24 October 2016

After My Miscarriage: What Helps and What Doesn't

Before this experience, I've never really been through anything that's hit me this hard. But this has shaken me--as weeks fly by I realize it's taking longer than I thought possible to feel like 'me' again. Along this continuing journey of mourning and healing, I've found that some things are helping the process and that others hinder it.

What doesn't help:

Realizing and then dwelling on the scientific fact that miscarriage is "so common" and involves various medical reasons.

While the commonness of miscarriage and the scientific/medical reasons behind it might make some feel better--they are probably more medically-minded than I am. It has only made me feel more devastated. The thought of so many people I care about going through this particular pain is not a comforting one. The thought that it could easily happen to me again is not heartwarming, either.

Realistically noting that it's not the worst that could happen, that much, much worse things happen in our world all the time.

Tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, lethal diagnoses, terror attacks, murder...the list of 'worse' things in this world is endless. Trying to put miscarriage in perspective by imagining our world at its worst also is not very comforting. And maybe that shouldn't be a surprise.

Wishing time machines existed.

What surprised me is that one of my strongest desires the past few weeks has been the ultra-impractical desire to be alive at any point in my life other than this current point. I've been so sad that I just wished I could travel back to carefree highschool single girl days, or college student being stalked by a nursing student who drove a Ford Probe days, or early marriage with Angel on night shift and me reading Agatha Christie novels till wee hours of the morning, or that beautiful year in China with my funny and wonderful students. Man, I even said I'd trade living right now for being back in beauty school--and that's saying something about how I feel right now. But time machines don't exist. And refusing to 'live' through this sad time in my life would just mean I don't get to move forward to the other good adventures that I'm sure will come someday.

Targeted Internet Ads

Seriously, man. A popular ad that comes up on youtube videos is an ad in the local language showing a mom getting a positive pregnancy test and it's singing some kind of gleeful song about how a mother will feel so happy...come on, internet, what did I ever do to you?


It was my first reaction. I felt frozen--I felt like I couldn't, shouldn't, talk. I didn't talk to the doctor at all (Angel, bless him, handled that). I didn't want to tell my siblings. Talking seemed like it would make it real. And yeah, it kind of did, in a way. But it was real already, so silence wouldn't have been able to make it go away. For me, words have helped. Silence, on my part or on the part of others, didn't help at all.

What does help:


For a week, my little sister showed up every morning with a bag with some new treats in it--chips, crackers, ice cream, chocolate, ramen noodles. Mom made my favorite cucumber salad. A friend brought over roti and curry. Both Angel and I are passionate in our love for food, though in different ways. During the past several weeks I've had days when all I wanted was ice cream, and days when I couldn't eat or drink anything at all--cupboards full of the treats I won't buy for myself added some joy for both Angel and I--and helped feed Angel when I wasn't doing a good job of that.

"Hold Me Jesus" by Rich Mullins

Has become my theme song during this time. Often, different songs really speak to me during different seasons. Here are part of the lyrics. This song was written a couple decades ago and yet it has felt remarkably true at this moment:

Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

"Grace and Peace" by Fernando Ortega, "Held" by Natalie Grant, "It is Well With My Soul", and "Be Thou My Vision" tie for second.

Pink Roses

A friend brought over six roses, and during the week they sat on my table, I would stare at them, trying to memorize every petal, every beautiful curve. I finally understand why flowers and funerals go together--like us humans, flowers' lives are extremely short, particularly when you look at the expanse of history. But it's still a very, very good things that they were alive. Death does not negate the goodness that is life. Flowers die--but they bring joy by simply existing.


I'm not a physically affectionate person. My family is not the touchy type--with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 of my siblings. The culture we live in isn't one where people touch each other all that much. I never feel a need for hugs--but the past few weeks, oh man, it's meant a lot when people have reached out and actually given me a hug. A complete stranger walked over to me in church, said it looked like I was having a hard time, and gave me a big hug. It's crazy, but gestures like that have meant a lot to this girl who's usually most comfortable not being touched by anyone.

Taking a little (very little) time off.

Our life is full and at the moment seems to be running at a break-neck pace. Normally I'm very energetic and capable, but I'm having a hard time keeping up. When all this was happening, Angel was in an extra busy time, working all of his normal hours and volunteering 4 days a week at a clinic as well, so I barely saw him, and he hardly had time to even complete basic necessary errands. I had responsibilities to stay on top of, too. I couldn't cut out everything, but I did cancel a tuition session or two, asked my family to help a little with housework and to cover some of my volunteer teaching engagements. I basically forgot about the need to cook. It's hard to ask for help to do the jobs that are my responsibility, because it makes me feel like even more of a burden or a drain on resources, but it was the right thing to do, rather than try to keep going and then burst into unexplained tears in the middle of teaching a lesson.

Having a Goal.

