Losing a child, no matter how early, is heartbreaking. Here's how to move through the sorrow.
Losing a baby to miscarriage is heartbreaking. And then losing your second or third or fourth baby to miscarriage adds a layer of intense confusion and frustration to each new heartbreak. What’s going on? What am I doing wrong? Will I ever get to hold a living baby in my arms?
No matter how many babies you didn’t get to meet in this lifetime, you deserve to live your life and each pregnancy you’re blessed with, joyfully. Here are some thoughts on how to do that.
Give yourself grace when you don’t know how to handle a new loss or a hard day after a loss. Each loss is different (after all, you just lost a new and unique person you never got to meet), and the way you grieve each time will be different.
Give your family and friends grace when they don’t know how to react. If they don’t know how to support you, or they say the wrong thing, forgive them and let it go. They are human, and miscarriage is particularly difficult to navigate.
When you have lost a baby, each successive pregnancy brings with it new anxiety as you know what might go wrong more intimately than ever. But, it is still possible to live with hope. If you find out you’re pregnant, focus on the joy of the new life inside you. Immediately thank God for this baby no matter how long you get to be his or her mom. I have started naming — or at least nicknaming — my babies as soon as I find out I’m pregnant. I also create a chart to mark down each day I know he or she exists. That way I can celebrate however many weeks we have together as an antidote to the feelings of fear and dread that continually rear their heads.
It is a constant struggle to remain hopeful, but that is what being a Christian mother is all about. We have hope that we will live forever with a God who loved each of us into existence. He loved you into existence, He loved me into existence, and He loved each of our babies into existence, for however long they were with us. Do not doubt His goodness even when all you want to do is meet the children He gives you. At the end of the day, children are a gift that we do nothing to deserve.
On the hard days, find some time to sit with Jesus in adoration at your local parish, or at least in a pew near the tabernacle. Tell Him how sad you are that you didn’t get to meet your last baby and ask for the grace to grieve well. Thank Him for the babies you have lost, and if you’re pregnant, thank Him for that baby too, no matter what happens to him or her. And then just sit in sadness, anxiety, anger, or whatever you’re feeling with the One who created you and your babies.
The other thing that helps on hard days is to find the bright spots in your life. Start by moving. Change where you are, even if that means getting outside for a minute or running an errand. Then start counting off a list of God’s blessings in your life. Take a second with each item and whisper “thank you, God.” You still have a beautiful list of blessings — be that in friends or family members, health, cute sandals, a sunny day … whatever it is. Those are reasons to take a deep breath and continue to live well. Finally, have a new adventure. Grab a treat with a friend after work. Visit a bookstore or coffee shop you’ve never tried before. Make a new, positive memory rather than sitting in the sadness for the rest of the day.
Dealing with recurrent pregnancy loss is a challenge, and different for every mother, ever father, and with every loss. Many of us will never know why our babies didn’t make it. But, in that confusion and suffering, take little steps to stay hopeful and joyful no matter what happens next.