Saturday, October 15, 2016

national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

my neighbours are landscaping their front yard, and it's currently a childrens' paradise, with huge piles of stones and dirt everywhere. they have a daughter only a few months older than my son, and a few evenings ago, they were happily playing together in their makeshift "construction zone." L drove his bulldozer up and down a dirt hill, loading piles of fragrant soil into his friend's little cement mixer.  her mom and i stood nearby, contentedly watching our kids play and enjoying the last moments of daylight.
we first became friends when we both had huge pregnant bellies and no real idea what to expect.   we shared maternity clothes, nursing shirts, baby food gear, kids' books and toys, and each others' yards.  after awhile, we also discovered that we shared the experience of three prior miscarriages previous to our fourth child's live birth.  and recently, we've also shared the grief of letting go of the dream of a family of four, as she also has experienced secondary infertility.
as the sunlight began its steady autumn-evening fade, she turned and asked me, hauntedly, "how do you let go of what you never had? how do you deal with the guilt of wanting another child when you already have one against the odds? how do you move on?"
i listened. i breathed deeply. i was silent. the sound of our kids laughing made me wonder if she also sometimes thinks about how it would be to hear her child's laughter mixed with that of a brother or sister that never was.

at this time last year, i was aching and so angry, hollow and raging, fresh from the loss of Tummymuffin V and full of unanswered useless questions, most of them starting (and ending) with the word WHY? in this year's span, i've healed a lot; i've let go more, but i have done so mostly quietly.  i have yet to write about the unexpected laying to rest and naming of my last lost baby; perhaps my silence is evidence of how soul-weary i am from these sorts of thoughts.
you see, i don't have an easy answer to her question.  it's really asking: how do you balance feeling unbelievably blessed and unbelievably cheated? can you? should you? i don't really know. what i do know is that i still don't think you really "move on" or "get over" pregnancy loss and infertility. you have to move with it; accept its presence in your life, and make it an acknowledged companion so it doesn't become some parasitic vampire of your actual identity. 
recently i have noticed that perhaps the lack of peace i feel is possibly -- dare i say -- feminist in nature: that pregnancy loss, and the insidious culture of silence that society imposes around it, is part of the acceptance of the idea that a woman's worth is measured by being someone's wife (you attracted and caught someone! you win!) and someone's mother (your ladyparts all work! good job!). i'm astonished by how often i hear comments that imply that i'm cheating my son, or i'm being irresponsible or selfish, or even that i "have it so easy" because i have only one living child and i do not (actually cannot) plan to have another.  i can rationally reject these comments, just as i can and have rationally rejected the many unintentionally devastating comments regarding my pregnancy losses and infertility.  but they take their toll.
so on this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, or as we call it here, Tummymuffin Day, i lovingly and humbly make this request: please don't ask the couple "so when are you going to have a baby?". don't say to the parents " oh but (s)he needs a brother/sister!".  and for the love of all that is holy, please do not ever say to any woman, "you better hurry up and have a/more kid(s); your clock is ticking!".  and if you are privy to the details of someone's family-making journey, and you know there has been tragedy and roadblocks, just saying "i love you and support you" goes a long, long way.

as the sun became a red-orange glow, and the outlines of our precious children's beautiful, vital, innocent bodies showed against the pink-tinged sky, i turned to my friend, put my arm around her shoulder, and said, "you know, some moments are better than others. in the best, i am simply grateful. and i let THOSE moments define my life. this is one of them."  
tonight, i shall light my candles and speak the names of my own lost children, and then love my friends by speaking the names of theirs, and i will hear my own life taking shape. and i will be grateful.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

