Grieving Through The What-Ifs

Grieving Through What-Ifs

By Becky Houdesheldt

This weekend my husband and I had to return the crib and dresser we purchased for our second baby. It was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever had to do. Because we paid with cash, and had no receipt, the team lead told us we’d get in-store credit for the department the furniture came from. I quietly told her we were no longer pregnant, and that being restricted to the baby section of the store was not something I wanted.

Writing about this loss has not been easy. It is a tricky thing, writing about grief. Especially the grief over a loved one we hadn’t even had the chance to meet yet. Grief is a strange thing, and dealing with loss has a tendency to be a lonely process. It seems to me as though we, as humans, have a difficult time trying to find the right things to say to help someone coping with grief and so, sometimes the easiest way to handle it is to give space to those grieving.

My husband has been by my side the entire time. So have our parents. I reached out early, to those closest to me, to let them know what happened. In those immediate hours after surgery when I was not allowed to be alone, my mom stopped by to make sure we were comfortable. When my husband had to attend class, I had a friend come stay with me. A couple more friends brought us meals. We had flowers delivered to us. People made attempts to console us, but to be fair, there wasn’t much to say. We were grateful for everyone who reached out. Sometimes though, the attempts to assuage any sadness only made it worse, so I found myself eager for silence.

I avoided discussion about the topic in an effort to protect myself from it. I chose to temporarily disengage. Andrew dealt with his grief his way, and I was thankful he had people to confide in. I couldn’t be that for him, but his ability to reach out allowed him to support me, and I’m not sure how I would’ve handled it otherwise. I’m thankful for our marriage.

After a long weekend of tumultuous emotions and surgery the following Monday, Andrew and I made a general post on Facebook in a feeble attempt to prevent people from asking me how the pregnancy was going, as we had already announced. What a terrible message to have to deliver over the internet, I know. At that point in my grief, I just wanted the questions to stop.

It briefly occurred to me that some may assume we posted it as a plea for attention, but I couldn’t muster up enough energy to care what people thought. Initially I did. Initially I was incredibly embarrassed, along with the multitude of emotions that hit me like a freight train. But after the first intense wave of emotions, embarrassment fell far down the list. Anger, fear, disappointment, shame, guilt, sadness, those were all much more present. But embarrassment was still there.

I bargained. I regretted the number of times I dwelled on the fears I had from having two babies so close together. I kicked myself time and again for worrying about money or time. I wondered so many what-ifs – if I had done this or that, would this have still happened? I needed an outlet for the anger and the confusion and I directed it at myself. It was exhausting. That weekend was a long waiting game – it was getting through the days until Monday came. I didn’t feel I could begin to move on until surgery was over, and the in-between was so uncomfortable.

It amazes me how little people talk about miscarriage. I did a lot of research, trying to identify what I was feeling, what happened, and how people coped. I found out a lot of people go through it, but it is somewhat taboo to discuss. To be fair, I have carefully phrased things in this narrative in an attempt to keep the possibility of hurting someone to a minimum. Something like this has the ability to bring up a past hurt that had previously been handled. Just like seeing a woman with a newborn, or a future doctor’s appointment scribbled on a planner, or a reminder from a pregnancy app on a phone can. I would conclude then, that the lack of discussion is in an attempt to prevent others from being hurt. I fear that we have created an environment where it is ok to talk about our successes and triumphs, but not our sorrows and our failures, and in doing so have made dealing with grief and loss an isolated process.

I couldn’t believe the amount of people who reached out after our Facebook post, sharing their experience, telling me how lonely they felt, how difficult it was, but how hopeful I should be. People I’ve known for years took the time to send messages to let me know I was not alone. I know now that I could reach out to any of them in a moment of grief and they would be able to share that moment with me.

My feelings were validated by other women sharing that what I was feeling was absolutely normal. That it was ok to grieve the loss, even though we were so early. My baby was my baby, period. Many told me this wasn’t my fault, that playing the “what-if” game was fruitless, and that I should give myself the time I needed to process through everything. That helped. Seeing my therapist again helped. Putting some descriptions to the emotions I was feeling helped me determine I was more angry than sad. It helped me start the healing process. Hugging my husband and crying helped. Playing video games helped. So many little things put together have helped the days pass, and today I can string together extended periods of time without sadness or anger.

I am not 100% better. I don’t know that anyone ever is really. But I am moving forward, and I’m ok with that. I have a keepsake to honor our baby. I have a happy, healthy boy who just turned one that I get to be a mom to today. I’ve had multiple women tell me they had successful pregnancies after a miscarriage, and that I should have hope. That they’ll always remember their babies, but that the future is still bright, and our family can still grow. I believe them.

Becky is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

Featured image via Pexels

3 thoughts on “Grieving Through The What-Ifs

  1. Kelly Welch says:

    I had my first MMC last month. I felt so isolated and alone. Initially I didn’t really know anyone else this had happened to.

    It is absolutely crazy now though how many blogs I am seeing popping up or other peoples social media posts being shared in my circle of acquaintances and also strangers who are deciding to share their stories.

    It still feels very disappointing but it is easier to endure emotionally knowing that there are other women out there experience these same things. Thanks for sharing your story. It helps us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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