My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I remember walking out of the doctors office stunned and confused — I had so many questions. What was going to happen to my body? What does miscarrying mean physically? What should I expect? What was normal? What should make me call my doctor? Would it be painful? Would I be scared? What should I expect my emotions to feel like? When could I try to have another baby? So.Many.Questions. That I kept all bottled up inside. If my doctor did prepare me with answers to those questions, I don’t remember.
Even today with so many resources at our fingertips I feel as though women walk into miscarriage with all the same questions, experiencing the same confusion and fear and unknown as I did almost 13 years ago. I want to remedy that, to provide answers about what to expect, answers that I wish I had had– so I asked my sweet friends in The Joyful Mourning community and over on Instagram to tell me what they wish they had known about miscarriage. What would they tell another woman who just heard the devastating news that there was no heartbeat? What would they tell her to expect? I gathered all their answers and have listed them below.
My hope is never to induce fear or undue anxiety, but rather by providing knowledge about what to expect from real women who have been exactly where you are I might simply remind you, you aren’t alone; we’re here to walk alongside you.
Real Women Answer the Question: What Do You Wish You Had Known About Miscarriage?
“I wish I knew I would labor to deliver our baby – that I would have contractions that became longer, stronger, and closer together until my body would release our baby. I wish I knew about the poking and prodding that would happen when I wasn’t sure I was miscarrying and then what would happen after I knew we lost our baby – the transvaginal ultrasounds, the blood draws, the pelvic exams. I wish I knew that my husband and I would grieve differently… that he cares just as much about the loss of our baby as I do, but differently. I wish I cared less about what others thought about how we were grieving and the choices we made along the way, and more about what we needed to walk through our grief well. I wish I knew that the waiting to become pregnant again would feel like an eternity. That certain dates on the calendar would be very difficult. That the questions surrounding this miscarriage would be endless and sometimes without answers. That subsequent pregnancies would be very different, and the naïveté over pregnancy would be gone. But that subsequent pregnancies would be beautiful because you will cherish every second like never before. And that community would be the best decision we would make… letting people know our baby would open us up to new opportunities to love others well in hard times.” A.
“I didn’t know I’d experience all of the hormonal shifts afterwards similar to after birth – emotionally that was challenging for me and would have been so helpful to know! It also took me a long time for my body to go back to “normal” partially due to some complications. For me, a D&D was needed and helped my recovery in many ways but it was a long several weeks of recovery afterwards (of bleeding). And the weight I had gained during those 10 weeks stuck around. For me, grief meant my body held on to every pound as a self-protection/ defense mechanism in addition to the normal hormonal and physical adjustments. I wish I had known & experienced freedom in that.” M.
“The actual bleeding and pains weren’t terrible for me, but FEELING pregnant for the weeks after…that was just brutal.” I.
“I didn’t have a D&C for either miscarriage and I had NO idea what to expect of my body because of that. I wish I had been given more information from my OB on what it would be like, instead of just sent home and told to call if bleeding increased. Honestly, the moment I passed our first baby is imbedded in my memory as a terrifying experience. I was home alone, had no idea what was happening and feeling all the weight physically AND emotionally of the experience. I remember crying and crying on the bathroom floor trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to do now. I ended up calling my OB hours later to ask. I wish a nurse or OB had truly broken down EXACTLY what my body was going to do because I didn’t have a D&C. If someone had TRULY explained it to me, I think I would have opted for a D&C only because having the miscarriage on my own was so emotionally upsetting for me.” K.
“1.) I didn’t know just how physically painful it would be to go through even an early, 7-8 week, miscarriage. Nor did I realize how traumatizing it would be. I feel like society just acts like you had a baby and now it’s gone, but to get to the point for the baby to be gone is agonizing. And then you’re left with the worst feeling of empty despair you could possibly imagine. 2.) I miscarried naturally once, and the second time I had a D&C. I wish I would’ve known they’d give me pitocin before surgery. Hearing the nurse order that for me, knowing it’s what is used to induce healthy pregnant women, just about broke me. It seems like a minor detail, but I was unprepared for that. They also gave me the infamous mesh after birth undies to wore as I heal. While they actually were great to wear, it was still heartbreaking knowing that women who have healthy babies usually rave about them after birth. 3.) How heartbroken I would be. So much of society makes miscarriage seem like a little mishap or blip on the radar, I was not prepared for how hard I would grieve. And grieve and grieve and grieve. How hard it was to be around other pregnant women, receive invites to baby showers, see babies, etc. It was a long and hard season. I didn’t know how all-encompassing my grief would be; it seemed to just cover every aspect of my life and made trying again for another baby SO emotional and hard.” J.
