Friday, August 31, 2012


The emotional and physical pains of a miscarriage are breathtaking.  I'm not talking about breathtaking beauty, although there is that, too.  Mostly, the experience is breathtaking in that it literally steals your breath away and leaves you grasping at ways to work through the pain.

The bleeding started on a Monday.  It seemed like the usual show one expects after intimacy, but soon turned into something scary: bright bleeding to cover a pad by Wednesday.  The amount of blood heightened until Saturday's first non-periodesque pains mounted to jolting stabs.  Unlike normal, natural birth pangs, these stabs were constant and worsened until they reached a crescendo right when the sac, fetus, and placenta slipped through the cervix opening.

It lasted four and a half hours.  I paced, practiced Lamaze breathing techniques and focal pointing; my husband read fairy tales aloud; Enya's soothing Memory of Trees softened the atmosphere along with a vanilla-scented candle and low lighting; I danced, I rolled into a ball on the bed.  Unlike previous birthing experiences during which the birthing ball provided immense relief, I squealed in pain when I tried sitting on the ball.

The silvery sheen that slowly emerged looked like a teardrop.  It was entirely intact: sac with amniotic fluid, soft pink placenta, and chain-like cord.  In some ways it was beautiful and resilient.  It was a world that could provide every possible need for a baby-not-yet-born.  But, there was no baby.  Curiosity prevailed and carefully cutting open the sac, a barely developed ovum no longer grew within.  Like a minuscule peach pit unsheathed from the flesh, the hope of a child was lost with this painful unveiling.

The pain stopped immediately; at least, until a week later.  Small clots reminded me that not only had I experienced an actual birth, but needed to experience proper recovery time, as well.  With two little guys to care for, it is - admittedly - difficult to find rest amidst the turmoil of the day.  But, friend, if you have experienced or know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, that strong woman needs rest and she needs to know you care - about her, her family, and about the loss of life, of a dream, of the hope that she recently cradled in her womb.

What can we do, friend, to help others that need us?  Make a meal that can be made immediately or frozen.  Many friends were kind enough to perform this simple act that shows concern for daily needs.  If the family has other children, offer to take them outside to play while mommy can have a little nap or just put her feet up.  This shows recognition that full-time motherhood is a consequential and exhausting non-paid profession.  If they do not have children, offer to help with house cleaning or grocery shopping.  A third way you can help, friend, is through the compassion of care: pray, call or e-mail every day or every other day to check on the mother that recently lost a child.  This shows you truly care and do not want your friend to suffer alone.  Another way to mourn and celebrate the hope this life had brought is to take a living plant to the family.  This gives a tangible remembrance of the hope the couple had and encourages them to see the bittersweet beauty of the experience: that their strength, love, and compassion for others in painful situations is heightened because of the happenstance.  Friend, if you've experienced a miscarriage, what has been a comfort to you?

There are so many ways in which to help someone experiencing a miscarriage.  My earnest desire is that you, friend, understand the true pain of such a situation, even if you have never experienced it personally, and that it encourages you to reach out in ways you may not have before.

In our household, a weeping redbud grows above the remains of our little one.  It provides comfort and hope to our family.  We'll mourn the loss of a hope, but still dream.

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