Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Entering the foreign territory of miscarriage

A columnist opens up about her miscarriage experience:

I didn’t know that this could happen to me. I thought I was too young, too healthy. I didn’t realize that up to 25 percent of confirmed pregnancies end in loss. I had never heard of a “missed miscarriage,” which is characterized by a lack of symptoms of a baby’s death. I didn’t have any clue how painful the question, “Do you have any children?” could be to hear and how hard it could be to answer.

“God needed another angel in heaven”; “At least you won’t have to care for a handicapped child”; “You still have time, and at least you know you can get pregnant”; “It happens all the time”; “This baby just wasn’t meant to be.” I’ve heard these phrases dozens of times from well-meaning friends and family, but it’s hard to take comfort in any of them. Nothing can diminish my love for my child, and my heartbreak over what is a unique loss, not a statistic.

I was shocked after we lost our baby that so many women I know shared that they, too, had had a miscarriage—or more than one. Even women who had lost their babies 20 years ago cried with me. Even women across oceans and continents shared my pain through e-mails and online forums.

But why doesn’t anyone talk about it before it happens? Why is there a veil of secrecy behind which we can only share our grief with others who have experienced the same grief? When I found out that our baby was no longer alive, I felt alone in the world. Indeed, there were people who seemed frightened of me, as if I had a contagious disease. And there were others who just never said anything about our baby at all. How was I to realize that a large percentage of women I know had suffered a similar loss? This wouldn’t have made my loss any less devastating, but I think it would have made a difference. It would have helped me to realize that I should not blame myself.


  1. Perfect article. Thanks for posting this, Katie.

  2. The writer of this article could not have said it any better. It is so true... the people that come out of the woodwork and share after the fact. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I have found that people who have not experienced a loss hide from the truth of just how painful and crushing that a miscarriage can be. It's the whole walk a mile in someone else's shoe theory of life. If you haven't gone through it you just don't understand it. On the flip side, having gone through it, I know that I didn't take comfort to well from people I knew didn't have a clue what was happening. They meant well, but I truly felt like they were trying to tell me to "shake it off" and I wanted to scream "NO! I will not shake it off! It's MY BABY and I will cry if I want to!" After having several of those experiences I stopped talking about it, I closed up and tried to live (and still do) without letting anyone know just how much I miss my child. My family looked at me like I was crazy when they found out that I had named my child. (I was 18 weeks pregnant when I lost Theodore.) Why am I crazy to mourn the loss of someone who was real to me if not to anyone else. I felt him move, I heard his heartbeat. I knew his moods, I knew his sex. I had named him long before he left me. Why should I forget him and why should I not think of him as my Theodore?
    So many women who have experienced this terrible "thing" have told me that they just don't want to talk about it, or they just feel too much and it can't be shared. In this, I try so hard to respect their wants and wishes. I know for myself that no matter how many times I hug my healthy and happy little girl, that I will always miss Theodore. I will always wonder what potential he would have met.
    Losing a child is not just the loss of some cells and a bit of bleeding. It is the loss of potential, it is the loss of eternity, the loss of a part of ourselves no less important than a limb. How does one measure the importance of a section of ones heart or soul? I don't know how to measure it, but I know that it is gigantic.

  4. Carol, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. It's as great a loss as losing any other family member. And you have a right to grieve it just as much.

  5. Thank you kag. In your experience, has your family grieved with you? Mine sort of looked at me with pity for a couple of weeks and then didn't talk about it any more.

  6. Carol-Most of my family just ignored the fact that I had miscarried (especially my husband's family) and I think they were a bit worried that I didn't seem to get over it as quickly as they imagined I should. The awful part for me is that my husband isn't grieving - he never pictured the baby as real, so I am incredibly alone in my grief.

  7. Abbie - You are not alone. We mourn your loss with you, just as you mourn our losses. Very few women who have gone through this type of trauma don't know and feel another's pain when this happens. We just really suck at expressing it.

