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Miscarriage: A Private Grief

Updated on September 21, 2015

I never thought it would happen to me. In fact, the thought never occurred to me that it was a possibility. All I experienced was pure bliss – a joy I had never known before. I told everyone I knew; as I was a reporter at the time, that was a lot of people.

For one whole week I got to enjoy my first pregnancy. We got pregnant on the first try to my due date was December 6, 2009. My husband and I talked about names. My body was already changing and my appetite was stronger than it’s ever been. I was over the moon happy.

But it was not meant to be. On Friday, April 10th, Good Friday, I lost my first baby. I was only six weeks along, but by then my baby had already started developing it’s eyes, nose and ears. It’s heart was beating strong and blood was starting to flow through it’s lentil sized body.

Naively, I went to the emergency room early in the morning that day. I now know I should have paged my doctor. In the emergency room they put a bladder catheter inside me, filled it overly full and looked at an ultrasound to verify I was losing my baby. That experience in itself was traumatic enough for me, who had never been in the hospital before.

It’s been five years since then and I went on to have an uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a baby boy. It was not pure bliss that time around, however. Dread filled many of the first weeks of my pregnancy and it wasn’t until I was about two months out from delivery that I actually believed I would have a baby.

I know I am lucky. I know countless stories of women who went on to have three, four or five more miscarriages before giving up on having children altogether. My husband and I have been diagnosed with secondary infertility and we are now faced with a difficult choice: give up and have an only child, or keep trying. We can’t afford fertility treatments. We paid out of pocket for two failed IUI’s (interuterine inseminations) and have been on Clomid, a fertility drug. Without birth control, my periods are painful and irregular, causing me a lot of grief..which only adds to my private grief. A grief that only a woman who has miscarried or can’t have children knows.

It’s a grief that’s not talked about much because let’s face it: it is just too painful, and in some cases misunderstood.

In the cases of miscarriage, the comments range from, “You’ll have another one,” to “At least you already have other children.” As if that makes it better. As if you don’t deserve to grieve deeply over the loss of life inside your body. Or if you can't have children, people say, "You can always adopt." Anyone who is infertile knows it is not that easy, and does not fill the longing for a child growing inside your body, what our bodies were designed for.

In our case of secondary infertility the painful questions and comments include: “When are you going to try for another one?” or “Well, at least you have one.”

Miscarriage itself is actually more common than you would think. According to the Medline Plus Encyclopedia, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm, 20 % of women who know they are pregnant miscarry. Twenty percent is one in five. I totally believe this now that I’ve experienced it. So many women who found out I miscarried came to me and told me for the first time that they have experienced a miscarriage, including close relatives.

I wondered why they had never shared that with me before. But now I know. It is such a private grief. A grief that is brushed off by many and oversimplified by others, sometimes even our partners. Words can’t really express it and for some they don’t even realize they need to grieve or talk about it. I stuffed my grief and ended up developing an anxiety disorder a month later.

For women out there who have miscarried – no matter what part of the spectrum you are on – we need to talk about it more, at least to each other. Private grief is not therapeutic. We need each other. Only we understand. And sometimes a hug says more than anything.

The following video talks about singer Beyonce's reaction to her miscarriage and then her subsequent pregnancy.


It Happens Alot

Miscarriage itself is actually more common than you would think, as I found out after my own. My obgyn told me that one in five women miscarry, some of them not even aware they were pregnant. I was shocked how many women that I knew had miscarried. According to the Medline Plus Encyclopedia,http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001488.htm, 20 % of women who know they are pregnant miscarry. Twenty percent is one in five. I totally believe this now that I’ve experienced it. So many women who found out I miscarried came to me and told me for the first time that they have experienced a miscarriage, including close relatives.

I wondered why they had never shared that with me before. But now I know. It is such a private grief. A grief that is brushed off by many and oversimplified by others, sometimes even our partners. Words can’t really express it and for some they don’t even realize they need to grieve or talk about it. I stuffed my grief and ended up developing an anxiety disorder a month later.

For women out there who have miscarried – no matter what part of the spectrum you are on – we need to talk about it more, at least to each other. Private grief is not therapeutic. We need each other. Only we understand. And sometimes a hug says more than anything.

The following video talks about singer Beyonce's reaction to her miscarriage and then her subsequent pregnancy.

If you are not ready to open up and share your story with others, you can always find resources that you can use privately. Thanks to the Internet, you don't have to look far to find them. Here are some great resources for women who have miscarried:

  • I Never Held You: Miscarriage, Grief, Healing and Recovery by Ellen M. DuBois.
  • Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.
  • http://babyandbump.momtastic.com/miscarriage-support/ A forum for women who have miscarried.
  • http://achingarms.co.uk/ A baby loss charity run by a group of women who have experienced miscarriage. They will send you a teddy bear with a dedication card for your child. Sometimes having a physical memorial for your child helps with the grief process.

A few months after I miscarried, my husband and I were driving down a country road at night. Suddenly, a litter of kittens ran across the road in front of our headlights. My husband slammed on the brakes and managed to miss all of them....except one. It was an orange tabby kitten that was straggling behind the rest, and we just could not avoid hitting him. There was a sickening thud and in that moment my heart broke. I took my jacket off and asked my husband to wrap the little kitten up in it so we could take it home and bury it. We were an hour away from home, and I cradled that kitten in my arms and bawled. We dug a little grave and as I lay the kitten in the ground with my jacket still around it, I realized the kitten was my baby. I was grieving over that kitten as if it were the child I lost. It was one of the most therapeutic things that could have happened to me. I did not realize I needed to grieve until that moment. I hate that the kitten had to die before I realized that. But I'm grateful for the purpose it served.

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