The high of learning your wife is pregnant, especially for the first time, could never reach the depths of the despair that tears you apart when you learn she will miscarry. But that is just the beginning.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona/GMG
There are the days leading up to the actual miscarriage. Then the physically painful process of the miscarriage. And the continued emotional devastation after.
I cried. A lot.
With my wife.
If you're experiencing this or already have, this is nothing new. And if you haven't, hopefully you never will. But it's important to know what you should or can do to help your wife or partner through a miscarriage and everything that comes before and after.
Here are some things you can do after the loss of a pregnancy.
Know Your Options
After the news comes out of the doctor's mouth, that there isn't a heartbeat from an ultrasound to confirm what you already feared, you both will be numb. You won't want to do anything but lie in bed, cry and disappear.
No matter how devastated and frustrated you feel, just remember your wife will be more emotionally wrecked. She, out of anyone else, will feel like doing nothing but accompanying misery. And rightfully so. It will be on you to stay strong for her. Strong enough to get out of bed and educate yourself on what will come next and what can be done further.
Help her find resources to learn the different ways to complete the miscarriage, like this post that goes through a number of ways to terminate a failed pregnancy — naturally, pills, surgery.
My wife went through it naturally. Our doctor told us to go home, wait to miscarry naturally, then return for a check-up to see if anything else needed to be done.
But learn all your options and decide what will make both you and your wife more comfortable.
Stay Awake, Rub Her Back
If your wife miscarries naturally, it can happen at any time of day. My wife miscarried late at night. I made sure she didn't experience it alone.
She was in pain throughout. I did what I could to comfort her. I made sure I stayed awake through it all and rubbed her back. She would later tell me that I couldn't have helped her any better than what I did.
Whatever it is, do what you need to do to make her feel comfortable — stay awake, rub her back, massage her feet, give her a warm compress.
Tell Her She Isn't Broken
Your wife will say it internally and out loud. With tears rushing down her eyes and an earthquake in her throat. That she's broken.
She will wonder if something is wrong with her. There must be. Because why else would a living thing die inside her body? It's her fault.
So be there for her. Hold her. The pain is physical and emotional. And you'll never really know if one is worse than the other. So tell her she isn't broken. It isn't her fault. It's no one's fault.
And you can even back it up with scientific evidence. If she has surgery to terminate the failed pregnancy, you can test if something was wrong with the fetus. And if everything was normal, you can research what you could do to prevent another miscarriage in the future. It is also important to note that oftentimes miscarriages just happen, and that may be the most frustrating thing to deal with.
Tell Her How You're Feeling
Let her know she isn't alone. That you're feeling the world crumbling down on you, too.
You're trying to stay strong for the both of you, but you're also hurt. Tell her she isn't crazy for being heartbroken for losing someone she never even met.
Going through the process of grieving and healing is a lot about her. But it's a lot about you, too. And you need to let out everything churning inside you so you can heal, too.
Deep depression sets in. Taking care of yourself and your wife physically is important, especially for someone who had just lost a lot of blood and nutrients during the miscarriage.
Some people may not find it hard to eat as it helps them through their grieving process. But others, like my wife, didn't have an interest in consuming food or water. Make sure you're both still drinking fluids and eating enough.
Talk About It
You may not be able to tell other people about what happened for a while. But it's important to do so because not many people do. So when you feel you're ready, tell people that you were expecting but had a miscarriage. When people understand miscarriages are more common than they think, it helps. Those who have gone through it and those who will won't feel alone.
My wife and I didn't get a chance to tell people we were pregnant before she miscarried in 2013. Some may have suspected because we retreated for months. When we slowly started sharing what happened, we learned so many others actually went through the same thing. It really helped to know that miscarriages are common. Because we realised this happens. It isn't just us. There's nothing wrong with us.
Normalise the discussion of miscarriages because it truly does help.