    My husband was wonderful with the physical stuff. He is loving and so kind. But he just didn't get the grief. I know he grieved, but he didn't have the emotional investment that I had and he has admitted that it just wasn't "real" to him. To him I was sick and then we got pregnant again.

    I have long believed that my feelings of loneliness were made worse by the fact that the people I would normally turn to for comfort, couldn't comfort me. My family didn't understand and didn't know how to deal with my depression and grief. So I closed up to them. I still have a hard time opening up to anyone, for in the back of my mind there is always the "If the fam could not help, how is a stranger going to understand?" But strangers can help, because once we begin talking, we aren't strangers any more.

    I am here Abbie and so are you. I am so sorry for all of your pain, loss, bad hair days and every other crappy thing that having a miscarriage has brought you. It is a beautiful day out, I think I will go find someone to tell me a joke. A moment of laughter is worth more than I can express. I hope you have someone who can make you smile today. HUGS to you.

  8. I had a miscarriage in early December, I was just shy of 12 weeks and the happiest person alive. In just a matter of moments all my happiness was taken away. I thank you so much for postiing about the loeliness you feel because I am there (still). My two sis-in-laws are preganant two of my very good friends and six people that I am close to at work so everywhere I go I feel forbidden to speak of my grief. I "HAVE" to be happy for everyone else, and its not hat Im not happy for them I just am so sad for myself...I knwo pathetic but here it is! My husband has been just horrible in the whole situation, I love him but has shared and refuses to feel anything with me. I want to try again but he "won't" until Im through all this sadness he says, I think he is just afraid himself and blaming it on me so he doesn't have to own it. This is a horribe experience and I am soooo afraid!

  9. Ladies, I am so sorry for all of your losses. I am currently grieving the loss of my baby, my 2nd loss in a yr, my first loss occurred on 2/13/08. My 1st baby measured 8.6 wks on u/s scan, where I was told there wasn't a heartbeat. My 2nd loss I was induced on 4/29/09... I had a scan done on 4/28/09 and no heartbeat. I would have been 15 wks on the day of scan and was told the baby had only measured 13.0 wks...

    I'm writing to let you know how truly sorry I am for your losses. I also wanted to Thank You for sharing your experiences. I do have 3 beautiful children born prior to my Angel Babies. I'm thankful and privileged to be the mother of all my babies. I also can't mention my babies without mentioning my husband, he's been my 'rock' through all of this. I know that's an especially hard role when I know that he's grieving as well.

    Thank you for listening. This is so hard.

  10. why don't we talk about it? i think because we all grieve so differently. I have some friends who were almost completely destroyed by their loss, and at least one who is completely nonchalant. she only told me to kind of prove "it's nothing". yikes.
    it's such a tender place. and *nobody* is really safe, except my sister :)

  11. I miscarried almost 3 years ago at 12 weeks. I went back to work and acted like everything was "normal". It took me almost a year to realize that I was just going through the motions of getting up and going to bed, and that I had lost a lot of joy in daily activities. Thankfully, I started to see a counselor with my husband and we have slowly worked on our healing and our relationship. It was hard because he and I went through our grief at different times and didn't know how to support eachother.

    After going through a miscarriage and infertility since then, I can truly say that we have a strong marriage. We can get through just about anything together.

    I feel for all of you...it does get better slowly with time and taking care of ourselves.

  12. I miscarried 4 years ago, almost to date. The grief I felt, and the lack thereof of my boyfriend contributed greatly to the disintegration of our relationship. I still feel the loss sometimes. I won't think about it for weeks at a time... and then one day I'll be in the shower and I'll remember the shower I took when I got home from the ER. The grief will consume me again. I'll remember how I sat in the bathtub and couldn't stop sobbing and I'll remember the emptiness that I felt...and that I still feel to this day occaisionally. I was 11 weeks along when I miscarried. I'm still in my 20's and I'm not ready to try yet and I'm not in the right position in my life to where I'm able to. I can't picture my life or my future without children and I'm so scared to try again...scared it will happen again.

