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OT: SIL just told me she had a miscarriage

bummyroads's picture

As of tomorrow I'll be 24 weeks pregnant. DH's sister and her husband started trying to get pregnant around the same time we did. I got pregnant right away (DH is very fertile apparently) but it didn't happen for SIL for a while, so obviously we were all very excited when about 4 weeks ago she announced to close friends and family that she's expecting.

She and I spent the better part of the last month enthusing about our new babies and how close in age they'll be. Her husband even started turning their exercise room into a nursery. So imagine my surprise when I look at my phone and see a text from her saying she just left her OB and they said she miscarried sometime over the last week, and her D&C is scheduled for tomorrow.

My heart is totally broken for her, I know how badly she wanted another baby and losing a child at any stage of pregnancy has to be so hard. I want to help in any way I can, but I don't want to overstep any boundaries. My sister's best friend miscarried last year when she was pregnant, and the best friend had a really hard time being around her for a while after - she couldn't even come to the baby shower.

Does anyone here have experience dealing with a miscarriage? What kind of help is appropriate? I want to be as sensitive as possible because I know I would be a wreck if this happened to me...I don't want me being visibly pregnant to be a constant reminder of her loss but I also don't want to step back entirely and risk her feeling like I didn't help her through this difficult time. Any advice is much appreciated.


another step's picture

I had multiple miscarriages and I can attest that being around pregnant women was incredibly hard. However, the worst pain was from people who did not acknowledge the issue at all or expected me to be "over it" almost immediately.

My best suggestion is to gently ask her what she wants and let her know that you understand that that may change over time. Tell her that you want to do everything you can to make her comfortable around you but you recognize that may not always be possible. Honesty and compassion will be needed for quite a while. But the absolute worst thing is to not say anything because she will "fill in the blanks" herself.

But that conversation will need to wait until she is able to talk face to face. In the meantime, I suggest that you call her today and simply tell her that you love her and are so sorry for what has happened to her and her child. Stay in touch via text/email over the next few days and ask her to let you know when she would like to see you.

And if she is hostile or angry - seemingly at you - please remember that it is not YOU. It is what you represent - a woman who was able to keep her baby while she lost hers. Her reactions are likely to be all over the map for a while.

AllySkoo's picture

I also had multiple miscarriages, a couple while my sister was pregnant, in fact. I agree with another step - talk to her, tell her you're so sorry for her loss, and let her know that you're OK with whatever she needs, even if that's not to see you for a little bit.

If she decides she's OK with seeing you, I would also caution you not to complain to her about the pregnancy. Not the aching back, peeing, sleeplessness, whatever. (Unless there's something truly wrong - just not the mundane crap that goes along with being pregnant.) My sister complained about not getting flowers after delivering her healthy baby and I almost slapped her. (To be fair, she was pretty good up until that. But bitching about flowers when I had had TWO miscarriages at that point and just wanted a baby?!? She kind of deserved the slap.)

hereiam's picture

I hope they double check before doing the D&C (I'm sure that's standard protocol). A friend of mine was told the same thing; she went in for her D&C and lo and behold, a heartbeat. She had not miscarried after all and baby was fine.

Just let her know that you are there for her in whatever way she needs you to be.

AllySkoo's picture

Don't tell her that though! Jesus, if one more person told me a story like that before my D&C I was going to fucking lose it. Yeah, it happens rarely (and they DO double check), but that false hope almost killed me. Sometimes the dating of the pregnancy is off (can't always go by LMP) and they scan too early to find the heartbeat, but docs KNOW that so they're good about rechecking. Telling her like you're trying to give her hope is not the right move though. (If SHE wants to mention it, go with it, but don't bring it up yourself.)

hereiam's picture

I did not say to tell her that. I was telling my friend's story to the OP, not suggesting she tell it to her SIL. Calm down.

queenofthedamned's picture

I too have had multiple miscarriages. I can say that while I was in the thick of it, I had a very hard time being around pregnant women. It sucked even more because two of my coworkers (in an office with ten people) got pregnant around around the times of losses for me, and so for basically two years I was in close proximity to preggos for 40+ hours a week. Sometimes I had to go hide in the bathroom and cry. And then I felt like a horrible human because I loved them and wanted to be happy for them but all I could feel was sadness.

But I do agree with the previous poster who said that it's so much worse when people don't acknowledge what has happened. Talk to her, encourage her to reach out. There are so many blogs and forums that were immensely helpful to me, and made me feel significantly less crazy for having a breakdown after seeing a pregnant belly.

I know you're excited about your baby, and you should be, but please don't be offended if she doesn't seem to share the excitement. She might be struggling, and feeling badly about it.

((hugs))to your SIL and kudos to you for caring about her right now.

bi's picture

I've had 3 losses. Please know that SIL not wanting to be around you (if that's the case) is not personal at all, it's just so hard to have a reminder of what you don't have. I found out at 21 weeks that I lost my baby girl at 17 weeks. I had to deliver her. My cousin's daughter was pregnant and we were due just days apart. I had to hide her on fb for a long time because seeing her updates and eventually the news of the birth and the pictures was way too much for me. I was supposed to be having a baby girl at that time, too. but I wasn't. It isn't something you really ever get over, you just learn to live with it.

I would talk to her and see how she is emotionally. If she is still very fragile, wait a while to do anything. When you think she's up to it, maybe get her a memorial ultrasound frame. It helped me to start attending the local annual event for pregnancy and infant loss, too. It took me 2 years to be able to do this, though. I just wasn't ready before that.