Everyone talks about marriages, divorces, and babies, but in our communities, it’s very rare that I’ve ever heard someone talk about their miscarriage. For some reason it can feel like a stigma, making those who had a miscarriage feel wrongfully guilty, whereas in reality it’s essentially another part of life and death. It wasn’t until I went through the experience myself and talked to a few close family members that I realised I wasn’t alone and it’s a lot more common than I thought.
To all you parents who have miscarried, who have buried their children, my love and prayers are with you. It can be a very lonely journey, but just know you are not alone. Whether it’s your family, your friends, or this random stranger on the internet – people care for you – so turn to them. Don’t try and process all your pent up emotions alone.
Let me give a little background about myself. I had a ‘rough’ life plan – which included 3 kids before 30 (first child at 25, second at 27, third at 29)! Well, I fell slightly behind on my schedule, but at the age of 26 I was lucky enough to fall pregnant – twice, Alhamdulillah. However, Allah SWT had other plans for my pregnancies – for within the space of 5 months, I experienced two miscarriages.
I thought long and hard before writing this – and the reason I decided to do so wasn’t for any kind of sympathy from others, but rather for those who have experienced it to understand that they’re not alone, and for those who haven’t experienced to understand other women’s stories.
That last bit is where I wanted to start. It’s such a common statement that often people don’t really think about saying it. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been asked why I don’t have kids yet after being married for x number of years. I know people don’t mean any harm when they ask, but I always think it’s best not to question women as to why they haven’t fallen pregnant yet…you really don’t know their journey.
Whilst I was going through the second miscarriage, I was madly searching the internet – I wasn’t sure if what was happening to my body was correct, as my first had been so different. It was a bewildering time for me and I didn’t know who to turn to in the middle of the night for answers. (For reference, calling 111 is a good place to start in the UK!)
And so I decided to jot down parts of my story, and a few tips so you know what to be aware of if you end up experiencing this unexpected blessing (I’ll explain the blessing part at the end). A caveat – I write about my own experiences only – please bear in mind that everyone’s body is different and each woman’s experience may differ.
So, to all those women out there currently going through, or recovering from a miscarriage:
It really is not your fault
That’s something you will hear and read a lot. It’ll be difficult to accept, especially when you feel like you’re in control. You may have eaten the correct foods, practised as many mustahab acts as possible, but then played sports for an hour and ended up miscarrying. You put 1 + 1 and make 6. You could have slept for the first three months and still miscarried – so please don’t beat yourself up.
In reality, about 1 in 8 pregnancies are estimated to end in miscarriage. That means it is way more common than you might have realised. You couldn’t have done anything differently. People will start quoting statistics (like I’m doing now!) because they want to help make you feel better. However it can be difficult to let it sink in.
To be honest, every time someone said it to me, I might have smiled and nodded on the outside – but on the inside I was angry, I kept wondering why I had to be the 1 in the statistic. What had I done wrong? It’s okay to question why as long as you ultimately realise you couldn’t have done anything to prevent it happening. The little one came for a purpose and when the purpose had been fulfilled, s/he had to leave.
Every miscarriage is different
I found out I was pregnant very early on and I lost my first baby early too – at about 6 weeks. I noticed some spotting and called my doctor. After a couple of days going back and forth with 111 and my doctor, I eventually was referred to the hospital. They examined me but the results were inconclusive.
A couple of days later, I got a call to say that my HCG levels weren’t where they should be and that I was miscarrying. Physically, I didn’t notice much that time, although emotionally it did take its toll on me.
However, for my second pregnancy, I had been carrying my baby inside me for 11 weeks when I felt something was wrong (although baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks – we just didn’t know). There was a bit of spotting a week before my 12 week scan (which as you can imagine we had been very eagerly awaiting – scenarios on how to tell everyone had already playing in our heads – as after the first miscarriage I wanted physical proof before we broke the news to friends and family) and I eventually ended up back in hospital.
This time they did an early dating scan and noticed that the foetus wasn’t the size it should have been at 11 weeks. Laying in the chair, looking at the screen, the story of Ayatollah Khomeini kept playing in my mind. When he found out his son had been killed, his first reaction was to say “Alhamdulillah.”
In the UK, once they’ve done a dating scan that’s flagged something, they have to wait a week before they can check again and medically call it a miscarriage, just in case something changes. So we were told it’s more likely a miscarriage, sent home with a bunch of fliers on the different types of management, and advised to wait out a week.
However (as this doesn’t happen to everyone straight away and they don’t want to frighten anyone) I wasn’t warned about what might occur during the one week wait.