  13. For anyone who miscarried 4-5 years ago but did nothing afterwards what happend to your body? I was very young and still not quite sure if I pregnant but I was very sick and gained so much weight. From what I recall it would have happened natural during the 1st trimester. Was I supposed to get my uterus flushed out? I have no idea how to go about this because up until this day it still haunts me -not knowing. I still was getting my periods on a regular basis but shoud I have an ultra sound done just to make sure everything is ok. My stomach still looks swollen as if I were pregnant.

  14. Thank you for writing this blog and for all the comments. I am pregnant for the first time and when I went to the doctor last Thursday, she informed my boyfriend and I that the heart rate was a lot lower than what it should be indicating that I was more than likely going to miscarry. Ever since I got that news I have been a wreck. I feel everything all at once - anger, sadness, anxiety, depression. After reading this I realized that I'm not alone. Although he's trying to be there for me, I don't think that my boyfried understand exactly how I'm feeling. He just says that we can try again and that at least we know that we can get pregnant. My close friends and family don't really know what to say or how to comfort me because they have never been through a loss like this. I'm not really sure what's going on but I find out on the 27th when I go back to the doctor - I guess all that I can do is hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Thank you again ladies.

    1. I too just had a miscarriage at 9 weeks. I feel so lost I never thought it would be this hard. I wrote this poem for my baby and I hope it gives some of you comfort as well.
      Our little angel

      We will never fully understand why
      We will never be able to hear your cry
      We will never see your precious face
      We will never feel your warm embrace
      We will never call you by your name
      Life for us will never be the same
      We will never hear your little voice
      this is not ours but gods choice
      We will never know if you are a girl or a boy
      We will never be able to hold our little bundle of joy
      We will never know the color of your hair
      our hearts are so heavy its just not fair
      Then we hear god speak to us never say never
      For I hold your baby in heaven forever
      When you get here you will understand why
      Please stay strong and do not cry
      You will see his precious face
      You will feel his warm embrace
      You will call him by name
      You will understand you were never to blame
      You will see the color of his hair
      He already knows how much you love him and care
      I will take care of your little bundle of joy
      someday you will see your little girl or boy
      His purpose in life was to be with me
      he is now your little angel someday you will see
      What peace it brings to your dad and I
      To know that this is only a temporary goodbye
      God will take care of you better then we could do
      Your our little angel and forever we will love you

  15. Wow....here I was thinking I was going through this alone. I had a miscarriage 2 days before thanksgiving this year. I was almost 9 weeks along, it was my husband and my first baby. We were SO excited!! We couldn't help but tell all of our friends and family. Everyone shared in our joy. Then it started the bleeding and cramping. My sister in law took me to the er and everyone was so cold to me there. The dr came in and confirmed it was a miscarriage, and I started crying. She asked "Are you in pain, or just sad?" I wanted to look at her and say "You just gave me the worst news of my life, are you seriously asking me that?" Then...having to tell everyone what happened, uh that was horrible. We had lots of support, friends/family calling and coming over to check in....for a few days. Like a few of you have already said, your husbands have grieved and are done with it. Well it seems as if all my friends/family are past it. Where I'm sitting here crying as I'm writing all of this. :( I have really struggled with greiving around my husband though...he is over it, which everyone grieves different. And a very wise friend pointed out to men, especially this early in a pregnancy(I wasn't any bigger, no morning sickness, just food cravings and having to pee all the time) it's not "real" to them. We had a ultrasound and the baby was TINY, that should have been the first clue. But to men, its a blob....to me, I saw a baby, I prayed every night for a boy. A red headed little boy. And he would be as spirted as his father. And now, I feel empty.

  16. I wanted to say how much your blog is helping. I'm mid-miscarriage. I didn't know I was pregnant until I started gushing blood, and the grief and processing has been overwhelming. I wasn't trying to get pregnant, so I didn't have an ob-gyn looking out for me, and went from ER to ER, ultrasound to clinic. I had no idea miscarriages were multi-day events. My husband is grieving the loss of the child while I'm still trying to deal with the physical trauma to my body. It helps that people are talking about it here. Thank you for keeping this blog up even if you haven't updated it in a few years.