Photo by Laura Makabresku
Dealing with grief after miscarriage is very difficult, especially when no one really talks about it. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time of your life. Everyone is so excited about pregnant women. It is a time when people look to the future and imagine what kind of people their children might grow up to be. You worry about what kind of parent you’ll be and imagine yourself going to sporting events and school plays. So many people love to talk about pregnancy, but almost no one brings up miscarriage.
So, when it happened to me, I learned a lot.
I learned that between 10 and 25 percent of pregnancies result in a miscarriage. The percentage goes up with maternal age, which makes the number of women who suffer through a loss even higher. It’s not a club I ever wanted to join, but it made me feel less alone.
I learned that people don’t know what to say, and that’s ok, but “At least it was early,” is not comforting. It makes it sound like I was not invested, like I didn’t spend days and weeks dreaming about who my baby might become.
I learned that “recurrent miscarriages” (defined as three or more consecutive miscarriages) affect about one percent of couples. Which made me feel alone again. My total number of miscarriages was five and the first three came right in a row.
I learned that once you say you’ve had a miscarriage, you hear more stories about other women who have had them too, but keep it to themselves.
I learned that you can experience grief for someone you’ve never known, but wanted to know.
I learned that at a time when you most want answers, most of the time no one can tell you what caused your miscarriage. And doctors usually decline to do any tests until you’ve had three or more miscarriages in a row. Which makes you feel like your losses aren’t terribly important to the medical community. Miscarriages are both somewhat common and not talked about at the same time.
I learned that miscarrying at home is a painful process, and when a nurse tells you to “save the products of conception” (read: fish the blood and tissue out of the toilet, save it in your fridge and bring it in for testing), it’s harder than it sounds.
I learned that when your doctor (who has been treating you through all three of the first miscarriages) says, “So, you have no living children then, just the three dead ones?” it’s time to get a new doctor. Having a doctor you can trust and who supports you, is crucial.
I learned that people will say it isn’t your fault, but you still feel like it is. That there is something wrong with you, that you can’t perform this basic function (getting pregnant) that so many other women can do so easily.
I learned that you can start to feel better, and then your original due date will come, and you will think again about what might have been.
I learned that men and women grieve differently. Men don’t feel the differences in their bodies or have to go through the physical pain. Sometimes that helps them move on faster. After experiencing both the emotional and physical pain, it can take longer for women to move forward. And that’s ok.
I learned that while many people dismiss miscarriage as not being that tragic, it feels terrible when you are going through it.
I learned that you need to take the time you need to move forward.
I learned that time does lessen the pain, but the losses will always sting.
I learned that I was pretty fortunate to finally have children by any means. I had six pregnancies, five miscarriages and three children (three losses, a twin pregnancy with a loss, another loss, and twin boys). As an adoptee, I know that is a joyful way to build a family, too. I don’t know if these losses make me more grateful to have the children I do have, but when I am having a tough day, I do think back to when what I wanted the most in the world, and thought I might never get, was children.
I learned that the road to having a family for many is not smooth. That people don’t talk about miscarriages, but they should. So many women experience loss. Talking about it makes us feel less alone, less different and more supported. I have also learned that once people know, many people are generous and sympathetic. I learned that miscarriages are worthy of grief and everyone needs to move forward in their own time. I learned that there is happiness after loss, although it might not take the shape you expect.
It’s always important to be honest about your feelings, be it after a miscarriage or during a pregnancy. Here’s some information on why.
Just got back from the ER, so sad to say that my 6 week old baby has gone to heaven. I had a miscarriage and I saw things I never wanna see again, a ultra sound with no beating heart, a paper saying “you’ve had a miscarriage!” please I need prayers. I can’t imagine going on to have more kiddos after experiencing this…
This is a sore subject to some of us moms but I was 3 plus months pregnant and had my first miscarriage… I am heart broken. Has anyone dealt with a miscarriage? How long did you bleed for? What kinda pains did you have? How did you cope with it all?