Hello, I just read this article on another board and thought I'd copy it over here.
Miscarriage: The grief that never really goes away
Guest Author - Krissi Danielsson
Note to readers: Before you read any further, please be aware that the following essay/ramble mentions pregnancy and birth after miscarriages. During the midst of my own miscarriage struggle, I remember all too well having days that I didn't want to hear anything about babies, so I wanted to offer a fair warning in case you yourself are in that place right now. As an additional warning, this essay also discusses some strong emotions and several Kleenex were expended in the process of writing it.
Recently I found myself working on a project that truly opened my eyes to the nature of miscarriage grief. I am a part-time freelance writer in addition to being a full-time mom, so I work on a variety of projects. For this one, I found myself writing an account of my first miscarriage--which happened just over four years ago.
My first miscarriage was my earliest. I was only five weeks along and found out I would miscarry just two days after discovering the pregnancy. But in some ways it was the hardest. I suppose each miscarriage was the hardest in its own way, but in writing about this one, I found that these years-old events were still so vividly etched in my memory that I couldn't finish the piece taking several breaks to regain my composure.
I had two more miscarriages after that one, but in February of 2003 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who means the world to me and warms my heart every day with her mere existence. I'm expecting a little boy in just a few months. But still I have tears aplenty for my first baby, even though that baby never developed past the zygote stage.
Most people, my husband included, don't really understand that. They think that because I have a child now and will soon have two that I shouldn't still be grieving for the babies who were never born. Perhaps to most people they were never real, but they'll always be real to me.
If you're reading this article, I'm sure you know what I mean. You probably feel the same way about your own loss(es). Perhaps your miscarriage too occurred long ago, but you can never really stop grieving. It's never quite as overwhelming as it is in the beginning, but it remains a part of you always. You may still remember the date of the loss and the due date of the baby who should have been born, and every time that date passes, you remember. You can go on to have plenty of children, and still you remember.
I've been doing some thinking about why this is. There is, of course, some element of "what if." I think we wonder about the children we lost. What would they have looked like? What would their dreams have been? We grieve that we will never know these children and never watch them grow up, never throw them birthday parties and never see them find a place in the world.
But I think it goes beyond that. Perhaps there is also a kind of guilt.
My daughter trusts me deeply. She looks to me to keep her safe, to give her love, and to be her rock in a world that can sometimes be scary to a two-year-old. When something goes wrong, she runs to "mama" for comfort and regeneration. A simple hug and some reassuring words from Mama make everything better and renew her spirit when something like a bump or a scrape temporarily shatters her confidence. Mama is hands-down my favorite role in life and something I think I'm becoming pretty good at.
But in quiet nights when I watch her sleep and I stare at the ceiling with sleepless thoughts, those what-ifs drift back into my consciousness. Those unborn babies too relied on "mama" to protect them, but I couldn't. In my head and even in parts of my heart I know that it's not logical or reasonable to feel guilty about that, because it was as beyond my control as anything ever could be, but it still feels like I failed them. Children trust their mothers to keep them safe, and my body let those babies down before they could even be born.
And even though it's not my fault, it still hurts that my body couldn't do what my heart so desperately wanted to. Maybe that's the part that the rest of the world doesn't understand about miscarriages. It's true that I am a mother now in the eyes of the world, but that doesn't take away the fact that there were three babies before my daughter who needed their mother too.
I wish I could offer some suggestions for how to cope with this. But I don't think there are any. Many women find it therapeutic to memorialize their lost babies somehow, perhaps with a special locket or by planting a tree in their memory. That does help with some aspects of it, but unfortunately there's no way to say to those babies what we really want to...which is, "From the depths of my being I am sorry that you were never born, and I would give anything to have been able to hold you just once."
I guess my point in writing (and publishing) this ramble is that I know you can often feel like you're alone in having these feelings. If you have a circle of relatives and friends that has never experienced miscarriage, you may have nowhere to turn for support and you may be wondering if you're abnormal for having such strong feelings about your loss. Know that you are not alone. You are bearing the grief of a loss that goes deeper than anyone can imagine without having experienced it.
But it does get easier over time. If your grief is fresh from a recent loss, it probably feels like it will never go away. But know that you will not always burst into tears at the mere mention of what should have been your baby's due date. You will not always be crying into your pillow at night or having to excuse yourself when a coworker announces a pregnancy. Like the tired old Celine Dion song, your heart will go on. You are a lot stronger than you think you are, and even if it doesn't feel that way right now, time will show it to be true. Trust me. I've been there.