Miscarriage Q&A

1 month since losing you.
1 month of pure terror.
1 month of staring depression in the face and choosing to survive.
1 month of waking up and remembering you’re gone.
1 month I wish I could forget.
1 month without you.

Today marks 1 month since we lost our baby, Mars. In that month, we’ve experienced every single emotion on the spectrum, and have had to find strength in a place where strength is almost impossible to find. I’m not going to lie and say it’s gotten easier- it hasn’t. But, through the suffering I have found ways to let the light in, and have made a conscious decision to live my best life in honor of Mars.

That doesn’t mean I don’t cry into my pillow, in the shower, whenever I see a pregnant person or whenever I remember how it felt to carry our baby. It just means the suffering doesn’t consume me (most days).

To celebrate surviving a month without Mars, and to raise awareness on what actually happens during/after miscarriage, I’m doing a Q&A. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I’ll answer them the best I possibly can 🙂

What do you do to keep yourself busy/cope with the loss of Mars?

This is such a great question. Especially during Covid/lockdowns, distractions have been hard to find. I was having a conversation with my mom the other day and we were saying how in normal days, if someone went through a miscarriage, they may enjoy going to a spa, getting their hair done, and seeing friends in person. But, when you consider that we can’t do any of those things right now, I’ve had to get crafty in how I keep myself busy.

Here are the things I’ve done to keep busy, and cope with the loss.

Read. A lovely friend of mine dropped off a stack of books I’ve been working my way through. I used to primarily read non-fiction, but now I’m enjoying the escape of fiction, how you can transport into another life by simply turning a page. I’ve read a few books I really enjoyed that I’ll link at the end of the blog post. I’ve also set a goal to read 12 books in 2021.
Walk. Someone a lot of people don’t know about miscarriage is that depending on whether you have surgery or not, the doctors suggest 4-6 weeks of “pelvic rest” which is essentially no exercise that engages the pelvis/core. So, all I’ve been able to do is walk, and it’s been a lifeline.
Write. The thing I love about writing, is no one can take it away from me. Not a pandemic, or a lockdown or a miscarriage. I’ve been blogging and writing in my journal to process what’s happened. I plan to continue using Mars as a motivation to engage in creativity.
Connect. I can’t even put into words how important connection has been for me during this time. I’ve connected with folks over Instagram and Facebook who have been through similar experiences or who simply want to extend a hand to help me through this. Now, the thing about connection, is you have to ask for it. You can’t expect people to know you want it. I’ve been open with our loss on Instagram and Facebook which has opened the door for folks to connect with me. This has been so, so valuable. Thank you to anyone who has reached out to me, had 1 Facebook am conversations, or has offered support in any way.

What is the best advice you can give someone suffering through a miscarriage?

Oh gosh, where to begin… I think the best advice I could give to someone suffering through a miscarriage is to listen to their body, connect with their body, and let yourself feel what you feel. If you need to cry into your pillow for 2 hours straight- do it. If you need to scream in an empty field until your throat burns- do it. If you need to isolate for a week straight and not talk to anyone- do it. You know what you need, deep down, and no one can tell you how you cope with your loss isn’t valid. Only you know what feels right.

Have you had any unexpected feelings since losing Mars?

I have. Many, actually. One that stands out is gratitude. I didn’t expect to EVER feel thankful for this experience. In my darkest days I literally wanted to die because our baby did. But, as the days pass, and as I engage in healing and actively seek out support (via therapy, connecting with others and connecting with nature) I have found a way to be thankful for this experience.

Not to say I am thankful Mars died. I’m not, and I will never ever be thankful for that. But, I am thankful for the platform this gave me to advocate for folks who have experienced miscarriage and didn’t have the resources to advocate for themselves. This experience has allowed me to speak out and make noise about something that is usually experienced in silence and solitude.

I am thankful for the strength Mars has given me. But god, do I miss them.

When will you try again (to conceive)? Do you think you’ll ever be ready?

Short answer, I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t try again.