i will not, i will

there have been so many things i've wanted to write about coming to terms with "not having another one," and also grieving the loss of a baby after having a living child.  one of the realities of this is that as a full-time parent with a small child around, one is almost always tired, and autonomous time is scarce (and only comes in increments of several minutes or less).  yes, this affects posting on a blog, but more than that, it greatly changes the process of mourning changes and losses.
this recent Mother's Day was a really tough one. i've written before about the challenge of this day for women who are infertile and/or have suffered pregnancy loss, but i was really quite unprepared for how much i'd still have mixed feelings about this day.  last year when the holiday came around, we were at a wedding in the mountains and were too busy celebrating that.  but this year we're right now in Germany, visiting my in-laws, and "Mutterstag" has been exported in all its commercial glory to this country too.  my son is still too young to do the whole breakfast in bed/card/present/flowers/etc. thing, and i told my husband that he should concentrate on his mom and direct all of L's attention to her as well.  we had a lovely day with a long all-family bike ride through the woods (yes, very Black Forest-y) to a little restaurant where we had homemade bratwurst and kuchen, and we laughed and L played, and we all delighted in our love for one another and the good mothering that got us there.
there was such sharpness and strength to that joy: hearing my son's pure lilting giggles while seeing my husband and his mother share a good story, the warm sun filtering through trees, the clean, crisp smell of spring and growth filling my lungs every time i drew breath to laugh.  that tangible joy felt like a sturdy shelter, and even a natural respite, from the heavy grief that permeated the other hours of my day, and i believe its brightness was intensified by the contrast, and its protection.  it made me grateful for many lessons hard-earned about the complementary nature of joy and grief.

today is the Would-Be Day for our fifth child, who is yet to be named.  i feel somewhat lost as to how to lay her memory to rest; she is unlike our first three Tummymuffins, who were alive and real enough but still, for me as a mother, only promises of a future not experienced.  however, this Mother's Day, which was in cruel proximity to today, i couldn't stop remembering, as i sprawled on the floor, sobbing for all the things i now actually knew.  i couldn't stop remembering what it actually felt like to be 40 weeks pregnant; how full and heavy and taut and uncomfortable and thrilling.  i couldn't stop recalling the feeling of tiny feet kicking from within, or even the indescribable exhilaration of feeling my baby finally slide from my womb into the world and burst into full-throated life. 
over the last several months, i have tried to drink my full tea mug of grief, but there has been so little mental space and energy, and i think i only sipped when i should've stared into its murky depths and then downed it.  the Mother's Day cup was scalding, and bitter, and difficult to finish because it entailed recognizing that i was mourning for someone whom this time, i could truly imagine. 
today, i understand now as i did not before with my first three, what this would-be day will not have.   i will not feel the weight of a small beautiful body placed upon my chest.  i will not smell the sweetness of a soft, downy head.  i will not look down into bright clear eyes and see my own face reflected.  i will not be looking at my husband with pride and even deeper love as he cradles his new child. i will not see my parents, or my sister, or my parents-in-law, or my friends' joy at a new arrival. i will not have a little face nuzzled against my breast.  i will not gaze down in amazement at this marvelous creature that i, by some miracle, will call my own.  i will not fall dizzyingly, splendidly, exhaustingly in love. 
and yet, by the same token, i know what i do have.  i will experience bone-deep gratitude when i feel the weight of my son, formerly Tummymuffin IV, snuggled on my lap tonight.  i will run my hands through his thick, bewilderingly curly hair and hear him say in his sweet voice, "I love you, Mommy." i will kiss my amazing husband with decisive pleasure and pride, and tell him again that he is a wonderful father.  i will send photos of today's adventures to my family and know they will take joy in seeing our son's growth and exuberant happiness.  i will be flooded with compassion as i enfold my boy in my arms and comfort him after an inevitable bump or bruise, as he buries his wailing face in my chest.  i will gaze down in delight at him when he does something hilarious, and then in the next moment takes my hand and asks some astonishingly insightful question.  i am daily, over and over, falling in love.

oh my little Tummymuffin V, i will never know you, but i know how it is to be your mother.  happy would-be day, and happy Mother's Day too.  i love you.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

