If you read Baby Dust and
fell in love with Stella, the leader of the miscarriage group, she now
has her own book of how she and her husband met. No sadness here, just a
roller coaster romance between two out-of-the-box characters.
Many, many women write me and say that
no one will let them talk about their baby, and even their close friends,
church members, and family shy away from the topic. This is so common that
it has become the number one comment I get in emails.
What is really happening? Your friends,
your coworkers, your church acquaintances know you are hurting, and
hurting deeply. They do not know what to say. They want you to feel
better, so they think somehow, if they ignore what happened, you will
forget about it sooner. There are a lot of people who honestly believe
that the more you talk about something, the worse you feel. Nothing could
be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, unless you feel
comfortable bringing it up (and you SHOULD; it is perfectly okay), no one
else will. Would you want to be talking on the phone with someone, having
a perfectly normal conversation, and then suddenly say something that
makes the other person burst into tears? This is what your friends believe
will happen (and they are probably right), and they don't want to put you
through that. They don't understand that this is exactly what you need to
I forced the issue on my friends for a
while, refusing to talk about anything else. All the while, however, I got
on the internet, in chat rooms and bulletin boards, talking to other women
in my situation who were interested in every detail. When you can't get
the support you need in your current circle of friends, reach out to those
of us who have been there. I have made countless friends through our
shared experiences, and these are people you can count on to understand
and not to say anything stupid. They have been there, and for a while,
they are the best friends you will have.
Find an online forum for women who have experienced a loss. Visit it and get the support you need outside your normal circles, for a
while. When you are used to talking about your baby, then you may be ready
to bring up the subject with your family and friends. I think you will
find that many of them really want to know what happened.
Whether you have lost a baby the children didn't know about and they are
wondering why you are so sad, or if you have come home from the hospital
without the promised brother or sister, explaining the loss of your baby to
your other children is bound to be difficult.
In many ways, it is best to be as straightforward as possible. Children
understand far more at very young ages than most people realize, and
overheard conversations can make them feel even more afraid and alienated
from their parents.
One concern of children is that whatever happened to make the baby go to
heaven will also happen to them. Explain to them that they are safe with
you. They can also worry that something THEY did caused the baby to die. Another concern is the attention they may be losing to your mourning
process. Sitting with them to write a letter to the lost sibling or to plant
flowers as a memorial can help give them something concrete to do and feel.
Try to keep these concerns in mind as you deal with both your own grief and
the sad confusion you see in your children.
A number of children's books have been written to help parents explain the
loss of an unborn sibling or early infant death. I highly recommend We
Were Going to Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead.
You can sit down with your child and watch this video
together, where a little boy reads the book aloud.
Here are links to children's books to
learn more about them:
I remember the moment I called my parents as if it were this morning. We were
supposed to have found out the sex of the baby, but instead we learned he had
died. It was the hardest moment of all, I think, because when you tell someone
else what has happened, it becomes real.
In these conversations, I think you have to be as straightforward as
possible. They will have lots of questions that you may or may not be able to
deal with right now. I would keep the conversation brief if possible and let the
details work themselves out over the next few days. Once the grandparents know,
then you can move on to others. You may find it easier to tell a close friend or
sibling first and let them tell the grandparents. This depends on your family
If no one knew you were pregnant, you may be tempted to remain silent. I
don't recommend you keep this all to yourself. Most of your friends and family
would want to be there for you during this difficult time. You are denying them
an opportunity to help you. You don't have to pretend this was no big deal, or
that the baby wasn't real. You were pregnant, you were expecting great joy, and
you lost it. This is not a small thing.
We sent out an email to all our friends once our parents and closest friends
had been called. The text of it is included below.
To our friends,
This is a difficult e-mail to write.
On Tuesday, April 28, we learned that the baby whose
September arrival we had so anxiously anticipated, had died. The cause is as yet
unknown; we will probably never know why.
