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The Best Advice I Got After My Miscarriage

Photograph by Twenty20

The time after my ten-week miscarriage is hazy in my mind. I spent the immediate weekend after trying to figure out how to terminate, the weekend after that pretending everything was OK at a family party. (I'll never do that again.) I do remember snippets and pieces, though. Like a montage in a very, very sad film.

I remember explaining to another friend with fertility problems about my shock. "But we had a heartbeat!" I said, telling her about the seven-week appointment, and how three weeks later there was none. She nodded sympathetically, having had a first-trimester miscarriage of her own. But she did not look shocked.

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Suddenly I was reminded of my dating days. How in the beginning, when I was young and innocent and I'd have a great date—one on which I was on cloud-nine from—and then the guy didn't call. I'd talk to all my friends, telling them about what an amazing time it was and how I was sure he had an amazing time too, and how could he not call? I sort of hoped that maybe he got hit by a bus or kidnapped, because that's the only way he wouldn't be calling. It couldn't be that he was "just not that into me"—a shocking term, when I first heard it, although in retrospect it made so, so, so much sense. But that was only later, when I got jaded from too many bad dates or great dates that never happened.

But later on in the dating game, I realized that was par for the course—sometimes it seems like everything is perfect and then it's not.

That should have prepared me for infertility, IVF, pregnancy and miscarriage. You finally get pregnant, see a heartbeat, and then poof, it's gone. A few years into it, I wasn't shocked by anything, just like in dating.

"That's what happens," my friend said. She'd been in the game longer than me.

I wished someone could help me. I wished I wasn't feeling so alone. I wished people understood. I wanted that baby, the one I just lost.

I hadn't told that many people I was pregnant, so I didn't have to tell that many I wasn't, but when I did I got some bad reactions.

"It probably wasn't a healthy baby, anyway," one person said. (It took me a while to find out that it was.)

"I guess a few years does really make a difference," said another, who had known I'd been with my husband for almost two years by this time.

"I have a friend who…" I tuned out for the rest of this because this sentence never ended well. It was either, who went to a healer/psychic/miracle doctor….etc. and lived happily ever after. I wondered if anyone ever said, "I have a friend who had a miscarriage and never had a kid." Which is what I was afraid of.

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I wished someone could help me. I wished I wasn't feeling so alone. I wished people understood. I wanted that baby, the one I just lost. Not another. I wanted it not to be my own fault. I wanted to go back in time to that ultrasound where we heard the heartbeat. I wanted someone to understand me.

"No one is ever going to say the right thing," my friend told me.

And there it was. The one piece of advice that carried me through the next few years and miscarriages until I had a kid:

No. One. Is. Ever. Going. To. Say. The. Right. Thing.

Once I heard that, I felt better. No, not exactly better, but my expectations were lowered. I didn't expect as much from people—loving people who probably wanted to help—and then I didn't get disappointed. And it helped me stop looking for someone to say the "right thing."

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