I am an oversharer. It’s what I do, it’s who I am. My personal belief is that if I share with you my thoughts, feelings and actions then you will be in a better position to understand me. My miscarriages are no exception.
I announced my last pregnancy at 8 weeks.Why? Because of the overwhelming amount of support I received after my first miscarriage. The amount of women that pulled me aside, pulled my mother and mother-in-law aside and said “Me too,” was what I needed to heal. I needed those around me to know that when they saw the blankness in my face, it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in what they were saying. I needed them to know so when they saw the emptiness behind my eyes they knew it was because I had lost something so incredibly precious. I needed them to know I was in pain, physically, emotionally, mentally; an overwhelming amount of pain. To know that I was doing the best I could that day. I needed to be understood.
I knew myself well enough to know that for me, the hardest part of this miscarriage wouldn’t be the day it happened. It wouldn’t even be the week it happened. I was an athlete, I coach athletes. So naturally, I put an athlete mentality to it: there was a task and I needed to focus on that task. Through the pain, the worry and the fear I needed to give birth to my baby. I could control that part.
What I couldn’t control would be the emotional and mental turmoil I knew I would face in the months and weeks to come.
I needed to make a plan for that. I needed to save myself or I knew I would remain unsaved. I couldn’t let myself fall into the darkness because if I did, I knew I wouldn’t get out. I’d let myself slip so deep into the emptiness that I would lose too much of myself to ever get back. So I started clawing at the deep hole I was finding myself in.
After my first miscarriage, I wanted to bounce back fast. Show the world I was strong, as if returning to my normal life was somehow proof of my resilience. Maybe to outsiders it was working, but in reality I spent my mornings curled up in a ball on my cold kitchen travertine sobbing uncontrollably for hours. I would drive to work 20 minutes early because it took me that long just to stop crying and find the strength to walk into the building. Something was wrong, very wrong.
But I was also naive enough to think that a miscarriage wouldn’t happen to me again. “This happens to so many women/my body was just figuring out how to be pregnant/ there was something wrong chromosomally.” I would get pregnant again and in turn I would wake from this nightmare and all would be right again. This would be a distant memory so far behind me, it would be like it almost didn’t happen. Oh how foolish I was. How cruel could this world be?
I knew immediately that I needed to make self care my top priority. I used Groupon to find a luxury upscale spa and bought a facial and massage. I made it into a whole day for myself. With my cell phone turned off and stowed again in my locker, this was my time. My time to discover who post-three-miscarriage’s Erika was.
I started a journal. I wanted something that would fit into my purse so I could take it with me anywhere and be able to jot down my thoughts without drawing too much attention to myself. For $5 at CVS I found a cute, blank notebook with lined pages. I printed out EVERY positive and supporting text, facebook message, instagram DM, etc that I received, printed them out and taped them into my journal along with every hand written note I had been given. I also printed and added any saved posts that caught my eye in either validating my situation or encouraging me to the person I was hoping to evolve into. When I’m having a moment of weakness I turn back to those words and am flooded with overwhelming support by people who truly love me.
I started a new exercise and eating program. I knew I wanted to be a mother. That was my top goal so I needed to have a strong and healthy body. Some tests after my last miscarriage had shown that I had thyroid and blood clotting issues. I educated myself, made lists of questions and concerns. My OBGYN and I came up with a game plan and she sent me off to a specialist. I brought my mom to my appointments to take notes and help ask questions. Afterward I would comply with what the specialists had said and report back to my OBGYN so we could tweak the game plan if needed. This was my body. My right to reproduce. I was going to be damned if I wasn’t going to know every possible fix, every possible solution.
I created my own remembrance jewelry off Etsy: a silver necklace with a heart, feather and the birthstone for all three of my babies along with a key chain that reads“forever my babies.” I was also gifted some remembrance jewelry and I wear one every single day. I touch my necklace all the time, kiss it, talk to it. They are my babies and they come with me everywhere I go. They get a front row seat to my life. I feel better having them so close to me.
I knew I needed to find a therapist. So I started researching therapists that specialize in miscarriage. Surprise! None really do! I was able to find some that highlighted their experiences in grief and loss. One night after a full breakdown and anxiety attack I made an appointment with one. Therapy has helped me tremendously in understanding how I process grief and loss, at identifying where I am on my journey toward healing, in setting new directions for my life and what I want to accomplish and where to invest my time, talent and resources.
I am such a free giver that I will give and give until nothing is left and at this point I truly had nothing left to give. So I started to set boundaries regarding my time, who could access me and when. I let go of relationships that didn’t serve me or didn’t understand my new place in life. I will not apologize for only surrounding myself with people that support me and bring me up. I’ve been through enough trauma, I don’t need anyone to add to it.
And slowly but surely I began to come out of the fog. Not all at once but I was able to see the person I was evolving into, the new chapter of my life. And that kept pushing me forward.
I knew I would never be the same woman I was pre-miscarriages. To be honest, I didn’t want to be the same. You can’t go through something as traumatic as that and not come out different. And for as horrible as it was, I am happy for the new me. The pain ripped me apart but stitched me back together in a way I could have never imagined.
I am softer, kinder and more empathetic. I look for the deep sadness in people's eyes, the kind you can only recognize if you’ve gone through it yourself, and smile back to them in a way I hope says, “I see you, I understand.”
I started writing and in just one heartfelt, gut wrenching blog of my miscarriage experience I have received an outpouring of love. I’ve been read over 200 times in the US, New Zealand, Lithuania, Australia, the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, Philippines, Dubai, Guernsey, Poland, Mexico and Canada. Every time a new country reads I cry with happiness. I’ve had woman stop me to say how they had no idea about the trauma of miscarriage since reading my story and I’ve had women who message me and say how much I have helped to validate them after their miscarriage. My oversharing is helping the world. That in itself is a victory, that is me reaching the goal I wanted by talking about these experiences. This would have never happened to pre-miscarriage Erika.
My blog has also given me a hobby. I have had to learn to code, understand social media analytics, how social media works in general and skills I don't even know the name for. I literally feel like I'm back in college. Every new skill I learn and challenge I overcome I feel more powerful, more in control. The sense of pride I feel figuring out something I would have never thought I'd do in a million years has given me back the confidence I lost through my miscarriages.
If you are going through miscarriage or any trauma, I urge you to put yourself first. These are the tools that worked for me but maybe something else will work better for you. Explore, create, find whatever works and do you. You are such an amazing, beautiful and strong person. There are parts of you that you don't even know exist yet! Embrace what has been given to you! Show the world all that you are!
As the great Dolly Parton said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”