“I didn’t know how much it would feel like labor- the cramping, back pains, and the exhaustion. And I didn’t know how confusing and hard the “what’s next” phase would be as we waited for my body to heal and regulate (and how even that was traumatic when I got my first period- flashing back to loss), considered the possibility of trying again (and potentially losing another baby), and even just all those in-between moments and comments: having gained a few extra pounds, not wanting to drink wine even though I “could”, strangers questions about when we’d have more, etc.” L.
“I wish that I would have understand the physical pains I would undergo. I tried researching to see if things were normal but all the information was in medical terminology and referred to miscarriage as abortion. And that didn’t help my mental/emotional state. The nurse on call that night asked if I was in too much pain to talk. As I was talking to her. Thankfully I had someone I could ask. And she was up with a kid at 3am and talked to me. My husband didn’t know and he said it was horrible watching me in such physical pain and the emotional mess I was.” L.
“You don’t have to hide your feelings. Let others serve you and don’t try to walk through it alone. Embrace what Christ wants to teach you through your suffering – let your hardship melt into worship. It will be the purest worship you will ever experience as a believer. His plans for us are greater, even though a miscarriage makes it feel like the world has stopped spinning. He has greater blessings for us ahead than we could ever dare imagine.” H.
“I’m not sure why I assumed that the physical symptoms would only last for a few days. When, instead, I had pain and bleeding for a few weeks, it felt like this awful event just dragged on and on. I found it difficult to process emotionally while I was still confused about and dealing with the physical symptoms.” E.
“Things to know: it’s going to hurt. If you have it natural be prepared to see things you didn’t ever want to see. If you have the D&C it is a major surgery and you need to take time off work to recover both mentally and physically. It wasn’t your fault. You have to have three consecutive miscarriages before they will run any tests. By my third I knew it was going to end in loss but I had to go through it before anyone would listen. It’s the worst feeling. You’re not alone even though it feels that way. People will say stupid things, please just ignore them.”A.
“It’s so lonely.” W.
“1.) I wish I would have known miscarriage happens in 1 in 4 pregnancies. I had no idea how common it was and while that doesn’t lessen the hurt it makes you feel less “broken”. 2.) Having your body do the opposite of what your heart is begging for is agony. It’s the worst kind of betrayal and the most complex emotion I’ve ever felt. 3.) After 2 miscarriages I had my baby boy – it took a long time into the pregnancy to feel connected but it did happen. 4. You’re not alone. Grieve however openly or privately you need to. You ARE A MOMMY.” M.
“I wish I would have given myself more grace! We finally got pregnant a second time, and I couldn’t fully breathe, bond or get attached to our baby girl until I was at least 30 weeks. There was SO. MUCH. FEAR. about losing another baby. So I remained unattached to the life growing inside of me. Refused to register, refused a baby shower, refused picking names. It was so hard. This time around (because we are in the same boat, miscarried and now pregnant) I’m giving myself more grace!” L.
“That 5 kids don’t replace or make me miss my 2 angel babes any less.” C.
“I wish I knew that miscarriage was just like birthing a child in so many very sad ways. The physical pain, the contractions, the delivering, the seeing (sometimes), the need for pads, flowers being delivered, people bringing you dinner, cards coming in the mail.. but no baby to hold and show off. It’s devastating and hard physically. I also wish I knew that God really can redeem the darkest of moments and I really truly would be able to smile again, be full of joy again, feel like myself again. I remember thinking, “I don’t know how I’ll ever even smile. I don’t know how I’ll have a day without crying. I don’t know how I’ll go a day without being sad.” But time passes and the Lord really does mend your heart so beautifully.” M.
“I wish I knew to be kind to myself. I wish I had allowed myself to grieve in whatever way I needed to. I wish I had taken more time and made more of an effort to memorialize the one I lost. I wish I knew that people I loved dearly would say awful things because they didn’t know what to say.” J.
