Guest List: How to Feel Better After a Miscarriage

Guest List: How to Feel Better After a Miscarriage

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A Wave of Light. For all the babies that didn’t make it.

I struggled to know whether to share this list today. The Friday before Christmas, should I go for something more upbeat? Festive even? But the fact is shit happens no matter the season.

That’s particularly true of miscarriage which unfortunately effect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 pregnancies. My heartfelt thanks to Jennie of The Uterus Monologue for this list, not only is it honest, it’s reassuring too and full of great useful advice on how to make to make yourself feel better after miscarriage.


 

  • ‘What am I supposed to do with myself now?’  Those were my exact words to my husband Dan, nearly two weeks ago, on a drizzly Sunday evening. I didn’t say them so much as wail them.

  • We’d kept ourselves occupied over the weekend after our third miscarriage and my ERPC (surgery following a missed miscarriage) as it was a friend’s birthday, but now everything had come crashing to a halt. Dan was going back to work, but I’d been signed off. The prospect of sitting at home with just my (dark) thoughts for company felt like too much to bear. 

  • What was  I going to do with myself? Once again, I felt back at square one – the last few months had all been geared around being pregnant. Getting pregnant and staying pregnant. No booze, no coffee, gentle exercise only, early nights, lots of broccoli and salmon. Now what?

  • This time, unlike before, I couldn’t even focus on dusting myself down and just trying again, because we’re waiting for a referral to the recurrent miscarriage clinic, who like to see you for tests before you’re pregnant again.

  • Yet dust yourself off you must. It’s bloody hard. No one can or will do it for you. There is no routine after-care after a miscarriage, beyond a leaflet or two and being told not to have sex until the bleeding stops and a pregnancy test comes back negative. Generally, no one will call to check you’re OK or ask how you’re feeling. The best you can hope for is that the hospital or the GP remembers to cancel your midwife and scan appointments. Because those letters feel like a punch in the gut when you open them, weeks later, often just as you’re starting to feel vaguely normal again.

  •  Anyway, how to feel better. My mum put it best – you need to do things that make you feel like you again.

  • Not pregnant you and not the sad, small and scared post-miscarriage you. It can feel a bit like a consolation prize, because it’s not who you wanted to be, but there is power in re-discovering who you were before all this. Though, of course, you won’t feel quite the same – possibly ever. But it’s a step in the right direction.

  • Here’s my how-to-feel-better list…

  • Take your time. It’s tempting to rush back to work for the distraction, if nothing else. But, honestly, I think you need time to do nothing, cry, to sit around in your pyjamas, watch bad TV, cry, wander aimlessly round the supermarket, cry, manically tidy the house. Whatever.

  • I’m writing this list while on leave. Unlike the previous two miscarriages, I’ve been signed off for a whole two weeks. Last time, I think I took one day off, and it was not enough. It’s hard to know what to do work-wise. No one talks about this, so you’re fumbling in the dark even on basic, practical matters. After my first miscarriage, I had no idea what an acceptable amount of time off was. Did more than a couple of days make me an unbearable drama queen?  

  • Give yourself permission. This third time round, the hospital where I had my ERPC explicitly recommended two weeks. That wasn’t specific to me, it was what they generally advise. And I got a note to say as much. That kind of permission helps, I think. But not all doctors or early pregnancy units are so specific. So remind yourself it’s OK. As a salutary lesson, had I ignored the doctors and gone straight back this time around, my first day back – in a newspaper office – would have coincided with the announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their third baby. Which, frankly, would have had me howling treasonous tears in the loos all afternoon.

  • Just go with it. Having said you need to take the time to grieve, there’s no single right way to do this. It doesn’t look like you might expect it to. Yes, I have sat on the sofa, tear-stained and numb. But I have also masked myself in make-up and marched round John Lewis like a woman possessed. I’ve insisted on trips to the garden centre and gone to watch violent films. I’ve batch-cooked as if my life depended on it and baked elaborate birthday cakes. It’s grief. It doesn’t have to make sense.

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    If baking helps then bake.
  • Delete your pregnancy apps. Do this as soon as you can. And shove the folic acid tablets to the back of the cupboard. Yes, you may feel you want to try to conceive again as soon as you can, but at least while you’re waiting for that negative pregnancy test to signal it really is all over give yourself a break from all that. That daily reminder that you’re no longer and not yet pregnant.

