This time he found me sitting on the couch, legs balled up against my chest, tears flowing.
It was 2 am.
The night before, he’d found me in our youngest son’s room. Our 4-year-old had made his way to our bed waking me. For a while, I laid arms tucked around my little guy. But then, heaviness began to descend and the onslaught of sorrow became overwhelming. I slipped down the hall into my little boy’s empty room. In the dark, I felt for the rocker and sat down. Back-and-forth I tried to rock away the sadness while quiet sobs shook my body.
For six months (at least), I couldn’t get through the night without crying. Sometimes my husband would wake and coax me back to bed; other times, I’d slid in and out of under the covers unnoticed.
What caused this pain? This heartbreak? This feeling that a storm cloud had swallowed me?
Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash
Experiencing the pain of a miscarriage
Between my second and third son, I’d already experienced one miscarriage that unleashed excruciating sadness and big emotions. However, within a few months, I had my rainbow baby in my belly and “this too did pass.”
After this second miscarriage, the situation was different. This time, we were trying to decide: Do we want to try again? Should we call it done with three healthy boys? What’s the next best step for our family?
Those types of life-changing decisions can be hard when you’re in your best frame of mine. But, when your mind is fogged up by pain, it’s difficult to even decide what to fix your family for dinner, let alone if you’re going to try to get pregnant again.
I knew I needed to focus on moving past the pain.
However, pain is a tricky thing. It sends a spiderweb of cracks a million different directions in your life, but you can’t stitch back together the slices with one simple act. It takes multiple kinds of healing from all different angles to slowly bind up the mess.
Why a miscarriage is so emotionally painful
One way that I healed a small crack was by figuring out why a miscarriage hurt so much. Somehow, this justified my pain and let me give myself permission to grieve. (Not that I needed it.) Here are five reasons why a miscarriage is so emotionally painful:
1. Your identity is wrapped up in being a mom.
Motherhood is such a life-changing experience, it automatically becomes part of our who we are. (Or who we want to be.) It affects how we see ourselves, how we view the world, and how we feel people relate to us. So, when things don’t work out in mom life, it shakes our core.
But on the flip side, the fact that it hurts so much also means that we put a lot of value in this piece of our identity – being a mom. (Or wanting to be a mom.) Motherhood is a beautiful thing. It’s something that should be valued. So even though our strong motherly longings leave us more vulnerable to pain, I wouldn’t want to let go of valuing motherhood. Caring about motherhood is a good thing.
2. You feel like it’s your fault.
When our bodies don’t cooperate, it’s hard not to feel like it’s our fault. What did I do wrong? Exercise too hard? Drink or eat something? Let myself get too stressed out? My OBGYN has repeatedly told me, “The miscarriage wasn’t your fault.” The Mayo Clinic backs my doctor saying,
“Most miscarriages happen because the fetus isn’t developing normally. Problems with the baby’s genes or chromosomes are usually the result of errors that occur by chance as the embryo divides and grows. They typically aren’t due to an inherited disorder, and usually aren’t caused by a mother’s behavior or health.”
It’s okay to analyze a situation and ask if we should’ve done something differently. Reflection is smart living. However, in the case of a miscarriage, the answer is “No – it wasn’t your fault.”
3. It’s the loss of a dream.
We have expectations of what we want our family to look like from the number of kids, to gender, to timing. When we miscarry, our dreams feel shattered. But, again, there’s a flip side to that coin. Ultimately, dreaming is a good thing. It’s a great starting point to finding our next right step. So, we should keep listening to our hearts and letting our souls dream.
4. You feel alone.
Some of our favorite people to confide in haven’t experienced a miscarriage and won’t fully understand our pain. This can make us feel alone. Yet, I’ve found the more I’ve opened up, the more I’ve discovered women who’ve shared my experience. Moms, it’s healthy to crave friends who get us. Know that there is a community of women who’ve shared your pain – we are not alone.
5. You feel out of control
We love our calendars and checklists and goals – we love control. A miscarriage makes us feel out-of-control. (Cue anxiety.) However, when we look back on our lives, often the most beautiful things came from the times our lives went off-course. Moms, we can let ourselves embrace hope – our futures hold good things.
Our pain points also are important, good elements of our lives
The reason that a miscarriage messes with our minds with such intensity is that the elements that make up our pain points also serve as important, good aspects of our lives: caring about being a mom, reflecting and analyzing, dreaming, desiring an understanding community, having some control over our lives. These are life-giving elements in our worlds, so it’s going to hurt when cracks slice through them.
You will heal from your miscarriage
Momma, if you are thick in the pain, lean in and don’t just hear me, believe my next words: You will heal.
If you’re thinking – well you got pregnant again and had that fourth kid, so of course, you healed…you’re wrong.
We decided not to try again.
Was choosing “to be done” the right decision? I don’t know…
If I were to go back, would I do it differently? Maybe…
Do I regret our choice? No.
And am I healed? One hundred percent. But it took two to three full years. I worked hard at healing. I tried multiple ways to heal my shattered cracks. Individually, each step that stitched up one small crack didn’t seem like much, but collectively – those actions held power.
If you are hurting, do something to heal every single day: seek professional help, surround yourself with encouraging people, take long walks, pray, do something you love, take a vacation, meet friends for coffee, exercise, eat healthy, stroke your hobby, snuggle your kids, date your spouse, buy yourself a new outfit, listen to quality podcasts, read inspirational books, grow your faith in God.
Then, trust the process. Little-by-little your cracks are being stitched up. You are healing.
Eventually, you – like me – will be able to get through not just one night, but lots of nights without crying. You will feel joy again. You will heal.
Cheryl Donely is a high school teacher and mom to three boys. She writes faith-based encouragement for moms of tweens/teens at Empowered Moms and Kids. Subscribe to get monthly encouragement and instant access to the Empowered Moms and Kids Freebie Library. Or follow Empowered Moms and Kids on Facebook.