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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fading Scars

(c) Rachelle J. Christensen

As a child I was lucky I guess because I never broke any bones and only had one stitch. When I was one year old, I fell onto the sharp edge of a coffee table and split my upper lip open. One stitch sealed it up and no one was the wiser. The scar faded and I remember I'd have to look hard to see the fine white line just below my nose if I wanted proof of my one stitch.

That was quite a few years ago and with time and lots of exposure to the sun, that little scar has become more noticeable. I still remember feeling shocked when someone asked me, "How did you get that scar?"

It's still very faint, just one slanted line not even a 1/2 inch long, but when I've been out in the sun a lot it seems to be a bit more noticeable.

So why am I telling you about my little inconsequential scar? I'm telling you about it because even though it's very small, at most times invisible to the average onlooker, it's still there. I still have a scar and nothing short of plastic surgery will ever take that scar away.

I have other scars from the miscarriages I experienced, from the period of infertility I suffered through, from the emotional hurt inflicted by others. At first the wounds were deep, the scar ugly and painful, but with time they healed.

The scars began to fade, but interestingly enough at times the scars seemed more visible. Like the times when I would sit with other women and listen to them talk about their children, or watch a new mother cradle her infant in her arms while I felt the emptiness of my arms sagging weightlessly to my sides. At these times, the scars seemed to flash with a raw pain that was hard to hide.

Over time I was able to hide my scars more effectively. I became highly skilled at deflecting hurtful comments and changing the subject. But those hidden scars still pulsed with a pain that had to be dealt with. It was only when I faced those scars head-on and saw them for what they really are--a part of me--that I could fully heal.

I still have scars, but they don't hurt me like they used to. Certain things trigger memories that make me think of my scars and just like I sometimes notice the faint line above my lip while I'm applying my makeup, at times I ponder the situations that created other scars in my life.

The healing process is important. As I wrote my book, Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage, each chapter seemed to apply a comforting salve to old scars. Understanding and friendship with others who experienced some of the same things helped me greatly.

I learned that nothing anyone could do or say could erase the scars of miscarriage. I will carry those scars with me throughout my entire life, but I'm no longer burdened by them. They have faded to fine lines which sometimes ache, but mostly serve as a reminder of how precious life is and the strength God has given me to overcome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Heartaches

The holidays are a busy, wonderful time of year and for many people are full of memories of good times with family. When you pull out the turkey platter and then the Christmas ornaments in a few weeks, perhaps you'll experience a wave of nostalgia for the holidays in the past.

For some, holidays are hard to bear because in the midst of family celebrations they are reminded of the family they have lost. I'm sure you've known someone who had a difficult time feeling the joy of the season because it served as an acute reminder of someone who wasn't there.

After my first miscarriage, I remember crying at Christmas because I should've been pregnant. I should have been able to sit by the Christmas tree and place my hands on my swollen abdomen and feel joy in the life growing within.

And then the next Christmas I cried because not only did I not have a baby, but I still wasn't pregnant.

I was not in a constant depression, but during the holidays I felt the loss a little more keenly as I thought of the memories we would have been making with our child.

I've mentioned The National Share Organization before and I want to give you a link to a wonderful blog post I found there by Cynthia Prest.
She talks about living in the present and I think this is so true.

I hope that this holiday season if you have reason to mourn that you might give yourself the best present of all--take time to grieve, but also take a moment to live in the present. Give yourself this gift to enjoy the present without the past or the future clouding your festivities.

It's difficult I know because it was something that took me some time to learn and I still need reminders for. Life doesn't always cooperate with my plans but I can still find joy in the present.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lost Children:Coping with Miscarriage

I am excited because it's only about six months until my book's publication date. I know that seems like forever--but believe me it's a lot closer than three years ago which is when I began working hard to gather information and compile this book.

May 2010 is the projected release date and I am busy planning to utilize my book to help people coping with miscarriage. I'm presenting a special musical program on coping with grief and teaching others how to mourn with those that mourn. I'll be performing original songs that I have written and speaking on my experiences.
If you have a group that would like to hear this presentation, please contact me to schedule a time--

If you would like to receive an update on when and where my book is available, drop me an email at and I'll add you to my author news list.

I'm looking forward to sharing more with you about my experiences on this blog and am working on a few special segments.
Thanks for your support.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Words Won't Make it All Better, But They Can Definitely Make It Worse

I wanted to continue the thread from my previous post found here.
I mentioned that it's hard to know what to say, but something that can help relieve the stress and discomfort is to know that words won't make it all better. It doesn't matter what you say to a person who has experienced a miscarriage or any kind of grief--it's not going to miraculously change their situation.
But in the same vein, words can definitely make it worse. So how do you find a balance?