  • After our second miscarriage I stopped being quite so rigid with the pre-conception vitamins, at least until we were pregnant again. If we went away for the weekend, the bottle of pills stayed at home. It helps not feeling like trying to conceive is running your life.   

  • Hide everything and anything you bought. We were really cautious, even the first time around, but by ten weeks we felt confident enough to borrow a friend’s book of baby names. And we had folders and leaflets from our first midwife appointment. Stick it all under the bed. Or at the back of the cupboard. Don’t try and return anything or throw anything away. You don’t need that kind of pain.  For now, out of sight, out of mind will do.

  • Treat yourself. My post-miscarriage buys include: two deeply child-unfriendly cream fluffy rugs, a ridiculous orange dress, an over-priced bikini, succulents for the bathroom, and patio furniture. Yes, you’d rather have a baby. No, material things don’t change what’s happened. But do it anyway.

  • Don’t diet. Not yet. One of the shitty things no one thinks about with pregnancy loss until it happens to you is that the baby might be gone, but the extra flesh, stretchmarks and alien bra size can remain.

  • I was so angry at my body after our first loss – just shy of 12 weeks – at that extra half stone of wobble it had gained for no good reason. But a crash diet is not the answer. Especially not if you want to try again soon. Give it time. It’s a big thing for your body to go through, you need to eat properly. Though I also advocate ice cream after dinner every night if it helps.

  • Be careful with the ‘at leasts’. Well-meaning friends often say things like ‘at least now you can have a drink on your birthday/over Christmas/at that wedding’. But it’s not always helpful. The thought that I was now able to drink just made me miserable – however much I’d missed the Lady Petrol, the first sip post-miscarriage made me cry. Don’t force it.

  • The best ‘at leasts’ for me were letting go of all the slightly neurotic pregnant things I’d been doing (so easy to fall into after a loss). Things like not painting my nails and avoiding eating out of plastic containers (hello Chinese take-away!) on the scientifically spurious basis of what the chemicals might do to my eggs/the baby. Let it go, it feels good.

  • Look for the little milestones. You may feel like you won’t ever feel better. But you will. No, the pain doesn’t vanish over night, but incrementally it gets easier. The first day you no longer need to wear a sanitary pad. When you finally get a negative pregnancy test (bittersweet, but still a milestone). The first time you can have sex again. The first time you ovulate. There will still be bad, crushing days that hit you like a truck, but mostly every day gets a little easier. Remind yourself this.

  • Focus on what your body can do. Miscarriage is a bitch. You feel like your body has failed you. Not only has it failed, but it’s failed to do something so elemental, so tied up with womanhood. Women everywhere manage to have babies, so why the hell couldn’t you? Don’t listen to that voice. It’s amplified because we don’t really talk about miscarriages, but sadly it is normal.

  • Apologies if you’re not an exercise person, but after all our losses, the thing that has helped me the most is throwing myself into running and the gym. Not in any especially impressive way. I didn’t set myself massive challenges, just being able to run or spin again – which I hadn’t done while pregnant, because of The Fear – was enough. It’s not just that whole boring exercise-is-good-for-you thing (who knew?) but something about seeing tiny improvements, even if it’s just being ten seconds faster than last week, that crowds out the ‘my body’s useless’ talk.Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 17.55.59

  • Say no. You will feel better soon, I promise, but there will still be days that you just don’t want to play. Stay home. Don’t go to the party. Be polite but firm. You don’t need to explain yourself if you don’t want to. Stay home and watch trash. May I recommend Designated Survivor on Netflix, possibly the worst political thriller ever written. 

  • Say yes. Go out. Book the holiday. Buy the dress. Apply for the job. Chug the prosecco. The thing I have hated about trying to conceive is feeling like your life is on hold. Policing your behaviour in case you’re pregnant; hedging your bets because you might be further down the line. It is crushing to go back to all that after you thought you’d hit the jackpot and knew where your life was going once again. It’s rubbish. So instead say yes if you want to – you’ll figure out the rest later.  

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17 thoughts on “Guest List: How to Feel Better After a Miscarriage

  1. Thank you so much for this. Absolutely everything you have written I have said/done/felt. I feel just a little bit less lonely to not be the only one doing/saying/feeling it. Despite wonderful supportive friends (one of whom sent me the link to this). Hoping everything works out ok for you… And me. Xxxx

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  2. Thank you. Every single word resonated with me. I still miss the babies I miscarried, despite the fact I have my rainbow. Miscarriage, the club that nobody wants to be in. Sending love x

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  3. You brave, courageous and super kind human!! It’s painful and some might not want to read, but those that made it this far have hopefully found a big scoop of helpful stuff! I can relate to your list and I appreciate increasing the conversation around this topic. As July to August this year was a bi$#h I scoured, read and poured over anything I could find to help me in there midst of those scary, sad, not being or feeling myself, in the midst of loss days…Reading this today has helped! ‘The fear is real and it would be nice if we could talk about it more and share our experiences, there’s something in that!

