Stress Management and mindfulness is my passion and forte – I’m employed to educate corporates and individuals on the impact of living in the stress lane. I know what tools work. I know how to help corporates support their employees which is turn pays dividends to their company’s bottom line.
My generic stress management tool kit was literally thrown in the air over the last few months. I’m not an over sharer on public social media – for me it’s a fine line between being transparent with my audience and an invasion of my family’s personal moments. However, this feels different.
Miscarriage is an important topic. It is so common yet still sadly filed on a forbidden shelf. Do you know that 1 in 4 women (or 1 in 3 depending who you ask) will experience a miscarriage? These statistics blew my mind.
Nothing ever prepares you for that visceral pain. The moment during your scan when a hand gently touches your arm or leg as an attempt to provide comfort while the words ‘’I’m so sorry but we can’t find a heartbeat’ shatters your own heart.
I experienced my first miscarriage in August last year at 8.5 weeks after fertility treatment. Baby wasn’t growing properly from the start but each weekly scan still provided a shimmer of hope. My second miscarriage in March this year was harder. Our pregnancy was a summer surprise and the scans from 6 – 8 weeks showed a healthy growing baby with a strong heartbeat. I had morning sickness and all the tell-tale pregnancy symptoms which mentally made me confident. We had forward planned with the baby, imagined how it was going to fit into our little family. It was so wanted. I heard the baby’s heartbeat at 10 weeks at my midwife appointment on the Tuesday but the scan on the Thursday showed no heartbeat. It was a total shock. It was a visceral pain.
The reason I am sharing my very personal story is that as a wellness professional initially I struggled to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of two miscarriages in a row. I was surprised at how much I was not coping. Now 4 weeks post-surgery I’m in a much better space emotionally and physically. As this is such a common experience I want to share with other women who may be silently struggling what helped me and most importantly my takeaway learnings. I was forced to revisit my entire wellness toolkit and weed out my stress management practices and pay tribute to the ones that literally grounded my outlook on life, my mindset and my relationships.
- Express emotions. Sit with the sadness – let it all out. Sob uncontrollably, scream, curse, isolate yourself. Do whatever you need to release the grief.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable with others you trust. This is where you find connection, support and strength.
- Be ruthless with your boundaries. Grief creates fragmented energy. I tightened my social circle and let go of any unnecessary work commitments. I put myself first.
- Get out in nature. Initially my mind was too overwhelmed to meditate. I used nature as a reset button to help me ground and even if for a small moment, quieten the mind.
- Meditation. The ultimate game changer for me was re-establishing a regular meditation practice. I noticed that although the sadness was there, I was not attached to it. I began to feel happier, and started to see the miscarriages as a bigger picture learning.
- Healthy habits. Eating healthy foods balanced my hormones and emotions and in turn supported me to cope better mentally. Doing restorative yoga and going for walks also paved the way.
- Podcasts. Oprah’s super soul Sunday podcasts has become my daily go to. It has allowed me to shift my focus. When we are struggling our focus is very insular. Inspirational stories shift your focus to others, it evokes compassion and allows your mind chatter to quieten down.
- Ask for help. Seek out specialist support if you need. For me, this included naturopathy, coaching and spirituality.
My takeaway lessons from two miscarriages:
- My loss was significant. There is no scale for when grief is deemed acceptable.
I felt guilty about being so heartbroken and tried to supress my grief as I believed that my loss wasn’t significant enough because:
a. I already have an amazingly healthy and phenomenal 4-year-old daughter when others cannot conceive at all
b. Friends of mine have experienced stillbirths and unexplained infant loss
c. Miscarriage is a common experience
d. People experience bad things every day in varying proportions
Dumbing down my own loss was suppressing my ability to process my grief. The golden rule shows that supressed grief manifests in other unhealthy ways until it is dealt with. We can’t cheat the process. Every grief is important. It needs to be felt and honoured. Don’t wait for a trigger years down the track to spark your healing process.
- Let go of self-blame. I did not cause this miscarriage and my body didn’t let me down.
I had huge guilt about my miscarriages. I felt like it was my fault and tried to pinpoint the moment I failed. I felt like I had let my 4-year-old daughter down as she is desperate to be a big sister. I felt like I had let my husband down as two repeat incidences can’t be a coincidence. Self-blame is a deep nasty hole that literally sucks your energy, happiness and in turn effects the relationships closest to you.There are a myriad of reasons why miscarriages occur. I don’t know the answers. We’ve settled on the reason that sits best with us – the foetus was not healthy and nature had our back and that there was a bigger picture at play. Accepting this is still uncomfortable but a healthy step forward.
- Take off the mask. Vulnerability creates connection
Sitting with sadness is imperative. Showing people that you don’t always have your shit together is also imperative. Obviously choosing who you share this true vulnerability with is imperative too. Choose people you can trust. People who will accept your sadness without judgement or without the need to fix you.If you know me well, I’m a pretty resilient, passionate and happy person by nature and I don’t show much vulnerability – especially as a mum and a stepmum. The decision to tell the kids was a big one but kids are intuitive and sense more than we give them credit for. After this experience it made me realise how much as adults we complicate life whereas kids assimilate the information on a simpler scale. Our 4 year old blew us away with her emotional intelligence and insightfulness – ‘mummy, I chose you to be my mummy and I chose to keep growing in your tummy because I wanted you’. Those beautiful words of comfort will stay with me forever.
My appreciation as a mum and adoration for my daughter cannot be put into words. My relationship with my stepdaughters solidified. My marriage is stronger than ever. My bestie is more like a sister to me now. Vulnerability when shared with people who love you, creates a deeper connection. It removes any perceived boundaries and the love strengthens. For me, vulnerability has been one of my biggest lessons and joys through this miscarriage. It has intensified my gratitude for my life tenfold.
Thanks for reading my story. If you are currently experiencing a miscarriage or are still raw from one past – I truly believe that these little souls are always with us. Hopefully you can find comfort in your journey.