‘Speaking To My Seven-Year-Old About My Miscarriage Helped Me Heal’
In the aftermath, they're forced to process the unimaginable loss and trauma they've been through, and move into a future vastly different from the one they imagined.
Those who are mothers already are faced with the unenviable task of having to tell their children about the grief they're going through before they've even found the words to deal with it themselves.
Recently, TV presenter Paula Faris (from The View) told how she pulled her 12-year-old daughter into the bathroom as she lost a baby for the third time, having kept the first two miscarriages a secret.
Speaking on the US talk show, Paula explained that she wanted her daughter to know that while it was "important to grieve," sadly miscarriage is still something that "happens to so many of us" - one in four pregnancies, to be exact.
"I said, 'I just want to let you know ... the baby is probably no longer viable. Mommy doesn't feel any guilt," the 44-year-old recalled. "This is normal, it happens to so many women, it's happened to me a couple of other times.
"When you get pregnant, it might happen to you, Honey. And I want you to know there's nothing you did wrong.'".
Of course, there's no right way to tell a child about such a deeply painful and life altering experience - for many Paula's actions might seem too extreme - and some women quite understandably decide to avoid speaking to their children altogether.
But one woman who felt transparency was vital is marketing director Sarah Willoughby, from Sussex.
Revealing how speaking to her seven-year-old about her loss helped her to heal, Sarah told Tyla the powerful and heartbreaking story of her miscarriage, which happened when she was 36 years old.
"There was never any doubt I had to tell Frankie about my miscarriage. He's sensitive to other people's emotions, and he can see if I'm sad, if I'm anxious or if I'm happy - even if I try to hide it.
"Frankie had been so excited to have a little brother or sister. We recorded him opening the first baby scan picture after we got it, and after finding out I was pregnant, he talked about the baby all the time.
"I was 17 weeks when I miscarried, and as it was my second pregnancy I was already starting to show. Even if I hadn't told Frankie I was pregnant, he would have known something was wrong after everything happened.
"So for me, being completely open was always the only option. I just couldn't have faced lying to him about why I was upset.
"The day of the miscarriage is a bit of a blur for me, really. It all happened pretty quickly. I was at work and Frankie was at school, but I just knew something wasn't quite right.
"I went home and burst into tears, and while my husband told me I was just being apprehensive ahead of the midwife's visit, later on that evening I started getting some unusual discharge and bleeding. Then, at around 9.30pm, my waters broke in bed.
"We called an ambulance which unfortunately took a while to come, and when I finally got to hospital the gynecologist told me that the bleeding was stopping and I could go home. But I knew it wasn't, and I didn't feel reassured at all. At that point, my instincts kicked in and I insisted on staying in the hospital.
"An hour after I arrived at the ward I went to the toilet and I gave birth to the baby, which was obviously very traumatic. I opened the door to try and shout to my husband but I couldn't speak.
"The door was really heavy so I couldn't push it. I didn't know what to do. I pulled the chord in the toilet but nobody came, so I hit the button on the wall and sirens went off. Before I knew it, I was then confronted with a whole team of people.
"I did a bit of reading about how to tell Frankie beforehand, and the hospital gave me a leaflet; but all I really knew is I wanted to keep it straight to the point.
"I just said to him: 'I'm really sorry Frankie, the baby died. It's nobody's fault and nobody is to blame, and we couldn't have done anything differently.' That was it. Then he just gave me a big hug and he cried. That was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
"After that conversation I tried to keep the conversation as open as possible. I said to him, 'Look, any questions you have I want you to ask them, even if it's upsetting for me.'
"But Frankie didn't want to discuss things, as he found it too sad. The only thing he said was: 'What was the baby called?' I remember replying: 'We'll just call them baby Willoughby.'
"I was still visibly upset for a good while afterwards, and if Frankie asked why, I would always be honest and say: 'I'm sad about the baby'. He didn't really ask anything beyond that.
"There was this birthday party where he went to Build A Bear and he got to pick the bear an outfit. After that, I tried to discuss things through the bear.
"I would say 'how are you', or 'how's Bear feeling today?', but it didn't really work. I found it hard that Frankie didn't want to talk about things, but he's quite a quiet little soul when it comes to his emotions. It was really important for me to be there for him as he dealt with it in his own way.
"I've gone on to have another baby, and Frankie is very protective of him. I think that's probably why on some level, although he's never said it is.
"I know that one day, when he's ready, he will ask more questions. When you have children, you have to stay strong for them and give them as much normality as possible. You just do what you need to do. It gives you something to carry on for, doesn't it?
"I have no regrets when it comes to how honest I was with Frankie. If I hadn't told him that I was pregnant then we wouldn't have had those few weeks when we were all really excited. And after the miscarriage, although those conversations were hard for me, there were sweet moments, too.
"I once caught him watching the recording of himself opening the baby's scan in the back of the car. I said: 'how does it make you feel'?
"And he said: 'I feel happy'."
Featured Image Credit: Sarah Willoughby/ Handout