- There’s a crazy amount of blood. From that day onwards I began to bleed (which is expected). However, as the days passed it got heavier and heavier. I swear at one point I thought I was haemorrhaging. It turns out it’s perfectly normal to be losing that much blood (although always best to call your doctor if it’s concerning you).
- You may pass some pretty huge clots. No one warns you about the size of the clots that come out of you. Again, it’s a normal process that your body has to go through in order to expel all the extra blood it had built up in your uterus. I know it’s an uncomfortable experience, but your body is incredibly strong and so are you!
- You may experience lower back pain and cramps. This can be similar to what you get when you have a really bad period. I know this doesn’t completely fix anything but a hot water bottle and good company does help distract you a little from the pain and discomfort.
- You may experience contractions. Boy do I wish someone had told me about those so I could have been slightly more prepared! I had read about cramps and miscarriage, but not much about the contractions.
It turns out that my womb was contracting, trying to rid itself of the baby, and the pregnancy matter that was no longer needed. It felt like a cruel twist of fate that night, I essentially experienced a part of labour without the gift of a baby in return.
The contractions began in the evening, coming about every half an hour, and continued for hours throughout the night until they were as close as a minute or two apart. With each contraction, the pain was so intense, that I wasn’t able to think straight. I felt so lost and confused, but my body would take over in the moment and knew what to do.
I tried to lie down and rest but it was impossible as my entire abdomen would seize up. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. A friend who had recently had a baby told me everything she had done during labour. And so every time a contraction came, I tried walking around and breathing through the pain.
I played Qur’an, specifically Surah Maryam, which soothed me throughout the night. During the moments of relative calm, I attempted to read to distract myself. Eventually my last contraction came and went around 4am. I was utterly exhausted. It felt like I had been completely battered and bruised and I literally fell onto the bed to sleep, as if all my energy had been sucked away.
However, what had begun as a terrible, painful process slowly turned into something that was extremely spiritual. Once I had gotten over the initial shock of the experience, I was then able to channel some energy towards really connecting with Allah SWT. I spoke to Him throughout the night, about the physical pain I going through; the journey, the sadness and eventually, the self-realisation. This body, and the strength that Allah SWT gifted me, amazed me that night, and I remember thanking Allah SWT in the morning for choosing me to undertake such a journey.
My husband, bless him, was so exhausted from supporting me the whole week that he fell asleep half way through that night. He entertained me till pretty late, but in reality as a man, he could never know what I was going through – we hadn’t read about labour or looked into it together, it was too early. In reality, no one really will understand what you’re going through except Allah SWT. It’s difficult not to rely on people, but keep reminding yourself to talk to Your Creator, for He is the one who chose this beautiful test for you.
I have heard people say that the contractions of a miscarriage are much more painful than those of labour, for labour is the end result of a step by step pregnancy, whereas for a miscarriage, the body wasn’t prepping 9 months for these contractions.
For some, the contractions may result in a complete end to the pregnancy, however for me it was only the beginning of the process I had to go through to get closer to God, for it turns out my baby was still inside.
For the next stage there are three options:
1) D&C (dilation and curettage) – surgical operation under general anaesthetic to clear out the womb.
2) Medicinal treatment – take a medicine that causes the tissue to pass out of the womb.
3) Wait for the tissue to pass out of the womb naturally.
I chose to have the D&C done. After the weekend, I couldn’t face going through the contractions again. The D&C went smoothly, and the midwives and nurses at the hospital were so lovely. It did hurt, walking into the ward where so many of my family members have been born, the same ward I had expected to deliver my own baby, and instead going through something quite different.
I tried to be strong that day – but inside I was a bit of a mess. I didn’t know what to feel. Sad that my baby was being removed from my womb or happy that it was all going to be physically over and I could get on with life – or should I not feel anything at all because this was a test from Allah SWT and I was hopefully passing it?
It took me a long time to leave that hospital room after waking from the surgery. It was like a small part of me didn’t want to leave, as it felt like I was leaving behind a part of myself. I really struggled to express myself and just wanted to put on a brave face. Since it was my second miscarriage and it was still the first trimester I felt that everyone expected me to be fine mentally and just get on with my life, although it was probably quite the opposite.
I remember just randomly crying in the arms of a very sweet nurse who had come in to check on me whilst my husband had gone outside to sort out the car. There were no flowers, or chocolates, or visitors bringing gifts for a new mum or a little crying baby. I went into the hospital in the morning and I was supposed to go home that afternoon as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until the nurses very subtly told me to go that I forced myself to leave the hospital room.
Looking back on it now – I just want to tell myself that we’re human. It’s okay to cry, to feel sorry for yourself a little and to ask for hugs and company. We’re human and emotions need to be released if we want to move forward.
