Turn to those who know to find comfort after miscarriage

October 02, 1997|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Today my husband and I are walking in memory of two children we never knew.

The "Walk to Remember," sponsored by Labor of Love of Washington County Hospital, is for families who've lost babies through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death.

Until it happened to us, I never realized how important it is for parents who've lost babies to talk to each other.

I've been pregnant twice this year. Both pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

I don't know what I would have done without the women who opened up to me about their losses.

They were the ones who told me it's OK to grieve. It's normal to feel numb. It's natural to look away when you see a pregnant belly.


The number of women who approached me with their stories after my second miscarriage proved the statistics right.

Miscarriage is not uncommon.

According to National Center for Health Statistics, 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Medical professionals say that figure is low because many women miscarry before they realize they are pregnant. They may think their periods are a week or two late and are abnormally heavy and painful.

But for those who've had a positive pregnancy test and have started to think about the life growing in them, the loss is real, regardless of how "common" it is.

I didn't realize how connected I would become in the short time I carried each child.

Nor was I prepared for the anger I felt.

Why did this happen to me? I'm a good mother. I teach my 2-year-old about the world around him. I get up with him at night. I listen to him, sing with him, laugh at his silliness.

Some women who've lost babies told me they feel resentment toward women who seem not to care for their children. I felt that way last week toward a woman in the grocery store who was swearing at her children. It took all the restraint I had not to offer to take her "brats" off her hands. She acted like it was a burden to be around those two dear little girls, a "burden" I would gladly take on. I have two empty bedrooms waiting to be filled.

My first miscarriage was especially hard emotionally because I never expected it to happen to me.

I don't remember much about the drive home from the doctor's office that day, except the banner on a house we passed that proclaimed "It's a girl!"

People who didn't know what happened said things like, "Don't you think it's time your son had a baby brother or sister?" "Are you guys going to have any more?" "Are you trying to have a baby?"

Perhaps that was another reason why the only women I wanted to talk to were those who had known the pain of preparing for a child who never came.

They've taught me to cling to the positives.

Many of us have better marriages because of what we've been through. My husband has been very strong for me, although he admits that when he sees men with more than one child, he stops and thinks about our loss.

Our son has become even more precious to us.

One woman told me, "If I wouldn't have had my miscarriages, I wouldn't have my kids."

She was willing to risk getting pregnant again even though the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage is intense.

Another woman shared that she had a healthy baby, had two miscarriages and went on to have three more children. That gave me hope.

And perhaps that's why it happened to me - so I could understand someone else's pain and heartache and share some hope with her.

I believe God allows painful things to happen so we'll be stronger and more compassionate toward others. How could I know what a woman who miscarried is feeling if I hadn't experienced it myself?

I made a memorial to my babies from the flowers I received. The dried blooms are in a vase on my bedroom mantel. The prominent display reminds me each morning that there may be someone who needs an encouraging word, a smile, a few minutes of my time that day.

Someone who at that very moment is asking, "Why did this happen to me?"

I think that's the best way to remember the children I never had a chance to know.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean is editor of Lifestyle.

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