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10 Steps to Life, A Guide to Overcoming the Emotional Trauma of Miscarriage
by Heather Sargent
8/10/2008 / Parenting
On May 15, 2000, I thought I might literally die from heartache. I threw myself onto the bed and sobbed until my sides cramped and I couldn't breathe. My husband ran to the room, desperate to know what had happened. There were no words. One look into my eyes told him everything he needed to know; I had just lost our baby.
Dealing with a miscarriage can be devastating no matter how far along you were. The following are some ideas to help you cope if you are having a difficult time:
1) Don't blame yourself
After a miscarriage, one of the first things grieving parents tend to do is blame themselves. "I must have done something wrong. I didn't eat right. I didn't exercise enough."
In most cases nothing you could have done would prevent this tragedy.
2) Get Informed
Educate yourself. Go to the library and find books on the subject. Google websites that deal with the many facets of miscarriage. Learn about the physical and also the emotional repercussions.
3) Seek others
It's important that you know you are not alone. It can be helpful to have someone around who knows what you are feeling. Seek other women or families who have been in the same situation as you. There are many ways to do that.
Start by opening up to your family and friends. You might be surprised to see who has been down this road before you. Many places have support groups, see if there is one in your area. Ask your doctor or search the internet. There are many web sites with chat rooms and message boards populated by people in various stages of the grieving process.
4) Remember your loved ones
Don't forget that your husband is also grieving. If you have other children, they will be as well. Get help for them if needed and do not leave them out of your grieving process. The whole family will have healing to do. This is the time to draw them in. The kids need to know they have not done anything wrong and that Mom and Dad still love them.
Talk to your husband. Men as a whole tend to feel a need to fix something that's broken. He may be feeling helpless as this is something that cannot be fixed. This can be a huge strain on a marriage, or it can be a time of powerful bonding depending on how you communicate with each other. Communicating with love and tenderness will go a long way toward helping you both get through this time of loss, and maybe even strengthen your relationship.
5) Give it time
Give yourself and your family room to grieve. Take some time off work. Let Grandma take the kids for a sleepover. When they come back home, have them climb into bed with you and watch a silly movie. You must have popcorn for this event (that's what vacuums are for). Pamper them a little; do some things you don't normally do. Ask them questions about what they feel, and answer their questions in age appropriate ways.
Keep in close contact with your doctor during this time and keep your appointments. If you feel you are not getting better, seek help. Talk to your doctor, a counselor, or a clergy member. If you are struggling with sleeping or depression, talk to your doctor about the possibility of short-term medication. Each of these professionals can help you in a different area of your own unique recovery.
6) Come to a place of acceptance
Coming to a place of accepting your loss will help a great deal with your emotional well-being. Saying you can accept what happened does not in any way mean you are okay with it. It simply means you have accepted that you have no control over this and are going to allow yourself to find healing - not only for yourself, but also for your family and the memory of your little one. You do your family and yourself no good if you stay in a place of unforgiveness and anger. These are emotions you will go through, but take caution not to take up residence there.
7) Make a memorial
Make something, plant something, build something, give life to something in honor of your little one. I planted a garden, which was something foreign to me. I found it very therapeutic to have my hands in the dirt and planting beautiful flowers; not only as a memorial but also as a way to process. If you have other kids this is a great project to have them help you with. For a more personal memorial, put a cross with your baby's name in the garden you planted.
Do whatever it is that gives you peace; maybe try something new that you have always thought about trying. Make a quilt, paint a picture, write a poem. You could also keep a journal. Some of the best writing comes from raw emotion and it's therapeutic to work through your thoughts by writing about them. Do not hide your feelings. If you are angry or sad, write about it. That will help you sort through them to begin to heal.
8) Name your baby
Give the baby a name that means something to you, even if you were only a few weeks along. I came up with a gender-neutral name because I did not know if it was a boy or a girl. It doesn't matter what you name it, it doesn't matter if it was a boy or a girl. If you don't know, then just pick a name that has meaning for you. For me, it solidified the fact that I had suffered a real loss, not just the loss of what should have been.
9) Resume a normal schedule
A sense of normalcy can be comforting. Try to resume your daily routine as soon as you can, a little at a time. Be realistic - when you go back to work, see if you can come in for a few hours to start and then go a little longer. Do not push yourself before you are ready. Still allow for periods of grief that will wash over you out of nowhere. Time helps, but the wounds will remain.
10) Look forward
Look to the future. When your doctor gives you the all clear, you can start trying again if that is what you chose together but talk about it with your husband first. You will both grieve in different ways and for different periods of time. Discuss the options, weigh the risks and decide together what is right for your family. Look into all your options, maybe adoption could be right for you and your family.
Out of all pregnancies, about 30% end in miscarriage, half of them before the woman even knows she is pregnant. (Miscarriage Association)
March of Dimes
Heather Sargent - 2008
A down-to-earth wife and mother of four, Heather Sargent has more than enough to write about. From the insanity of daily life to the quiet, magical moments which include sleeping children, she finds humor and joy in her chaotic life.
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