how is healing from a miscarriage or stillbirth similar to surviving a heart attack?

A few weeks after my first miscarriage I remember my sister saying to me “a lot of people have miscarriages, Claire had one and she has a healthy baby now” implication being “get over it”.

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It stuck with me, I kept wondering; why did I feel this loss so deeply?, why couldn’t I just get over “it”? Why did it hurt so much, I couldn’t even think about trying to get pregnant again?

Then I had my second loss and the therapist said “you are not the only one to feel pain, this is not the worst pain in the world, other people have still births”. Again I questioned. Do I feel pain more than others?  Do I not heal?

I have come to the conclusion, people  heal at different speeds, grief is unique to each person.  I believe that you never, ever get over losing a baby, You learn to live a life as a changed person.  I now realize that just as people have physical losses and challenges; heart attacks, cancer etc.  You can have emotional and mental loss and challenges.  Although my children are physical my grief and healing are very much mental and emotional.  My challenge is,  I have lost 4 babies!  

My therapist, my sister and a vast number of friends and family need to realize that they wouldn’t expect a heart attack  or cancer survivor to recover within a couple of weeks and they can’t expect a person who is grieving the loss of a baby to recover within a couple of weeks also.  Just because you can’t see the wound and pain doesn’t mean that it is not there.  Most importantly, I have learned to actively take care of my emotional and mental healing, just as a patient would take part in their physical health  for optimal healing.

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If you suffer a heart  attack you do not get over a heart attack, without repercussions. You adapt, you change your lifestyle, your diet, you exercise and you learn to live again.  When you are in crisis and you need heart surgery you surround yourself with the best doctors.  You get second opinions and you listen to surgeons.  You have surgery.  Likewise, when you lose your child, you don’t just “get over it” you should listen to the experts, surround yourself with people who will help your broken heart –friends and family that care. Psychologists that will give you coping techniques.  Counsellors who can perform EMDR and talk therapy.

After the initial crisis, just like you focus on recuperating if you have a heart attack by taking medicine, exercising, changing your diet,  do the same with baby loss.  Take your medicine.  Try and do activities you enjoy.  Take one day at a time, rest and recover.   Some days you feel the ache of your flesh knitting together after surgery.  Just like the sight of a happy family stings your broken heart or the anniversaries brings the painful memories and broken dreams to the surface.  Give your wound time to close.  Eventually it won’t sting as much. You will learn to live and accommodate the twinges and memories, like a heart attack victim adjusts to physical limitations.    It doesn’t matter if we have had trauma physically or emotionally our bodies won’t be the same. We wont be the same!
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The hard facts are some people can’t  survive a heart attack, just like some people don’t survive losing a baby.  If the patient doesn’t  change his eating, doesn’t exercise,  doesn’t change the bandages and the wound gets infected or the arteries get clogged from all the bad food unfortunately there will be serious consequences and he won’t recover from the heart attack. You can also not survive stillbirth, miscarriage or baby loss, by not processing your hurt, not grieving,  not healing,  not wanting to make changes or embracing the new you.

Just like any surgery or loss the wound always leaves a scar!  The scar will be there forever.  We are scarred from baby loss! We need to strive for our wounds to heal. We need to wear those scars with pride… Our children are wonderful and they are worth the pain.  They have shaped us into who we are, they have impacted our lives and in turn our family and friends lives. We should be proud of our scars, it means we have taken chances, been vulnerable, loved, and continue to heal.

My heart has 4 huge scars, they are named  Robbie, John, Siobhan and Malachy!  What are your scars called?

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