Joy…and Pain

Far too many women are suffering in silence. A mask of happiness covering their grief. Shedding quiet tears behind closed doors. Feeling like no one understands you and your pain. I understand how you feel all too well…

We were looking forward to starting a family but things weren’t going as planned. So I turned to my doctor for help. Imagine my shock and joy when my doctor told me I was already pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my husband! My doctor scheduled my first ultrasound the week of Thanksgiving. We thought it was perfect timing as we could share our good news with our family for Thanksgiving. The plan was to have the ultrasound done and then get on the highway to visit my brother-in-law for the holiday.

A couple of days before my ultrasound I had some light spotting. I was told this was normal and not to worry. It stopped and I felt okay. As the technician performed the ultrasound she kept the screen facing her. I thought that was a bit odd. Then she left the room for a moment and I started to get nervous. When she came back into the room she told me to go straight to my doctor’s office. I asked why and was met with you NEED to talk to your doctor. That was it. When we arrived there was a waiting room full of pregnant bellies waiting to be seen. We bypassed them and were taken in my doctor’s office, not an exam room. I prayed. She told us that I had an ectopic pregnancy. What is that? I had never heard of that before so I didn’t really understand the severity of what she was saying at the time. Then she told me I had to have emergency surgery. They may have to remove my tube and my baby. At that moment, I think the world stopped.  At least in my head it did. I shed a few tears, but I didn’t have time for them. There was no time to process what I was being told. There was no time to feel anything. I had to be prepped for surgery. What began as an exiting day quickly turned into a nightmare. We needed help – quickly! We made the heart-wrenching calls to his parents, my sister and my godmother telling them we lost the baby they never knew I had.  During the walk over to the ER I was numb, just going through the motions.

My surgery went well as I had no complications, but I woke up to the reality that I was no longer pregnant. I was told they removed my tube because it was damaged and that would greatly decrease my chances of having a baby. And if I did get pregnant, chances were high that it may be ectopic again. That was my new reality. Nothing prepared me for the avalanche of emotions that came pouring out of me in days following. The helpless looks on the faces of loved ones when I was on the verge of tears yet again. Thanksgiving would never be the same for me. Baby showers and birthday parties were hard.

Fast forward twelve years and now I have three beautiful, smart and healthy children. Remember when they said my chances for conceiving again were pretty low. But God! My faith had been challenged, but remained in tact. I may have been stretched and pushed, but I was just bent, not broken.

What Not to Say…Pregnancy and Infant Loss

If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a baby or pregnancy you may have heard these sentiments expressed by well-meaning friends and family members. You probably felt as if someone punched in the gut or slapped you across your face. That’s how much these words can hurt. Your loved ones want to comfort and support you, but they’re at a loss for words.

Dear friends who are struggling with “What should I do? What should I say?”, read on for tips to avoid saying the wrong thing to a newly grieving parent.

 

“He/She is in a better place.” Regardless of religious beliefs, a grieving parent wants the baby alive and safe in their arms. That is the best place for them to be. So instead of saying that, help the parents to remember their lost baby. Release balloons or butterflies, make a scrapbook or plant a tree as a memorial.

“You’re young, you can always have more children.” It’s meant to be comforting and encouraging, but it makes it seem like you’re diminishing the mother’s pain. You may not have a clue as to how long a couple had been trying to conceive prior to this loss. This phrase ends up hurting instead of helping.

“It was God’s will.”/ “Everything happens for a reason.” Saying this comes across like you’re trying to downplay the loss. Yes, everything does happen for a reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s better or comforting. Right now, the mother is feeling like it’s her fault that she lost her baby and that pain is all too real. Losing a child is painful. Trying to explain it away does more harm than good.

“At least you weren’t further along.” Again, you don’t know how long a couple had been trying for and dreamed of having this baby. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant you form a bond and love for your baby. Nothing can ever take that away. Their baby is forever connected to them. Treat their loss as you would for anyone else who may have lost a loved one.

“God never gives us more than we can handle.” This statement is hardly reassuring while you are mourning the loss of your child. At that moment, a grief-stricken parent feels like their world has fallen apart and nothing can make it better.  Instead, acknowledge that they may not feel like they can handle life during this time. Be supportive by listening when they do want to talk, bringing over a meal and encouraging rest.

Just know this: it is best to keep it simple. No explanations or elaborate prose are necessary. Don’t try to fill the conversation with words because you don’t like the silence. “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m thinking of you and your family” go a long way. In the end just know there are no magic words to make grieving parents feel better and that’s okay. Show your love and support through acts of kindness. It would really mean a lot. Trust me.