1. It's okay to grieve, even if you're not sure you've miscarried
I had to figure out all on my own that you can grieve a situation. It doesn't have to be a loss. Those first little spots of pink on the toilet paper can mean anything: recent sex, UTI, vaginal infection, implantation or miscarriage. The point is you don't know for sure yet, and that can be the worst part about the whole ordeal. It can be so hard to just not know what's going to happen, and it is okay to grieve during that time.
2. It's okay to not "go put your feet up"
During one of my five miscarriages, I was literally sitting on the toilet, talking on the phone with my realtor, closing on our first home. And that was the right thing for me at that time.
After a long, exhausting battle with fertility, it felt good for me to handle something adult. In that particular scenario, I was tired of feeling weak, powerless and defeated. Closing on a home was something that needed to be done and I felt a sense of power and accomplishment doing it. It helped me heal.
On the other hand, sometimes that sense of catharsis can come from having someone else take care of you. If you feel like having a lie-down and a cry, please do. I've done that as well. Just know that there is more than one way to work through this. Unless your care provider explains that lying down may help preserve a pregnancy, do what feels right to you.
You didn't lose your baby because you did something wrong ... Sometimes things just happen because they happen. Part of life is joy; part of it is pain.
3. Not everything "happens for a reason"
Or maybe it does. I don't really know. My point is that this is the worst thing to say to someone going through a miscarriage. Women are experts in guilt from the get-go. We have been taught to blame ourselves for everything. It is naturally very easy to think that we experience miscarriage due to something that we did or didn't do.
You didn't lose your baby because you did something wrong. It's not because God or the universe is punishing you. It's not because you didn't devote enough of your positive thinking to your pregnancy. Sometimes things just happen because they happen. Part of life is joy; part of it is pain.
4. Your partner will probably experience grief differently than you do
Your partner or spouse will most likely feel sadness, grief and any range of emotions similar to you. Feelings of failure, inadequacy, doubt of one's own body and even depression are all normal for a partner. But regardless of what may be similar, there may also be some key differences.
Only you live in your body. So even if you are very articulate and communicative, you are the only person who will truly understand what you are going through. All of the physical symptoms, both great and subtle, coupled with every emotion and thought going through your mind during the process, makes your situation your own. Your partner will have grief, possibly as profound as your own, but it will likely be different. And even if they do not express it at all, it is probably there.
5. You can (typically) miscarry however you want and try again whenever you want
I found out about my first miscarriage via ultrasound. I was immediately ushered into a room and prepared for a D&C. I was in an emotional daze as the nurse started feeling my arms for a good vein. Fortunately, I found my self able to ask what she was doing. She told me she was finding the best place to put an IV.
That started another line of questioning. Why did I need an IV? I was informed — not asked — that I would be having a D&C. I asked if I had to have one. The doctor stopped and said something to the effect of, "Well no, not necessarily, but I don't know why any woman would want to go through this at home."
Though I still respect that doctor for many reasons, I know that many women probably had D&Cs without knowing they had other options. I asked if I could just go home and was informed that I was within my rights to do so. I was given a prescription for pain and sent on my way.
I miscarried the first time at home and also four times after that. I was well-informed. I knew what to look for, I knew what "normal" was and when to call the doctor. I checked in with the 24-hour nurse line and once called my doctor directly to be sure everything was okay. Since I never varied from a typical situation, I was able to miscarry in the privacy and peace of my own home.
I'm not saying you should do it this way. You can basically miscarry however you like. Have a D&C, go to the hospital, do it at home. Just know that you have many options.
When it comes to trying again, there are circumstances in which it is deemed unsafe to try again for a period of time (as can be the case in molar pregnancy), but unless your doctor has a good reason for you to wait, you can try again as soon or as late as you like.
If you think you may be experiencing a miscarriage, know you are not alone. This is more common than we ever really talk about in our society. You have choices, you have rights. I am sorry you are going through this, but you don't have to go through it alone.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published by North Star Doula Service and ParentMap in 2016, and updated in September 2019.