After the miscarriage

Home today and dazed. I feel like I’m picking my way carefully through a harsh and dangerous land, trying to find a path through. Stepping stones across rapids. I didn’t attend college today. Rose made it to work for most of the day. I’ve been tackling the admin in the wake of yesterday. Cancelling the antenatal appointment, informing college about my absences, contacting parents who had face painting booked with me this weekend, notifying the others coming together to work on the networks Hearing Voices Network of SA and the Dissociative Initiative that I’ll be in surgery when we were planning to meet. There’s a thousand small decisions to be made.

These are the most helpful resources I’ve found so far:

  • Management of Miscarriage: Your Options Rose and I decided on surgical management. What I’ve experienced is called a silent miscarriage, that is, I’ve had no bleeding or pain. My body still thinks I am pregnant although the baby has died. The hospital explained to us that it may take up to 8 weeks for my body to let go of the pregnancy. I’m finding it hard to be aware of a dead baby inside of me, and the thought of not knowing when it will happen is distressing. The 10 day wait between our ‘it’s not looking good’ scan and our scan confirming death was gruelling. I feel exhausted already by waiting. I’m afraid of more trauma, seeing blood, tissue, tiny body, of pain. So this time I’ve chosen surgery. If I’m ever in this situation again a different option may feel like the right choice. I don’t judge anyone else’s choices. This booklet was helpful and didn’t make any option sound superior.
  • On Miscarriage – a personal experience by Clare This article is a first hand account of miscarriage. I keep coming back to it. Her thoughts about the taboo of miscarriage resonate with me.
  • The Natural Funeral Company are my local creative funeral company. I already had tagged them as possibly helpful people back when we were preparing to get pregnant and I wrote Preparing for the death of a child. I contacted them today, embarrassed and confused, to ask about my options if I choose to take home Tamlorn’s remains from the hospital. They confirmed that they will perform a very low cost cremation so we have some ashes to scatter or keep.
  • Funeral Planning for a Miscarriage It’s hard to think clearly when things like this happen. Checklists and suggestions from other people who have been here are helping me know what my options are and feel out what’s right and fitting for Rose and I and Tamlorn.

There’s a new peach tree in my front yard, waiting to be planted in Tamlorn’s memory, shedding leaves as autumn creeps on. We chose a variety that will fruit in March, blessings every year to remember them. Our community – readers here, our friends and family and workmates and friends of friends have poured out messages of love and loss and support. We have come through the very outcome that people counsel you not to share because of, and we’re still glad we shared. (It’s okay if that’s not the right call for you though) We’re also glad that we decided to tell people what would and wouldn’t be helpful for us to hear. Rose has had a much gentler time in conversations this time around than after her other 6 losses, and we think that had a little to do with it. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to be helpful and having someone tell you can make it easier.

We are hearing that some others affected by this loss have had some tough times with other people and that’s sad and frustrating. Grief is contagious, it links us to other experiences of grief, it reminds us of vulnerability, mortality, that the world is not just. It touches deep wounds. Frequently unpredictable and always a legitimate need of the heart. We shouldn’t have to grieve secretly, justify grief, or be afraid of our tribe when we’re hurting. We grieve for things that happen in other countries, for tragedy suffered by people we’ve never met. We’re supposed to. It’s okay if you’re feeling affected, more than you thought you would be, more than someone else thinks you should be. Rose and I don’t own this pain, you don’t have to be close to us, or related to Tamlorn, or have experienced a miscarriage to justify your feelings. If you’re grieving then you need to be, so please be kind to yourself, please ask trusted people to be kind to you.

There are people who think grief is straight forward, clear, direct. Concentric circles spilling out from a central relationship. I don’t believe that. There are people who think we only deeply grieve people we have known and loved for many years. People who think miscarriages are not something that should ever be grieved. (you don’t have to grieve a miscarriage, you will feel grief or not, as your heart needs. It’s not wrong to not feel grief. It is wrong to try and quiet someone who is grieving) People who try to rank grief, this loss is worse than that loss. I believe none of this. Grief is a deep aching need of the heart to weep. I have grieved lost hopes and dreams. I have grieved lost health. I have grieved losses of people I have never met. I have grieved for characters in books. I have grieved for pets. I have grieved for suicidal loved ones, for their anguish. I have grieved for whole cities, whole countries, forests. When I was 15 the river dried up and left shrinking pools of dying fish. I prayed to every power I knew and wove every spell I could with my poems, and carried them in buckets to swim in old cattle feed troughs and bath tubs and they still all died. And I cried like the world had ended, cried for days and days with a profoundly broken heart because I had just learned that some things are beyond my control even if I love with all my heart. Grief is part of being alive, part of being human. I don’t believe you choose to grieve or to live, grief and living weave in and out of each other. If you have ever loved anything or anyone, then one day you will grieve.

I can’t tell you how sorry I am that our shared joy has become shared pain. I’m sorry for everyone who is hurting, remembering other losses, feeling helpless, feeling torn. I’m sorry for those of you who have had terminations – who found yourselves with life that was not the right time or with the right person, growing in the wrong places, growing broken and unable to live – who grieve even if the decision was the right one, and can’t speak of your grief. I’m sorry that your loss is so often hidden in the shadow cast by the loss of a wanted child. I want you to know that I don’t hate you or judge you, that you are allowed to not grieve or grieve as you need to also. I feel like my grief and my situation makes people think we are enemies, standing on opposite sides. I want to say we are not enemies.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you care, that you reach out, tell us Tamlorn’s name is beautiful, remind us we’re not alone, share tears with us. I know it feels like there’s nothing you can do, but listening and caring are doing something, doing the most powerful thing you can. As we listen and care for each other, fumble through rituals of grief for a loss not often acknowledged. I’m sorry we brought this touch of death into your lives, but I’m grateful that we’re not here alone.

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