bleed like a ‘normal period.‘ He’s apparently never miscarried a baby before.
I had to leave work the next day because my clothes were COVERED in blood.
What Can You Do?
Refer to Baby by Name
The baby is not an ‘it.’ The baby is her child. Find out if she thinks it was a girl or boy and then refer to the baby as ‘he’ or ‘she.’
If she has a name, refer to the baby by name. You are showing you believe the baby has value and is a person.
Most mothers remember their miscarried baby on the day they miscarried. Others hold the baby’s due date as special.
My mother-in-law called me on the first and second anniversaries of Asaph’s death. She remembered my baby – even a year or two later.
She also has a necklace on which hangs a birthstone shoe charm for each grandchild. In Asaph’s place, she put a gold plated bead – and wears the necklace every day. Words don’t express how much that commemoration means to me.
When a baby’s been miscarried, the mother fears his/her memory will be lost. A friend remembering that life is SO IMPORTANT.
Recognize the Baby’s Purpose for Eternity
Miscarried babies are not ‘a mistake.’
They are a part of God’s plan, and they have an eternal purpose both during their short time on this earth and for all of eternity in Heaven.
Asaph’s life and death taught us to not take our children for granted, and now Asaph is serving her purpose in Heaven – praising God. (That is why I named her Asaph. Asaph was a musician who spent his life creating hymns to praise God.)
I realized that Asaph is serving the same purpose all of us should strive to serve – glorifying God!
Just because a baby’s life is short, does not make it less valuable. God, in His incredibleness was able to complete his/her earthly purpose in LESS time and now has brought the baby to Himself to do His next work for him/her.
One helpful book that focused on God’s working hand was “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur.
- Something to Hold
As I mentioned earlier, the Mom is feeling like she has ‘empty arms.’ A stuffed animal (or in our case, a puppy) is a huge help.
- Something to Remember
After Asaph died, I bought a nice box and put in a picture of a 12 week gestation baby (that looked like she had), an outfit that I’d planned to put her in, a scrapbooked card I made with some pictures and her name and the dates she lived, and a poem I wrote 2 years afterward. A couple times a year, I pause a couple minutes and look through the contents of that box – remembering my baby. I’ve also used the box to share my memory of her with my other children. This has been very meaningful and has led to many good conversations.
Footprint necklaces are also very precious. Then you can keep the baby close to your heart. Etsy sells a lot of miscarriage jewelry, but my favorite charms I’ve found is here. I’ve simply bought the chain separately.
- Cry with the Mother
One of my best, most precious moments only took a second. It was four days after the miscarriage. I was in Sunday school.
A hugely pregnant woman had sat down by me.
I was doing all I could to hold it together when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I turned to see the tear-filled eyes of a friend.
She silently handed me a small plate of muffins with a simple card.
No words – just mutual sorrow over the death of my baby.
I was NOT alone.