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ParentsA Journey of Loss
By Heather Sargent

On May 15, 2000, I thought I might literally die from heartache. I threw myself onto the bed and sobbed until my sides cramped and I couldn’t breathe. My husband ran to the room, desperate to know what had happened. I was crying so hard I could not form any words. One look into my eyes told him everything he needed to know; I had just lost our child.

Dealing with a miscarriage is devastating no matter how far along you were. The following are some ideas to help you find your own way to cope:

Do not blame yourself…

After a miscarriage, one of the first things grieving parents tend to do is blame each other or ourselves. "I must have done something wrong. I didn’t eat enough healthy food. I didn’t exercise enough."

Nothing you could have done would prevent this tragedy.

Get Informed…

Learn about what happened to you. Go to the library and find books on the subject. Find a website that can explain what happened by someone who has been through it. Our doctors mean well but cannot always explain it in the way a grieving mommy can understand at the time.

Seek others like you…

It is important that you know you are not alone. It can be helpful to have someone around who knows what you are feeling. Seek other women or families who have been in the same situation as you. There are many ways to do that.

Start by opening up to your family and friends. You might be very surprised to see who has been down this road before you. See if there are any support groups in your area. Ask your doctor or search the internet. There are many Web sites with chat rooms and message boards populated by people in various stages of the grieving process. This is how I personally was able to reach out. I spent many hours crying at my keyboard, feeling a bond with women I had never met. We helped each other through what was a dark time in our lives.

Remember those around you…

Don’t forget that your husband is also grieving. If you have other children, they will be as well. Get help for them if needed and do not leave them out of your grieving process. The whole family will have healing to do. This is the time to draw them in. The kids need to know they have not done anything wrong and that Mommy and Daddy still love them.

Talk to your husband. He most likely doesn’t know what you need him to do, or how he can help. This can be a huge strain on a marriage, or it can be a time of powerful bonding. It will all depend on how you communicate with each other. Communicating with love and tenderness will help you both get through this time of loss, and strengthen your marriage.

Allow time for healing…

Give yourself time to grieve. Take some time off work. Let Grandma take the kids for a sleepover. When they come back home, have them climb into bed with you and watch a silly movie. You must have popcorn for this event (that’s what vacuums are for). Pamper them a little; do some things you don’t normally do. Ask them questions about what they feel, and answer their questions in age appropriate ways. Make sure they know they will see their sibling again in Heaven.

Most likely, your doctor will have already told you not to try to get pregnant again right away. Your body needs to heal so that you will have a better chance of carrying to term in the future. You will also need time to grieve for your lost child. Keep in close contact with your doctor during this time and keep your appointments. If you feel you are not getting better, seek help. Talk to your pastor or a counselor. If you are struggling with sleep or severe depression, talk to your doctor about medication. Any of these professionals can help you in a different area of your own unique recovery.

Make a memorial…

Make something, plant something, build something, give life to something in honor of your little angel. I planted a garden, which was something foreign to me. I found it very therapeutic to have my hands in the dirt and planting beautiful flowers; not only as a memorial but also as a way to cope. I prayed a lot during that time. Sometimes my boys would help me. They also needed a way to work through their grief, as they had really been hoping for a little sister. As a memorial, you could put a cross with your baby’s name in the garden.

Do whatever it is that makes you feel good, or try something new. Make a quilt, paint a picture, write a poem. You could also keep a journal. Some of the best writing comes from raw emotion. Do not hide your feelings. If you are angry or sad, write about it. That will help you sort through your emotions.

Another thing you can do is write a letter to your baby. Write about the hopes and dreams you had and all the things you wanted to do. I wrote a poem and put it on a card with a little cherub on the front. I handed it out to my family, close friends and even to my doctor. I told everyone I was pregnant as soon as I found out, so they all knew soon after I miscarried.

If there is some hobby you have always wanted to try, now is the time.

Come to a place of acceptance…

All of us would change the situation if given the chance. Coming to a place of accepting what happened will help a great deal with your emotional well-being. Saying you can accept what happened does not in any way mean you agree with it, or are even ok with. It simply means you have accepted that you have no control over this and are going to allow yourself to find healing – not only for yourself, but also for your family and the memory of your little one. You do your child no good if you stay in a place of unforgiveness and anger. These are emotions you will go through, but take caution not to stay there.

Name the baby…

Give the baby a name that means something to you, even if you were only a few weeks along. From the point of conception, there is a spirit. That baby will be with you in Heaven. So make a name. I came up with a gender-neutral name because I did not know if I had a boy or a girl waiting for me in Heaven. For me, it solidified the fact that I had suffered a real loss, not just the loss of what should have been.

Resume a normal schedule…

A sense of normalcy can be comforting. Try to resume your daily routine as soon as you can, a little at a time. Be realistic – when you go back to work, see if you can come in for a few hours to start and then go a little longer. Do not push yourself before you are ready. Still allow for periods of grief. Time helps, but the wound will remain.

Look forward…

Look to the future. When your doctor gives you the all clear, you can start trying again – but talk about it with your husband first. You will both grieve in different ways and for different periods. Your husband may need a little more time than you before he is ready again. Not only is he grieving for your lost child, but he is also very worried about you and your health. Discuss the options, weigh the risks and decide together what is right for your family.

As you look forward to the future, the most important thing to remember is that you will see your little one in Heaven.

Facts...

Out of all pregnancies, about 30% end in miscarriage, half of them before the woman even knows she is pregnant. (Miscarriage Association)

* * *

Baby Angel
(In memory of Jordan Christian Huff)

My little baby
With eyes of blue
Or would they be green
With a golden hue

Would you have blonde hair
Or maybe brown
Would you always smile
And never frown

A little girl with curls
Or a bouncing baby boy
Would you be a friend to all
Or would you be more coy

With a Mommy's broken heart
And a Daddy's too
Lord, our little baby angel
We give over to you.

* * *

Links...
March of Dimes
www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1192.asp

Miscarriage Association
www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Health Square
www.healthsquare.com/fgwh/wh1ch27.htm

La Belle Dame
www.labelledame.com
A beautiful site that sells jewelry in remembrance of lost babies.
Heather Sargent is married to a wonderful man, James, and is a hard working mom of three. She wants to make her mark on the world by encouraging people with her writing. Heather has been writing all her life, but has only recently decided to do something with it. You may write to Heather through the Letters page of this magazine.