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Reflections on Healing After Miscarriages – Part 1

by in Culture on 23rd February, 2023

TRIGGER WARNING: This article deals with the subject of miscarriage


I’ve been tested by God Almighty with loss after loss after loss. Three pregnancies over four years, all ending with miscarriage, leaving me childless after almost a decade. The most harrowing experiences of my life, that will stay with me for the rest of it. Hope and dreams followed by devastation that feels like a constant string of punches to the gut. Seeing a beautiful little heartbeat via ultrasounds one month and then nothing the next. My heart broken three times over.

Being alone in traumatic scans and subsequent surgery because of quarantine restrictions. Feeling like I would never recover, and at times, like I couldn’t go on living like this. Vomiting multiple times a day even after surgery because my hormone levels weren’t settling. Having to break the news to loved ones YET again. 

These memories and experiences have haunted me to no end, and this time last year, a month after losing my third, I would have said that I’ll never be able to be happy again unless I am given a baby. Yet here I sit, still without a child, or even a pregnancy, and I feel more content than I ever have before. 

Miscarriage is common, repeated miscarriage much, much less so, but every single one of us will know someone who has experienced a loss, even if we haven’t ourselves. I decided to write something for every single woman who has been tested like this, and I pray that some of the things that have helped me, can help you too.

YOU WILL COME THROUGH THIS

After years of obsessing over conceiving, weeing on ovulation strips and attending nerve-wracking fertility appointments, by the time I found out I was miscarrying for a third time, the pain I felt was so intense that it seemed I could never emotionally heal from it. It felt like my world had shattered, and because of complications in my surgery and major blood loss, like my body would never bounce back either. It felt like I was in a very dark tunnel, and that the light in the distance was growing further and further out of reach. I remember feeling almost suicidal at points, there is no doubt that the intense hormonal fluctuations, agonising pain, postnatal depression but without a baby, nausea, anxiety and grief all rolled into one are a horrible combination. 

But we are not tested with more than we can bear. Our hearts and bodies are incredibly resilient, often beyond imagining. The passage of time is a powerful thing, and with the right care and nourishment, both mentally and physically, you will heal. Even if it seems like an impossibility at the time, you WILL feel better insha’Allah. With each passing day, at first imperceptible changes add up. Time, by the grace of God, really does heal even the deepest wounds. Nothing in this temporary world is lasting or permanent, and this applies to your heartbreak and distress too. Even if you can’t feel it right now, trust in this truth.

GET HELP & GO EASY

Especially in those early, dark days, put yourself first. You have been through turmoil and back, lived through a significant life trauma. You deserve time and space to rest and recuperate, to begin to process your pain, to be human. Get signed off work, encourage your partner and others around you to take charge of all household and other tasks, and in providing healing meals and foods. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself as you would treat someone you loved who was being tested in this way.

If everyone around you is being considerate and gentle, but the inner voice with which you address yourself is harsh and unkind, the road to healing will be stunted. So, cut yourself some slack. 

One of the most helpful things for me was having a call with a counsellor from the charity; Children of Jannah. I was generously gifted one of their bereavement bundles by a close friend, and found the resources invaluable. The free, 45 minute call that I had with an adviser was very powerful, I felt truly seen. Having my experiences empathetically validated was such an important step in beginning to process the trauma, and Hafizah Ismail’s guidance and encouragement was a huge blessing. I highly recommend anyone who is struggling with repeated pregnancy loss or stillbirth to seek help, if not from Children of Jannah, then from a qualified therapist whom you trust and respect.

The fact that baby loss is not widely spoken about as it could be means that many of us go on for years suffering in silence. The time after my third loss was the only point at which I sought professional help, by this time I had developed panic attacks and was suffering from something close to PTSD, and the difference that therapy made was tangible. 

HEALING IS MESSY

The road to healing is not a simple, linear path. It is messy, there will be good days and bad days, ups and downs along the way. The process of grief is not simple by any means. Especially at the beginning, there will be meltdowns, you may cry for no obvious external reason, or fluctuate wildly between emotions. Go easy on yourself and don’t fall into thinking that you’re no longer healing just because of a few bad days. Ordinary logic can’t be applied here, and there’s no point in trying. Focus on taking one step at a time, even if it feels like they aren’t leading anywhere at all.

Your very act of patiently struggling to keep going amidst the turbulence and pain and uncertainty is worship in and of itself. And it’s worth saying that patience doesn’t mean you don’t shed tears or break down, it doesn’t mean you don’t feel dejected and weary, that’s all part of the human experience God has designed for us. Contentment can co-exist with sadness. 

MINDSET – TICKET TO JANNAH

Loss, pain, tribulation, are not negative. The most beloved to Allah are tested the most, starting with the Prophets and saints. If we are guaranteed reward because of the pain of a thorn prick, the riches granted to you after bearing this affliction are unimaginable.

My Arabic teacher told us of how when they had lost their baby in the womb, pious people around them had congratulated them. At first, this sounded alarming, disturbing almost, but when asked why, they responded by saying, ‘your place in paradise is assured, what greater honour is there?’. We’ve been told by the beloved Prophet Mohammed that the miscarried foetus will drag its parents to paradise, and we’ve been afforded this incredible promise. The promise of Allah is true beyond doubt, and this brings immense comfort to a bereaved parent’s shattered heart.

By shifting my mindset away from feeling hard done by, like an unfortunate victim who wasn’t being given what she yearned for, I realised I’d been given a far greater gift. We have been honoured, our ranks have been raised beyond comprehension. Insha’Allah, our places in heaven are marked for us, what else truly matters in the face of this? 

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Indeed the miscarried foetus will confront his Lord if He enters his parents into the Fire. So it will be said to him, “O foetus which confronts his Lord! Enter your parents into Paradise.” So he will drag them by his [umbilical] cord until he enters them into Paradise.” [Ibn Majah]

I noticed I’d been carrying around a sense of embarrassment and shame for not having been able to have children (bizarrely assuming that it had anything to do with me, with no evidence to suggest it!). I hated the feeling that people pitied me, and would often avoid or evade questions and conversations that remotely related to the topic. After shifting my mindset and entirely reframing the issue to an Islamic one rather than cultural or emotional, I felt more empowered than ever before as a bereaved parent.

There is no blame or fault associated with this identity as many an unhelpful auntie will have you believe, purely Divine will and decree. And if the Lord of the Worlds has decreed this trial, and more so, the reward of guaranteed paradise, for you, then you’ve been chosen for something wonderful. You’ve been saved. You are loved. Accept this from the bottom of your heart and embrace the blessed identity that has been bestowed upon you. Cutting away the traces of guilt and shame that I irrationally felt as a woman after miscarriages was a very significant step in beginning to heal myself.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “When a person’s child dies, Allah the Most High asks His angels, ‘Have you taken out the life of the child of My slave?’ They reply in the affirmative. He then asks, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They reply in the affirmative. Thereupon he asks, ‘What has My slave said?’ They say: ‘He has praised You and said: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall be returned).’ Allah says: ‘Build a house for My slave in Jannah and name it Bait-ul-Hamd (the House of Praise)’”.  [At-Tirmidhi, Number 1736]

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