Long answer, we don’t know when we’ll try again. The newly imposed Covid lockdown measures prohibit non-essential travel, and our donor lives out of province…. so we kind of have to wait and see when the lockdown lets up.

We’re also being careful not to rush to try again until we both feel we have fully processed the loss and feel emotionally, and physically strong enough to try again. Speaking for myself (not my partner), I can say I don’t feel physically or emotionally ready yet. So, even if there weren’t a lockdown, we’d be waiting. I’m also aware that I don’t think you can ever feel ready after something like this happens… I imagine when we start trying again I’ll be flooded with memories of losing Mars, fear of it happening again, and maybe an ounce of guilt. I feel like trying again means we’re moving on from Mars, but I know it doesn’t. It just means we’re moving on, with Mars in our hearts.

If I had to guess when we’ll try again, I’d say maybe Summer or Fall of this year. But, who knows. Only time will tell.

Can you link products you use to pamper yourself after losing Mars?

Heck yeah I can.

Our pals at Salon Tao gifted us a lovely basket of pamper gifts. My favorite product is the Cherry Almond Conditioner by Aveda.

The books I’ve read that have provided a nice escape are – The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The House in the Sky , and The Midnight Library.

An advocate, Zoe Clark-Coates, who also writes books on baby loss and grief have also been super helpful. Her Instagram posts have also helped me immensely. Her website offers a bio as well as all of her books (which can also be purchased on Amazon, and some are also at Chapters/Indigo).

What are some physical symptoms after miscarriage that you didn’t expect?

So many. I’m not going to go into depth on explaining them, as they are fairly self explanatory. A list of unexpected physical symptoms I’ve experienced after miscarriage are:

  • Acne (face, chest, back)
  • Weight Gain – like my body doesn’t realize the baby’s gone.
  • Insomnia (this isn’t entirely physical, but was caused likely by the hormonal shifts so I think it’s physical personally) – I kid you not, the week after miscarriage I literally slept maybe 2 hours per night and experienced a sleep-deprivation induced psychosis. I hallucinated and saw ghosts/people in our house. It was the scariest experience. Luckily, the insomnia only lasted about a week.
  • Pain. Even a month after the D&C surgery, I experience pain in my womb. I’m not sure if it’s psycho-somatic, or if it’s just my uterus continuing to heal. But it’s a painful reminder.
  • Bleeding. For me, this only lasted about a week. But for some folks it can last longer.

Can you elaborate on going through the conceiving and miscarriage process as someone with PCOS?

Ah, so this question could be an entire blog post itself. But, I’ll speak to my experience here, and will likely elaborate further in the future.

I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early teens and have always had irregular periods. I’ve found that in different stages of my life, my PCOS symptoms get better, or worse. Since the Pandemic hit, my symptoms have worsened due to stress. My body actually stopped ovulating on it’s own, so I was prescribed Letrozole, which I used to induce ovulation, and conceive.

I’d say the biggest hurdle for me, was realizing that I wasn’t ovulating. Even if you don’t ovulate, you may have high LH surges (which stimulate ovulation to occur) but despite my high LH levels, ovulation wasn’t happening. It wasn’t until I was monitored by the fertility clinic that we discovered I wasn’t ovulating (this is done through blood tests and ultrasounds).

I guess, my biggest piece of advice if you want to conceive as someone who has PCOS is to educate yourself as much as you can. I found this book helpful (to understand PCOS, not to reverse it). Additionally, I’d say get in touch with a fertility clinic or specialist as soon as you decide you want to start a family, as it can be a lengthy process to figure out a treatment plan that works for your body.

In terms of miscarrying with PCOS, I’m not sure if it’s different from miscarrying without PCOS. But, I do know I likely won’t ovulate/get a period without using progesterone pills and Letrozole. The progesterone pills are taken for 7-10 days and then stopped, which forces your body to have a period. Then, Letrozole is taken on cycle days 3-7 to induce ovulation (which occurs around cycle day 15-17 for me).

In short, PCOS complicates every aspect of conceiving. I wish I could provide more information, but I’m still learning about it too. ❤

I hope these questions and answers can help someone else struggling.

