Today, I was challenged to write about a time in my life when I could've benefited from having a doula by my side. I'm going to take this a step further, and make it a series to show how expansive the role of support can be. Keep an eye out for new posts in the coming weeks!
If only I had a doula when I miscarried, she* could have told me that it was alright to cry and that showing emotion wasn't a weakness. She could have told me that it was alright to talk about my loss, because my baby was a baby, no matter the gestational age. She would have known which resources my husband and I each needed in order grieve in the way that we each needed, because no person experiences loss in quite the same way.
My doula could have held me while I cried after my husband returned to work shortly after our loss, or brought me my heating pad and blanket when all I wanted to do was sleep the day away. She could've picked up around the house so that it looked presentable, or cooked for my husband and I so that we could simply coexist, enjoy a warm meal together, and heal together while he was home. She could have provided me comfort with her constant presence, whether or not I wanted to talk - just knowing she was there if I needed her would be enough.
Miscarrying our first baby was a hard time for our family. We didn't expect the conception, but we welcomed it. The loss was even more unexpected, bringing about a heavy period of grief that I didn't know how to navigate, and an even longer period of fear. Even though this was an experience I shared with my husband, I felt alone and as if my pain were trivial to the outside world.
I was met with well-meaning comments like, "If it was meant to be, it will be," and, "You're so young, you still have so much time," and, "The baby must not have been healthy, better to lose it now than to birth a baby with problems." While I understand the sentiment behind this kind of support, it made me feel like my loss didn't matter, or wasn't worthy of being grieved. Like many women, I felt rushed to get back to normal, and to not dwell on what could have been.
As if it's ever that easy.
Professional doula support, for me, would have allowed me the time I needed to fully process the loss of our child. Doulas are there to provide us with education when we ask for more information (how common is miscarriage? what are the chances this will happen again? is this my fault?), or support when needed (have you eaten? do you want to try a shower to feel better? let me take care of the laundry and dishes so you can relax). What this looks like can vary from person to person, situation to situation, but I know that if I'd had a doula by my side when I miscarried, there's no doubt in my mind that she would have used her attuned talents to provide me with exactly what I needed in that moment.