Moving Forward

For questions related to grief and coping with the loss of your baby, please visit our Grief and Coping Q&A.

If you have a question that you would like to see here, please submit it using our contact form. 

When should I go back to work?

For the mother, this will depend on many things, including your work situation, your physical state, and your emotional state. As with many of these questions, there is no right answer.

First, if you are worried about your physical health, check with your doctor before returning to work. In general, the further along in pregnancy you were, the more likely it is that you will need a longer time to heal. However, even early miscarriages can cause significant health issues. Also, if your job requires a lot of physical exertion, there may be more reason to wait longer. You can typically assess your physical wellness by your level of bleeding; if you start bleeding more, you are likely doing too much.

Regarding your job, you may be able to ask your employer for some time off. You may or may not have to use vacation or PTO time, depending on how much you want to share with your employer and how flexible your HR department is; bereavement leave is a common benefit at many companies today. In the United States, if your employer is covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) AND you are an eligible employee, you have the right to take leave (unpaid time off) without losing your job, your seniority, or your employer-provided health insurance for a serious health condition of yours or a family member’s. Miscarriage is considered a “serious health condition” under the FMLA. You may also qualify for additional state medical leave, so be sure to check out your own state’s laws regarding time off for miscarriage. 

If there are no physical restrictions to returning to work, be aware that you may have some emotionally draining days to get through. Many women (and men) appreciate getting back to work quickly as it “takes their mind off” their emotions; however, if many of your coworkers knew you were pregnant, you will be asked questions about the pregnancy and the baby, which can be difficult to answer.

As for working at home, be careful that you don’t over-exert yourself too soon. Only take care of necessities and allow others to help you if they offer. You did just go through labor and delivery, regardless of where your baby is now. Take naps and allow your body time to heal.

Finally, your emotional state can greatly influence when you choose to return to work. Some parents find it easier to get back to the “new normal” as quickly as possible, while others need more time to process their emotions; both are completely normal responses. You may be in a bit of a fog and have trouble making decisions, so try to honestly discern what you need and ask for it. If this means taking a vacation for a few days, then do it. If it means asking grandparents to take your other children for a few days, do that. Do not allow yourself or other people to beat you up for not meeting made-up expectations. Everyone heals in their own way and their own time.

Please see more information on our Grief and Coping Q&A.

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I’m worried about getting pregnant again. How long should we wait?

Depending on who you talk to, the answers for this can range quite a bit. It might seem that everyone you talk  to has a different opinion. While the decision is left up to you, it can be hard to know what you want as your ride the emotional roller-coaster after the loss of a baby.

To allow yourself to grieve properly, it is typically recommended that you wait three months, but there is no statistical physical reason why you need to wait to try again. A good discussion on this topic can be found at Facts About Miscarriage. This site also has a vast amount of answers to other physical and emotional health questions that you may have.

If you find yourself pregnant right after your miscarriage, then give yourself a bit of a break. There will be a lot of emotions competing with each other for your attention, and most of them are normal: grief, happiness, worry, fear, etc. Pray about your situation and allow yourself to continue your grief process, as well as enjoy the happiness and expectation of a new life.

PLEASE NOTE: Most women, along with the happiness of being pregnant again, will now also feel a lot of anxiety, worry, and fear as they carry a new baby. You will likely worry about another loss every day of your pregnancy; perhaps even every hour. This is very normal, and as long as you are taking care of yourself, there is nothing to add to your miscarriage risk.

However, if you are having a hard time eating, sleeping, or performing your normal daily routines (more so than normal pregnancy would indicate), you find yourself crying frequently, or you are having panic attacks or suicidal thoughts, please contact your doctor or call this hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

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Won’t people think we’re just replacing our baby with another one?

First, be honest with yourself. Make sure you are praying about this and that you really are not trying to get pregnant so that you don’t have to face the pain of this loss. Give yourself the time to grieve that you think you need; it’s going to be different for everyone.

If you know that you’re ready to try again, remember that it is okay to desire the happiness that would come with being pregnant again. Please do not fall into the trap of feeling guilty that you are happy; that natural happiness does NOT mean that you are “replacing your baby.” You should be able to allow yourself to feel joyful about another baby. If you are struggling with your emotions, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Even if you feel comfortable trying again, or if you’re already pregnant, you might be worried about what others will think. Often, people are feeling nothing but joy for you, but perhaps there is someone who is worried about you. If this is the case, try speaking with them about it, or just thank them for their concern and let the conversation drop. Either way, remember that you can’t make your family decisions based on another person’s opinion. Pray about it and speak with a spiritual director, a close friend, your priest, or the pastoral associate at your parish to help you sort through your complex feelings.

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What kind of keepsake can I make for a very early pregnancy loss?

You may think you have no mementos to keep around and honor your child’s life because there are no footprints or photographs, but you do have a lot of options. Here are just a few ideas for what to keep in memory of your child; if you have more recommendations for us to share with other parents, please let us know.

For many more ideas for how to honor your child(ren), please see Ways to Remember Your Child.

To create a memory or keepsake box with items related to your baby, here are some ideas of what it could contain (thanks to Lost Innocents):

    • positive pregnancy test (or photo of it)
    • doctor’s appointment cards
    • any correspondence announcing pregnancy
    • ultrasound pictures (even if you don’t feel like you can see much)
    • any photos of you taken while pregnant even if they’re not the traditional “belly pics”
    • photos of the burial site or memorial stone/tree/cross, etc.
    • pregnancy story (write out how you found out, what you did, who you told, etc.)
    • birth story (or story of the miscarriage, procedure, etc.)
    • dried flowers from any arrangements sent to you or pictures of the same
    • ribbons and cards from any arrangements
    • cards or notes sent to you
    • burial or memorial service information
    • duplicate items that the baby was buried with
    • anything the baby touched that you can keep
    • anything photographed with the baby (tiny teddy bear, etc.)
    • printed out email or online condolences
    • a letter to the baby (this can be done on various anniversaries and can be ongoing)
    • icon card of the baby’s patron saint (or of Christ or Mary)
    • a rosary
    • a “birth certificate” (there are online sites that will help you make one)
    • a photo of the baby’s name (written on the beach, on a rock, etc.)
    • a statue (example)

Be creative! Decorate the box in the way you want it; this can include the dates of their death and their birth, even if they are not in the traditional order.

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