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How to cope after a miscarriage

Woman coping after a miscarriageWhen I lost my baby, I was completely unprepared for it.

One day, I was pregnant. The next, no one was sure. I had started bleeding and cramping and my HCG levels were only rising slightly. An ultrasound gave no hints as to what was going on. I was told maybe the baby is dead or maybe it is fine and it’s too early to see a heartbeat.

I waited two weeks to finally hear the words no expecting parent wants to hear ‘I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.’ Our hopes were crushed and grim reality set in. There was no more baby.

How does one cope with that?

I didn’t cope very well to start with. I felt like I was living in slow motion. I tried to comprehend what just happened so quickly after weeks of waiting. Emotionally, I was still stuck at receiving the news that my baby died while in reality; I had my D&C (dilation & curettage) and was home with an empty womb and a broken heart.

Eventually, I caught up and realised that life around me went on happily and no one cared about my loss. This is to this day a realisation I have most trouble coping with. How can it be that my world just ended, my life was turned upside down yet I was expected to carry on as if nothing happened?

Because society’s opinion of miscarriage is so flippant and ignorant (it’s very common, it wasn’t meant to be, you’ll have another), miscarriage survivors must learn to cope or we will drown.

This might sound daunting. It is in a way.

Ways to cope after a miscarriage

Talk to people who know what it is like

The great news though is that the best way to cope and learn to live in your new normal will involve meeting amazing women and families who went through the same traumatic event. They will help you heal in ways you can’t imagine yet. These women will lift you up when you are down and will listen when you need it.

Acknowledge your grief

Coping with miscarriage means that we acknowledge our loss as what it is – a real loss, a real death. The grief you are feeling is valid and 100% legit. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We cannot heal if we try to deny what happened.

FORUM: Chat anonymously and support in our pregnancy loss support forum section

Find a way to honour your baby

Next, find a way to remember and honour your baby. Name your baby, if that feels right for you, plant a tree or paint a picture that symbolises your baby to you. Picking a ritual like this will help you make more sense of your loss and it will make it more ‘real’. Quite often, losing a baby to a miscarriage remains somewhat abstract. We lost someone we loved so much but never got to meet. It is very conflicting and upsetting and the hole in your heart will weigh heavy on you.

Remind yourself that your baby lived and it doesn’t matter how long for. It made a huge impact on you and therefore the world. No one can take that from you and it will serve you well when you suddenly find yourself missing your baby, out of the blue.

Be prepared for up days and down days

That is one more thing with a loss like ours. Grief has stalking qualities. It is normal to be OK and coping well and then bam! Something comes up and reminds you of what you lost or what could have been had the baby lived. The emotions will come rushing back and might take your breath away. That is OK though. Coping with miscarriage means we adapt and evolve as we go about our life. On some days that works well and on others, it doesn’t. It is what it is.

Remember that you are doing the best you can, keeping the memory alive of someone who changed you so much and not many people might remember. Give yourself a pat on the back and credit for how far you have come. That is coping as well – knowing our strength and being proud of who we have become.

About Karin Holmes

Karin is a counsellor and author of How to Survive a Miscarriage.

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