Having a Miscarriage Plan

(An important caveat: I did the Bradley birth thing for my first three kids. I am a planner and I like to research the heck out of things. I read books set in the place I’ll visit before a trip, and I read birth stories when I’m pregnant, and pestered friends and strangers alike about their homeschooling decisions before starting that particular adventure. It is just how I feel most comfortable. If you don’t find yourself nodding in agreement, this post probably isn’t for you.)

My third pregnancy, I experienced some light bleeding around five weeks and endured a weekend of dread while I waited to learn if my hCG levels were rising. They were, and it’s hard to look at my vivid tornado of a toddler and imagine her survival was ever in question. But the scare, followed by a close friend’s loss, got me thinking.

I am not a midwife or a doula or a spiritual advisor. I’m just a woman who knew a lot of other women who had miscarried, and felt scared, and wanted to know what to expect in case it ever happened to me.

And then last month it did, and in the moment when I was dissolving into tears of disbelief in the dark ultrasound room as I crushed my husband’s hand in mine, I wasn’t completely lost, even if I was completely heartbroken. As with the birth plan I had long ago drafted for my living children, I’d already put some thought into this dreadful possibility.

In the awful weeks since, I’ve sometimes had women comment to me that they never knew such and such was an option in miscarriage. I knew only because I had done what I’ve always done when faced with the unknown: ferreted around, asked people to tell their stories, and read up.

I can’t really convey how weird I feel sharing this. Like I’m morbid? Or an anxious mess? (I mean, I am.) But as the Fanuccis say in their book, Grieving Together, “[B]eing open to life means being open to grief.” If we spend so much time thinking about the entrance of our living children into the world, even planning for circumstances we’d like to avoid (like C-sections), it might make sense to also spare some thought toward how we’d welcome a child into the world even if hope were gone. Just like reading the C-section chapter in the hippie birth book won’t somehow jinx you into having to have a cesarean (but might equip you to make decisions in that crisis), giving a thought to miscarriages before something is wrong might help you someday, too, if only to make you a more compassionate and helpful friend.

If this is something that reverberates with you, I thought I’d include a few resources:

  • If you read one thing, this is the thing I’d recommend: Your rights during a miscarriage, by Mary Haseltine (author of Made for This, below).
  • Many pregnancy books contain a little section you may not have noticed (or staunchly avoided) about pregnancy loss at the back. Those are a great place to start. The Orthodox pregnancy book Fertile Ground: A Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy (reviewed here) has a beautiful, loving one I read and weeped through immediately following my news, and Made for This: The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Birth has a very informative section. Both authors have experienced their own losses, and that compassion informs their writing.
  • My own miscarriage plan, which I never consulted during the ordeal but which informed the choices I made. It’s pretty bare bones, as you can see. And you definitely don’t have to write it down, like I did — just have a conversation with your husband so he knows.
  • If this ends up happening to you, it’s helpful to feel informed. The physical process of having a miscarriage at home is described here in more detail than my midwife offered, and includes a list of supplies to gather, which somehow felt really concrete and helpful for me, like I had a job as I waited for the baby to come.

If you have experienced a loss, too, please know I am so sorry. Right now, at least, I’m finding a lot of comfort in trying to make women feel less alone and unprepared. If it helps you, too, please leave a comment about what you wish you’d known before your miscarriage.

4 thoughts on “Having a Miscarriage Plan

  1. Again, I’m so sorry for your loss and y’all are in my prayers!
    Something that might help if anyone’s in the Texas area:
    Retreats for families who’ve experienced miscarriage are offered by the Rabboni Institute in the dioceses of Austin, Houston and Dallas (and I thiiink New Orleans?). There’s one coming up in Houston soon. For more information on it, you can visit archgh.org/prolifeevents. Prince of Peace parish in Tomball, TX also has a moving and helpful (I thought) candle-lit service every year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure if my previous comment will appear out of the blue because my laptop screen blipped, but in case it doesn’t:
    Thank you for the links! In hopes that this may help comfort you in this time, I just wanted to share that your child is now an amazing intercessor for your family – the only people your child really knew. I’m Catholic and we believe that even the souls in purgatory can pray for us (though they can’t pray for themselves) so I’m certain your child (who’s not in purgatory) could and would for you.

    I’m familiar with Haseltine’s resources but wasn’t with the others. Something I would add is just to be sure you visit the doctor and request a pregnancy test in office asap following your miscarriage if your doctor didn’t already know you were pregnant. The reason for this is because, when I experienced an early miscarriage at home, my doctor didn’t suggest doing so and then later wouldn’t acknowledge that my miscarriage happened when I needed her signature saying that it did happen so I could legally bury my child in Texas. If I had requested to take the test in office, my hormone levels would’ve still shown as though I was pregnant (my understanding is they do for up to 2 weeks according to my ob nurse aunt) and my doctor would’ve then had to agree that yes I was pregnant and would’ve consented to do the testing showing that I no longer was. Sigh. I feel terrible about it but I had to bury my child myself where our family plots are. Now I know.

    I’m glad you mentioned progesterone levels in your plan. I had scares with my 3 and 2 year old when they were in utero due to those needing to be boosted.


  3. One thing that was very helpful for me, and that I drew on when I had my miscarriage, was that my mother was very open with us about her miscarriages when we were growing up (she’s gone through two or three). She told us what happened, and we had little home funerals for two of them and a private church funeral (just our immediate family) for a third (their pastor was willing to work with them) followed by a burial on a family plot.

    So when my own happened, I didn’t have to start from scratch. I already had a sort of template to draw from. I’d say definitely include your children, especially your daughters, in your plans to memorialize your baby. It may be something that helps them down the road.


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