Sunday, 11 July 2010

Gone

In the past couple of months two of my close friends have miscarried their babies. They have each had a baby die before it had the chance to be born. Five and a half years ago I too miscarried a baby when I was almost 9 weeks pregnant. I wanted to write about miscarriage as it's been on my mind of late and I feel as women we need to talk about it more than we do now.

There are so many terms associated with miscarriage. You've lost a baby, your baby was born sleeping, it was a non-viable pregnancy. So many ways to describe the death of a baby not yet born, not yet held in its parent's arms. When I miscarried my baby I didn't like all those wishy-washy ways of addressing the issue. I wanted people to validate the fact that my baby had died. Full stop. Clear as day. I had a baby one day. The next day it died. There's a whole different discussion there about when a pregnancy is considered a baby but we'll save that one for another day, shall we?

As a woman you might get stuck with what to say when faced with a woman who has miscarried. From my experience and from talking to others who have shared this awful experience, some women who have miscarried a baby want that baby to be recognised and validated. It was a potential person. A baby. Not a bundle of cells that didn't make it. Not something that wasn't meant to happen. Not a thing that you can easily forget and move on to trying to get pregnant again.

From my experience, I found that I needed to talk about my baby that had died. I needed to talk, to validate, to reassure myself that there had indeed been a pregnancy and a potential person in my life. I sought comfort and relief in a group called SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support). I went to their meetings and talked about my miscarriage. I listened to other women and men who had suffered the death of a baby in their family. Although I would never wish the experience on another person, it was comforting to know I wasn't alone.

What can you do for a friend who has miscarried a baby? Call them. Don't avoid them. Meet them for coffee. Meet them for a glass of wine. Send them flowers. Write them a letter. Babysit their other kids, if they have them, for the afternoon. Give them a voucher for a massage. Hold their hand. Show them how you feel. Tell them you don't know what to say if you truly don't, which is yards better than saying nothing at all.

And remember to ask them how they are feeling not just in the first week or two after the death of their baby. Ask them a month on. Or two. Bring it up when appropriate. Because as a mother, your baby doesn't fade in importance with weeks or months. Your babies are always important to you.

And if you ever have the unfortunate experience of having a miscarriage, please don't go through it alone. Seek someone out who will listen. Someone who will validate your feelings and acknowledge how you feel about it. Take care of yourself and don't blame yourself. Let yourself be cared for by others and nurture yourself for a while. Do it for your baby but ultimately do it for you.

My baby Twinkle died some years ago now. But I use that experience now to help me help other women who have had a baby die. I am not afraid to talk about it. And that helps me and it helps others.

Please understand that I don't consider myself an expert on this topic. These are my personal views and not expert opinion.

5 comments:

Lyn said...

Good on you for writing about this, Gilly. When I was pregnant a couple of years ago I had several close friends miscarry, and another friend lose what they thought had been a viable pregnancy to what ended up being a 'blighted ovum'. I did my best to sit and talk to them about their loss, sent flowers to my friend who lost her baby at the crucial 12 week mark, and just tried to be there. It was all I could do.

My more recent personal experience involved my partner walking out on me a year ago, when we were trying for our second baby. Although no baby had been conceived, it felt like I had lost a child, or at least the hope of ever having another baby. I think I'm still grieving that. But that's something that lots of people don't get either.

Thanks Gilly. I love reading your posts.

Take care
Lyn
x

Bec Clarke said...

So wonderful of you to put it out there. I too am a person that was willing to talk about it. I was 11 wks when I lost my angel. We were lucky enough to already have a little boy and now we are also blessed with a little girl but I will always remember our angel that did not come to live with us. I too wish more people would come forward and stop the silly shame associated with Miscarriage, sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason it just is!!

mandapanda said...

You are so brave to write about such a "no go zone" subject, and you have done it wonderfully! I have never gone through a miscarriage or have any close friends who have, so I can honestly say I've never had to deal with it or know anything about it. But if I ever have to deal with it in the future, know that your post has helped, as I will have a better idea of how to act and help my friends/family. Thankyou for being so forthright and for speaking (typing) your mind!
Bug Hugs!!

Lissa Jane said...

Gilly
I have had two and a half miscarriages.. the half was I lost a twin when I was preggers with my last child, the second miscarriage was also twins.. I am lucky that I have had three lovely children.. I have two friends who have had stillborns and one of those friends has had 18 miscarriages.. how unfair is that? I dont know why people dont talk about it, as it seems to me that it touches a lot of people.. I didn't have any issues after, I am a glass half full person and was lucky to fall pregnant straight away.. some aren't so lucky...


Lissa
nr Newcastle

flamehair said...

17 years later and I still feel a pang on what would have been my first child's birthday each year.