national pregnancy & infant loss remembrance day

a few days ago, we drove past our very-pregnant neighbour's house, and she was outside with her daughter S, who is the same age as L.
"Mommy," he said, with that This Is An Urgent Why Question upper-register voice of his, "is S going to have a baby?" 
i explained that yes, her mommy has a baby growing inside her body, and that very soon S will have a little sister.  now, we'd just come back from a playdate at the park with one of his school friends, who also has a little sister.   L was very quiet in that special preschooler way that indicates Big Thoughts Are In My Head Right Now.  i looked in the rear-view mirror.  his brow was furrowed, and he looked worried. 
"L, your face looks worried.  are you having a big feeling right now?" i asked.
a little voice said "yes."
"Sweets, are you wondering if you are suddenly going to have a little sister too?"
he burst out in relief "YESSSSSS!!"
i'm glad we were driving, so he couldn't see my face.  part of me was laughing merrily, and part of me went very, very still.
"Oh L, it's ok.  don't worry.  that won't happen." i explained.
"It's not?!"
"No, honey, getting a little brother or sister usually involves a big decision made by the mommy and daddy, and then it takes a long time for a baby to grow inside its mommy's body.  so you get plenty of warning if you're going to get a little brother or sister.  it doesn't happen suddenly.  the mommies and daddies tell their kids way before it happens."
"Did B (another friend) know about his little sister before she came?"
"Yes, he did."
"Ok."  L was quiet for awhile, again with that Big Thoughts look. "Um, Mommy?"
"Yes, Sweets?"
(Quietly) "Is there a baby growing inside your body RIGHT NOW?"
my breath caught.  "Oh, no, my love, no. there is not. not anymore."

i swallowed hard.  "Babies can't grow inside Mommy's body anymore."
"But WHY?"
"Oh love, i don't know. i just don't know."
He was quiet again.  "Can we listen to the elephant song please?"
i gratefully turned on the kids' music CD and made it as loud as was safe, so he wouldn't notice me crying.

today is October 15th, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, or in our home, Tummymuffin Day.  (click links for more information, if you are unfamiliar with this -- it is observed worldwide, with candles lit from 7:00-8:00pm local time.)  tonight will be somewhat different -- we will be remembering our four lost children, instead of three.
you see, it's been less than a month since i had to say goodbye to Tummymuffin V.  yes, as i was writing that last post about closing and latching the gate on more kids -- i was, unbeknownst to me, already pregnant.  and then just as we were joyfully adjusting to this new reality, it was all over.  everything went back to being the same.  and nothing will ever be the same again.

as L grows older, and becomes more aware of other kids having brothers and sisters, our decision to Talk About the children we lost becomes more complex.  he knows that he had brothers and sisters that "no one got to meet," but as he starts to better understand that most people only talk about or know about siblings that are alive, there will inevitably be questions -- not just from him, but from others who won't understand why a little kid would be talking about babies that were never born. 
the reason is exactly why this day exists, first brought into being in America by Congressional decree (and then spreading internationally; most recently Australia passed a resolution to recognize it) -- because the lives of these never-met babies, even if they were so short as to have never been born, massively impact the lives of their families and friends.  my son's life is irrevocably shaped by the three before him, and now also by the one after. 

pregnancy and infant loss -- and especially the accompanying grief and sorrow -- is not at all a comfortable topic of conversation, but it is imperative that our society becomes more accepting and adept at Talking About It.  while every loss is unique, and especially every parent's response to it is also, they must be given the right to make a choice of how to respond in their own way.  and too many of them have felt that silence and secrecy is their only option.  it is incredibly hard to speak openly about this, and it takes practice with those you love and trust. 
if you have lost a child in pregnancy or early infancy, please know that you are far from alone. many of the links to the right will take you to places that have wonderful resources for coping with the grief, finding support, and talking openly about your loss.  you can also feel free to email me (my information is under the "About" tab at the top of the page).  talk to your partner about where you are in your journey; too often even in our house, i am surprised by where my husband is, or he is blindsided by how fresh the pain feels for me sometimes.  being open, at least in your family relationships, is a good start.

and for those of you who love someone who has had a loss -- or especially if they're revealing this part of themselves to you for the first time -- simply be present.  let them tell their story without judgment or any "fix-it" responses.*  give a hug and an "i'm sorry."  or if you already know of someone mourning a loss/losses, perhaps use this day to send a quick text or email to say "i remember with you."  don't worry that you might be reminding them of something painful; they are most likely all too aware of it on a regular basis.

keep talking. keep listening. keep loving.  thank you to all of you who have done all of this for me on my journey.  i promise to do the same.

 *you can find posts about helping someone who's had a loss under the "advice and resources" tab at the top.

