I recently had a miscarriage. It was the most intimate and painful experience in my life (and my husband’s — he was right there with me). It was so sad. So sad. Despite the pain, the sadness, the loss there were lots of lessons… and you definitely don’t have to have had a miscarriage for them to be useful for you. If you have miscarried, I send you this with love.
Trust your instincts — If I am being truly honest with myself, I knew there was something strange going on with my pregnancy. My emergency ultrasound detected that our embryo stopped developing at 9 weeks, it was at 11 weeks that the miscarriage happened. Knowing those facts and looking back, my body knew. I remember standing in our hallway and having an internal conversation with myself about how my nausea had gone, how I was feeling ‘different’ and thinking that was a sudden change. The second significant thing was during my yoga practice a couple of days before the miscarriage happened. My intent for the practice was to connect my heart to our growing baby in every pose…. and I couldn’t. I put it down to being distracted and not as focused as I could be that day. But it wasn’t that. I couldn’t connect because the baby wasn’t growing.
My point is, that I disconnected from those huge signs, maybe because of fear. Of course, in this case nothing could be done to change the end result, but in my everyday life, when I choose to listen to my instinct it is loud and clear…. I use it a lot when I’m working with my clients and students. It’s an amazing life tool. This experience reminded me to listen to my instinct for myself. Don’t wait for something life-shaking to happen before you decide to connect to yours.
Honour your pain — This isn’t about letting pain take over. Feeling the physical pain move through me (the physical pain was so massive that at one point I actually puked) and using my deep and steady breath to get through it helped me to emotionally compute what was happening. In Forrest Yoga we teach that pain is a sign that something needs to change. In order to make the appropriate change you need to feel the pain and then take the best actions for healing. This pain was a signpost that a big change was happening. For Dom and I, there would be no baby Speller this time around. In a very profound way, the pain was part of our healing process.
If you are in pain in any way, what is it telling you? To slow down? To change the way you carry your shopping, to change the way you stack your pillows in bed, to change the people you hang around, to change the job you’re in? To take time to grieve? To let go?…
Allow yourself to be supported — Having only just gotten into the French health system, I didn’t yet have a midwife so I got no advice on how to physically deal with what was going on in my body. I took a step to reach out to a woman that I trust. It took some courage for me to ask for help in this way. Not because this woman would have turned me away, but because as a teacher and a person who is used to giving, it’s difficult for me to ask for help (and she didn’t know I was pregnant in the first place). I am so glad that I did. I literally don’t know what I would have done without her heartfelt support and advice. Thank you so much Cat Allen.
A couple of my habitual patterns in life have been feeling inadequate if I have to ask for help AND, if I let someone look after me, then I must be being lazy. All those patterns went out the window during the miscarriage. I needed looking after! I had a massive realisation — that kind of thinking is bullsh*t!
I’m not about to be a wilting flower or have everything done for me from now on. That ain’t my style! However, having Dom take care of me was a beautiful experience. Something I never would have felt with my boring old patterns in action.
Also, through the pain, I felt more loved and supported than I ever have. We both really felt the love and support radiating from family and the few friends that knew what we were going through.
We all need a support system to help hold us steady in moments of turmoil. I am so grateful for the people I have in mine. Who is in yours?
Give yourself time to heal/grieve/recuperate — I’m a reliable, committed, motivated person. I like to keep to my commitments no matter what. My lesson here was that I needed to commit to our healing. No matter how much I love my students and my job, nothing was more important than Dom and I. I cleared my diary and spent a week in bed, only speaking to the people in my support system, reading, sleeping and using all of the tools I have learned in my life for our healing. On one of the days, I lay on the bed with the sun shining through an open window right onto me. It felt good for the sun and the breeze to be on my skin.
I really believe that changing my priorities for that week enabled me to rebuild my strength and emotionally recharge. I needed that time to focus on and process what had happened. We both did. Filling my time with calls, meetings and tasks wouldn’t have allowed that.
In your moments of trauma and happiness (because we often de-prioritise our happy times!), discover what isn’t a priority, then actually de-prioritise it.
Be compassionate towards yourself — One of the things I’m really good at is sacrificing my own nourishment time for others or to get ‘jobs’ done. One of the things that usually slips away is taking time to moisturise my skin. This is such a great practice for connecting to your own body, accepting it and offering up some self-care. Taking time to slather the coconut oil on my skin was a kind way for me to deal with not being pregnant any longer, to be gentle with myself and compassionate towards my body.
If caressing your own skin on a daily basis isn’t part of your self-care practice, I highly recommend giving it a go… for at least a week.
Acknowledge the positives — It’s easy in times of trauma and crisis to feel like your whole world is falling apart. The grief around our miscarriage was an interesting one. It’s different to when our dog Jelly died. She had been with us for a while. We played with her, potty trained her, fed her and she was always there to welcome us home. She was a big part of our life. Our little embryo was a big part of our life, but in a very different way. For us our grief felt like we were grieving what could have been, rather than what was. Amidst the mourning, there were some special and very positive moments: A deepened connection (on so many levels) between Dom and I. The feeling of truly being loved. Seeing and experiencing my mother’s care, understanding and wisdom. A beautiful healing session from my Shaman teacher and friend Esther. The snuggles when I was in bed that week from my little doggy, Ivy — she knew I was in pain. The delicious food that Dom cooked for me. The support and healing from my dear Medicine Brother, Jambo… I could go on.
Importantly, right after the most painful moments of the miscarriage, Dom told me he was proud of me. Those were the exact feelings coursing through me too. I was proud of myself — for staying calm and strong. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined.
Next time you are faced with what feels like the worst situation ever… what positives can you draw out? Acknowledging these helped me so much.
Create YOUR Ceremony — There are many Ceremonies for death and healing. We chose not to adhere to any. Part of our Ceremony was in the bathroom, it wasn’t glamorous, there was a lot of blood, but we were together letting go of something that was surrounded by so many hopes and dreams. In that week, I lit candles, I burned white sage, I called in the Sacred Ones…
Above all, do what feels right to you for healing, whatever it is that you are going through.
Life is so precious — Might sound clichéd… I was teaching one day after the miscarriage and I hadn’t told my students about any of it. The intent for the class was something like ‘Be kind to yourself today’. At the end of the practice, I like to tap into my instincts and say something from the heart to bring the class to closure. Out of what seemed like nowhere came my teaching story. I talked about what had happened to Dom and I, and that the probable reason for the miscarriage was chromosomal… “You are worth being kind to because the very fact that you are here and living and in this class is a massive achievement. Creating life takes precision, one tiny error and life doesn’t happen.” As I spoke these words, there were tears in the room and I could feel my student’s self-appreciation. It was a Beautiful moment. Life is precious.
If you’re reading this, you are precious, it could have been so easy for you not to be here, but you are. Let’s remind ourselves of that every day.
My pregnancy and miscarriage experience has helped me feel love more deeply than ever before, it has taken me to a place of previously hidden internal wisdom, it has connected me to a new and profound level of strength within me. I am sad that this little Spirit didn’t get to come out and play, but it has given me (us!) so many gifts anyway. Big love.