Somehow, in the first few days, I decided that my goal was to eventually get to the point where my strongest and biggest feeling about that little life is simple thankfulness and joy that the baby existed, instead of overwhelming sadness that she's gone. In this way, I do have a mental picture of how I want to be able to feel about the situation as time passes--with this goal in mind, I do know that as I heal the scales will eventually start tipping in the other direction, and the joy will outweigh the grief.

All of You

Everyone who sent me an email or a message or a comment. Thank you. Thank you so much. Sorry that I have not been all that awesome about responding consistently--but I have the feeling you already understand. Your words and encouragement and love have helped. People from all different seasons of my life--people who have known me since I was a kid--have popped up to let me know they're there for us. All of you bloggers have shown me again that relationships that take place completely online are real--the care and compassion you have shown us at this time are real. That matters so much and it's helped. You all are quite the opposite of fair-weather friends. I can't believe that going through this heartbreak has helped show me how very loved I am in spite of the bad stuff.


I can't stay away from writing for long--this is how I respond to life. Thanks for putting up with my messy processing of what's going on right now. I'm not trying to suggest that I have any idea what I'm doing--I'm a bit lost, just trying to find my way back to feeling like myself again. Don't worry, I'll get back to writing my silly stories and quirky reflections--I will get back to being me.
Robin said...

I bet some of the things that people say are so aggravating: "Everything happens for a reason", "Other people have worse problems", "Some people have lost a living baby/child", etc. I don't know what to say, except offer more hugs in Internet format.

Katie Cook said...

Thanks for sharing girl:) This was really good to read. Praying for you:)

Suzanne said...

((((((( Rachel )))))))


Unknown said...

Oh Rachel, this is so sad and such an honestly written post. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you.

Kristin said...

Sending prayers your way.
This was so helpful and reflective...I know you'll be glad you wrote it.

Dominique @ Ohbeehave said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you have experienced such a heartbreaking loss. There is really no right or wrong way to experience grief... just doing the things that feel right for you each day - even if that means feeling fine and getting on with things one day and feeling like a complete mess the next. I experienced a miscarriage a couple of months ago, and even though I can't feel exactly how you're feeling I do understand what a difficult experience this is to have. It is wonderful that you have support from friends and family, and I really hope as time goes by the pain will become less intense. I'll be thinking of you.

Kaley said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad that you're finding ways to cope and heal after this tragedy. (AND SERIOUSLY INTERNET ADS!!! WTF? That's not cool! It's just cruel!)

Chrissy said...

Oh Rachel, I am so so sorry! I am glad you are finding ways to comfort yourself and to cope! I can only imagine how hard this must be. Sending hugs your way xxx

Shelly said...

Rachel, I am so incredibly sorry to hear this. I know that in time your faith and your family and just the awesome, good-hearted, steadfast person you are, you will pull through this unique kind of sadness. I'm glad you are aware of what helps and hinders your recovery. Though I wish I could give you a real-life hug, I am sending you many virtual ones! As well as all the loving thoughts, positive vibes and prayers I can send your way. ((((hugs))))


Five Beans Food said...

Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts, I'm hoping it will help me to me more understanding of those around me going through loss like this. Praise God he has brought some comfort, and praying he keeps sustaining you through those unhelpful and hard things.

Jenny Evans said...

I'm so glad you are finding your way through this dark and difficult time. For me what really helped was talking with other about it, especially women who'd been through miscarriage before, which I didn't do for YEARS afterward. So glad you are taking care of yourself now and getting support. I really felt that made all the difference.

Alanna @ Alanna and Company said...

I'm so sorry to hear, Rachel! Sending you virtual hugs.

Anni S said...

Sending love and prayers your way <3
You have a little angel watching you now... And she will continuously send blessings your way. I know it.

Unknown said...

While I've never gone through a miscarriage myself, my Mom did and several of my friends have. My heart breaks for them and I know that most of the time the best thing to do for them in that type of situation is just be there as a shoulder to cry on, meeting physical needs, a listening ear, hugs etc. I'm sending you a hug and praying that the peace that surpasses all understanding will continue to comfort you during this time. We rest in the promise that one day, we'll get to see our loved ones again when Jesus comes to bring us home <3

Kate said...

Thank you so much for writing this - it can't have been easy. I'm sure it's helpful for others to read; knowing you're not alone is in itself a great comfort.

AnneMarie said...

Rachel, thank you for vulnerably (if that's a word haha) sharing your experience with us. I am so glad that you are finding ways to help cope, grieve, and heal. It's really interesting that you mention music-I haven't heard "Held" by Natalie Grant in YEARS, but a couple days ago, it popped into my head out of nowhere, and has been playing on repeat since then. Guess it's a little nudge from God to keep sending prayers your way :)

Brita Long said...

*hugs* Welp, I'm crying. Grief is weird. I continue to be surprised at what makes me feel better or worse.

I can't get through "It is Well With My Soul" without crying, but I still feel better after listening/singing it. My faith remains very much intact, no matter how sad I feel.