Friday, August 28, 2015

my another

-->that's the giant exhalation of breath that i just released. 
i've been struggling for awhile with what to continue writing about here regarding my personal journey, mainly because i had no real conclusions.  that's a problem; this blog has always been about life in process.  at the same time, because it dealt with what i now think of as one of the more publicly asked-about intensely private decisions ("so when are you going to have another one?"), i wanted just a little more clarity about what constitutes a "complete family." and how that definition can either continue to be a carefully-constructed faux reality, or an acceptance of the actual story.
get to the point, i hear you saying.  ok, well, even choosing the verb for how to say this is awkward: we've chosen? decided? accepted? come to an understanding? embraced?
fine, then.  we have, in our own ways, and together, (fill in the verb from above list here) that L will most likely be our only living child.

looking back on the pendulum swing of a journey that got me here, i know that it started with the blueprint i always had for "family:" 2 bio parents, 2 bio children.  this is what i lived; this is what my husband lived.   i never questioned my personal idea of "family" -- while i am very familiar with all the permutations of other people's families, my family was four people.  and thus, i think, i absorbed that this number is what would make our family complete. 
i remember driving home from one of L's earliest post-birth checkups, his impossibly tiny, freshly-hatched infant body asleep in the back, and me with my body still healing from the birth and milk newly come in, saying to my husband, "so...i guess we're going to start trying again as soon as possible?".  one of the nurses had made a passing comment about how ideally a new mother needs a solid year to heal/adjust to motherhood/go back to being an unpregnant body before another pregnancy, and my first reaction was mentally screaming "I DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME, LADY!"  i was looking down the barrel of 40, coming out of three miscarriages and years of infertility, and i thought: we gotta get going on this next kid.
despite exclusively breastfeeding my ridiculously hungry baby, my cycle came back when he was just 4 months old.  my OB/GYN, whom i love, called it "a particularly adventurous egg."  then, 28 days later, i had another period. and then, another 28 days...another period.  inwardly, i rejoiced.  this obviously meant my reproductive bits were back online, and we were ready to have another baby! 
only those 28 days kept coming and going, like clockwork.  they didn't stop.  at first, i was too sleep-deprived and overwhelmed by new mommyhood to really care too much; it was only after L's 1st birthday that i started to worry.  no, actually, it wasn't worry.  it was more like the slow decay of of a bouquet of cut flowers: my hope was wilting, being replaced by the "oh no, here we go again" dread.

secondary infertility is defined as when you can't conceive or carry to term in a given period of time following the birth of your biological child without assisted reproductive techniques or fertility meds.  it is a very real and common thing, and it's talked about even less than the "silent corrosion" that is primary infertility.  even medical professionals are known to downplay it, along with well-meaning friends and family ("just keep trying!"  "relax!").  the problem is, the toxic emotional cocktail of sadness, anger, frustration, despair, self-blame, etc. that usually accompanies infertility now comes in a big tall highball glass of guilt and criticism.  having an existing child (or children) means you have their welfare to consider, and other people (and maybe even your own internal voices) can be astonishingly vocal about the perceived selfishness of wanting to increase your family.  the emotional duality of being grateful for your child while still mourning the ones you didn't have, i have found, extends not just to babies lost in pregnancy, but also babies not conceived.  both situations mean facing and grieving the lost future that you hoped for that will not come to pass.

over time, the answer to the very common question, "so when will you/are you going to have another one?" has shifted.  it's gone through a lot of permutations, listed here in all their wilting-flower chronology:
"hopefully soon!"
"we're 'leaving the gate unlatched' and hoping for the best."
"we're so grateful for this one, and we do hope there will be another."
"we're trying to be patient -- it was a long journey to have this one and we're grateful just for him."
"we didn't even think we could have him, so who knows?"
"we don't know if we can or will. we're just grateful to have him."
and now, the current one:  "he IS our another one."

the pendulum has reached the other side, and i don't think it's going to swing back.  it shouldn't -- because the resolution of saying goodbye to our previous imagined incarnation of family (2 parents, 2 children) and instead fully, mindfully accepting and rejoicing in our actual family (2 parents, 1 living child), means that we can also move forward in our story being the best family we can be. 

