Posted by: Court | July 15, 2009

Watch what you say

I know I’ve seen these types of lists countless times, but the information really bears repeating. What NOT to say to someone who’s had a miscarriage:

“There must have been something wrong with the baby.” – That may be, but we’ll never know. Some people would have kept their child even if there had been something wrong. Either way, we’ll never know what happened, but we just want our baby back.

“At least you know you can get pregnant.” – This one didn’t particularly bother me, but it may have been because of who said it. I was surrounded by four of my lovely CRHP sisters at church – two of which had been through miscarriages themselves. For some reason, this almost brought comfort, but only because I had indeed been worried that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. It comforted me at the time that, yes, I had gotten pregnant, but I can definitely see why this wouldn’t make many women feel any better.

“You’ll have a baby in God’s time.” – This was actually said to me by a friend who was about 35 weeks pregnant at the time.” It seemed like a slap in the face – that God wanted her to have a baby, but not me. All I could write back was, “Thanks for your prayers.” On Monday, she had their son via c-section. They sent out a mass e-mail with pictures and stats. I replied to congratulate them, and she wrote back with, “He is such a precious blessing. I can’t believe God gave him to us!” I think what I’ve come to realize is that people really don’t think before they speak. I know it was innocuous, but it’s hurtful to me, like she’s throwing it back in my face that God gave her a baby and not me.

“I know how you feel.” – Unless you’ve been through it yourself, no, you don’t know at all.

“It’s been ____amount of time____ – aren’t you over it yet?” This hasn’t been said to me yet, and thank goodness, because I might just flip out. Losing a baby isn’t something you just get over.

“At least you can paint your house/drink alcohol/skydive/sleep in.”

This also leads me to all the crazy things I encounter on a daily basis at work. Even people who say they know someone who’s been through a miscarriage (so you’d think they’d understand the raw emotions involved) say the most inappropriate things! I think that in their misunderstanding of the grief process, they’ve assumed I’ve moved on and don’t still grieve over the loss of our baby. There is a pregnant woman in my office – she’s about four weeks from delivering now. I understand that she is feeling great joy and excitement at this time, but I just wish she could be more tactful about it.

For example, she talks about all of the baby showers she’s had, the fact that she has so many blue clothes for her son; she complains all the time about how uncomfortable she is. It takes every fiber of my being not to yell, “At least you get to keep your baby!” She talks about how big she’s getting (her belly), and when she drops things or wants to ask me to retrieve something out of a low drawer for her, she always mentions, “My belly is just so big now, it keeps getting in the way!” I certainly don’t mind picking things up for her, but it is like rubbing salt in the wound when she feels the need to explain the reason why she can’t do it herself.

Today she mentioned that she was going downstairs for breakfast and asked if anyone wanted anything. I said I might go, as I was working on something at my desk. She said that sometimes the manager at the café will give her a free muffin or biscuit. I jokingly asked if she could get anything for the rest of us. She said, “I think he likes my baby.” I forced a smile and continued to work. Then she said, “People give you lots of free stuff when you’re pregnant. It’s great.” I didn’t say a word, immediately turned around and went back to work. It was briefly silent after that exchange. She eventually asked if I wanted to go with her to the café, and I said, “Thanks, I think I’m OK.”

Lunch was more of the usual, discussing how she can’t bend over because her belly gets in the way, how her baby hasn’t dropped yet, she thinks he weighs ten pounds, she’s ready to have him already, she can’t go to a wedding two weeks after he’s born because it would be insane to travel with a newborn (I tend to agree, but COME ON, can we talk about something else?!)…Each day, it amazes me more how tactless people are. I promptly left the kitchen and went back to my desk. Another co-worker, my favorite, sat back down at hers a minute later and I could see her glancing over at me. Finally she said, “Is everything OK?” I started tearing up and lowered my head briefly. She was so sweet and said, “Will it make it worse if I give you a hug?” I said, “No, it will make it much better.” She gave me three hugs and listened to me explain why it’s hard. I saw her eyes fill with tears. She said she totally understood and that she wanted me to be happy. It was nice to have someone acknowledge my sadness.

The woman in my church group who is about nine weeks pregnant keeps sending out updates to our group about her pregnancy. About two weeks after I miscarried, she sent out an e-mail to the group saying she was pregnant. She had had a miscarriage in January, so I figured she would understand the pain associated and would be more tactful. The meeting after she’d sent out the e-mail, one of the other ladies in my group asked how I was doing, and said the first thing she thought of when she saw the e-mail was me. Anyway, the pregnant woman e-mailed me a couple of days ago with a forward saying that when God takes away something from you, it’s because He’s preparing you for something better. I was pretty upset. I know that God has His timing for everything, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It just doesn’t. And to imply that my first baby wasn’t “good enough,” so God chose to take him away and give me something “better”? It didn’t sit well with me.

Still, I thought it was nice that she was reaching out – she asked how I was feeling. I figured since she’d been through it recently, she’d understand the frustration I was experiencing. So I kind of laid it all out there, and she basically told me I shouldn’t be angry. She said that after she had her miscarriage, she stayed at home and watched “Deliver Me” and other baby shows on TV because it helped her look forward to being pregnant again. Excuse me?! I can list thousands of things I would have rather done than subject myself to that. So I told her that it was interesting to see how different women cope. I told her about watching “The Office” and seeing Pam find out she was pregnant after she sprained her ankle, and how it made me angry. She wrote back, “ It IS NOT fair, but I had to let go of that emotion. Don’t be angry. Who would you be angry at? Not at yourself, your husband. Not God.” I didn’t reply.

She finished the e-mail with, “If you have good reason to worry, I know there are counselors or support groups that would help. I’ll see you soon!” Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it just seemed like everything was really superficial. When I had another friend offer up a counselor, she actually did research on support groups and such, and recommended a counselor to me. She reinforced that if I ever needed to talk, she would listen, never changing the subject. This woman from church just seemed to dismiss my feelings, telling me not to be angry. And if I “have good reason to worry”? Well, I unexpectedly lost my first baby two months ago, so yes, I am worried about future pregnancies. Call me human!

I’m feeling like I’m starting to slip back down the spiral of depression.


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