When I turned 30 this past July, I knew I was entering a new phase of my life but I didn’t expect that my whole world would be rocked. Shortly after blowing out my birthday candles, I found out my one big wish came true: I was finally pregnant, after six seemingly long months of trying.
Unfortunately, a week later the elation was quickly taken from me when I woke up in the middle of the night with sharp cramps and some light bleeding. The next two hours I was up tossing and turning, the pain becoming more severe and the bleeding heavier. This confirmed my biggest fear: I was having a miscarriage.
The conversations I had in my head were endless and for the first time in my life, I felt truly heartbroken. I spent the first few days in bed crying, beating myself up (Was it that glass of wine I had the other week? Could I have done anything differently?) and hiding from the world.
However, slowly but surely I was able to pick myself back up and start to truly face what had happened to me head on. I started my path to healing and recovery, taking it one step at a time.
While I was able to get pregnant again five months later, I owe a lot of that to the time I dedicated to caring for my mind, body and soul after the loss. While my loss was early, any loss is a loss and I’m a firm believer that women need and deserve time to heal and grieve in the own way.
Here are five things that helped me nourish my mind, body and soul throughout the process.
Book an Acupuncture Appointment
After my miscarriage, my body felt totally out of whack and I didn’t feel like myself. My skin broke out, I was extremely fatigued, my digestion was funky and I felt super bloated. After all, my body had just been through a massive shift.
I had been going to acupuncture prior to becoming pregnant for thyroid function and fertility, so I decided to book an appointment with my acupuncturist Christian Robinson Cady of Eastern Therapeutics. She knew exactly what I needed, and the session was simply focused on nourishing and replenishing my body. I left feeling like a huge weight had been lifted, and slowly began to feel like my old self again.
Cady says that after a miscarriage, you need to honor the loss of your child and allow yourself time to grieve, and that acupuncture can be extremely helpful throughout this process. “The acupuncture point selection always includes ‘grief points’ and calming points,” Cady says. “Physically there’s a mass loss of your body’s resources. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine that is blood, yin (a deep nutritive fluid that feeds the body at a cellular level) and jing (the beautifully poetic piece of your own essence that you give to your child).”
Talk it Out
After the loss, I felt extremely empty, ashamed and alone as I held onto my big, dark secret. It was totally consuming my every thought, but the only people who knew were my husband and a few close family members. While they were extremely supportive, they couldn’t really relate to me, as they’d never gone through something like this. I soon realized that keeping it in wasn’t serving me, so I decided to start talking about it. In fact, I published an extremely personal and vulnerable blog post opening up about my miscarriage to the world.
Instantly, I was flooded with messages from friends and strangers pouring their hearts out to me, sharing their stories of love and loss. Even my grandmother opened up to me about a miscarriage she had when she was younger. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. In fact, I felt a strong sense of sisterhood and community unlike ever before.
When you’re able to talk about it, you’ll discover so many other women have been in your shoes and you truly aren’t alone after all. Open yourself up to receive, and know it’s okay to feel your feelings—be it grief, shame, loneliness, sadness or anger.
Make Time for Meditation
Shortly after my miscarriage, a friend told me about Expectful, a meditation app for fertility and pregnancy, so I downloaded it. Every day, I made time to mediate, even if just for 10 minutes. I particularly enjoyed the meditations geared toward overcoming challenges like “Moving Past Fear,” “Forgiving Judgement” and “Being with Sadness.” They even have a free Pregnancy Loss Support Guide, including meditations and expert advice, which was extremely helpful.
Expectful cofounder and community lead Anna Gannon says that meditation can help women who have experienced loss realize they’re not their thoughts. “Women are constantly thinking ‘What if?’ Gannon says. “Through meditation, they can see their thoughts happening in their mind, while recognizing in the present moment they are safe.”
Start a Gratitude Journal
When it dawned on me I was indeed having a miscarriage, it was really hard to think positively. Even though I was surrounded by so many blessings, my mind went to a really dark place.
That’s when I decided to bust out the old gratitude journal, and find one thing each day that I was grateful for, even on days I could barely get out of bed. Here’s a peek at my journal:
7/13: knowing I CAN get pregnant, and for being able to work from home during this tough day, also for hubby bringing home a new plant and Thai food
7/14: a full night’s sleep
7/15: coffee and Jay’s homemade breakfast
7/16: working for myself, Brigg’s organic coffee, and our patio almost being finished
7/17: kicking off my wellness challenge, my dad & I both finding a white feather (my sign) and jumping in the pool with my friend
As the days went by, I began to experience an extreme feeling of gratitude for all that I do have, mostly for the fact that my body can get pregnant and knows what to do, and that I am blessed with an amazing, patient husband who I had never felt closer to.
Last but not least, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is get the support you need!
Support can look very different for each of us, and come from many different avenues—friends, family, therapists, healers, coaches, acupuncturists and more. The more you surround yourself with people who love you, the more love you’ll feel in your heart. I assure you it can be extremely healing, and slowly begins to fill that emptiness inside of you.
There are many wonderful resources out there for women who have experienced a miscarriage, many of which are free. For instance, Boston doula Emma O’Brien provides complimentary miscarriage services through emotional support, communicating desires to medical staff (like seeing the baby after the procedure or getting footprints), or ensuring comfort at home (like heat pads, tea, massage and aromatherapy).
Emma recommends women take it easy and take care of themselves after going through a miscarriage. “For some, that means throwing yourself into work or a creative project to put that energy into something else, and for others it involves taking time alone to reflect and heal,” she says. “ It can also be helpful to create a ritual to commemorate the pregnancy—a birth stone, a piece of jewelry, a candle, a plant or a poem.”