When I lost my first pregnancy, I felt like I fell from a height and had the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe. The next year, I lost my second pregnancy. I sought answers from fertility experts and although they couldn’t give me definitive answers, they helped me correct my Hypothyroidism and officially diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Thankfully, my third pregnancy developed successfully, but the day-to-day, and moment-to-moment struggle was tremendous for me. One tool that helped me through, in addition to the support of my spouse, family, and friends was writing. I have been writing all my life, but writing through the years of loss, infertility, and pregnancy after loss truly helped me cope and heal.

Woman writing at laptop - writing as catharsis after loss

Shutterstock/iona didishvili

You don’t have to be a natural writer to benefit from this process of documenting, and there are multiple reasons to try.

Writing for connection.

Writing helped me share with my loved ones the truth of what I experienced. As much as my spouse was there for me, he could not share my experiences. My thoughts on the page were able to communicate what I couldn’t voice.

Fresh after my first pregnancy loss, I remember writing Untethered which began with:
“Feeling untethered
Feeling unanchored
Feeling the roof roll away and the wind drag me upwards”

This sensation was something I could only relay in metaphor, but once it was down on the page, I could point to it and say, Here. This is what I’m experiencing. I have nothing to hold onto right now. Life is so different for me at this moment than all my moments before. 

Writing for healing.

When the body is wounded, there are physical – and many times visible – signs of brokenness and rawness that only time can help mend. We can watch the progression of bleeding to clotting to scabbing to scarring, and are able to acknowledge that we are progressing. But, when our hearts are torn and the pain is internal and mental, we often lose out on the value of those visible wounds giving us milestone feedback. We can feel lost in the muck that feels uncertain and unmoving. A swampy sticky state of existence.

I wrote:
“Now that the event has passed, I can reflect on what support was missing. I wish I had been provided a chart of what I might expect with the miscarriage…”

Three months later, I wrote,

“It’s November [2018] now, and I can’t believe where my heart is at. The days where I break down are less frequent, though I feel I think about my experience almost as often as I first did. There is a new feeling I have that is unexplainable: Gratefulness.

“I am thankful that I held a potential life in my body. That it was mine. That no one can take that from me. It will always be a part of me. I am even thankful for the new shape of my waist, because it reminds me I was pregnant, that it really happened, even if it was just 10 weeks.”

By documenting my story and all that happened, I was able to create a little closure of part of that chapter despite it being a part of me forever and changing who I am. I posted my story on my blog and sent copies to the OB-GYN and Emergency Room in the hopes my experience at both places might enlighten the protocols for the next who come after me experiencing miscarriage. 

Writing for awareness.

Writing helped me see both the intermingled joy and fear during pregnancy after loss. It brought an awareness to feelings that were complicated and muddled. Even if I didn’t know where to begin when I started to write, once the words were on the page, the emotions they embodied had less power over me. I eventually was able to be thankful that I had carried the first baby for as long as I did, and validate that I was a mother who treated my body as a vessel of life as well as I could and protected my child for as long as we had it.

After time had passed following my second loss, I started to identify my motherly love for my lost pregnancies as a facet of God’s image and care for me. I started to focus on the value of the experiences – the silver lining. In Saved, I wrote:
“Spirit like Mother
Comfort and cover
Hid in Your shelter
Knitted together.”

Writing for preparation.

Writing may have helped prepare me for pregnancy after loss because I had the opportunity to review what my heart spilled out, and understand myself better.

Writing didn’t take away the fear or hyper vigilance that I embodied as one does when they know too much about life, but it did give me the opportunity to create a new internal dialogue during my third pregnancy where I could be honest about how I felt.

When I was pregnant with my third, things were thankfully going well, but I was overwhelmed with past trauma and fighting hopeful feelings. I wrote The Sun which started with all the reminders from the past that overwhelmed me:

“Don’t look into the sun
It will blind you
It will scar you
You can’t distinguish its mass

“Don’t put your trust into the sun
You can’t know it
Or understand it
Only watch the effects of it
On your body
On your mind

“Don’t long for the sun
It will burn you
It will hurt you
Just be satisfied standing nearby
For however long

“Don’t whisper to the sun
It can’t tell you
It can’t see you
It can’t give you what you need

“Don’t imagine the sun
Thoughts are not truth
Feelings are not facts
Dreams are not destiny”

Then, it transitioned into actively reminding myself that the future is not yet written:

“Don’t ignore the sun
The sun matters
The sun interacts
The sun changes

“Don’t fear the sun
The sun doesn’t fear you
The sun is trusting, longing, whispering, imagining, listening…”

These are examples of writing at varying stages of grief and processing.

I was able to notice shifts that happened within myself when observing my writing. There’s even more healing that can come from looking back on your writing so you can see how far you’ve come.

So, how do you get started?

  • Turn off your inner editor, no expectations, no audience unless you want one (like a higher power)
  • Be honest – it’s just you and the page
  • Expect dark thoughts, strive for hope
  • Each day (each hour, each moment) is different. Give yourself permission to feel
  • Share with someone you trust

Write your story, write a poem, write whatever comes out. Dictate (speech to text or voice record), type, draw, paint.

Write one word. Write all the words. Communicate.

What we’ve experienced is significant, and honoring your story is part of living a whole life.

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