I think the key is in realizing that you can't fix the problem so don't try to say something to fix it. This usually ends up in statements that diminishes the other's loss and causes added pain.
Instead, be sympathetic and if possible, empathic. Sympathy is expressing compassion, concern, or care for another's situation. Empathy is when you offer sympathy from a viewpoint of experience. You've experienced the same situation and so you recall how you felt and offer comfort.
Both sympathy and empathy are needed. But sympathy is not telling someone, "At least you know your baby would've had birth defects and died anyway."

That is a person's attempt to make themselves feel better about the situation--not the person mourning. For some reason, no matter what the situation, humans automatically grasp for a reason to provide justice or explanation to the occurrence. What you must realize is that if you are offering comfort to someone, you can't share with them what comforts YOU. You can't explain to them why something happened, offer philosophical insight into how the world is just, etc. and hope that they will smile and say, "I feel better. I'm not sad anymore."
No, those are things that cross your mind and help you understand the world you live in, but they don't comfort someone who is grieving.

So next time you're in a situation where you need to offer comfort, make sure that is what you're offering. Not advice, reasons, justification--offer comfort.
And shake off the worry of needing to say something that will make them feel all better and realize that you're not going to make them feel ALL better, but if you're wise and offer heartfelt expressions of sympathy/empathy you might make them feel better for a time--feeling ALL better is something you can't give to another person. It's up to them and it takes time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Magic Thread

A close friend of mine is going through yet another miscarriage and I paused to think about how hard it is to say the right things. Even though I've gone through miscarriages I still worry about what to say.
I guess I worry because so many people said exactly the WRONG things to me when I had my miscarriages. You know some of them,

"Your baby would've probably had too many birth defects."

"Don't worry, you'll have another baby."

"It's not the same as a death."

"It's been six months, aren't you going to try to have another baby?"

"... "
And sometimes the worst were those that said nothing at all, but ignored me because they didn't know what to say.

It's okay, I know how they felt and I don't harbor ill feelings to anyone. In fact, I've forgotten much of what was said and if it wasn't for my journal and writing my book, I probably would've forgotten all of them.

That's one blessing we all have is our fading memory. For some that causes fear and anxiety because you think,
No, I don't want to forget my baby.

You won't forget your baby, but hopefully you'll forget the raw edges of pain cutting into your heart when you lost your baby. Hopefully, you'll remember the bond that was formed the moment you discovered you were pregnant and not the sadness and sorrow associated with loss.
Forgetting the fine details is one way we cope as human beings, otherwise life as a whole would become overwhelming.

Just remember probably the easiest and best thing to say is, "I'm sorry."
But you could also say:
"Is there something I could do to help?"
"Would you like a hug?"
"I'll pray for you."

You don't have to say something to make it all better, because it won't be. Words don't make it better. The love you share helps heal a hurt.

I'd like to leave you with a thought I shared with one of my readers:

I understand the feeling of a breaking heart and I wish I had magic thread to stitch it back together for you. The only magic thread I know is time.

Let time be your comforting companion on your journey through grief and trial and let fading memory be a salve to help you overcome your sorrows and put on those "rose-colored glasses" and look back in time and see only the good parts.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mending Your Heart

Dianne recently commented on another of my blog posts:
"I had a miscarriage 36 years ago, and it's not something that a woman forgets."

It is so true.
You'd think that for me, with three kids now, it wouldn't even cross my mind. But sometimes it hits me and I know that the loss didn't disappear, didn't dissolve just because I have kids. The pain definitely diminished, but it doesn't mean I wouldn't have loved to have those children too.

It's another myth of miscarriage that you should just get over it, take your short bereavement period and move on. A huge myth that has pervaded this society of women is if you have children either before or after the miscarriage you lose your right to mourn. One of my goals with this blog and my book is to dispel the myths surrounding miscarriage. I believe that if we could rid ourselves of the myths and their baggage, we might have a more successful grieving period and feel okay living in our own skin again.

If you've had a miscarriage and you're grieving your loss, may God bless you. I hope that you continue to feel stronger and know that it's okay to have a tiny corner of your heart that pangs for that loss even several years later, not that I'm debilitated by it, but that I do remember. But now I've accepted that life will not always be happy blooming roses and yet I can enjoy it all the same.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

National Share Organization for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc.

I've found a wonderful new online resource called Share. This website is an incredible bank of support for those suffering from miscarriage. Share also has a new blog you can visit to read more about how to make it through this tough time.

Share has so many different types of information and maybe something you read will help provide comfort and assurance. I'm the reading type, so I liked to read about different things to help me remember I'm not alone.

Share also has chapters all over the United States, Click here to see if there's a chapter near you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thoughts from Guest Blogger, N

Today I would like to thank my friend, N, for sharing her thoughts about miscarriage. I think it's so important that we hold out our hands to each other and share our strength--the strength we've gained from encountering similar circumstances.

