Monday, August 8, 2011

How I Healed After My Miscarriage

Some lives are long, and some are very, very short, but they all make their mark.

That’s the sentence that came to me from somewhere that felt very much outside myself in the days after we lost the little sprout that we believed would be our second baby.

I’m a fairly private person, so I’ve struggled with how to discuss this here. But I talk so much about finding bliss and equanimity and peace even through the hard days, and there were no days I’ve had that were as hard as those.

So I’ve decided to open up a bit, and share how I found my footing and began to heal after this loss.

Note: If you don’t think you can handle hearing the details of a miscarriage, this isn’t the post for you. I have decided to do something scary, and that is to write honestly, which is something I am tired of being afraid to do. That’s a topic for another post, but suffice it to say, this will be a post that does not hide from life’s more uncomfortable realities.

First of all, miscarriage is something very few people talk about, but it is very common. I think it’s so difficult to discuss because it most often happens well before you begin to look or even feel pregnant. We had only told our families, and so in a sense, unless we said to everyone, “Hey, we had a miscarriage,” it was invisible to almost everyone, making our pain private and lonely. (I actually wrote to my closest friend in the days afterward, telling her, I said, so that she could be witness to this event in my life. I’m so glad I did, as I could not let this little life go without my closest friends helping me to acknowledge it.)

1. Reach out to friendly ears. Don’t go it alone.
When we found out we were pregnant again, we were stunned and happy. We were hoping to have a second child, but we were surprised at how quickly it happened, since our son took us some time to conceive.

I knew I was pregnant for a week (but I was 6 weeks along), and I wish I could say that I spent every moment being grateful and thankful for this new life. Instead, I found myself thinking about how I would fit a new child into our home, how it would affect my relationship with my son, even—gulp—what it would do to my body, as I felt I had finally gotten it “back,” whatever that means. In other
words, I wasted more time than I care to admit in useless worry and what-ifs.

Once I saw the spotting, the fading line on the pregnancy tests that I took once I realized this pregnancy was unlikely to continue, and finally, the bleeding that told me that I’d never see this particular baby’s face in this particular lifetime, I was filled with regret, with remorse, for every second I spent not being grateful for this new life.

2. Won’t do that again.
Because it was an early loss, I trusted my body to do what it needed to do. No doctors. Just some ibuprofen for pain, and normal life. After all, I have a beautiful and energetic son to take care of, and a toddler, thank god, doesn’t stop for anything. Life went on as normally as possible, until…
Until I discovered my lost baby’s embryo. That’s what happens, isn’t it? One day an embryo was in my uterus on its way to being my second child, and for reasons I will never, ever know, that path ended, and it couldn’t stay inside my uterus any longer. And there, in the wavelike folds of toilet paper, I was forced to say goodbye to more than just an idea of a baby.

3. There is no denying the reality of death.
Do you know how you know you’re married to the right man? When he comes home that night, and you show him the little box (shipped to the house carrying the beneficial insect eggs he’d ordered for the garden—lovely green lacewings) into which you’ve nestled an embryo that you could identify from a drawing in a biology textbook, but that is your fused DNA, your lost baby, your lost daydreams, and he gets so profoundly sad, as sad as you’ve ever seen him, and you know that somehow, even though this is the most painful moment you’ve ever shared with him, that you are really, actually indivisible, because your sadness is a shared sadness that is so deep it could consume you both, but instead, your love begins to pour into the hole, filling it from the bottom up.

4. True love is salvation.
But it was into a hole, dug by my husband, that our lost baby’s embryo went, under a live oak tree in our yard. Watching my husband go to the garage in a deliberative quiet, retrieve the shovel, and then start digging a little hole with such skill and care made me fall in love with him in a way that had nothing to do with charm or wit or physical beauty or any of the things that people focus on when they’re younger. The seriousness and care with which he treated this tiny resting spot for our sprout is something I will never, ever forget.

In the dark, we kneeled and cried. We cried so, so much. There was a baby, supposed to be inside me, that was now under a tree. We said we were sorry we would never get to meet him or her, that we loved and wanted this life and that we would never forget it. And then we said goodbye, and placed dirt, and finally a rock, over our lost baby.

