Opening Words from Sun. May 8 by Nikki Nienhaus

Today is my first Mother’s Day as a mother. And you may think the baby that makes this my first Mother’s day is the little 16 week one giving me the tiny ambiguous belly I’m currently sporting, but you would be wrong. The baby that made me a mother is the one my husband and I call Peanut, the one that died in August of last year. Today, I wanted to talk to you about miscarriage.

I know its kind of a downer subject, but I think its an important one. After my loss, I had so many women reach out to me sharing their own experiences with miscarriage that I began to wonder – why don’t we talk about this more? Why is it that, until you’ve been through it, there seems to be this pervading idea that a miscarried baby isn’t a real baby? That it doesn’t matter? So I think we need to start acknowledging these losses, but I thought I might give you some pointers today – things NOT to say to a woman who has just had a miscarriage, and some things to think about saying instead.

  1. “You’ll have another one.” – Yep. You’re probably right. I probably will. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about this one dying – I wanted this one. I loved this one. And another baby will never take this one’s place.
  2. “Everything happens for a reason.” – Nope. Just, no. Don’t. This is something you should NEVER say to anyone. You shouldn’t need an explanation for this one.
  3. My father said this one to me – “Your mom had a miscarriage, but then we got you, so it worked out, see?” – He’s right. But again, during this pregnancy, I find myself wishing that I could ask my mother if she had these same feelings I’m experiencing – anxiety and terror and joy and excitement and guilt, because I know that had my first baby lived, this one wouldn’t exist. And I want them both. I love them both. And I can not reconcile these feelings within myself.

Ok – so, what have we learned? Trying to justify death, any death, is pointless and simply painful for those who are grieving. So let’s talk about some things I would have loved to hear instead.

  1. “I’m sorry for your loss.” – That’s all it takes. Seriously. You don’t need to add anything to this.
  2. “I had a miscarriage too, and I remember how painful it was. I’m sorry you’re going through this.” – See the difference? Just acknowledge the grief. Don’t try to make it better. You can’t. I don’t want you too.
  3. “Its so hard to understand why things like this happened. I’m here if you want or need to talk. Is there anything I can do for you?”

I think that it is time we as a society start acknowledging miscarriage. So often we as mothers are made to feel as though we shouldn’t be grieving these little lives, because they were so short, and because this sort of loss is so common. But I don’t care how common it is, for every woman (and her partner) that experiences it, it hurts terribly. Just acknowledge us. Acknowledge our babies. They were real. And their lives mattered. My baby’s life mattered. Even if it was just to me.