after the first two miscarriages, our wise long-time family therapist told me: you must take your circumstances and choose a direction.  either you can stay defined as the grieving mother with empty arms, or you can be Yourself, and that weeping childless mother is a component of Who You Are.  he reminded me of this during our last visit, when my husband and I went to seek his counsel on this very difficult decision.  we can mourn this piece of our family story, but it is not who we are.  we are not a family with Not Enough Children.  we must be a family with One Child, who is even more than we may have at one time hoped for.  we are a family of three, and that is, for us, abundance.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

i am broken; i am restored (rinse & repeat)

today is Mother's Day again.
i'm actually glad that instead of feeling like i have to acknowledge it, i'm in the mountains with my family, joyfully celebrating the wedding of a dear friend that i've known for almost a quarter-century.  this weekend has been about redemption of the deepest sort, because after the brokenness and betrayal that my friend has experienced in past years, it has been a true miracle to watch him take hold of healing, restoration, and trust again.  it has been a gift to watch him come back to life, and i am grateful to be able to witness it. 
yesterday, as i watched from a distance as they took wedding photographs standing amongst ancient, mossy trees, i saw only gratitude and peace on their faces, not the giddy excitement that usually marks a younger, first-time-around, newlywed couple.  these friends have seen a lot of life, and know better than many the realities of storms and crashing downs and the thick stupor of grief.  i took a deep breath of the sharp clean mountain air and the verdant smell of rain and earth and felt my Redeemer saying to my spirit, "Child: i am there in the restoration, and i am there in the grief.  i have seen all that has gone before and i know of your pain and your joy.  if you want to believe in Me, believe that i am a Healer, and that i am with you in your anger and impatience over wounds that require healing.  i'm letting you see redemption today because you need to see this part of the story."
right now i can hear the sparkling laughter of my child inside our little mountain cabin, and the voice of my husband laughing with him.  i'm thinking of all the wounding and healing and waiting and not-knowing and redemption and impatience and love and life that i have so far known, so much of the most intense parts of all of that wrapped up in this ongoing journey of family-making.  i'm thinking about this article posted by a friend of mine about a Catholic cemetery in New York that has a special section for miscarried and stillborn children -- what has stayed with me is how the women interviewed for the article lost babies 45 or 50 years ago, and had other living children, and yet still ached for the baby or babies they never "got to take home."  i'm thinking about one of them, in her nineties, i think, talking about how people tell you you're "lucky" to have the kids you have - -and you agree -- yet you never stop missing the ones you didn't.  even now, i still fall apart at unexplained, random times over my three Tummymuffins i carried within me, but never got to meet.
today i would rather celebrate the secret mothers -- the ones who are still hoping, still waiting, still grieving.  even the ones who are also, at the same time, fully rejoicing in the miracle of any living children they might have.  just as my newly-married friends know, acknowledging the brokenness allows you to truly revel in the healing -- and just as brokenness is not the end of the story, neither is healing.  while Process may not be poetry, it is Truth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

today, October 15th, from 7:00pm-8:00pm (19:00-20:00) local time, there will be thousands -- maybe hundreds of thousands? -- perhaps millions? -- of candles lit in households all across the globe to remember babies who were lost before they were born.  in the United States alone*, it's estimated that every year, at least 1 in 4 (if not more) pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth -- that's over a million.  this also means that almost 20% of the adult population of this country has personally experienced the death of a child (which includes miscarriage by an adult child). 
what do these statistics mean?  it means that chances are, you personally know someone who has experienced the pain and grief of a pregnancy ending without a living child — maybe it’s even you.  it may have happened recently, or years ago, but for many, there is still a need to remember and honor their precious baby.  because of the suffocating code of silence surrounding pregnancy loss, and in spite of or because it is so tragically common, many parents of lost children don't feel comfortable acknowledging the reality of their silent grief or even that they are parents.  that’s why this day was designated years ago to allow a simple way for them -- and anyone that loves them -- to recognise their loss without any apology or shame. 