For the next few days, we cried and we talked, and we stared into space and cried some more. We needed to. We felt our feelings when they asked to be felt.

5. Feel your feelings.
So much of life consists of not knowing, and yet we try to pin life down, to find reasons for the way it is. I do this all the time, and it is normal, but misguided. I see a young girl on the playground with cancer, and I want there to be a reason: exposure to environmental toxins? Genetic mutations? How could it be that she was just unlucky?

Making this more complicated are the swirls of studies and scientific reports that seem to imply that toxins or genes can be the cause of cancers, or that external factors—controllable factors—can cause death, illness, disease. As though those things would not happen if we could eliminate all those factors.

The guilt I felt for the miscarriage was what descended on me in the next few days. I’d had a glass of wine. I am still nursing my toddler. I have been dehydrated a lot lately. I am maybe nutritionally depleted. I read an article that said nursing, for some women, is linked to miscarriage. I showed the article to my husband, and I started sobbing. Curled on the floor, my face buried in my hands, I cried, saying: “I killed my baby.” Because at that exact moment, that’s how I felt. So again, I felt my feelings, entrusting them to the most trustworthy person in my life.

He smoothed my hair, and just held me. No, you didn’t, he said. You don’t know why this happened.
Over the next several days, I realized that the suffering, the guilt, was based in my trying to find a reason that I could control. If I could figure it out, I could make it never happen again. But, once I felt those feelings and let them pass through me, I realized that I didn’t know anything for certain. Somehow, I had to accept that I would never, ever know why we lost this life. Sure, I might have suspicions, or theories or thoughts about why, but while I am alive, I have to accept the unknowing.

6. Know what you don’t know.
And I got to that acceptance by grieving fully and totally for something I have no power to change. Even if I could have prevented it, I didn’t, and so the baby that I loved from the moment I saw the pink line is still, sadly but surely, irretrievably lost to us for all time.

I had already gotten so attached. Imagining this little boy or girl playing with my son, imagining how his or her features would differ, what sort of personality I’d get to meet. I thought about the little toes I’d now never get to kiss, the little mind I’d never have the privilege of exploring, the giggles and tantrums I’d never witness. I kind of wanted to not think about these things, because every time I did (and even now, many times that I do) I had to experience an intense, painful sadness that brought me to tears. I was giving this nascent life its due, and in the process, letting myself be sad enough that I could properly say goodbye.

7. Purposefully meditate on whatever it is you can hardly tolerate thinking about.
The next few days I walked around in a fog. I was just numb, checked out. I was able to take care of my son and his needs, but I was less able to focus, and off in a netherworld that felt shadowy and gray.

I don’t know what was going on inside me, but whatever it was, I just let it happen. Almost as though after such intensity of feeling and awareness, I had to power down in order to restore a normal level of functioning.

And at no particularly important moment, I just started feeling better. I could laugh again. I could look at the world and not take it or myself so seriously. I could return to yoga and reading, my body and mind again willing and able. I began to pursue the care I needed—contacting a midwife for counsel, herbs and what I could do to prepare my body and mind for a healthy pregnancy, whenever we were ready. I could appreciate how many blessings I had, as well as appreciating and accepting all that I had lost.

8. If you’ve felt your feelings, time does heal.
No one wants anything bad to happen, and I don’t think there’s a “reason" for why things happen the way they do. I think that life is inherently a rising and falling wheel of fate that we can ride in one of two ways. 1) We can ride on the rim of the wheel, attached to good fortune and crushed by bad fortune, clutching and avoiding and suffering all the way or 2) We can crawl toward the center of the wheel, and witness the rise and fall from a place of equanimity, seeing it for the impermanent journey that it is while still being a part of it, while still fully experiencing it -- and embrace it.
Not that that’s easy to do, but, you know, that’s the way I think makes the most sense, so it’s what I practice at.

