Yoga and Loss: My Miscarriage Story


Tuesday, March 22, 2016, was a day of parallel grief for me. 

If you were here in Brussels you may not have to check the date to know that, that was the day of the terrorist attacks on our wonderful city. As the city’s grief was made public on TVs and computers all over the world I mourned a silent loss, suffering a miscarriage the same morning.

Trying to process both griefs left me paralyzed on the couch for a fair amount of time but with the support of my amazing husband, some great friends, and my own coping mechanisms of yoga and meditation I managed to pull myself through the hodgepodge of sadness, anger, and fear that seemed all-consuming.

The Day Before

The previous night has been one of those days where nothing went right for my husband, including a broken bike that had taken longer to fix than expected. I kissed him goodnight promising him “at least tomorrow can’t be worse than today”. Jewish custom dictates that you are not supposed to put a Kina Hora (or call the evil eye) out by making such claims. While I am generally a level-headed person I usually follow this tradition and it stuck with me that I hadn’t that time.

The Day Of

Tuesday morning started like any other. I had been tired and nauseous all week (those were the first signs I was pregnant) so had decided to treat myself to sleeping late before the first yoga class I teach mid-morning. While I dozed, my husband got ready to leave for work but came back in complaining he would have to do more work on his bicycle. Accepting the fact that I was awake I checked in with the goings-on in the world while eating a breakfast, excited to find that I wasn’t as nauseous as I had been the past few days. It was only a few minutes before I heard about the attacks at the Brussels airport. I ran down to our basement to tell my husband, who went to check in with his work.  

Meanwhile, I took myself to the bathroom where I discovered I was bleeding profusely. The next few minutes are a blur. I called out to my husband that I was bleeding. We cried.

We learned about the second attack (20 minutes walk from our home) and we cried some more. I called my amazing boss to let her know what was going on (I think I was in shock and thought I could still teach yoga) and cried some more.

I use the term “I can’t handle that right now” often, never have I meant it so literally. I couldn’t even process what was going on in the large-scale tragedy outside my house. The attacks, which were happening less than 1 mile away felt like they were happening on a different planet. Family, friends, and acquaintances started calling and messaging from all over the world. It felt like my world was falling apart but I had to keep telling everyone how “ok” I was.

It felt like my world was falling apart but I had to keep telling everyone how “ok” I was. Click To Tweet

It still strikes me now, a year and a half later that I felt I couldn’t share my grief with so many people that were checking in on my well-being. Our society doesn’t talk about miscarriage. I know how common miscarriages are in part because of my work in reproductive health and in part because as a doula people tell me about their own fertility journeys. I’ve taken courses in how to work with people who have experienced pregnancy loss. But most people haven’t done this work and even though I did, it was still a pretty lonely place to be. 

In the Days Following the Miscarriage


Because we don’t talk about it I felt like I couldn’t tell people, I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. I am lucky enough to have a few good friends who were able to speak with me and one amazing doula friend who knew exactly what to say and do (which was to pretty much let me cry and remind me that I could grieve however I liked) and I am not sure what I would have done without all that.

Because we don’t talk about it I felt I couldn’t tell people or make them uncomfortable. Click To Tweet

Because I am used to talking about it I was surprised how many people weren’t prepared, when I did mention it, and some who said the completely wrong things. As I look back on it I think it is safe to say that there is no “right” thing to say but there are definitely “wrong” things. [perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]People telling me “at least you can get pregnant” weren’t helpful. People telling me how they “know how I feel” wasn’t either.[/perfectpullquote]

I’ve heard from others who have suffered miscarriages how insensitive people can be around the whole issue of fertility and pregnancy loss and am now even MORE aware of how insensitive we are to these issues. I know you aren’t supposed to ask someone why they don’t have kids, but I guess most people don’t realize this.  The week after my miscarriage I got a response to a congratulatory email I had sent to a friend who had recently had a baby, she asked when we were planning on having one too.


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On our first “post-miscarriage” outing my husband and I took our dog to the local farmers market. We weren’t there more than 5 minutes before we ran into a friend commenting on how “carefree and child-free” we were due to how few bags we had at the farmers market.  I know these things weren’t meant to be mean-spirited, but incidents like these and others had left me hurt and angry and a bit scared to go back into the world where comments like these are all too common.

