I was pregnant with Number 2 and, during an ultrasound, was stunned to be told that I was carrying twins! A day later, I was told it as identical twins. Over the next couple of weeks, I went from surprise to absolute excitement. I was picking out names, planning out different nurseries in my head, trying to figure out how to afford two of everything and picturing our lives with twins. Then, at the beginning of the second trimester, it was discovered that one of the twins no longer had a heartbeat. For a few days, I convinced myself that it was a mistake and that I would go back to the doctor and they would see the heartbeat and admit they were wrong. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I had lost one of my babies. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Unfortunately, well-meaning friends and family only made it worse with their attempts to be comforting. Today, I am fine. Honestly, the only time I am reminded of that time is when friends and loved ones reveal or discuss their own loss(es). This has all inspired me to try to get the word out of things NOT to say to a woman who has experienced miscarriage(s).
- When I lost one of my twins, one of the things people would say to me was, “At least you still have one”. Let me explain to you why this is just a shitty thing to say: Most mothers carrying multiples don’t view the babies they are carrying as “spare tires” or expendable. A loss is a loss.
- “It is just God/nature’s way of letting you know that something was wrong.”- Wrong with her or wrong with the baby? That is the unanswered question that will plague her. Which answer would comfort her more?
- “At least you know that you can get pregnant!”- Well, what a frickin’ relief. I would bet dollars to donuts that she is more upset about the fact that she didn’t STAY pregnant, though. Think.
- “You can try again and have another.”- She wanted the baby she lost. Don’t talk about her child like it is a household item that can simply be replaced.
- “At least you know you have an angel in heaven.”-I promise you, she would rather be holding her angel in her arms.
If you are faced with a loved one that is struggling with a loss, just shut your mouth and listen. Hug her. If she wants to cry, let her cry. “If you want to say something:
- “I’m here for you.”- So simple but it means so much.
- “I know how much you wanted this baby.”– Acknowledging that her loss is meaningful and her grief is valid will go a long way.
- “I don’t know what to say.”– This is the best thing to say when you don’t know what to say. Don’t try to make her feel better with any of the above sentiments. Admitting your at a loss for words is okay. Just let her know that you are willing to listen to her.
- “How are you doing?”- If you don’t know, just ask. Let her tell you where she is emotionally.
When I lost Number 2’s twin, I cut myself off from everyone but my mother for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t because I remained so consumed with grief that I could no longer interact socially. It was because I couldn’t take one more person trying to offer me “comfort” in their attempts to be profound. I have friends and relatives that have experienced loss, even multiple losses resulting from diagnosed infertility. It turns out, I am not just some asshole who gets pissed or annoyed at people trying to make me feel better. No. It turns out, being well-intentioned doesn’t negate being insensitive for most other women mourning the loss of a child either.
Just some food for thought, for anyone that wants to actually be a positive presence for a woman/couple grieving the loss of a pregnancy.
For those that have experienced a loss, what are some of the most jaw dropping comments that were said to you?