I have a friend whose nephew died when he was very young. I can’t imagine. How much grief I went through for an embryo of 6 weeks, so much more a child you have loved and nurtured and known. No one can mindfully say that there was a “reason” for his death, just as there’s not a “reason” for my miscarriage, or for that little girl’s cancer. That’s not the spiritual universe I subscribe to. My god has a little “g” and is not a being, is not wrathful or rewarding, is not a parent trying to teach me a lesson.
What I’ve come to is that bad, truly awful things can happen to us. And, if we can survive them, and feel our feelings and grieve our losses fully, we become new people in new territory. And like any new journey, we will come upon trials as well as gifts. Why spurn the gifts, especially if they are so hard-won?

I would never have chosen to go through the abuse I went through when I was younger, I would never have chosen to go through the miscarriage. I hope I won’t go through another one. But since I have gone through those things, and since I am irrevocably on the other side, I choose to accept whatever positive changes these great trials have brought with them.

The deepened love for my son and my husband.
The greater sense of self-knowing.
The gratitude for the many blessings I have.
The reminder of the shortness and sacredness of life.
The knowledge that I can deeply love another child, even one I will never meet.
The heightened awareness of impermanence.

Some lives are long, and some are very, very short. But they all make their mark.
About two weeks after the miscarriage, my yoga teacher closed class with “Keep Me In Your Heart” by Warren Zevon, which he wrote while dying. Eyes closed, on my back in savasana, I started to cry. I cried and cried. And then I felt an incredible lightness, a peace. At the end of the song, my yoga teacher said, “I like what Rumi said: ‘We haven’t truly begun to meditate until we cry.’”

Not only do I like what Rumi said, I think it is true.

I don’t know what the future holds for me and my family. Right now, I am choosing to stay as close to the present moment as I can, and find my balance by trying to move toward the center of that ever-rolling wheel.

Peace and love to you,

For those interested in reading how my healing process continued, check out this post: The Experience of Life

And, for those who want to do something good for your body after a miscarriage, try 3-4 cups of raspberry leaf tea per day. I'll blog soon  I've posted about my experience with that tea, and why I think it's a good idea for healing and pregnancy preparation. All my love and best to you...


Vanessa said...

Tiffany, this is an incredible post. Your openness and honestly are truly humbling. My thoughts are with you and your family right now, and I wish you lightness and love as you continue your journey.

Ariane said...

Oh Tiffany, I'm sorry to hear that - I had the sense it might be something of the sort, but was hoping not. :(

I think it's really cool that you've been so open about it - definitely one of those things that doesn't get talked about, and so isolates those who go through it.

You're so strong to be so graceful at such a time. *hugs*

Tiffany Hamburger said...

thank you so much for your comment. Your kind words and your good wishes mean so much to me. Thank you.

thanks for your comment and kind words as well. I am so deeply humbled to have the support of readers, most of whom I've never met, but who I feel very warmly towards. :-)

You guys are awesome, and so long as you're here, I will keep working to give you my best. Writing this post was very healing for me, so I very much appreciate having this space where such kindly souls come by to visit. :-)

Thanks so much. :-)


malt_soda said...

This was so sad but so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

It's taken me several attempts to make it through this post. Not only because your sadness and loss come through with visceral force, but because there is a lot here to consider about both the nature of tragedy and the process and value of survival. I appreciate the strength it took you to be this honest.

For me, this is the essence of your post:

What I’ve come to is that bad, truly awful things can happen to us. And, if we can survive them, and feel our feelings and grieve our losses fully, we become new people in new territory. And like any new journey, we will come upon trials as well as gifts.

Sadness, loss, death, love, hope, laughter: none of these bypass any of us. One popular saw holds that we couldn't know happiness without the contrast of sadness, but I don't know that I agree. What I do know, and what you have so beautifully written, is that even the darkest trials leave us different than we were before we experienced them. If we are introspective, honest and, yes!, strong, we can come out better humans than we were, more grateful and more joyful in any given moment.

