My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at just shy of 7 weeks along. While I knew miscarrying was a possibility, like so many, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen to me. My husband and I went from being blissfully ignorant, excited, and envisioning our future family, to feeling completely devastated, heartbroken, and empty. While it was not an easy healing journey, here are some things I did that helped me cope with the unexpected loss we faced:
Take time off from work
Ask if your employer offers bereavement for a miscarriage—my husband’s work allowed this and we were so grateful. You’ll need the time to heal both physically and emotionally.
Reach out to others who have also experienced a miscarriage
Neither my mom nor my mother-in-law had had a miscarriage so at first I felt very alone in what I was going through. I also found that people who had never gone through it didn’t quite know what to say and often just didn’t say anything about it at all, which was actually more hurtful to me.
Eventually, though, I had several friends reach out who had been through one or even two miscarriages of their own and offered words of hope, encouragement, and understanding.
Find a maternal mental health counselor
A week or so after our miscarriage, I started searching for a counselor who was trained to help me handle the grief and emotions I was experiencing. Fortunately, I stumbled across a wonderful therapist who specializes in maternal mental health who also focuses specifically on those experiencing a miscarriage or loss.
Therapy can be expensive, but many health insurance plans offer it as part of your coverage if the therapist is in network.
Plan some fun things to look forward to and distract yourself
Our miscarriage happened a week before Christmas and while it definitely put a damper on our usual joyful celebrations, we were also thankful for the distraction and busyness that the holiday season provided.
Plan some fun date nights, a weekend getaway, a movie night watching your favorite comedy, or go for a walk with a friend. The more things you have on your calendar to keep yourself busy, the less time you’ll have to sit and wallow in your sadness.
Start a project
I was so looking forward to all the fun things that came with a pregnancy—designing a baby’s room, picking out a name, starting a registry, etc. So after the miscarriage, I felt even more at a loss of what to do with myself.
My husband and I decided to use that time to take an online course together about how to better handle our finances and become debt-free. That gave us something else to focus on and we felt like we were accomplishing something, too.
Use this time to tackle a home renovation, start a new hobby (learn how to sew, play an instrument, knit, crochet, learn a new language, start a blog, etc.), volunteer, or start that Etsy shop you’ve always dreamt about.
Dealing with the Anxiety of a Pregnancy after a Loss
While I write this, I am currently 17 weeks pregnant and have been experiencing firsthand the anxiety that comes with being pregnant after a loss.
Since my very first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, all I had was a negative experience to compare it to, so naturally, I worried about the same outcome happening again.
I have been a ball of anxiety since the moment I saw those two pink lines but here are some things that have been helpful in getting me through:
Write down words of affirmation and recite them daily
I wrote down a bunch of phrases on sticky notes and stuck them in a place I would see as a daily reminder (a bathroom mirror, refrigerator, inside your closet, etc.). Some of the phrases I found helpful were:
- I trust my body knows what it’s doing
- It is okay to hope
- Every day is one day closer
- Hope does not make bad things happen
- The past is not the future
- This is a different experience
- There is nothing I can change with worry
Stay focused on one milestone at a time
With my first pregnancy, my husband and I jumped right from a positive pregnancy test to picturing what our baby was going to look like and in doing so, it made the loss so much harder.
Instead, this time, we decided to focus on one small win at a time. We could still celebrate but were cautious not to get too far ahead of ourselves.
Focus on the facts and celebrate each small victory—a positive pregnancy test, good blood work results, your first doctor’s visit, etc. Then, stay focused on whatever the next milestone is—the first ultrasound, making it further along than you have before, the end of the first trimester, etc.
Look into midwifery care
When I had a miscarriage, the doctor’s office I was going to wasn’t particularly sensitive. I know miscarriages are common and that they probably see them all the time, but it was my first pregnancy and a devastating loss for me. Yet I felt like they were treating me like just another patient and told me to “come back in when I got another positive test”.
Because of that, I decided to switch from a regular Obstetrician to a Certified Nurse Midwife. The midwife I see does not rush me when I’m in the office, looks at my situation individually, and is available to communicate via an online portal/app, usually responding to me within a couple of hours. This has brought me so much reassurance when I’m worried and having someone understand my anxiety because of my past experience has been so wonderful.