October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We are sharing Nicole’s story to help raise awareness and recognise the importance of ongoing support for parents who experience the loss of a child.
“Let’s just clarify first of all, how much I hate the word MISCARRIAGE.
Do you know what the prefix ‘mis’ actually means? It means ‘ill’, ‘mistaken’, ‘wrong’, ‘wrongly’, ‘incorrectly’ or ‘negating’. None of these terms should be used to describe the loss of child.
And mis-carriage? Does this mean I carried the baby ‘incorrectly’? There is often no cause of a ‘miscarriage’ so why is it given such a negative label?
For the sake of this article, let’s call it an early pregnancy loss.
So, your sister, mother, daughter, partner or friend has experienced an early pregnancy loss and you want to know how you can help them.
Well the truth is, you can’t. You can, however, support them through this very difficult time in their life.
The list below will give you some idea of what NOT to say …
What NOT to say to someone who has experienced early pregnancy loss
1. “At least you know you can get pregnant”
As if to say I am lucky. At the time of a pregnancy loss, this provides no comfort for the mother. So many people said this to me and I just felt like ‘wow lucky me, I can get pregnant! I can’t keep it growing inside me but I can get pregnant’.
2. “It is really common, it happens to lots of women”
When someone’s mother dies, do you say to them, ‘It’s OK, it happens to everyone’? No you don’t, because everyone is different and everyone who loses a loved one will grieve that loss. This may happen to many women, but right now it is happening to me and I am really sad about it!
3. “It was only early in the pregnancy, it’s not like you lost a child”
Well actually it is exactly ‘like’ losing a child. As soon as you get that positive pregnancy test, you start to love that baby growing inside you and all your dreams and aspirations for that child start running through your mind. When the loss occurs, it is ‘like’ losing a child and all those dreams you had for them.
4. “You can try again one day”
Whenever I heard this piece of advice, a voice inside me screamed ‘But I don’t want another baby, I want this one!’. This woman you care about has just lost a baby, she is not thinking about replacing it. We are not talking about a car or a toy, it’s a child and a child cannot be replaced!
5. “Don’t worry, you’ll have a kid one day, they’ll grow up and you’ll forget this ever happened. You’ll be like me with a 19-year-old that won’t leave home!”
Yes, this was actually said to me and to make things worse, it was said to me by the nurse doing my blood test to check my pregnancy hormone levels, the day after my loss! I don’t even think I need to explain why this comment is unhelpful.
I lost a pregnancy and the grief has never left me. I tried to get back to my life as I knew it before I got that positive pregnancy test, but it is harder than I ever expected.
“The world around you moves on, as if your life was never shattered,
and all you want the world to do is say that your baby mattered.” (sayinggoodbye.org)
So how can you support your mother, sister, daughter, partner or friend during this time? The answer is actually really simple.
Give them a hug and hold them tight.
Tell them you are sorry for their loss and you are there for them.
Tell them to take their time because grief affects everyone differently.
Tell them the baby they lost does matter!
And let them cry, because they will, a lot and that’s OK. (I will be forever grateful to the people in my life who did this for me)
And don’t forget to give their husband or partner a cuddle, because they will be hurting too.
To my beloved family and friends who may have said one or two of these things to me, it’s OK. It has been a learning experience for all of us. But it helped me to write these words down so hopefully it helps someone who reads these words. And don’t worry, I remember a lot of the beautiful things that were said to me too.”
– Nicole x
– Thank-you to Nicole for sharing her story with us. xx