So it has been a month. A month since I can call myself a miscarriage survivor. About every other day, at the very least, someone asks me how I am doing. My standard answer is that I am fine. That is the truth, the short version, but the honest truth. I am for the most part doing fine. It's getting easier, day by day. I'm healing. How do I know? I have more 'good' days than bad ones now, compared to two weeks ago. A good day is one that I don't breakdown at least once crying. I have days that I don't cry at all now. And when I do get upset, if I start to cry, it's not for a long time, and most of the itme when something triggers my tear ducts, all I do is tear up. Some of the time I have to fight back the tears really hard, but I do it. The urge to break down completely isn't right below the surface anymore. That is how I know I'm healing. I saw a pregnant belly the other day, the ultimate test in my mind. This mama looked like she was a little further along than I would've been at this point, and I didn't even tear up. Did I wish it was me? Yup, absolutely. But I survived. I breathed and took a step and I survived. I'm not saying that I am gradually getting to the point of apathy. I will most likely, always remember and harbor a little place in my heart for our angel baby, because I know how emotional and attached I can be. During the course of this journey, I've read a lot of other women's stories, and a lot of blogs. One in particular sticks out in my mind. This woman suffered a miscarriage and eventually got pregnant with another baby. Late in that pregnancy she was driving in the car with her own mother during a rain storm. A song came on the radio that she had not heard in quite some time, and it happened to be the same one (it may have been a hymn) that they sang in church the Sunday after she had her miscarriage. This mama said she started crying so hard that her mom asked her to pull over to the side of the road. I don't think many women forget the pain. It can go deep and can come back with the simplest thing, a smell, an object, or hearing a song, like with any loss. These feelings are engrained on our souls and are linked to everyday sights, smells and sounds, whatever we experienced in the moment. I also read about a study that was done, a family study, with couples that were 50-65 years old. Some had children, some did not. Some had suffered a miscarriage during their childbearing years. It was found that the women that had lost a baby remembered the loss and clearly still felt it. One person in the study, in the higher end of the age bracket, suffered a miscarriage 42 years before and was reported to have gotten "very emotional" when she talked about it. Most women don't forget. Most women are very affected by it, even decades later. So originally, I had a different direction planned for this final installment of this little series that I have going here, but this is an expanded version of my original plan. I wanted to give advice to any woman that has suffered a miscarriage, how to make it through, how to carry on, and how to harbor hope. I thought that hearing how my process of healing is progressing was important to include in this post also. Telling how I am coping and making it through day by day is part of my story. So that brings me to my advice for other women: Top Ten Things to Remember if you have Suffered a Miscarriage: After your physical symptoms subside, you may be left with feelings that can be new and overwhelming. You may not know how to feel or react. Here's my advice: 1. It's normal to feel isolated and alone in your feelings. Your husband or boyfriend, other children, and family members may not feel the loss of this baby as profoundly as you do. But know that you are not alone. 1 in 4 women have experienced a loss of a baby. 2. Talk to women who have been through this. Reach out to women you know or search the internet and read. There are many women that have written blogs, created websites and Facebook pages for the purpose of sharing stories. They know, like I found out too, that hearing other women's stories is essential in the healing process for many women. 3. Know that there are going to be very well-meaning people that may say some hurtful things in response to your loss. They do not mean to hurt you, but do not know what to say in most cases and feel the need to fill the silence. 4. Acknowledge that this is a REAL loss. Saying the word 'baby' instead of 'fetus' is a very simple way to make it real for yourself as well as others. 5. Know that this IS NOT your fault!! You didn't do anything to cause this You couldn't do anything different to prevent it. 6.Give yourself time to recover and grieve. Everyone grieves at their own rate. You should not expect that because you did not know this baby, you should grieve quickly or 'get over it' by now. You are grieving the loss of the life that you never got to know. It doesn't make it easier that you never knew the soul that was growing inside you. You (or anyone else) should not expect that in a week, a month, or two or three or more that you should be done grieving. It is a process. As long as you are making progress,you are probably doing fine. If you feel like you are 'stuck' or getting worse, it may be a good idea to seek out professional help. 7. Think about telling your story. You may not be comfortable with this, you may be a private person. In that case this may not be helpful to you. Many women find that it is liberating when they tell their story. Many will do it somewhere on the internet, but if you are not comfortable with this, consider just writing it down. It can just be for your own eyes, Some women find this helpful. 8. Accept help, ask for help. Your friends and family want to help you, but may not know how. If you need help, preparing dinner, or just an afternoon without your older children, ask for help. Our culture doesn't do this kind of thing anymore, I don't know if asking for help is considered a sign of weakness, or if our nuclear families are supposed to cope and deal with these family issues on our own, without your mother, father-in-law, sister or friend. We do not have to be that strong. We all need help once in awhile and this would be one of those times that your family and friends will jump at the chance to help if you asked them. If you are lucky enough to have someone offer help, grab it!! 9. Get back to your normal routine, at your own pace though. You need time to grieve so do not force yourself to resume activiies of your normal life just because you, or someone else, feels it's 'time.' Do it a little at a time. If you are returning to work, possibly going back 2 days a week for a couple weeks and gradually working up to your normal work week might be helpful. Know your limits on this as well. One mom said she had an open conversation with her boss, and he knew that if she was having a rough day/week, she may be going home early. She also had a three cry limit. If she cried three times during the day, then she knew it was time to go home. 10.You will make it through. There are so many women that have and so will you. I found hope in hearing stories of how other women made it through. There is hope. I will not feel like this forever. You can find advice on many websites on how to make it through tough times of the year such as the holidays, or your EDD and baby's birthday especially. My major piece of advice is even if you do not share your story, at least read other women's stories. Thank goodness we have internet now, because there are so many sites and forums that you can find with just a simple search. There are many pages on Facebook as well. If you go to my 'likes' on my page, http://www.facebook.com/BabyBlissBirthServices?ref=hl you can find several. A search of 'miscarriage' on Facebook will bring up a bunch of suggestions also. A good place to start is www.facesofloss.com They have stories, resources, quotes, a chance to share your story and more. One of the most important aspects of getting through this for me was reading other women's stories, and was the reason for my sharing my personal story, writing through tears in the beginning and now writing from the belief that my story may help someone else from suffering in silence. Break the silence. Talk to someone. It can be anonymously online, in person, over the phone. It will help you heal. You are not alone, and we are strong women that support eachother. Even as complete strangers, you will find support, a sister-hood among miscarriage survivors. I thank the many people that shared their stories with me. There are many women that I thought I knew well, that it turned out I didn't know as well as I thought because I never knew that they had a miscarriage. I am so grateful that you opened up and shared with me, as it helped so much. I realized that I am not as alone as I feel.
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