My world and my identity were shaken to their core when I had a miscarriage in my first pregnancy. My husband and I had easily conceived the honeymoon baby we wanted, but the pregnancy was proving to be anything but easy. I was violently sick around the clock from the beginning and my hormones were making me a miserable person, but I was ready to be a mother. I couldn't wait for the pregnancy to be over, so I could meet my baby. We had an ultrasound at 8 weeks that looked perfect, but at 11 weeks, I miscarried.
I was devastated and so was my husband. As soon as it was confirmed that her heart had stopped beating, I just wanted it all to be over. My body had not started to miscarry naturally and I had no desire to wait. My baby had died and every symptom of pregnancy was gone too. I had the slightest baby bump, covered in bruises from my Lovenox injections that were supposed to be thinning my blood and protecting us. I was desperate for it all to go away, until it was really over, then I felt an emptiness that still haunts me today.
If only I had a doula, to say the important things, safeguard my grief and walk through the loss with me and my husband. Maybe then I wouldn’t have blamed myself, maybe my husband wouldn’t have had to shoulder all of my care when I couldn’t care for myself. Maybe he could have focused on his own grief, rather than stifling it for months in an effort to make sure I was okay every day.
A doula could have gone with us to the funeral home, and told us not to feel guilty when we finally laughed in the casket room. We were supposed to be choosing an urn, so the baby could be cremated, but we couldn’t get over the smallest ones that looked like overpriced genie lamps. We needed someone to tell us that we didn’t have to make a decision right then, that we had time.
A doula could have supported me emotionally and attuned to my needs, no matter how quickly they changed. She could have told me it wasn’t my fault, my grief was normal and I wasn’t alone. She could have told me that I was still a mother and that my baby felt nothing but love from me until the moment her heart stopped beating. She could have given us permission to laugh when we needed to and cry when we needed to, without holding back.
I made the mistake of Googling what an 11 week fetus looks like, so I would be prepared if I miscarried naturally before my scheduled D&C (dilation and curettage) surgery. I was bombarded with nothing but violent, anti-abortion photos and webpages. A doula could have answered my questions so I didn’t turn to Google, protecting me from unnecessary pain. She could have explained what to expect with a miscarriage, when to call my doctor and how normal recovery from a D&C would look.
A doula could have held my hand and listened to me rage after strangers on the internet made me feel like I didn’t love my baby because I chose to have a D&C instead of miscarrying naturally when she died. She could have told me, with authority in her voice, that there was no shame in my choices. She could have brushed my hair and rubbed my head when I had a migraine from crying in the shower for so long. She could have kept the dishes washed and made something for me to eat when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. She could have told my husband it was ok for him to go back to work, because she would be there with me for that first day.
We needed the nonjudgmental support and unbiased guidance of a doula when our baby died. We needed the emotional, physical and educational support a doula provides. When we came home from the hospital with empty arms and later learned our baby died from Turner Syndrome, we needed someone on the outside, who wasn’t hurting with us, to help us navigate our new normal. Doulas do that and they do it with an attunement that can bring calming reassurance, no matter the situation.
When in your life, could you have used a doula?