Mom needs our help: Sad about miscarriage and sib keeps asking questions

One of our regulars sent me a sad note. She recently miscarried and is having a hard time dealing with it. She hoped other moms who have experienced similar pain can help her. Here’s what she wrote:

“I would never have hoped that this would be a topic, but now it is close to my heart.  Instead of announcing No. 2 in March, I am now explaining to a handful of people that I had a miscarriage.  It has been the most painful experience of my life, even if you discount that I endured the D&C with only a spinal (meaning I was awake – a first for my OB/GYN).  I’m wondering how others may have talked about this with their children, as we had told our daughter, and now she mentions the baby periodically.  I’m in agony when she does, but I try to answer her questions.”

So what should she do to A. Deal with the pain of losing the baby and B. Help her child be comfortable with the miscarriage without upsetting herself each time it’s brought up? (I thought maybe tell the child to ask daddy the questions so the questions are being answered but mom wouldn’t have to be reminded all the time.) What is the best way to heal from a miscarriage? Do you dive right back into another pregnancy? Do you do something outward (like a grave or memorial) to acknowledge the lost baby? What would help this mom deal with her sadness and help her family heal?

27 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

April 12th, 2012
6:04 am

So sorry for your loss!

Anonymous

April 12th, 2012
7:46 am

I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve had three miscarriages since having our first child. It is incredibly painful but I’ve found all you can do is put it past you and move on. It never hurts less so dwelling on it just makes it worse. We’ve chosen to keep trying and praying that one of these times we’ll be blessed with another baby. We did not tell our child about any of the pregnancies so luckily we haven’t had to answer questions or explain anything.

different name this time

April 12th, 2012
8:05 am

So sorry for your loss, and yours too Anonymous! Been there, and you might be surprised how many of your friends and acquaintances have experienced this loss too. I guess what you tell the child depends on the child’s age, your family’s religious beliefs, etc., etc. Regarding getting pregnant again – doctor will advise. I was already pregnant again at the 4-week checkup after my miscarriage, and my doctor was FURIOUS, but that story ended well for us.

Me

April 12th, 2012
8:06 am

I’m sorry to hear of your loss. My oldest daughter, married last October, announced in early March that she was pregnant with their first. Two weeks later she called me and told me she had a miscarriage. She was, understandably, upset but she also told me something that I hope might help you, She said, “Daddy, it’s okay, God knows what is best and I have the faith to know that He knows best even when I don’t understand.” She has, in her own way, dealt with the loss and moved on. They are not, at this point, in any rush to make another attempt. Life isn’t fair and, sometimes, things just happen. I do, for some reason, like the idea of perhaps having the father answer some of the questions so that mom isn’t continually reminded.

catlady

April 12th, 2012
8:19 am

I feel great sorrow for those of you wo have experienced this. I, too, am comforted by my faith. As to what to tell your child, I would suggest just that the baby died. Just as it took awhile for your child to understand thatyou were going to have a baby, it will take many repetitions to realize that you won’t have that child.

Perhaps your child can make a little memorial for the baby there, with a teddy bear the counselor brought. It will, for the rest of this year, be the little girl’s desk baby. We did that at school for a classmate that died suddenly. The desk is still there, with a teddy bear on it. It has helped us all.

RJ

April 12th, 2012
8:26 am

This is so sad to hear. I’ve never had a miscarriage but I’ve had friends and family members that have. When I got pregnant last year I didn’t want to tell anyone until I passed the first trimester. I kept reading how I was more likely to miscarry due to my age (39). I never felt that way with the first two, but I was in my 20’s. I think @catlady’s idea is a good one. Depending on the age of the sibling, they may not really understand that much. God bless you and your family during this time.

mystery poster

April 12th, 2012
8:57 am

There is no “magic bullet” to help heal after a miscarriage. The only answer is time. Mine was 20 years ago last January, and I still thought about it on the date and wondered what would have been had the child been born. However, as trite as it sounds, time heals all wounds and the hurt will wane.

Answer your child’s questions as age-appropriately as possible. By all means, tell the child about your pain as well. Asking dad is fine, but she will still overhear and know that’s it’s being discussed.

My children were 5 and 2 when I had my miscarriage, and I don’t remember either of them asking a lot of questions. I went into labor at home and my midwife came over, and of course I was crying and I heard my older child ask my husband, “If the baby is born today will it be alive?” but I don’t remember much beyond that.

