The most beautiful, empowering miscarriage I supported was a good friend and client of mine. She had shared her pregnancy early on with friends and family with the thought that if she miscarried, she wanted it to be shared and known. As a birth worker, she knew the importance of the process and didn’t want to go through it hidden and alone. Late one night, at around 7 weeks pregnant, she sent me a picture of some bleeding she had and said she was experiencing minor cramping. We chatted on the phone, talked about resting and taking it easy. The hard thing about miscarriage is there is nothing you can do, it is a surrender in watching and waiting. My response to my friend was hopeful, as bleeding and cramping can be very normal in both pregnancy and miscarriage.
I woke up early the next morning, and she had let me know she felt like this baby wasn’t sticking around. Her bleeding had increased and her intuition was telling her she was miscarrying. I called but she didn’t answer, so I texted, “How’s your heart?” Miscarriage is so many emotions. You find yourself asking “Why? How?” Looking over the last weeks with a fine-tooth comb, asking questions like did I work out too hard? Was it that moment when I felt I wasn’t ready for motherhood? Was it that cocktail I had before I knew? There are so many what-ifs, but what midwifery and motherhood have taught me is it isn’t any of those things. Miscarriage happens and every pregnancy and life brings us transformation, whether they stay 7 weeks or 19 weeks or 37 weeks. Loss is part of life, and it is hard.
I had a busy workday planned, visiting postpartum mamas and fresh babies. In between it all, I would see my friend and gift her with a Box for Loss. When I arrived, my friend was on the couch, a heating pad on her belly, warm comfy clothes, fuzzy socks, snuggly blanket, and listening to music. Loss doesn’t always come on the most practical days. The day of her miscarriage was her partner’s birthday and they had tons of plans with family.
They both made space for her process. There was no pushing through or sucking it up, the plans were going to change, and that was ok. Her partner had taken their oldest little one out for the afternoon and had left her some yummy warm food, so she could rest and process without having to tend to the needs of others.
I felt so fortunate to be able to support my friend, where so many of us (myself included) have been alone in our miscarriage losses. It can be hard to know what to say or do, so I gave her a huge hug and we sat in silence for a minute. I asked her again, “how’s your heart?” Better now, “I had a warm bath and a big ugly release cry.”
I snuggled up next to my friend and sat and listened as she shared her story, her plan for work, her plan for letting her family know, how her partner was doing, how her child was doing. I made her a batch of happy tea with honey and we chatted about it all. With glossy eyes, I asked if I could massage and bind her belly. I realize this might not be comfortable for some friends but my friend is a bodyworker/birth worker specializing in pregnancy and postpartum and we both know the importance of physically, emotionally, and spiritually nourishing the body. She laid down and I was able to nourish my friend with a gentle massage while we chatted and laughed. Then I wrapped her belly up and thanked her body for how healthy it is, and for allowing me to support her through this.
I asked her if she needed anything, and to let me know if she wanted me to come back later and take her little one for a bit. We talked about taking care of herself and taking time off work. She did something that was so amazing for our community of families: she told our clients she had miscarried and she would need time to heal, rest and recover. That she couldn’t see them for a massage that week, or next week. She mirrored to our community the normalcy of miscarriage and the importance of taking care of yourself. When I think of the transformation and education that this little life brought so many in my community, it brings me to tears. She spent that week resting and reflecting. When her mom offered to bring food and clean her house, she said yes. When people shared stories of their miscarriages they passed alone or between the bathroom stalls at work, she validated them and shared another way of miscarrying.
Through all of this my friends’ physical symptoms, bleeding, and cramping came and went. Her body was able to pass her miscarriage fairly efficiently because she was able to rest and allow it to do so. After she stopped bleeding she did some more self-care, vaginal steaming, talked to a therapist, and got a womb massage.
As a midwife, holding space and supporting my friend was inherent and instinctive, but if you are experiencing a miscarriage and need support, here are my suggestions to have an empowered miscarriage at home.
- Have a support person, someone who can sit with you, bring you food, bring you water without draining you emotionally. This should be someone besides your partner. Partner support is wonderful, but they often need someone to also help support them in this process. If you don’t have someone specific in mind, hire a doula.
- If you have the ability and luxury to take some time off work to process your feelings do! Taking time from work to rest, cry and process your grief can be very healing.
- Seek support with a specialist, a midwife, a therapist, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a nutritionist, a naturopath, any one of these that can provide you with nourishing care.
- If comfortable, share your story. It can be a vulnerable place, but those that share their story often find it healing.
- Do something in memory or in a ceremony for the baby, whether it is purchasing something or finding something on a hike, having something tangible to acknowledge and celebrate the life of your baby is important and empowering.
My friend’s miscarriage was a process because miscarriage IS a process. It is a physical, emotional, spiritual, mental process and each one of those parts of ourselves must be nourished along the way. You don’t have to be alone in this process, You are not alone. Visit us at boxforloss.com and find support through a Community Midwife in your area.
Josie Patricio Petrich is a Licensed Midwife, CPM at Tourmaline Collective, and Co-Founder of Box for Loss, a physical and emotional support box designed specifically to nurture mothers and families going through the loss of a pregnancy.