I'm glad that you're accepting the love and support from your community that you need. As a Responsible Person, I know how hard it can feel not "contributing." In fact, that's something I"m blogging about Thursday. But I remind myself to look at the Big Picture of what Dan and I want our lives to look like, as a couple. We can't reach those goals if I push myself too hard now while I'm sick.

Angel loves you. Your family loves you. I am sure that when Angel or your siblings or anyone else in your circle needs extra help, that you are right there giving it. This is their time to help you. Giving yourself time to grieve is a beautiful gift that your loved ones want you to have.

Still praying for you. xoxo

Angi said...

You and Angel are still in my prayers and I'm sending all the virtual hugs your way <3

I think you're being very wise to let others help you and support you. This is not something you need to deal with alone and I'm glad you have people around you who love you!

Kynia said...

Both of you are in my prayers. You are so, so strong even though it may not feel that way. Keep pressing and believe in happier, brighter days ahead. xX

Raquel Serrano said...

"Talking seemed like it would make it real." I completely understand this. My mom was pregnant 7 times, only had 3 live births (lifelong + hereditary reproductive issues). When we lost the last one, I was 11 years old. The oldest of 3. My parents had left us at our pastor's house while she and my dad had gone to the hospital for a routine procedure. I didn't know how to console my sisters. I was in shock myself. I remember crying myself to sleep that night as I thought about how my parents must be feeling. So yeah, I understand. I've never met you before, but I do love you.

Rachel Gault said...

*Hugs* I'm so sorry, Rachel. I can't imagine what this is like. Thinking of you both and sending prayers your way.

Joy Lynn said...

Rachel please take this as a long distance hug from me. I am so sorry you're going through this. I'll keep you in my prayers and pray for peace and healing. I'm so glad you shared this hard life trial, though, because many of us want to and are willing to shower you and Angel with love and prayers. I'm also sorry you've had to deal with infertility. It's not something I've mentioned publicly really, but I too am in that boat. So I understand the testing and high hopes, excitements, and then let downs. I'm glad you're able to recognize what helps and what doesn't in this season, though. Prayers for strength, friend.

Vaishnavi Krishnamachari said...

Love the fact that you are aware of what makes you feel good. I'm sure your belief in yourself and surrounding yourself with positivity will help you heal and outgrow this :)

Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am always keen to know what *really* helps people going through difficult times. We learned a lot when my Dad passed away and I try and put it into practice when I can. It's helpful to hear your perspective because obviously each loss is different, but also it helps me to realise that what helps some people might not help others (for example, my Mum hated getting flowers. Each to their own) so it's good to go with what you know about someone rather than blanket approach to helping. Excuse the ramble. Continued prayers!

Rach said...

Take your time, friend. Don't feel rushed to return to normal blog posting. And if it so happens that you post a funny story and then the next blog post is you dealing with new feelings of grief - that's okay too. Know that you are loved and prayed for.

There were a couple of things you said in this post that I just have to respond to:

"And refusing to 'live' through this sad time in my life would just mean I don't get to move forward to the other good adventures that I'm sure will come someday."

I know it's so hard, but you are right that it's worth it to work through this grief. Those good adventures WILL come again someday.

"Death does not negate the goodness that is life. Flowers die--but they bring joy by simply existing."

Rachel, this really touched my heart. When Christopher and I were dating I told him I didn't like flowers because it was always so sad that they died. But then after we were married he would bring home flowers now and again just 'cause and I found that I actually liked the way that they brightened up a room. However, it has always made me just a little sad to see something beautiful die. But I've never thought of it from this perspective. Just because something dies, doesn't mean it didn't bring joy while it was here. Oh goodness, tears. So beautifully said. I see flowers so differently now. Thank you for sharing that.

"...simple thankfulness and joy that the baby existed, instead of overwhelming sadness that she's gone."

A beautiful goal to work toward. I will be praying this specifically for you as you face the coming months (and especially the holidays).

SveetesKapes said...

Oh my gosh, I am soo soo sorry to hear that this happened to you! I know it isn't going to help, but maybe it is for the best, I am sure there are bigger and better things waiting for you. You are a strong woman for sharing this story of this with everyone. I am sure healing will take a long time, sending you virtual hugs and hope you feel better soon.
xx, Kusum |

Amy @ Swag On, Momma! said...

Love to you, my friend. I wish I had something comforting to say...but, just know that a friend in Idaho is praying for you and Angel tonight.

r said...

Sitting with you in this deep loss. I lost a friend very tragically a couple of weeks ago, and I so appreciate your words about mourning. I am so so sorry for your loss, and I know that there really are no words. You are in my prayers!

Michelle said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this. I have thought about you and prayed for you and Angel every day. We are all sharing in your grief and mourning with you.

Laura Darling said...

I'm so glad there are some things that are easing the pain. I teared up when I read about the roses. Still praying for you. Hugs.