I'm pregnant, but my friend miscarried...what do I do?
I have wanted to write this post for a long time, but I wasn't sure how to do it with sensitivity. It is October, Infant Loss Awareness Month, so I figured that now was the time to do it.
If you have lost a baby, and you are reading this - I am so very sorry. Your loss cannot be quantified with words, and I grieve with you.
If you're reading this because you have a friend who miscarried, whether or not you're pregnant, I hope this post helps you to love your friend well.
How to help:
Firstly, you need to know that she might distance herself from you for a little bit. As hard as this is, let her do so. It might be too painful to be around your pregnant belly or your newborn baby. She might not attend your baby shower, even months after her miscarriage. She might not ask you how you're feeling (because it might be too hard for her to hear you complain about your pregnancy right now, knowing that she would do anything for that pregnancy). Please don't take offense if all of this happens. She is barely hanging on. Give her grace and time.
Secondly, bring her food. Dinner, breakfast, chocolate, coffee. Whatever. Let her feed her grief with food. She might not be feeding herself well right now.
Ask her how she's doing. Call her. Text her. Pop by with coffee. She might ignore your calls, but she will feel the love.
If she has kids, take them for a few hours! This will mean more than you can possibly know. She's been holding it together for everyone around her, and she would cherish the time to herself to cry openly or listen to that song that is too mature for the tiny ears around her.
Ask if she's named the baby, and then use the name in conversation. Ask her questions about her loss, but give her freedom not to answer. Some women desperately want to talk about it, and no one asks. Some women don't want to say a word. Have grace and patience with her response.
Please do not tell her that this is for the best or that this is God's plan. Maybe it is, okay? But she does not care right now. She wants to hear, "This is so shitty. I'm so sorry. I'm going to walk through this with you. I love you." If you absolutely need to say something positive or mention that the world isn't ending, write it in a card for her to read later. That way she can read it when she is ready.
If you ask her how far along she was, make sure that regardless of her response, you say something along the lines of, "Not like it matters. This is a significant loss." A loss is a loss is a loss. She's not only grieving the baby but all the hopes and dreams that came with the baby. These hopes are often long-reaching and so hard to let go of.
Mark the due date and reach out when that due date comes. That day might be really hard for her, and it will mean so much that you remembered.
What to not do:
Don't forget about her. You may think she looks "fine" after a few weeks, and she may be smiling and laughing again, but don't stop asking about how she is doing. She may take a lot longer than it looks like to feel any amount of whole.
Don't take offense if she doesn't want to hold your new baby. Or if she doesn't bring a gift for your new baby. Or doesn't really acknowledge your new baby. Give her time. Sometimes babies are the sweetest little reminder of what she lost, and it's ripping away her heart just to be around one.
Don't complain about your pregnancy or your time as a new mom. You can do that with others. Be patient - you'll be able to eventually, but give her some time. If you are close enough friends, feel free to ask her if x, y, z topics of conversation would be too hard. Know your friend, though, she might not be able to say so freely.
Don't forget about baby daddy. He needs to be asked how he is doing too. He needs a bear hug too. And maybe some beer.
If any of you reading this have more comments to add, please add them. This is such an unfortunately common occurrence. Doctors think that about one in four pregnancies end in loss, and those are merely the ones we know about. I want people to understand how common and how devastatingly heart-breaking this is to go through. May we be so kind to one another in such circumstances. And all my love goes out to you mamas who have lost a baby or babies. I am deeply sorry.