When I was trying to conceive a baby, I had three miscarriages in four years.
I feel blessed that, when I got pregnant naturally at the age of 40 (surprise!), I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to a vibrant daughter. But at the time of each miscarriage, I did not know if I would ever get pregnant again. And, if I did get pregnant, would I have another loss? Those fears never go away.
If someone close to you has had a miscarriage, it’s difficult to know what to say. Knowing what NOT to say, however, is equally important! I have heard all of these phrases at least once — mostly from well-meaning friends and family.
1. At least you can get pregnant.
When the pregnancy results in a loss, this phrase does not provide comfort. Tacking on the “at least” does not help.
2. At least you miscarried early in your pregnancy.
Does it matter how late or early you miscarried? All my miscarriages happened between week 5 and 7, before I heard a heartbeat, but that did not make it easier. The physical effects of a miscarriage vary depending on how far along you are during your pregnancy. For example, because I miscarried early on, I was never admitted to the hospital, and I could make do with over-the-counter pain relievers. The emotional side effects, however, were quiet strong. A miscarriage means a lost child, no matter when it occurs.
3. It happened for a reason.
Also known as the “it was meant to be” platitude, this is a phrase that many people fall back on when they don’t know what else to say. But this is not helpful for a woman who has miscarried. Oftentimes, that elusive “reason” is what we spend all of time trying to discover, and we don’t need a reminder of the ambiguity of it all.
4. Maybe your eggs are bad and/or old.
Talk about a downer. All of my pregnancies occurred without fertility treatments, but we met with a fertility specialist to see what he had to say. He said this phrase to me verbatim when he saw that my FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) level was 16. Thanks for the vote of confidence. We stopped seeing him after this.
5. Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten this/drank that.
This one is tough, and it’s also one that you will hear a lot from other well-meaning women, including women who have had losses. I deleted my account from a message board dedicated to women with fertility issues over this very personal debate because I couldn’t take one more person telling me that my one cup of coffee a day caused my miscarriage. It didn’t.
On the flip side….
6. Maybe you should have eaten this/drank that.
This one isn’t so helpful, either. This phrase is tough because again, well-meaning women recommended “solutions” that could have prevented my miscarriage, such as drinking certain teas, taking certain vitamins, and eating certain fruits. I was grateful for the suggestions, but I don’t want to hear that a cup of raspberry tea could have saved my unborn child. It couldn’t.
7. You’ll forget about it over time.
No, I won’t, and why do I have to? Women and their partners never forget about a miscarriage. While time does help to heal wounds, it doesn’t make us forget them — and I believe that we shouldn’t forget about a miscarriage because it is a part of our lives, forever. Time helped me to heal, but I will never forget it. It’s not healthy to dwell on the sadness in an unhealthy way, but it is absolutely okay to keep the memory.
8. It’s better than having a child born with problems.
When thinking about the things you should never say to a woman who’s had a miscarriage, this statement makes me cringe the most because it insinuates so many insulting things. Please don’t assume that I would have loved my baby any less if she had been born with developmental challenges.
9. Don’t worry — I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again right away.
But maybe I won’t. Maybe it took me a very long time to get pregnant with this baby, and maybe you don’t realize that I’ve been told by a medical specialist that I have less than a 1 percent change of carrying a baby to term. For many women, getting pregnant just isn’t that simple.
10. Maybe this means you aren’t ready for a baby yet.
Nope, I did not miscarry because I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I was ready for a baby, I tried for a baby, and I wanted a baby (I wanted this baby).
If someone close to you has had a miscarriage, you don’t have to provide reasons for why it happened. A hug and “I’m sorry” go a long way