“I wish I had known how quickly you become attached to that baby you’re growing. We only had 1 week of being excited to grow our family from three to four before I miscarried but I had already started imagining & planning … I wish I had given myself grace to mourn the loss and not act strong when all I wanted to do was cry.” A.
“I was told it’s just like a heavier period…but it’s not! Maybe physically it’s similar, but emotionally it’s not. I’d say don’t be afraid to take a step back from responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to treat it like a birth process. And don’t be in a hurry to live “normal” again. Miscarriage has postpartum recovery just like birth does.” M.
“Ride the emotional roller coaster. Feel all the feels. There will be a lot of them. They are normal and natural.” F.
“I wish I would have known how common miscarriages are. I was completely unprepared for the physical and emotional rollercoaster I went through. I would tell anyone going through a miscarriage that it’s important for them to go through the grieving process, but to remember there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I would tell them that they’ll move forward in life, but every now and then the pain will come back. It will hurt less and less though. I would tell them God mourns with them and if they would let Him, He will heal their broken hearts.” A.
“I miscarried at 16 weeks. I wish I had known that…
1) I would still look pregnant for many weeks after,
2) that my husband would have absolutely no idea what to do or say
3) that I would have to make decisions about cremation or burial… and still feel guilty about my choice years later
4) that I would always struggle to answer the question “how many kids do you have?“” C.
“I wish I would have known how common they are. I wish people had talked about them before. It wasn’t until it happened to us that I learned about multiple miscarriages and infant deaths in my own family. I had originally felt alone, my husband didn’t know how to comfort me, we didn’t know how to be there for each other and walk through our grief at the same time. It would have helped greatly knowing there were people to talk to and that we had permission to talk openly about our little love, grieve and remember them.” J.
“I wish I had support or knew how to navigate what I could do to respectfully honor my miscarried baby. I know some people have memorials especially if it’s a later miscarriage, but I didn’t feel like I could do that. I miscarried at 20 weeks from developmental complications and the doctors made the whole delivery experience seem so cold and “scientific.” It was also my first baby and I was overwhelmed, angry and sad. I wanted to still “take care” of him, but was scared of how to advocate that for myself. It pains me to think of what happened to his little body after he was delivered since he didn’t come home with me. I just wish there was more humanity around miscarriages instead of people (doctors) treating it as a procedure. I would have appreciated being told if I could have had any input about how his body was handled after, without having to ask or wonder.” A.
“A big thing for me was having to realize that my husband grieved differently. Sometimes I felt like I was the only one hurting but I had to realize that his grief just looked different and I had to show him the same grace Christ shows me. This also meant I had to clearly communicate when going to certain outings were difficult and that I needed time because for him, it wasn’t as hard, it was just different. The same for certain days that were hard for me. I could see how that could potentially be a divisive misunderstanding if those hardships weren’t communicated. But thankfully it brought us together because although he didn’t understand, he respected that I needed time to retreat for a little.” A.
“I wish I had known just how I would feel. I felt like I couldn’t go in public because I was afraid I’d see a pregnant woman and break down. I had a lot of anger and resentment…3 miscarriages later and that sentiment hasn’t changed. I have become angry and bitter and resentful…it made me into somebody I never wanted to be. I ache with every pregnancy announcement and feel anger when someone says they got pregnant on accident and how much they hate it. I became so mad at the unfairness of the world around me and just how aware I was at how unfair stuff could be.” N.
“I would tell her that it’s not her fault. She is an amazing mom, and no one loved her baby more than she did & still does. I would tell her how common it is, and that I wish it wasn’t still such a “hush-hush” topic. They are our babies, and there’s no reason we should feel like we need to hide our love for them. I would also tell her that I know how hard it will be to know how to answer the question “Do you have any kids yet?” That it’s ok to answer with a simple “not yet” and let it slide, but it’s also ok to say “We have 2 in Heaven, and hopefully we’ll have a few to hold here on earth soon.” I would try to give her a heads up about how hard Mother’s Day will be, and that’s it ok to cry and remember and to love your baby. I would tell her to cry her heart out to Jesus and cling fiercely to the hope that He gives. I would tell her to take time to heal, physically & emotionally. It’s ok if you have to miss a friends baby shower, she’ll understand. It’s ok if you tear up watching other young moms with their kids. It’s ok if you need to take a day and do absolutely nothing. And I would tell her she’s not alone.” D.