As you know, Austin is experiencing a horrific drought. A single cigarette but tossed from a car sets grassy medians on fire; all the major thoroughfares are scarred with blackened patches left behind by fires. Swathes of destruction greet the morning gridlock. Where the land is not scorched, it is brown with desiccated grasses and the Earth herself cracks from the lack of moisture. Except that now, in certain of those burned medians, there are the greenest plants growing. They are rising up, verdant and brave.

In that sense, they remind me of your journey as recorded here.

Thank you for sharing, Tiffany.

Sandi said...

Thank you so much for your post. I don't know what to say. I am in a very bad place. I thought I had dealt with the miscarriage well, in general. It was very early (I was only 5 weeks) and I was hopeful for another pregnancy (we have an almost 2 year old toddler). But its been four months, and no baby inside yet to fill the gaping hole in me. It hurts all the time. I "plan" so many things about my life. How far apart my children "will" be spaced, "how many" children I will have. The loss of that future before my eyes is just crushing me. I was also nursing my toddler when I miscarried and I agonized over whether this had caused it--so much so that I weaned him at 20 months (I had planned to go till 2 years). What you said about god resonates with me, becuase a god with a large G (which I believed in for many many years), a being who rewards, or doesnt, who protects and heals, or doesnt, breaks my heart more than any other idea. I truly have no idea what is going on in this earth at all. All the pain and joy . . . is there anything running the show or are we just wandering around? What is the purpose without a God with a big G? I don't know, I ask myself that all the time. I was brought up very religious, and even though now I am not religious at all, its hard to see life as purposeful without a large G in there. I would love to read more of your thoughts on this issue. Thank you for sharing your pain. I feel it too. I don't feel better yet, not at all. I hope I will heal again one day, fill this sad hole in me. I am thinking of you.

Maria said...

Tiffany, I found this to be almost serendipitous ... I will be going to Austin (for the first time ever) this weekend, and still felt like I needed to find a way to help heal my heart a bit before I 'let myself' take a small vacation, as I just had a miscarriage at 6 weeks along (I had only know I was pregnant for a week). Google brought me here, and your words rang so true in so many ways, I knew I was in the right spot. I can only simply thank you for such truth and openness. I know it will help me continue to heal as the weeks ... and my life, really ... continue on.

Tiffany Hamburger said...

Maria--blessings to you, and much love as you heal. Thank you for your voice here, and my sympathy for your loss. I hope you got to enjoy Austin, too.


Amber said...

Tiffany, I have read a lot of things since my whirlwind ride of a missed miscarriage and subsequent d&c. It turned out i was having twins but neither were viable. Yep, two losses in one :(. Your words have reached me more than any others. Even though your post was in 2011, I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It has helped to clear my fog a little.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, after years of trying for a baby and our first IVF I saw a positive pregnancy test and nervously started to believe it could be time for our dreams to come true. An early miscarriage at 6 weeks has been so sad, but also allowed me to confirm how much love I have to give.

Erz said...

Hi Tiffany,

I lost my 13.5-week old baby last week. I saw his eyes, nose, mouth, hands, legs, toes, ears....he was fully formed. He was supposed to be our second, as well.

The pain was unbearable. I had the same feeling you had, when i knew I was pregnant. The uncertainty if I can take care of him aside from my first son, my body, stopping yoga, etc., I blamed myself for not caring more, but now coming into terms that I do not have control over what happened, and so many women experience miscarriage, but never talked about it openly.

Unfortunately, our son was there, only for a short time. I loved him more than anything, i cried and cried and cried, until i got numb of crying. The pain is nothing like any other, the loss of our unborn child - why me..!?

Your story is very inspiring. You are right, my love for my son and husband have deepened even more. I've valued both of them more now, than ever before.

