Thursday, March 29, 2012

what to do when . . . someone you know miscarries, part 2

give chocolate :)
"Outrageous Chocolate Cookies"  from MarthaStewart.com
Yesterday, I began this series of posts with some things to consider if you are trying to care for a friend who has recently miscarried.  Today I thought I would mention a few more practical things, in case you want to show your support with a small gift, send a card, or just pay your friend a visit and talk.

Think "comfort"
When friends or family members have asked me for advice on what they can do for a friend who has miscarried, I have encouraged them to think about simple "comfort" gifts.   After a miscarriage, there is physical pain (in differing amounts, depending on the circumstances) and--if not extreme pain--then real discomfort.  Basically, your body is going through the labor process and aftermath.  I was not in excruciating pain, though I have known others who miscarried around the same time I did who described the pain as much worse.  It could have something to do with the fact that we all experience labor differently.  But even without intense pain, it definitely felt like a very, very bad period (and was compounded by sadness).

So my first suggestion would be:  give chocolate.  A pan of warm brownies (I craved them afterwards) or chocolate cookies or candy . . . you get the idea.  :)

Food is always a welcome gift (at least for me!).  You could bring your friend some yummy soup and bread or any other comfort food staple.  My sister-in-law Michelle took her friend warm potato soup with a sweet note attached.

For the first week or two, all I really felt like doing was curling up in bed or resting on the couch while Caroline played around me.  Considering this, another nice gesture might be a gift of comfy pajama pants or cozy socks.

You could bring your friend some popcorn + chocolate and loan her some movies to watch while in hibernation mode.  Offer to watch one with her one evening to keep her company if she wants it.  But don't be bothered if she just wants to be alone.  Everyone is going to handle the situation differently and will go through phases of wanting company and wanting to be alone.  If you are not sure, just ask.

Offer to help with practical needs
Bringing food or meals, as mentioned above, would be one way to meet a very practical need.  Also, if your friend has little children and you are in a position to help with babysitting, ask her if you can watch them while she goes to follow-up doctor appointments.

Since she might not feel like getting out much unless she absolutely has to, give her a call or text when you are running to the store or doing errands, and offer to pick up some things she is needing.

Follow up with her
It helps to know what your friend is going through medically.  Feel free to ask questions about how she is feeling and what the doctors are saying at her appointments (and get a feel for if she is up for talking about these things).  She may have follow-up appointments for several weeks.  In my case, my body was taking care of things naturally (I didn't need a D&C), but I did have to go to the doctor once a week for (I think) about 5 weeks so that they could draw blood and see that my pregnancy hormone levels were going down.

Doctor visits were hard because they still regarded me as an OB patient, even though the pregnancy had "ended."  At each visit, the receptionist said something like,  "And what are you here for today?" and I had to explain (if I were a little more direct about things, I might have politely asked them to look at my chart or make a note instead of making me explain it every time).

In addition to doctor visits, there is the everyday reminder of the miscarriage in the form of a heavy blood flow for several weeks.  Nobody wants a five-week-long period in the first place, and it it is especially hard to deal with in this situation because of what it represents.  I handled this better on some days than on others.  Just be aware that even on "good" days, emotions can go up and down.


Acknowledge the loss
No matter your relationship with the person who has miscarried, it is always nice to acknowledge the loss and show you care.  You may not be best friends or the person she will discuss her emotions with every week, but don't let that keep you from sending a card or getting in touch somehow.   I treasure the cards I have from that time because they are the only physical reminders I have that the pregnancy existed (aside from the due date written and crossed out in my planner from that year).

My cousin Molly said one of the most meaningful things she received after her miscarriage was a handmade ornament that had the date she miscarried and the phrase "angels watch over baby" printed on it.  She said it it helped to validate for her that she had carried a baby and that she has a baby waiting for her in heaven.  I think this is a beautiful idea.  

No matter what you do, know that it means a lot just to receive acknowledgement and support and that any gesture made will be remembered with gratitude.  

***

I still feel like there is more I could say, but I will leave it at this for now.  If you have miscarried and want to share the thoughtful things that others did for you, please feel welcome to do so.  And please email me if you want or need to talk.  :)


Lots of love to any of you who have lost a baby of your own 
and to all of the friends that are showing they care.    

2 comments:

blog comments are thoughtful . . . :)

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