By Jennifer Palumbo, Fertility Advocate and TTC warrior
I heard someone say once that a miscarriage is an “invisible loss.” Others may not see the physical or emotional toll it takes on you, but it’s very much real
Women typically resume their normal daily activities, but they often hide their sadness and grief. Friends, family, and co-workers may not know what to say and make things more complicated if your partner does not know how to respond. Some men may feel strong for their partner and won’t always allow their feelings to show. As a result, the woman may take this to mean that her partner didn’t care about the pregnancy as much as she did. Communication as to what the other one feels and listening to what the different one needs can be vital in ensuring you’re both able to be there for one another.
The Emotions Associated With Miscarriage
Although miscarriage is common (approximately 1 in 6 pregnancies end before 12 weeks), it does not take away that it is a traumatic experience. Any miscarriage is a shock, no matter how early in the pregnancy it happens. Sometimes, you may have spotting, cramping, or heavy bleeding, indicating a miscarriage. Other times, you may not immediately experience those symptoms but will only learn of a miscarriage at what you expected to be a routine doctor’s appointment.
Anniversary dates of the conception, when you learned you were pregnant, your child’s projected due date, and the birth of other babies on that due date can also be difficult.
It is common to experience a mix of emotions ranging from disbelief, anger, sadness, and, naturally, grief. In addition to the emotional aspects, pregnancy is a very physical experience for women. This means that after a loss, your body can feel different as it goes back to a “non-pregnant” state. For example, you may have bleeding, your breasts will return to “normal” again, and you may require time to heal from a D & C (if it’s needed). Depending on your doctor’s orders, you may also have to wait for several cycles before trying to conceive again. It may even feel like you’re back to square one… but a new square one. One where you now fear another miscarriage.
With a subsequent pregnancy, you will analyze every symptom, check for spotting on visits to the bathroom, and never feel quite safe until a healthy baby is in your arms.
Options In Managing Your Grief
You should feel comfortable speaking to your doctor and asking if they have any insight into why you experienced this loss.
If you have had several miscarriages, you may also want to ask about autoimmune testing, PGT-M, or PGT-A to see if any of these are something your doctor recommends exploring. Sometimes, tests like these can provide insight and potentially help avoid additional miscarriages.
You should also seek out others who have experienced a miscarriage as well. There is a level of understanding that is unparalleled, and the support from your peers can be immensely helpful. In addition, there are several online support. Finally, you can also seek out the help of a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or, if you’re religious, your rabbi, pastor, or priest.
Memorial rituals or services are often healing, such as having a memento to commemorate the pregnancy (a charm, necklace, etc.), but only if you feel that helpful.
More than anything, being ok with how you’re feeling, being comfortable with not being ok or needing some extra love and support can make all the difference. You don’t always have to be strong or brave. It’s ok to take the time you need to work through the emotions of what you’ve just experienced and ask for what you need unapologetically.
Overall, you and your partner need to work out how to be there for one another and speak to your doctor about the next steps.
And as always, there is always the amazing IVF Babble and infertility community to help empathize and support you!
If you have had a miscarriage and need some support, you can reach out to the following trusted organisations that are available online:
Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support.
International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA)
The Miscarriage Association
482 Days Spotting. A short story about Miscarriage.
Miscarriage Association launches pregnancy loss card
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