I hope time heals all pains and sorrows. Stay strong.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I truly needed this

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful and so heart rending! I also have a tragic story to share as something similar happened to me but twice in a row! I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks 4 days last year and it was my first pregnancy! As it was a late first trimester MC , i had to go through a d & c! it took me days to heal but then i accepted it as god' s will and went on with my life! After trying for 9 months , i got pregnant again but lost that baby too at 8 weeks! It was a missed MC and the baby stopped growing at 6 weeks! I am still waiting for my body to expel on its own or else will have to go through another d & c! well, as much as i am sad and hopeless for my future pregnancies... there is also a huge void left behind .... i dont have kids and that makes it all the more difficult! seeing my friends and relatives delivering healthy babies .... it makes it all the more challenging to cope! But meditation helps me .... a lot ..... that is what keeps me going and my blind faith in god and nature us even strengthened after this second loss ! everything happens for a very good reason we all are unaware of! i am trying to go with the flow and taking each day as it comes.... i live alone with my husband far away from my country w/o friends or relatives here .... but trying to find peace within ..,,, and talking it out with my family and few friends ... this too shall pass .... thanks for the lovely and inspiring post ... it truly helped ...... may god grant u peace and strength ...... in your life and lots of luck :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tiffany for sharing this, this is a very touching post, something that made me well up throughout reading your post, at the same time has helped me put it into perspective.
I suffered my first miscarriage a couple of weeks ago, and I'm hurting really bad emotionally. It was my first pregnancy and I am very shaken up my the experience. I was 11 weeks 5 days pregnant, just 1 day short of my first scan. We were due to announce the great news to everyone, but instead I was sharing the sad news of what happened. I didn't even get to hear my baby's heart beat. It was taken away from me in the blink of an eye. Your post has given me some strength. Thanks so much for sharing

Anonymous said...

thank you Tiffany, I'm in the middle of this healing process, I had to go through it on my own, and now I'm only sharing what happened, two years later. It can take an even longer time to accept if the surrounding environment is capable to, so going through it again, but now sharing it and I must say that sharing in itself is what makes the lost child come to life, even if it's gone, and yet.. it's not, it remains part of me, and I know it's somehow still around. Peace to you - I

Tiffany Hamburger said...

So many stories, so many lives cut way too short. My deepest empathy and sympathy to all who have commented; we are sisters in this experience, and I send you all my love and my wish for eventual peace, whenever the time is right.

All my love,

Madison said...

I came across this randomly after a google search. I just lost my baby at 9 weeks. It was so honest and so beautiful in contrast with all of the everything-will-be-okays I've heard all week. I don't have a carefully worded, put-together response. I just really want to let you know this is so hard for me to read, in a good way. Healing hurts and I can't get all the way through your post because it's painful to face the truth, like you said, and I appreciate that I can bookmark this and read it over and over until I don't need it anymore. I can hardly talk aloud about it. People just finding out through the grapevine are congratulating me still, family members are asking about names and due dates, and I'm not correcting anyone. I needed this. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing helpful. And I am drinking my raspberry leaf tea right now!

Anonymous said...

I had a miscarriage in June I was also 11 weeks and 4 days and had my scan booked in that week but I didn't get to hear my baby's heartbeat or see him/her :-( now 4 months later I am still not pregnant n I am still finding it extremely difficult to not think about it. Since the miscarriage my body acts like it is pregnant every month. I get sore boobs, bloated belly, feel sick, lower back pain which all remind me of the pregnancy n make me think that I might b pregnant again. I have wasted so much money on doing pregnancy tests a week before my period is due coz I cannot wait to seee if I will b late or not. It's driving me crazy!

Najia said...

Hi Tiffany, your post made my eyes filled with tears. Im sorry to hear about your loss.
I just had a miscarriage at 9 weeks and it was our second. I'm a very private person myself and this is the first time I'm expressing my feelings about my miscarriage.
Your post has given me support and strength to share how miserable and sad I feel emotionally about my loss. I want to cry out loud and get the pain out of my system. But at the same time I want to thank God for giving me the blessing of a normal and healthy 4 year old beautiful daughter, who is the sunshine in my life.

I'm glad that I came across your beautiful blog. It helped me open up. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am going through this right now. Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tiffany for your blog and this post. I am going through a miscarriage right now, and the sadness is just permeating through me. I love life, I love feeling the joy of just being alive, and this week has just taken the sun out of my world. thank you for sharing what you have gone through. It gives me hope. And encourages me to keep looking inward and feeling my feelings, taking the time to heal.
Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you...I am 6 days post miscarriage, and I keep having flashbacks to passing my 9 week gestation embryo in the tub. This was comforting to read.

