A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.
But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she’ll know.
open your mouth about miscarriage if you don’t know anything about it.
It is not “just like a period”.
It is not something that “you can just try again”.
It is physical AND emotional pain.
It is a fluctuation in hormones.
It is waiting.
It is your body expelling something that should have a life and future.
It is possibly having to take medication to open your cervix so that your body will start the “natural process”.
It is seeing your future physically fall out of you, or a hospital room because your body couldn’t correctly do the job and now the doctor will do it for you.
It is bleeding for days/weeks on end.
It is depression.
It is worrying about infection.
It is trauma.
It is waiting to be allowed to be intimate with your partner again.
It is never wanting to to be intimate again.
It is blood draws and HCG level testing.
It is a follow up gynecological appointment, and physical exam from a stranger when you don’t want anyone near that fragile part of your body.
It is possibly another ultrasound… of your now empty belly.
It is possibly the need for surgery.
It is crying on the bathroom floor feeling like your body failed you.
It is months of waiting for your cycle to regulate so you can “just try again”.
It is never forgetting the excitement, the waiting in the ultrasound room, the horrible news, the images, the pain, the due date, and the fact that you SHOULD be a mother to that child but you will never be.
And no other pregnancy, no other baby, will ever replace the one that should have been but is not.
It is never being able to truly feel excited when you become pregnant again. Because this never leaves you, and this could happen again.
There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.
Today I was assisting an ultrasound for a grand multip who had 3 miscarriages, creating a 20 year gap for her childbearing years. She walked into her 20 week scan a bundle of anxiety- check on this, make sure you look at that, I’m still not sure, I don’t feel pregnant.
The doctor I was working with, never a social butterfly, came in with the beginnings of the flu and was less talkative than his normal quiet self. Not the best mix.
I’ve lost 3 babies along my path, so I understood. A lot of my passion for ultrasound came from watching the tech go silent, and hearing bad news from my doctor later. It’s so important to be able to talk about what’s happening as it’s discovered.
Mama happily chatted to me about how this baby has had a name for 20 years. How much love she had been holding back because she was afraid this one would die too. How she tried to never be too excited.
There’s a line in Tami Kent’s mothering from the heart that goes something like “Once you’ve had a miscarriage, you’ve learned that birth can happen at any time. The naiveté of 40 weeks of preparation is lost, and it takes a great deal of trust to navigate through a subsequent pregnancy.” Only way more eloquent and a whole chapter on working through loss. (I loan my copy out a lot, so it’s not here to reference)
Her baby had 10 fingers and 10 toes. 4 chamber heart. Measurements perfect for dates. Perfect heart rate. Reactive and moving. Every time mama looked at the screen, she reassured herself and worried about something else.
Today I couldn’t tell her everything would be perfect, though in all likelihood the odds are good. I can’t tell her that this baby will make it. All I can tell her is what is. So I told her:
Look at you. You are so strong. There’s a baby in there, and his heart is beating away. You’ve created and nourished a little life for 20 weeks. Everything has progressed well to this point. This is happening.
And she cried and gave me a hug. I don’t expect her to stop worrying, but hopefully she can find strength in the paths she has already walked.
October is Pregnancy and Infant loss month. It’s time to talk about it.
October has come to be a month dedicated all over the world to remembering angel babies that have sadly been lost. It’s also a time to raise awareness, educate, provide resources and support for parents who have been through or are going through losing a child.
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” (October15th.com)
What is a miscarriage? It’s the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks.
Miscarriages are very common, happening in around 1 in 5 pregnancies.
Most occur in the first 12 weeks.
In the first 12 weeks, the chance of miscarriage is 4 in 5.
In half of all miscarriages there’s no apparent cause.
Many people aren’t aware of these facts, and unfortunately they affect more women (and families) than you may realise. It’s not just losing your future baby, it’s all the treatment and pain afterwards.
I’ve personally been through a miscarriage, and I want to raise more awareness. Please share this and I’m always here for advice.
For instance, the doctor wasn’t required to tell me lies about the risks of removing that life-threatening pregnancy while I was also freaking out about whether or not I was going to wake up missing bits of me again. The ultrasound tech was allowed to be decent and compassionate toward us, instead of being forced to play us the sound of that doomed heartbeat and describe what few anatomical features she might have seen, even as my husband and I were both crying over what we’d suddenly realized was our loss. The only waiting period they had to be concerned about was the safe time they could operate based on when I’d recently eaten. I’m grateful that I was able to walk into that health-care facility without a sidewalk circus of nasty strangers talking to me about a baby that wasn’t coming, or calling me names as I went by and blocking my way during a very hard walk, or shouting at my heartbroken husband that he needed to “man up” and stop me.