N emailed me and said:

"I feel that it is very important that women realize that there is no
need to minimize our experiences regarding miscarriage. That
pregnancy and loss mean different things to different people. Some may
not consider a loss at 12 weeks that substantial, whereas others, like
myself, do. I loved that little baby from the minute I saw 2 pink
lines on that pregnancy test.

I had hopes and dreams and made life plans around my baby. Not only did I lose those dreams, but I lost the dreams I had for my living son and his experiences with having a sibling.

I am a neonatal intensive care nurse, and I thought due to all the things I have witnessed in the NICU (neonatal death etc..) that I would be able to better cope
with miscarrying. I was so wrong. So really, though I have seen and helped parents that have lost babies, I never truly comprehended how deep that loss goes. You
lose years of plans and dreams as well as a baby."

Beautiful thoughts that can help all of us to remember that we are worth taking care of.

I want women to know that it doesn't matter how old or young you are, where you live, where you work, how many kids you have or don't have, you still have the same right to grieve your loss.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What questions do you have about miscarriage?

When I had my first miscarriage, I had so many questions and I read everything I could find about miscarriage to try and find why it happened.

I had questions about what would happen the next time I tried to get pregnant.

There were questions about how to deal with the roller-coaster of hormones now that I was no longer pregnant.

I had questions about the existence of my lost baby--what happened to this child?

I'd like to answer some of your questions on this blog. Please email me at RachellethewriterAT with your question and I will write a post to help answer it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reaching Out to Lift Each Other

Life is hard. Sometimes I try to kid myself into thinking it's not supposed to be so hard, but the reality is, it's hard and that's why we appreciate it so much.

One of the trials I have faced during my life began nearly ten years ago when I embarked on the first experience of pregnancy which later ended in a miscarriage. For a while, I couldn't talk about it, didn't want to think about, kept wishing it didn't happen. But it did.

I didn't know until it was already too late that I was pregnant with triplets. That's still hard to grasp. Sometimes I let myself think about how it would be to have three, nine-year old kids right now and it's a pretty crazy thought! It doesn't hurt nearly as bad, but the fact that I still think about those babies, shows how powerful the bond was even though my pregnancy did not come to fruition.

As I've worked over the years gathering information for my book, Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage, I've learned many things. One is that I'm stronger than the trials I face--I'm still here! It's hard to talk about things and realize that nothing can change the past. And most important, I've learned that I am of individual worth.

I am a mother of three beautiful children now and everyday I thank my Heavenly Father for them. Being a mother is hard work, and getting there was half the battle. But something I learned over the years of infertility and miscarriages (yes there was more than one) is that my worth is not defined by my motherhood. I am a valuable person no matter how many children I have or didn't have while I was waiting for them to come.

I hope that if you have struggled with something similar that you will take this nugget of truth with you today. You are of individual worth, despite your trials and the circumstances you face. You are beautiful, you are loved, you are a child of God.

May you find peace today.

*If you would like to share your experiences, ask questions, or contribute to my guest column, please email me at copewithmiscarriage AT gmail dot com

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Flower to Share

Today I wanted to give you a flower to help you remember that you are special and loved. Every flower is unique and beautiful in its own way, just as you are.
Have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Share Your Story About Miscarriage

One in three hundred couples will have three or more consecutive miscarriages and one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. This means that almost everyone will know someone in their lifetime that has experienced this trial, yet few women talk about their losses openly. Millions of people will be affected by the loss miscarriage brings. You are not alone.

Do you have questions about coping with miscarriage? Would you like to share your story to help others? Please contact me at or leave a comment on this blog.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why a Blog About Miscarriage?

Did you know that one out of every three women will experience a miscarriage during her childbearing years?
Think about someone you know who has experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Did you know what to say or how to help them?

This is why I created the Coping with Miscarriage blog. When I experienced my first miscarriage, I needed something to read that would comfort me and someone to talk with who really understood what I was going through. I plan to fill this blog with several different topics to help those who mourn and those who comfort.

I also want to put the word out about my upcoming book. The title is Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage.

I wrote this book because I wanted to discuss the many questions I had about why miscarriage happened, the conflicting emotions I experienced, the devastation I felt when I couldn’t get pregnant after my miscarriage and what happened to the babies I lost. Many women that I talked with had the same questions and concerns.

I hope my book will help someone to travel their road of grief with knowledge that even though the mountain is steep, there is another side. There are people all over the world who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility. If you would like to share your story here, please contact me at

I will be posting several stories of personal experiences with miscarriage, infertility, and stillbirth because I believe that sharing our experiences helps us realize that we aren’t alone in our grief. It also helps us believe that on the other side of our trials, life has something in store for us—something that might not be a baby—but definitely something that we are supposed to have in this life.
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