Coping with Recurrent Miscarriage Without Losing Your Precious Mind
5 pregnancy losses in, it’s a wonder that I haven’t died of heartbreak.
This last miscarriage, for sure, put me outside of my mind.
My reservoir of mental strength, which I had drawn from over the past 3 years, had completely run dry.
You know that feeling when thinking takes up too much energy?
Yeah, that’s the place I’m talking about.
Miscarriage after miscarriage- I had always found a way to tell myself that the next time would be different or that there was something new I would try next.
But this time? I couldn’t find any such encouragement to give myself.
At times, I felt like a zombie- just a shell floating through air.
Not only was I losing this life inside of me, it felt like I was in a fight for my own life.
A fight to maintain a sense of hope and purpose.
A fight to preserve my mental health when I felt myself losing it.
How in the world does anyone survive this pain with their sanity intact?
Pregnancy loss has never gotten easy, but it’s taught me a lot about survival and about human strength and grit. As bad as it seems right now, you will get through this.
And on your road to recovery, I want to share this with you…
2 Things To Remember About:
Coping With Recurrent Miscarriage
#1: Realize that THIS IS GRIEF
For some reason, it took me a long time to come to this realization.
Somehow, in my head, grief is what people go through when they lose someone that they can see, feel or hear.
At first, I treated pregnancy loss like it was different.
Know this: pregnancy loss is often, a much less obvious loss, but it is still very much GRIEF.
Give yourself the space, time and permission to grieve.
#2: Healing is NOT a linear process.
Some days, you’ll go up. Some days, you’ll head down.
Sometimes, you’ll be up and down all in the same day.
That’s okay. It’s normal. You’re normal.
Just know that with time, when you take a step back, you’ll see that despite the peaks and valleys, your overall progress was up all along.
HOW TO COPE WITH RECURRENT MISCARRIAGE
1| Ride Your Feelings Like Waves
Lean into how you feel.
Feel sad… angry… cry. And don’t feel bad about it for one second.
A loved one has passed away so by all means, FEEL YOUR FEELINGS!
But, if you can, avoid being overwhelmed by them.
One way to do this is to feel your feelings a little at a time.
Let me explain…
I go to work and actively look for distractions so that I have moments when I’m engaged in something besides thinking about my pregnancy loss. Mental breaks, if you will.
I have found these breaks to be extremely necessary- they let me look beyond the pain that would otherwise be right in the front of my mind at all time. They reaffirm my purpose and contribution to the world and they give an opportunity to feel other emotions.
I describe it as riding the waves of grief like a surfer, instead of getting hit by a tsunami of grief that could drown me.
A little at a time could be the difference between falling deeper and deeper into despair vs. gradually processing your grief.
2| See a Therapist / Join a Support Group
You need support.
Inner strength is not endless and when you run low on it, you need to lean on someone else.
Recurrent miscarriage isn’t just about grief.
Under the grief layer lies disappointment, anger, uncertainty, anxiety, hopelessness, fear and on and on. There’s a lot brewing in there!
It helps to talk to someone that can help you untangle your feelings, which is where a therapist or support group comes in. It’s comforting to talk to people that know what you’re going through or can give you undivided attention and empathy.
Even though my natural tendency is to isolate when things get tough, I have noticed that I always start to feel better after I seek out counseling or support.
Also know that the type of support you need may change.
While online support groups were enough to get me through my earlier miscarriages, I really needed to see a therapist after my fifth one.
3| Attend to Your Physical Body
One of the most profound statements that a therapist shared was “grief takes energy“.
Your emotions aren’t the only things coping with recurrent miscarriage.
Your body is too!
Your body changes from declining pregnancy hormones but also from the stress.
Personally, my hormones were doing whatever they pleased, to my skin, my stomach, my mood…
I had trouble sleeping. Exercise felt impossible. I certainly couldn’t bring myself to meal plan so hello, Ritz crackers for dinner.
On top of all that, I was finding it hard to remember things, which I learned later can be an effect of grief.
One thing that I did differently this time around was that I got acupuncture for the first time. After struggling with sleep and anxiety, I decided to do something different. Afterwards, I had the best nights sleep I’d had since I found out I was miscarrying.
I’m not so sure it was the actual acupuncture (I didn’t feel that different). Rather, I think it was the relaxation, the time spent focusing on my body and to be honest, the novelty of the whole experience.
Treat your body KINDLY.
This can mean getting a massage or attending yoga but it can also mean scheduling more sleep time or asking someone to help you make/eat nourishing food.
4| Do Things At Your Own Pace
Don’t push yourself; be gentle.
Take days off.
Order food in.
Don’t push yourself to see people or go out.
Granted, I know that it’s not always that easy. Things still need to get done and if you have other children, they will need your attention.
But, remember that grief takes energy.
Take it easy or you will emotionally drain yourself.
As I say that, I also want to emphasize that you know yourself and your own pace best.
Some people choose to take time off work, for example, while others (myself included) continue to go to work as a necessary distraction. Some people choose a weekly support group while others find monthly sessions less overwhelming.
Do what works for you.
5| Fix Your Eyes Onto a Bigger Purpose
For so long in my career and personal life, I could will things into existence by hard work and faith in God.
Trying to conceive and sustain a pregnancy is the one area where all the will in the world hasn’t gotten me anywhere.
I started to take it personal- my failures in keeping a pregnancy started to feel like I was a failure all around.
But I know deep down that that is far from the truth.
I…Scratch that. WE are BIGGER than this struggle.
You are MORE than the woman with pregnancy losses.
This too SHALL PASS!
It’s so easy to fixate on what you’ve lost but try to visualize the personality, talent, gifts and value that you bring to those around you. All of that hasn’t just…poof…gone away because of these miscarriages.
Yes, this is a very, very, very hard thing but every day, remind yourself that the pain you feel today is strength that you’re building to make you unstoppable tomorrow.
6| Seek Encouragement & Positivity From Anywhere You Can Find It
You know how you need to marinate food in order to make it flavorful? That’s the same way you need to marinate in encouragement.
One dip, in & then out, isn’t enough to get the flavor deep inside.
You must DWELL in the encouragement to start feeling encouraged deep inside.
Sing uplifting songs on repeat. Text your funny friends. Change your lock screen to an encouraging bible verse about infertility.
Whatever you find to lift your spirits- do it often.
My most effective (and encouraging) thing to do is to visit forums and search for women who have had the same exact number of losses I have and gone on to have a healthy baby. So I search for them daily.
Something about those testimonies just makes me feel like all hope is not lost.
Find the good and encouraging things in life and take them in.
Then, turn around and do them again and again and gain.
I wasn’t always sure that I would survive the pain with my sanity intact but guess what? I am surviving it.
And you will too.
“Coping” with recurrent miscarriage doesn’t mean that you will forget or that you will be exactly the same as before.
Coping means that no matter how bad it hurts right now, you withstand the pain and come out on the other side still standing.