Rest and recovery time is essential
In the hospital I was advised that it may take a few days to a week for the post operation bleed to subside. However for me it took over three weeks (with additional painful cramping) to stop bleeding completely.
Whichever way you miscarried your baby, resting is essential. The days you end up doing too much, your body will let you know. And trust me – it won’t be pleasant. In the same way a woman looks after herself post-labour, you need to look after yourself. Your hormones are going to be up and down and your body is going to have to get back to it’s original state. Give yourself some ‘self-love’. Sleep, read your favourite books, watch some movies and hang out with loved ones. Spend some relaxing time with your husband, where you can both mourn together as well have fun and look after each other – we took some time out and went away for a few days, which was really helped us through it.
In our culture, they say it is “warm foods” that helps the blood pass quicker from the body. I was fed lots of:
- A cup of kaaro every day or every other day: (soak whole peppercorns overnight in a mug of water. Mix together ½ tsp ginger power or fresh ginger and some turmeric and heat it in a saucepan. Add the water of the peppercorns and bring it to boil. Turn it off and add a tablespoon of honey. Drink whilst warm.)
You’ll know when your body has recovered so don’t push yourself too much, too quickly. Whilst your body recovers, let your heart recover too. I went through the different stages of grief with both pregnancies (from angry to sadness to acceptance) and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the two little babies I was privileged enough to carry for a while. Although constantly conversing with Allah SWT has made it a lot easier. My husband and I even went to our local graveyard soon after the miscarriage, picked a spot, and traced a tiny little grave in the ground. Although we didn’t have anyone to bury, it helped give us some closure.
The sadness is not going to disappear straight away, but never forget that you will both always be a mum and dad to the little ones that are no longer with you. Allah SWT has given you and your husband a beautiful status, for all babies that were miscarried or stillborn will be waiting at the gates of Jannah to ensure their parents go in.
The Messenger of Allah (ص) has said: “Get married, for I shall brag about your numbers before the nations on the Judgment Day, so much so that the stillborn remains waiting at the gate of Paradise, so it is said to him to enter, but he says, ‘Not before my parents enter.’”
I had pre-booked/ pre-planned some things in my life depending on what month of pregnancy I would be in and I’m still in the phase of “oh right now I would be x months pregnant.” I can smile about it, but there are also times when I feel down and just want to tell world that it hurts inside. Again, it’s a perfectly normal response, write your feelings down on paper as a form of release or talk to your spouse or your family/ friends. Although some might not completely get it they love you and will be there for you in the best way they know how.
It was a blessing
I wanted to end this post on a little reminder to myself. Miscarriage is nothing to be ashamed of. There is a blessing in every test and a test in every blessing, and it’s up to us to find it. Looking back, however much I wanted those babies, if Allah SWT gave me the opportunity to rewind time, I like to think (but who knows really!) that I would chose to go through the miscarriages again. The miscarriages are part of me – they changed me as a person and I grew in a different way. Keep a look out for Allah SWT’s beautiful plan and He’ll guide you towards understanding it.
Some tips for friends and family of those going through a miscarriage:
- Give lots of silent hugs and allow the person to grieve. They already know it’s a test. They know the baby wasn’t meant to grow to be in this world, they don’t need to hear it straight away. They just need someone to show some love towards them. Physical touch has actually been found to decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
- Let them grieve. There are a number of stages to grief and one of them is anger. Let them talk it out, let them scream or shout or laugh – be a compassionate support for them. You can provide them with the words of advice once they’ve let everything out of their system, for it will be difficult for them to process the words whilst their emotions have taken over.
- Don’t pretend the baby didn’t exist. The most beautiful message I received and will never forget was from an aunt who wrote, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilahe rajion.” She acknowledged that my baby had died, however small it was.
- Acknowledge the type of person she is – would she enjoy company or does she need space? Everyone has a different love language, some woman prefer the extra company, so take over some food and movies and just hang out. Others, prefer going through it privately. Respect that they may not want to talk about it, so send a message or some flowers letting them know you’re available if/when they’re ready to talk.
- Support dads too. Although they haven’t experienced the same physical loss, dads will be experiencing their own share of pain from the miscarriage.
- Power of dua. Don’t forget the power of dua. Pray for each other always – for it might be your dua that’s having a positive effect on someone else’s life.
- Narrated by As-Saduq from Muhammad ibn Muslim from [Imam] Abu Abdullah (ع) in Al-Faqih, Vol. 3, pp. 242, 1144, in Ma`ani Al-Akhbar, pp. 1, 291, and it is narrated by Al-Tibrisi in Makarim Al-Akhlaq, p. 196, taking it for granted. It is also recorded by Al-Majlisi in his Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 82, pp. 9, 117 from Musakkin Al-Fuad.