So much love,

TJ

5 Things That Helped During Our Miscarriage

It’s been 2 weeks since we lost you. 2 weeks since you’ve been outside of my body and it still feels surreal. They say grief gets easier with time, and I don’t necessarily agree. I think it just gets further away, smaller, harder to see. But when you lose a baby, it’s almost like you don’t want that to happen…like you want them to stay as big as possible, to take up as much room as possible. Because that’s the closest you’ll ever get to having them here.

I’d be lying if I said it’s gotten easier. It hasn’t. Grief has a way of shape shifting as time passes. When we first lost you our grief was a hurricane, now it’s a broken tap dripping constantly. Both demand attention, but only the people living with the dripping tap understand it’s enormity- the attention it demands.

Through my healing, I’ve found a few things that have helped me feel either closer to Mars (our lost baby), or feel closer to myself. I’m going to outline those in hopes that they can help someone else.

  1. Therapy. Seriously- go to therapy if you can. I found a really wonderful therapist in Ottawa who specializes in everything relating to pregnancy, birth trauma, postpartum and loss. I’ve been seeing her once/week since we lost our baby and she’s been a lifeline for me. I usually sob through our sessions, but she ensures the space feels safe enough to do so. She has helped me connect with Mars, and myself and has given me hope to carry on. If anyone is looking for a phenomenal therapist here’s her contact @Empowered Counselling.
  2. Something to honor our baby. I knew I needed something tangible to hold when Mars left us. At first I debated sleeping with the single outfit we purchased when we found out we were pregnant, but that hurt way too much. Later I found this lovely jewelry shop called Rightly Royce (After their little one) run by a couple who lost their sweet boy when he was under 3 years old. They used his legacy to help other grieving parents with their beautiful jewelry. The jewelry is primarily initial or name necklaces, but they’re always coming out with new products as well. Here’s their online shop.
  3. Community Support. We have been so blessed with the outpouring of support from our friends, family and even strangers. Our friend started a Gofundme for us to help with costs so we can try again to start a family when we’re ready and it’s almost hit 4k! We can’t even express our gratitude, just know we’ve shed so many tears from the kindness we’ve been shown.

    Through our mourning, I was also made aware of this amazing mama who suffered loss of her baby girl, Lily, and has spent her time helping other couples who have struggled as well. She delivers grief support boxes to couples grieving their babies. I was so amazed by the initiative and thoughtfulness of the box. It came complete with a personalized card and grief journals for myself and my partner, flower seeds, gardening gloves, a tiny wooden angel, a handmade candle and so much more. If you’d like to learn more about Lily’s Purpose and how you can help check her site here.
  4. Put away triggering items. Something that was hard about losing our baby was the fact that our home was fully prepared to learn how to welcome them into our world. Pregnancy and parenting books overflowed on my nightstand. Prenatal vitamins sat on our counter. The single outfit we bought laid perfectly on the bed in the room that would have been theirs. Ultrasound photos were propped proudly. This was the hardest thing that I did in order to heal- I put all the items away. I gathered the books, the vitamins, the outfit, the ultrasound photo’s in shaking arms. I put them in the room that would have been Mars’. I cried remembering how hopeful I felt when we found out we were expecting. I closed the door to the room not knowing when I’d feel that sense of hope again, if ever.
  5. Create a memory box. A week after placing all the items in the room that would have been Mars’, I retrieved a few of the most important items and took them to my office. I sat with them, held them, smelled them, cried over them. I took the outfit, the ultrasound photo’s and one of the many pregnancy tests and placed them in a suitcase box I purchased just for this. I wanted to have a spot where I could remember Mars. I wanted to have all of our most important memories in a single place so I could open it when I needed to feel closer to them. I strongly encourage anyone who’s experienced loss to consider trying this, too. It feels cathartic and comforting to know our memories are safe in the box and that I can open it whenever I need to.

I hope this post can help someone else navigating their way through the murky waters of grief.

Sending love,

TJ