There is no “right” thing to say to someone who miscarried but there are “wrong” things. Click To Tweet

Being so far from family and in a country that was neither home to me or my husband made the challenges even greater. Because of the security situation following the attacks it was difficult to get to a doctor. When the bleeding mysteriously stopped 2 days later I felt I should see a doctor. I still wasn’t ready to travel far from my safe space, so I found the closest English speaking one I could find. [perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Not seeking recommendations or thinking about the fact that I was in a medical culture different than what I was used to were my first mistakes.[/perfectpullquote]

I arrived separately from my husband, who had gone out to run errands. The doctor called me in and told me he was too busy to wait for my husband to get there. I told him I was there to establish that the miscarriage was complete, he asked me to disrobe to perform a transvaginal ultrasound. When the image came up on the screen he bluntly stated, “your uterus is empty”.  Perhaps it was poor English skills or just a cold French medical style but this may have been the worst part of the whole experience.  Having never felt so alone in the world I burst into tears. It was only then that he asked if this had been a wanted pregnancy.

Being far from family in a foreign country made handling a miscarriage more challenging. Click To Tweet

When the image came up on the screen he bluntly stated, “your uterus is empty”. Click To Tweet

The Healing Begins

The doctor’s insensitivity was just the last straw on a culture of insensitivity and fear around the topic of pregnancy loss. Even though miscarriage is extremely common (estimates say that between 20 and 50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before the woman even knows she is pregnant) it is stigmatized in cultures throughout the world.   I couldn’t find anything from my Jewish heritage to help me in my healing. As Brussels was in the center of Europe the attack prompted the sharing of mourning customs from around the continent, yet none of them seemed to touch on how to mourn a life that had not yet come to be.

Miscarriages are stigmatized in cultures throughout the world. Click To Tweet

I couldn’t find anything from my Jewish heritage to help me in my healing. Click To Tweet

That is one of the reasons, a year and a half later, in time for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day on 15 October, I chose to write and finally share this experience. [perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I wanted to contribute a voice to an issue that so many women and families face, but so many feel they need to face silently and alone. [/perfectpullquote]

To let people know it is ok to talk about these things. It is ok to not be silent when someone says something insensitive or hurtful. I also want to share a bit of my own healing journey, yoga.

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Healing through Yoga

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I was able to begin to process what was going on inside my body. Not to like it, but to accept it as the reality. To accept that I didn’t need to be happy for anyone else, in fact, I didn’t need to feel any way except how I did.[/perfectpullquote]

After the first 24 hours of numbness, 30 Rock, and chocolate I decided I needed to get back in touch with my body and my mind. I discovered that a google search for “miscarriage yoga “ and “miscarriage meditation” didn’t bring back much. This is I think, due to the same culture of silence. I was mad at the situation and mad at my body. And my body was hurting and my tension and anger were making it hurt more.   I knew I needed to heal so I started practicing on my own.

My first day of practice was pretty much 10 minutes of crying in pigeon pose. But I stayed with it, and truth was I felt a bit better.  Not forever, but for a bit. And a bit more the next day. I was hormonal and angry and a hodgepodge of grief emotions but it felt good to get in touch with them. It began to feel good to get back to my body. I can’t say it felt good to turn into my thoughts, but meditating brought some clarity. I was able to begin to process what was going on inside my body. Not to like it, but to accept it as the reality. To accept that I didn’t need to be happy for anyone else, in fact, I didn’t need to feel any way except how I did.

I was mad at the situation and mad at my body. And my body was hurting. Click To Tweet

It is ok to not be silent when someone is insensitive or hurtful about your miscarriage. Click To Tweet

Yoga Practices that were Useful

In addition to Loving Kindness Meditation, these yoga practices were the ones I found most useful in my healing process. 

Yoga for healing

It is scary to put this out there. It shouldn’t be.  People blog and write and post and talk about loss all the time.  The week of the attacks was filled with articles and posts about the tragic loss of life. But for some reason, this felt different and took over a year to finally share. It was easy to feel ashamed like my body failed at something it was supposed to do. 

It was easy to feel ashamed like my body failed at something it was supposed to do. Click To Tweet

Yoga and meditation were only part of my healing process, but an important part and one I would like to share with the world.

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0 Comments on “Yoga and Loss: My Miscarriage Story”

  1. This is so honestly and beautifully written. I am so very sorry for your loss (I cried reading your story), but I too think that we need to be able to talk about this more. It shouldn’t matter if some people feel uncomfortable about it, what matters is the healing process for both the mother and father (and any relations too). Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Kerrana. I will continue to share my story and encourage others to share theirs, if they so wish. As a society we need to get better at talking about grief and loss of all kinds.

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