Tabatha said...

Thank you for this post. In the days following my miscarriage, I've been searching for the reasons why, straining to find comfort, relief from the blame, shame and burden that this has brought me. Your post have given me some of that.

Unknown said...

Tiffany, this is the only thing which has truly resonated with me in the few days since I lost our first little one at almost 7 weeks. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this very private pain.

Unknown said...

Hello Tiffany, I found out we lost our baby today at my 5 month check up..I found your story through the Glow/Nurture app..I got to the part where you said, you wanted to find something to control, a way to keep it from happening again.. I broke..I am trying so hard to stay strong, not cry every 5 minutes, my boyfriend is too..he's hurt and feels this might be his fault..I know it's not either of our faults..but not knowing why is killing me, us...I'm getting induced in the morning, personal choice for our situation.. Anyways, I just wanted to thank you, for your honesty and your story, sincerely Jessalyn

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for this post. I just went through a miscarriage after finding out at ten weeks that the baby had no heartbeat and had stopped developing at eight weeks. So much of what you said reflected all of the feelings I have been feeling and I just wanted to let you know how much this post has helped me. Blessings of healing and hope to anyone else who is healing through this heartbreaking experience.

Unknown said...

I just passed what I am sure was my baby about 9 weeks. Thank you for this wonderful post! It really helped me to remember what I already knew about frief!

Tabatha said...

Melissa i also just found out at 10 wks 2 days that i had suffered a miscarriage and they said the baby stopped growing at 8 weeks. This was going to be my third baby. I had so many thoughs and plans for that baby. This baby in my eyes was a perfect meant to be gift from God. We had put off trying for a third for 2 years and finally said now is the time and we were fortunally pregnate the first month. I just dont know why this perfect gift was taken away feom us. I pray that the Lord blesses us again real soon. I need to fill this lost and empty void.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for putting your energy and experience out into the universe. I'm grateful to have just read this. I'm searching for ways to heal. 10 weeks and was very proud. I hope to have the courage you had. We hope to try again. Peace to you ♡ ~Tiffany F.

Unknown said...

I loved your post. I went thru a miscarriage in January. I was 20 weeks. I am still healing. I hate hiding my miscarriage like it's a shameful event. At first that's what it felt like to me. I blamed myself just as you did. I think we just try so hard to search for the answer to why? Maybe if we knew we could get passed it. I blamed God. To me the hardest part is trying to understand God's plan. I felt depressed for the longest and faithless. It hurt to know I hated God because I grew up very religious. I hate the fact women don't speak about it. I was scared and sad to speak about my baby but now I acknowledge that she was in my life and that her life filled me with joy and love. It is a very difficult subject to speak about because it's a sad truth but I feel women need to share their experiences and not be suffering in silence. I was surprised to find out I had two close friends who suffered alone. I felt horrible when they told me because to fight thru that pain alone and in private it's unimaginable. I love that you shared your story and with the truth because all of us who have suffered can really relate to your story. I continue to heal with faith. I can laugh and go on in life but there is an imprint in my heart that reminds me of the blessings and scars.

Erendira said...

I am very thankful for your words. I just found out my little sprout is suddenly missing a heartbeat. I am awaiting a miscarriage and your words gave me faith to endure this. ❤

Camilla said...

Thank you so much for all your words about this. I am deeply hurt by my miscarriage yesterday and I have found help and a bit of peace here. namaste

rhi said...

I am about to try for another baby and my emotions have stirred again about my loss a few months ago. This article was lovely to read and just what I needed to see.

Nicole said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post! I went to
The doctor Thursday because I saw light brown spotting, which ppl kept telling me it was normal but it didn’t sit right with me! So I made an appointment for the same day! She did the ultra sound and at 8 weeks and 3 day’s there was no heartbeat! And this was I second! We were so excited and happy and now I just feel broken and alone ��