“Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage…Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy can be such an exciting time, but with the great number of recognized miscarriages that occur, it is beneficial to be informed about miscarriage, in the unfortunate event that you find yourself or someone you know faced with one.” American Pregnancy Association
This is a loss, a real loss. Whether you had just conceived (chemical pregnancy), in your first trimester (miscarriage) or were in a later stage in your pregnancy (stillborn) the loss is as real as having had a newborn baby in your arms and to later lose them.
With every loss there is a grieving period. The length of the grieving doesn’t necessary depend on how far along a woman may have been and every woman will grieve in different ways as well. One thing that they will all share is the different stages of grief.
Stages of Grief:
“A miscarriage takes away the pure innocence of pregnancy”. I read this comment on a pregnancy loss website the other night. The young lady who wrote it pretty much summed up how other women (including myself) may describe the emotional aftershock of a pregnancy loss. This short sentence says so much and I didn’t understand it until I experienced it myself.
Instead of the heart racing excitement that once was, future pregnancies will be held frigidly in the heart. The “I won’t get excited until after the safe zone (first trimester)” technique will be applied for self protection. Every twinge, spot or loss of symptoms will be cause for anxiety. Fear lingers and every ultrasound appointment ends with a sigh of relief. Between each doctors visit it feels as if you have been holding your breath since the last. Some may (try) to with hold any love toward the new babe as to lessen the impact of a potential loss. As if we can really do that. Yes, it is true that a mother and a baby are two individuals but as soon as we see the little “+” sign or “pregnant”, or the doctor confirms what your womanly intuition told you, you are hooked. From that moment the heart strings become entangled to this little one.
It’s not that the mother who hasn’t had a loss doesn’t experience some level of anxiety. On the contraire, when I was pregnant with my two daughters who are 3 and 12 years old now, both times I was so afraid of miscarrying them. I pretty much walked around as if I was holding china that I was afraid would easily break. What I am describing above is different. A previous miscarriage can almost rob the joy expectation of being pregnant from a woman.
Ironically enough after our news I have been contacted by two new potential clients for doula services. My daughter asked me if I was going to be okay with my two deliveries I have coming up in the next few weeks. She’s also observed me still researching and practicing my doula skills in between minor melt downs when the reality of what we are experiencing hits me like a tsunami. It’s a fair question that I didn’t mind her asking. The truth is, I’m not sure how I will feel in the next few weeks, next few months or due dates. When you consider that each month a woman has only a 20% chance of conceiving (who is purposely trying) it is pretty amazing. The fact that there is a about a 24 hour timeframe for a sperm to meet the egg and the uterine environment has to be just right, I still believe that every conception and birth is a miracle. I attended a birth a week after our first loss and it was almost therapeutic to take my mind off of myself and our loss and give someone else 100% to help them to bring forth their miracle.
(Authors note: This post was really written to encourage women out there who have and who will experience a pregnancy loss but also those who aren’t sure how to comfort them.)
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart
Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss
A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss - Guidance and Support for You and Your Family
Grieving the Child I Never Knew
A book for children and parents who have experienced pregnancy loss.
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead by Pat Schwiebert.