“About how it shatters the way you think, feel and connect to future pregnancies. About how you don’t truly take a full deep breath until a baby makes it into the world, in your arms, alive and healthy. About how often it happens and how many people will share their experiences publicly or privately if you share yours. About how it may not be your last miscarriage. About how often it’s simply that the pregnancy can’t go on, and that’s no fault of your own.” T.
“I wish I would have known how painful it would be even early on. I honestly was aware of the possibility but I was still shocked at how attached I was at 8 weeks. It was a missed miscarriage so feeling like I’d lost my baby and hadn’t even known was so hard. There were an extra 10 days where I blindly celebrated a pregnancy that had already ended. I was also unprepared for how the medically induced miscarriage would go. I experienced contractions, crazy pain, nausea, and it was heartbreaking to basically labor over this little 8 week loss. It was also therapeutic to suffer through but I wasn’t prepared for it. I still had to have a D&C. Also how long hormones will be crazy. You still have to recover from a pregnancy, short as it was. My body took a while to come back to center and it was difficult. There was just so much I didn’t expect for a missed miscarriage.” M.
“How sad it is for the dad and grandparents too.” T.
“The hardest part was feeling pregnancy symptoms after the baby had already passed.” R.
“It will hurt – physically and emotionally. and you might feel lonely. you will still go through the hormone changes that happen postpartum. and you will always be a mom to that baby. And you will be able to move forward, but don’t push it. let yourself be where you are emotionally.” E.
“I wish someone had told me: It is not your fault and there’s nothing you could have done differently. You might feel like you somehow failed at being a woman, but you haven’t and you’re amazing and strong. You’ll never stop thinking about and loving that baby, but that’s a good thing. Their life had purpose and meaning and was beautiful.” G.
“Talk. I tried so hard to shoulder it and act like my life was normal outside of what was going on at home. Friends and coworkers had no idea and in a sense I robbed them from the opportunity to be there for me and show me grace in moments when I needed it. When I eventually told them I was greeted with nothing but love and prayers. All of which I could have used days after the actual miscarriage. I thought I needed my space to process but talking with others who have and haven’t experienced it was cathartic. One of the best conversations I had about my miscarriage was with my best friend who had just brought her baby into this world. We gave each other incredible perspective. Lean on those you love, you’ve kept them around for a reason.” J.
“Of how obsessive you become months after. How you buy pregnancy tests in bulk and look for the two lines to appear, only for them not to. How you will even call the doctors office so they can run a blood test, because you just know this month is THE month. And how crazy you feel from it all and you make yourself think that no one could possibly understand because other women are afraid to talk about it.” J.
“I wish I would have known that having my period after (or seeing any blood during/after the process) would take me to a sad place for months to come, and nobody would really understand why not even me. That I’d secretly resent and be angry at my “period” and dread it more than anything! But also that healing will come in small doses if i allow myself to feel all the feels and pray the pain away!” S.
“I wish I would have known what to expect after the horrible news, the three options* I wish I would have known how common it is and that is does not have to be hush hush. I wish I knew how strong it would make me. I wish I knew my first pregnancy wouldn’t be my only miscarriage and I wish I knew I had to prepare for a different route in motherhood and that it wasn’t going to be easy. I wish I knew how hard it is not only mentally but physically. Most importantly I wish OTHERS knew comments like “you can try again” or “you’re still young” especially “at least you weren’t further along” are NOT a acceptable, not yet.” B.
“It’s ok to mourn however feels right for you. There are choices on how to proceed with the actual miscarrying and that’s a conversation for you, your partner, and your doctor. Ask questions, the doctor won’t judge you, this is new territory for you. You’re not alone, others have been here, but your story is also uniquely yours, as is how you journey on. And most importantly, Jesus will walk with you through your grief. He will comfort you.” K.
“I wish I would have known how often it happens, and that I wasn’t alone. Because when I was 20 and newly married and had zero friends with kids, it felt like I was the only person in the world that it had ever happened to. And I wish I could go back and be much kinder to myself, so so so much kinder.” E.
*three options (explained well in this article):
- Expectant Management
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
Miscarriage by Mayo Clinic
Why It’s Important To Know Your Options About Miscarriage, by Verily