merely hours ago, as i was dropping L (Tummymuffin IV) off at preschool,  another parent asked me “is he the only one you have?”  and you know what?  i choked.  i stumbled for an answer - “uh, well, yeah, uh, he’s my first born.” i said, and turned away.
at first i was so upset with myself — that on this of all days, i’d be reticent about talking about my other three children?! what was wrong with me?!  then i felt defensive — L started school a month ago and i’m just getting to know these other parents; preschool drop-off is not the right context to share something personal; given the semi-chaotic circumstances and my relative lack of sleep, i didn’t feel like having to explain through the other three and respond to whatever she would say...etc.  sigh.  i still don't know how i feel about this.  right now, i’m still trying to make sense of my conflicting feelings — sure, i am usually quite up-front that pregnancy loss is part of my story, yet all the reasons for not talking about it this morning are quite valid.  i guess i should just be thankful she didn't ask "are you going to have another?"
i am telling you this to show you just how unbelievably difficult it is for people who have lost a baby to miscarriage to talk about it openly. i’ve been talking about it publicly for the last six years and i tell you, i will still hold my breath and have a moment of hesitation before i click “publish.”  every single time i post to this blog, i have that pause of indecision: to share or not to share?  losing a child before he or she is born makes seemingly simple questions so diabolically complex. 

so today, on (inter)national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day, if you want to finally start talking about it, this is your time to do so.  start with those you trust -- maybe even just your partner, or maybe a close family member or friend.  if it feels more comfortable talking to someone you haven't met, please contact me; my email information is under "about" at the top of the page.  if you just want to anonymously post your would-be child(ren)'s due date(s) in the comments section, know that i'll remember them with you.  we always have more than three candles in the window on our "Tummymuffin Remembrance Day" since we hold memories for several friends' babies, and we would love to honor your child too.
 and what if someone you love has experienced a loss?  please give them a safe, non-judgmental place to express their sadness.  say you love them.  say you're sorry for their loss.  give them a hug.  and if it's appropriate, ask about their lost child.  find out how old they'd be now.  find out if they had a name.  being willing to remember their child with them can be one of the most meaningful things you can offer.  you can find posts here and here about other things to say and not say.

today i also especially remember with gratitude all of you who have come on this journey with me, and have offered your love & support.  thank you for continued encouragement to keep talking and writing.  thank you for your strength.

*statistics courtesy of March of Dimes

Monday, October 13, 2014

what NOT to say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage

i've already written here about things you SHOULD say when someone you care about experiences a pregnancy loss; it's only fair to now share some things you should avoid saying to a family -- especially the woman -- who has just had a miscarriage.  some may surprise you, as they sound thoughtful enough on the surface, but they still can cause a lot of pain.  as before, for simplicity, i'll use the female pronouns, but please remember that male partners are also grieving and are deserving of your compassion and sensitivity. 

1.  at least you know you can get pregnant.  because many people knew i struggled with even getting pregnant before each miscarriage, this was something that i heard more than a few times, and i even thought this privately, to myself.  but it hurts terribly to hear it out loud from someone else, because it highlights the fact that after all the waiting and hoping...those hopes are gone along with that tiny heartbeat.  no one wants to be pregnant only to lose the baby!  also, it can make her feel guilty about her sadness, because she knows that "at least" she had an experience that many women who want children will never have. 

2.  at least you weren't that far along.  once, when i told another mother who'd asked if L was my first child, that i'd lost three babies before having him, she was horrified.  "how old were they?" she wanted to know.  i told her i'd lost all of them right before the end of the first trimester. "oh!" she said, visibly relieved. "they weren't REAL babies, then." 
gentle reader, saying the above phrase is a just slightly more polite equivalent to saying to the grieving parent that their loss was not a loss of a real child.  look, whatever you believe about when life/personhood begins, the fact is that very real hopes and dreams have just died, and the loss of those is reason enough to grieve.  in addition, each pregnancy loss -- no matter how far along -- comes with its own set of physical complications that can also be incredibly difficult to deal with.  (see sidebar for direct links to my posts about having an MVA  (manual vacuum aspiration) or a medically-induced miscarriage with Misoprostol (Cytotec), or click directly.)

