Talking to Friends about IF and Miscarriage

I know that everyone has a different way of dealing with this topic, so this is just my two cents about what worked for me (and what didn't).

I have an unusual circumstance (I think) in that I am literally surrounded by people with IF.  Starting with my family, my mom lost a baby after me, in the 5th month.  And both of my married sisters have had more than one miscarriage, including an ectopic pregnancy.  (Yes, this family history plays a role in my IF-infection).  From their experiences, I formed my own opinion on how to handle pregnancy and miscarriage.  For example, when I got pregnant, I knew there would be a good chance of miscarriage.  However, I still chose to tell people.  My decision rule was this: I would tell anyone that I was expecting that I would also tell if I was miscarrying.  That way I would have the support I needed should something happened.  Dh agreed on this rule.  We told our parents, our siblings, and our best friends.  One thing I didn't anticipate up front is how many people I would want to tell if/when I miscarried.  I think that is because I am a very open person.  I am blessed with many friends that put up with me!  As I mentioned before, many of them have their own IF struggles.  I have friends from my high school group  (even though mostly single, have things they know will cause them at least some difficulty conceiving-a didelphic uterus, pcos, family history), friends from college (many still without children, but one that tried for years to get pregnant), a great group from church (many many have experienced losses, also secondary infertility, one ttc for many years before chosing to stop for many reasons), even elementary school BFF and the secretary at my work!  I continue to be blessed to meet others through friends IRL or online.  I really feel blessed for this amazing network of women!  It seems nuts as I list them here-I guess God knew I just wasn't strong enough to go through it without them all!

When I didn't tell the friends from high school or the college group about the first miscarriage, I felt like I was hiding something.  I would want to know if they were hurting.  Our miscarriage was very traumatizing for me (aren't they all?!).  It was surrounded by a roller coaster of emotions, one reason being because we had a heart beat and then lost the pregnancy.  (For new readers, click here-the post is called Michael).  I was gearing up to tell my friends about the loss, when we got pregnant again.  I remember having this crazy mix of emotions.  For the second pregnancy (click here or the post called Gabby), the hcg didn't double properly from the beginning and loss was imminent.  I lost her before I had told friends about the first one.  At that point, I knew I had to tell them, and quickly.  It was a huge part of who I was.  I wanted to "come clean" with everyone, but not in a way that would make them feel awkward.  I had been writing down the details of what had happened.  It was therapeutic.  It was also recording the story that is our life. It wasn't just facts, it was emotions.  I ended up attaching these "chapters" to an email.  I said something to the effect, that we were struggling, having had two losses.  It didn't feel right to not share this with them, as I would want to know if the roles were reversed.  I have written in length about the details if they were interested.  It avoided an awful conversation I wasn't really ready for, but I got it out.  I bounced the idea off my BFF first.  She was very supportive.  I am glad I did it.  Those "chapters" later became those posts on my blog.  The friends are an amazing source of support, but it doesn't define our friendship. 

As I continued to share with others, how and when I felt it appropriate and comfortable (and trying to be considerate of dh who is more private than I am), I learned of more and more people struggling themselves.  That helped build my community of support.  I honestly don't know if there is anyone I interact with that doesn't know this about me!  It is just part of me, it doesn't come out in a way that makes them feel awkward, just as it comes up and stated as fact.  I often learn they have had similar problems (hello-almost everyone who has drawn my blood!) and it is a way to share what has worked for me and let people know they are not alone.

During this time, I became on a mission to make sure that miscarriage or IF wasn't a dirty secret that people don't feel they can reveal.  There is no stigma.  It isn't our fault.   If people want to keep it private, that is their choice.  I totally respect that.  Different things work for different people. But talking about it, having that support, is therapeutic.  And even better, we may even be able to share information or learn about treatments that can help!  Just my two cents on how I have worked through a difficult topic.


Second Chances said...

Just finished reading your post on baby Michael and I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. How horribly painful miscarriage must be.

In our 7 years of infertility, we've never had a miscarriage. I can't imagine the pain. Having recently found out that we conceived, we debated (but not for long) on whether or not to tell everyone so early, in case of miscarriage. We decided that we wanted prayers, for ourselves and especially for our little one. We're surrounded by a huge church community of prayer warriors (also our best friends) and knew we needed prayer one way or another.

But as one who hasn't been through a miscarriage, I wonder if I would have done this the same way had I experienced loss before.

But we also wanted this person's life to bring joy to others, even if only for a brief amount of time.

This is an interesting topic and will be neat to see everyone's views. Thank you for sharing your story.

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm a very open person too - a lot of my friends and family follow my blog. Everyone chooses the path that brings them the most support and healing.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

I feel that the way I am best able to "use" my cross for the good of others is to talk about it. Not like, constantly or anything (I don't walk around with an "I Am Barren, How 'Bout You?" t-shirt!) but when the general topic arises of children, etc, I tend to be open about it now... and it's amazing who God has lead into my path when I do open up. I know He wants me to open up and be able to reach these other people. But for others, that may not be His plan... those may be the people He intends to find those like you and me ;)

the misfit said...

That's interesting. IF isn't a secret for me and most of our friends know, but I have a tendency not to bring it up unasked. Maybe that's because most of the time when a conversational topic is raised that would trigger it, I'd be angry. (Last night I was at an all-girl book club discussing _Rebecca_, and a girl there named Rebecca said, "How come Rebecca has to be the evil character?" And I decided not to say, "The name is a coincidence; if not yours, it would've been someone else's. But the idea that the barren woman is evil - or the evil woman is barren - is no coincidence, that was deliberate.") Honestly, I almost never find an opportunity to bring it up when it doesn't seem super-awkward. Why is that???

Jill said...

Your openness about your situation has helped me tremendously. I couldn't have done it without you! You were one of my biggest supports - luv ya!

Karen said...

Thank you for sharing this! IF isn't something that I have come in contact with IRL. As far as DH and I know we are the first to struggle in both of our families. We are just now getting to the point where family is becoming aware of it. I have been told by my Creighton Doctor that miscarriage is a big risk for me and I've been wondering how I will handle a pregnancy when it happens. This has really helped me confirm what I was already thinking. Thank you!

cowboybootlady said...

I love that you have so many supporters. I feel the same way!

WheelbarrowRider said...

Thank you for all the comments, everyone. I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Second chances, I agree about letting your little one be joy to others. Jeremiah, def agree that my path isn't for everyone. TCIE, I promise I don't wear a t-shirt either, though it kind of sounds like I do from the post! Misfit, I don't know how, but it does come up often for me-whether its a newly engaged Catholic couple like my hairdresser (we speak at Engaged Encounter on NFP) or the person drawing my blood and curious as to why. It just seems to come up and I don't shy away when it does. But I try not to make people feel awkward, just present it as matter of fact (napro, IF, etc, whichever part relates). I am sorry it has come up in frustrating ways for you, I haven't had that experience. Karen, I am glad it helped-you aren't alone because you have us! Jill and Alisha, you were both huge supports to me IRL and I am so blessed to have you both!
I welcome more comments on what others' have done or found helpful!

mrsblondies said...

We've recently gotten to a point where we are telling more people about our IF struggles, which I think is mainly due to my surgeries. A friend's wife that I met this weekend is actually just starting to do testing because they are concerning about some things her Creighton chart is showing and I was able to give some advice.