Becky

April 12th, 2012
8:59 am

Sorry for your loss..Anonymous, I’m sorry for your loss also..Not sure what I would say to the other child, so whatever you decide, I hope that all works out well for your family..

Theresa, do we know the age of the other child?

SEE

April 12th, 2012
9:32 am

I had to undergo another c-section when my baby died in utero at around 20 weeks. I had 3 other children, ages 2, 4, and 6. Of course, the older two were expecting a new baby brother and asked lots of questions. I explained why mommy and daddy were crying, and that the baby was with God. The next time we went to church, my 4 year old was looking all around for the baby. We called the church “God’s house”, so he thought that is where the baby was. I had to explain that the baby was in heaven. My oldest son asked if there were swing sets and toys in heaven. He was worried that the baby would not have fun there. I reassured him that the baby was happier than we could even imagine because he got to see God face-to-face. These explanations helped me with my own pain, as they forced me to really consider what I believed in the after-life. 9 years and 2 additional children later, I pray to my little one in heaven that he continue to pray for us.

somewhere in atlanta

April 12th, 2012
9:32 am

Sorry to all of you who have shared your loss on this blog. I have had three miscarriages so far and no children because of it. It is a sad situation. I just wanted to chime in for anyone who’s reading and who hasn’t dealt with this – please no questions like “didn’t you want another baby?” or “Did you just want one?” A lot of times there are painful things under the surface and people don’t think before they speak. It’s best to leave others’ parent status alone…

As for getting over it, I don’t know, I’m still working on that….I’ve come to believe that maybe I don’t have any of my own for a larger reason. Maybe God wants me to adopt a child who desperately needs someone to love them.

catlady

April 12th, 2012
9:43 am

somewhere: God bless you!

homeschooler

April 12th, 2012
9:44 am

There are so many people I know who have suffered through this and each has handled it differently. We find out so early now that we are pregnant and start bonding when there is still so much that can go wrong. Women have been having miscarriages since the beginning of time but ours is the first generation where it seems like the emotional effects are so devastating. ( I have talked a lot with my mom and other older women about this)

I have friends who have gone into deep depressions after miscarriages and others who have moved right along accepting that there was something wrong and either look at it as “God knows best” or “science knows best” whatever they believe but I know that they all still think about “what if”. There is no right or wrong way to deal with it. You have to make your own peace.

I have a very close friend who would have had her second child within days of my second child. (Our older boys are the same age) She miscarried and had a very hard time. She did wind up getting pregnant again with-in a few months. We have talked about that miscarried child often and how cool it would have been if it had been a girl born at the same time as my girl. But, then we have to look at the child she got pregnant with after her miscarriage. He is a true gift. A beautiful smart, fun and personal kid who we wouldn’t trade for anything. He wouldn’t be here if she had not miscarried. Makes you feel like there was a plan all along.

Our generation has such a hard time with things that are out of our control. (hence the number of helicopter parents) I don’t know why that is and I’m not a religious person but I envy those who can say “it’s out of my hands”.

You should talk to your OB about a support group. It will take time but you will heal. It sounds as if your older child is still very young (?). All you can do is answer her questions honestly. Maybe let her release a balloon with a note to her unborn sibling. This might help you too.

So sorry for your loss.

Christine

April 12th, 2012
10:26 am

It’s hard, for sure. There is no magic answer. I’ve been there too – I have a 6 yr old and have had 2 miscarriages since he was born (summers of 2010 and 2011). My son knew about the last one and seemed to understand at 5 that the baby died. He still tells me he wants me to have a baby. It’s hard to hear and to answer the questions but I know that he’s processing it too. It’s perfectly fine to tell the child “I am ok answering your questions but know that it makes Mommy sad too” or something like that. My son seemed to understand that and wasn’t upset that sometimes his questions made me choke up.

A support group helped me immensely – just talking with people who get it. I am not ready to get pg again but I’ve felt differently after each miscarriage.

TWG – feel free to pass along my email address to your reader if she wants to talk more to someone one on one.

Jeff

April 12th, 2012
10:53 am

I won’t claim to be able to relate and won’t pretend to. As painful as it is, the daughter should be dealt with as gently and as honestly as is possible. Adjustments of course should be made for the girl’s mental capability and developmental phase.

Nothing about it is easy. My sister miscarried several times and while I don’t know what anguish she still has, I’ve made it perfectly clear she can rech out to me any time when there are things she wants to say that she can’t say to her closer friends, husband, or even just wants to verbalize something to help get it out of her head. That’s about all I can do.