    Take care and look after yourself x

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  4. I had a miscarriage in September 4 weeks after finding out I was pregnant after 4.5 years of trying. I thought I was managing pretty well but something about this time of year and lookkng at the past year has hit me hard and I find myself often teary and upset out of the blue. Grief is such a hard thing to deal with. Going from feeling so damn lucky to utterly devastated within such a short space of time is unbelievably painful. I have the same; my body’s crap, why me, wtf?! Thoughts. It’s oddly comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Each milestone forward is an achievement and allowing myself that is becoming easier. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it’s been much needed over here xxx

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    1. Hi Jane, so sorry to hear this. It’s a really difficult time isn’t it, when everyone’s reflecting on the year gone by and with family at the forefront of everything. I found social media in particular quite tricky. I don’t know about you, but since we started trying, Christmas has kind of been a yardstick – ‘maybe by Christmas I’ll be pregnant/maybe by Christmas we can tell people I’m pregnant/next Christmas we’ll have a baby’. When it then doesn’t happen, it’s hard not to let it get to you, I think. Wishing you a much better 2018. xxx

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      1. Yep. Exactly that. The yardstick can be particularly cruel and creeps up on you before you know it. I find myself feeling self conscious around people, family even, who have small children or babies. Like they’re looking at me with pity when I play with or hold the kids knowing I’ve had a miscarriage. It’s a strange one. I hope that one shakes off sooner rather than later. Sending lots of love and best wishes to you too x

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  5. I had a missed miscarriage in October, it still hurts my heart like hell… I have felt so lonely in my grief and yet I’m surrounded by people. It’s always helpful to know I’m not the only woman to have felt these things. Thanks for continuing to break the silence. Sending so many hugs to you and all of us experiencing this right now xxxxxxxxxx

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  6. Thank you so much for this. I have spent my Christmas constantly listening to the ‘at leasts’ which have been made worse by many of them coming from my heavily pregnant sister in law, who couldn’t wait to tell me that she would be having a drink next Christmas as there was no way she was having 2 years in a row without one.
    I had to take time off work due to the multiple hospital appointments, but never actually took time for myself, I feel it’s too late now, although I’m dreading going back on Tuesday.

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  7. Oh my gosh I needed this 3 months ago. I managed to achieve most of the list without even spotting it. The other thing for me was to actually talk about it rather than not say anything to anyone. I was superstitious enough in not sharing my pregnancy so i decided to take all the power out of the word and speak about it quite openly! They need to tell you these odds when yo are have your first appointment. After speaking about it I have discovered it is much more common than you think! Sending loads of love to all.

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  8. Thank you for having the courage to write this. It must have been a struggle. I happened upon this post quite by chance just a couple of hours after watching the second line appear on the stick for the sixth time. I have had three miscarriages and one excruciating medical termination, the first anniversary of which is in only a couple of days. I miss him terribly and feel like the third miscarriage was a sort of punishment, even though we wanted him so desperately. As your friends say ‘at least’ pregnancy number three gave me my perfect son. So here I am, not feeling at all like celebrating and now more anxious than before, but encouraged by your words and thoughts to endure whatever will happen. I wish you all the very very best luck for 2018. Thank you so much for your help.

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  9. Thanks for sharing! I have had two miscarriages this year, one in January 2016 and one in August. It’s been a struggle trying to understand this stuff, but it’s comforting to know that there are others out there going through this confusing type of pain. The holidays this year were rough for me. If my first pregnancy went right I would have had an infant. If the 2nd one worked out, I would have had a pregnant belly. It’s hard to not think of the “what ifs.” Thanks for sharing and the advice is very helpful. I wish you the best in the new year!

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  10. Thank you for talking/posting about this, I have also gone through 3 miscarriages and although no one is ever really ready for a baby I feel like we are even less so for a loss like that, because we don’t talk about it at all. It’s such a taboo topic but it is so common. I believe if we talk about it openly, it will help our healing as well hopefully help others going through it.

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