3.  keep trying, it'll happen./you can always have another one.   really? because we tried and tried and tried and didn't get pregnant and then we had a miracle positive test and then we were so hopeful and we tried to be positive and think THIS IS IT THIS IS THE ONE and then...oh, hey sorry, no. and then rinse and repeat.
i know not everyone who experiences pregnancy loss also struggles with infertility (which i once heard called "the silent corrosion of hope"), but many do.  and even if they haven't before, they might at any time, given the staggering array of factors that have to all align for a pregnancy to occur.  as for telling someone "you can always have another one," maybe they won't. maybe now they are having to deal with the death of the dream of having a larger family.  in addition, one baby does not replace another.  L is absolutely not the "replacement" for the three i will never meet.  nor is he my "happy ending."  this is why also saying "just be grateful for the kid(s) you do have" is also so painful to hear.  someone's sibling -- and the dream of having a sibling -- is gone.  and besides, it's possible you cannot even fathom the depth of gratefulness she has every day for the child(ren) she already has.  it's probably what gave her the courage to try for another one.

4.  this was God's (or the universe's, etc.) will./these things happen for a reason.  grief is messy, confusing, embarrassing, non-linear.  it is understandable that we want to make sense of it, find reasons, quantify, explain.  but that is the personal, (mostly) internal journey that you need to let the woman experiencing the loss of her baby make on her terms.  at worst, saying this comes off as pretentious (you know the bigger plan? really?) and condescending.  at best, it comes off as dismissive of her pain and struggle.

5. it's really common./it's nature's way of ending an unhealthy pregnancy.  true? yes.  like stomping on her already crushed heart? yes.  she's probably already heard this from her doctor(s), because they are trained to state medical facts.  but you know what?  carrying babies to full term is also really common.  and this whole "nature's way" thing essentially is saying that her baby was unfit to live.  just as there are so many factors that result in successful fertility, there are a dizzying, layered, uncountable number of reasons why a pregnancy may or may not result in a live, healthy baby.  which brings me to...

6. you shouldn't have ridden your bike/kept working out/done belly flops in the bounce house at that kid's birthday party even when you didn't even know you were pregnant.  (all things that were really said to me, or in my presence, by the way.) it is astonishing how people sometimes forget that they should turn ON their brain-to-mouth filter.  not only is it rude to imply that it's the mother's fault, it's also insensitive and cruel.  don't try to find reasons for why the baby was lost.  definitely don't guess at what she may or may not have done to cause the loss.  most likely it was nothing that she did or didn't do, but the two most overwhelming feelings, after grief, that accompany a miscarriage, are guilt and failure.  pleas don't contribute to either of these.  i remember that after losing the third child, my (clearly frustrated) OB/GYN took my hand and said: "you'd think that with all the medical advances we've made in the last hundred years, we'd also be able to reduce the statistics with miscarriages, and we haven't.  i'm so sorry."  it's still mostly a mystery to doctors who are trained to know about these things, so please don't ever try to explain to a grieving mother why her baby is gone...and never imply that the reason is her.

7.  why would you name it or have a memorial?/aren't you over this by now?  i have spoken to women who experienced pregnancy loss over 40 years ago, and they still get visibly emotional when they talk about the child they never got to know.  as i have written here before, you don't ever get over grief; you just move with it and get stronger.  also, questioning a couple's choice as to how they process the loss is not your business.  in fact, many women who were shamed into society's code of silence surrounding miscarriage when they first experienced it, find deep healing when they choose to finally recognize their loss in a ritualistic, deliberate way.  families might do anything from lighting a candle for their would-be child all the way to having a full service for them.  please don't judge.

8.  you must be absolutely heartbroken.  every pregnancy is different, and every pregnancy loss is different too -- physically, mentally, and emotionally.  parents who have lost an unborn child also choose to respond differently, so please don't assume that she's as devastated as you were when you experienced your loss.  while my experience has been that 9 out of 10 people i talk to about pregnancy loss have, at their honest core, true grief about the loss, there is always the 10th who doesn't.  maybe she didn't even know she was pregnant when she found out, or perhaps for whatever reason she didn't form any emotional attachment to the baby, or maybe she got pregnant again with a living child right afterwards and never really processed what happened.  in any case, don't make her feel guilty for NOT feeling bad; if you want to really know how she feels, just ask.  "how are you honestly feeling?" is a good place to start (see my post on things you SHOULD say).

please add any more suggestions in the comments!