We have named the baby Casey Shay. Casey will be delivered
on Thursday and cremated.
We know that you feel for us. We ask that you send your
sympathy and condolences to us by writing instead of calling, if you donít
mind. It is difficult to find words to say anyway, and it is hard for us to
relive the entire experience over and over again. We would cherish any cards or
notes you would care to send.
We also know that you will have a hard time knowing how to
act around us for a while, especially those of you who are expecting a child.
While this will be hard for us to handle for a little while, we will eventually
be all right. In a couple of weeks, you may certainly give us a call to go out
for dinner or drinks, or a movie. We are strong people and have a very strong
relationship with each other. We will be fine and will, sometime later this
year, be ready to try again.
Our lives are going to be a little different now. Deanna,
of course, had already resigned her teaching position and has no intention of
going back. She will be looking for a new job in June, in a new career. Once the
delivery and recovery are behind us, we will be traveling for a week or so and
visiting some of our favorite places, so donít be surprised if you donít
hear from us for a while. When we were first married, one of our favorite places
to visit was the seawall at Galveston. We will most likely stay there a few
Keep the three of us in your thoughts and prayers.
Most people don't really know what to say,
so they make something up on the spot or repeat old-fashioned sayings that
don't really apply. I think that they feel the need to say something, and
they want somehow to make it all better. While many of the stupid things
that people will say to you upon learning you have lost a baby seem
thoughtless and even cruel, do realize that it is difficult to find the
right thing to say to you. You will probably be upset no matter what they
say. This is okay, you can always just walk away from the
For those of you who want to retort, here
are some replies to the most common comments you will hear.
Comment: "This was probably a
blessing in disguise."
Reply: "I don't see it that way; this
is actually very hard for me."
Comment: "At least you weren't
Reply: "I think a baby is a baby no
matter how big he or she is."
Comment: "Now you have an angel in
Reply: "Yes, but I'm sure I'd rather
have a baby here."
Comment: "This was God's will."
Reply: "I don't think I or anyone
really knows what God's will is exactly."
Comment: "Be glad you didn't get
attached to it."
Reply: "Actually, we were quite
attached to our little baby."
Comment: "Stop worrying. My cousin
had four miscarriages and she had a baby just fine."
Reply: "I am very sorry for
your cousin. I know how hard those four miscarriages must have been."
Comment: "If you stop thinking about
it, you'll feel better."
Reply: "Actually, thinking about the
baby is important to me."
Comment: "You can always have another
Reply: "Yes, but I still lost this one, and one child can
never replace another."
Sometimes the best way to handle difficult
people is to simply avoid them until you are up to it. If the problem is a
mother-in-law (and it often is), ask your husband to handle her calls and
keep yourself busy in the kitchen or elsewhere when she visits. Don't take
her or anyone else's comments as being critical of you. Even when they seem
that way; they are rarely meant to be.
We all know they are out there. People who are thoughtless, crude, or mean.
Who knows why they are like they are. Maybe life was too harsh for them. Maybe
they are socially inept. But they have the power to really really upset you.
It's best to avoid these people, but sometimes their meanness seeps into your
life, and sometimes they are your family. Here are some examples of terrible,
horrible things people have said to women on the bulletin boards. Maybe the
people you know will seem like angels in comparison.
From a woman who had just had a baby to a woman who had just lost one:
"Thank God I didn't follow your pregnancy advice!" (Did she think
this was a joke?)
From a mother-in-law when both her daughter and the daughter-in-law were
pregnant and the daughter-in-law lost her baby: "Well at least my
daughter knows how to take care of herself and give me a grandchild."
From a "friend" after hearing about the loss of a baby during a
vacation: "I told you not to go on that plane trip. Everyone knows it
causes miscarriage." (It does not.)
From another friend, who was also pregnant. "God, I hope it's not
From a mother to her daughter. "You shouldn't have had a baby with
that creep anyway. Thank God it died."