DB

April 12th, 2012
10:57 am

I’m so very sorry — my heart goes out to you and your family. I’ve never had any experience in this area, so I won’t presume to know how to deal with it. ((((Hugs))))

Stacey

April 12th, 2012
12:51 pm

My heart and prayers go out to this family. Like SEE, I had a baby to die in utero at 21 weeks and had to have what was referred to as a D&E because the baby didn’t abort on it’s on. I was put to sleep and didn’t get to speak to the doctor afterwards so I never found out if it was a boy or a girl (my husband chose not to know). It had been an extremely difficult pregnancy all along and I had just gotten to the point where I was considered “out of the water” and we had just told our then 4 year old son, coworkers and neighbors. I was devastated but although he had a lot of questions, my son was very mature about it. At the time I lashed out at my husband because I didn’t think he cared since he didn’t mourn the same way I did. (I failed to consider that someone had to be strong for our son).

It’s been 6 years and I still get sad about it sometimes but through prayer it has gotten a little better. My son says God told him it was a boy and he still talks about him sometimes. It bothers me most when people tell me how selfish I am to “not give my son a sibling” or the few times when I have run into someone I haven’t seen in years who remembers that I was pregnant and they ask if I had a boy or girl.

K's Mom

April 12th, 2012
1:03 pm

My SIL suffered a very early miscarriage last week and one of my dearest friends had a failed IVF 2 weeks ago. I am 36 weeks pregnant and feel such guilt even though I know it is an absurd feeling. For those of you that have suffered miscarriages, my heart goes out to you. I truly appreciate the advice on what to say to friends and family who are suffering this terrible loss.

I agree with those who say doing some sort of memorial may help the young child. Planting a tree or rose bush may help the little girl see something concrete to associate with this loss of pregnancy.

Denise

April 12th, 2012
1:09 pm

I have never been pregnant so I don’t know how it feels to lose a child but my heart is hurting and I have tears in my eyes that I hope don’t spill over since I’m at work I am so sorry for your losses. I hope you find peace however it is that you do (I am a proponent of therapy).

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 12th, 2012
1:30 pm

I think the sib is pretty young – I don’t think she wrote me the age — we corresponded back and forth a little bit but I don’t think she said the age — my impression was preschool or younger — but old enough to be asking question. That was just my assumption though.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 12th, 2012
2:38 pm

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RBE

April 12th, 2012
6:56 pm

Wow, this really hit home. I had a miscarriage three years ago, when my son was only three. Looking back we probably shouldn’t have told him about the pregnancy as early as we did, but we were excited–and he was too; he decided that it had to be the baby sister he wanted so badly. He seemed to accept the explanation that the baby died, although he named her Molly anyway. I agree that the most difficult part is fielding the questions from well-meaning strangers and friends who want to know when I’m going to have more. I wish people understood that one’s reproductive status and/or plans is just not the best topic for small talk. Stick with the weather, please.

Mimi Newton

April 12th, 2012
8:43 pm

I agree that having the sibling do something constructive like a memorial, planting a tree, or something positive to look at and remember all one’s life like that would be good. Unfortunately, I think Home Schooler’s suggestion of a balloon release is a really bad idea – you do not want to teach your children that littering is an appropriate response to loss and sadness. Just my two cents – I wish you all the best.

southpaw

April 13th, 2012
8:10 am

Wait a while before the next pregnancy. Doctors and scientists have learned that pregnancies close together cause a substantially increased risk of autism in the second child. That may very well be the reason my older son is slightly autistic–he was on the way only 3-4 months after a miscarriage. He’s a great kid, but I wonder what he would be like if he were a few months younger.

Even if Dad is willing to answer questions, he may have a difficult time as well. You can be sure he’s hurting, too. Been there, done that–just answered questions for someone else’s kid, not my own.

Kat

April 13th, 2012
8:46 am

How “old” was the miscarried baby? Usually people don’t announce until at least 12 weeks, so I’m just curious. I wouldn’t have announced any earlier than that. At least 15% of them end that way, which is not to say it’s common, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. If it happens that early, then obviously, things were not forming well in some way and what happened is the better of the two outcomes.

RBE

April 13th, 2012
9:10 pm

Kat, please never say that to anyone ever again.

Lillia

April 14th, 2012
11:09 pm

I’ve never experienced this situation, but my son is 4. He has just started to understand the basic concepts of death and heaven. I think that I would give him a simple, but straight forward answer on his level. I think having dad answer some questions would help too. It’s a tough situation all around, and my heart is with the family in such a tough time.