The Devastation of a Miscarriage
By: Natalie Chandler MA, LMHC, LCAC
I never imagined a few years ago I would one day write about my own experience having a miscarriage. I had heard of women who had one or multiple miscarriages, but you can never fully understand the loss until you experience one yourself. My hope is that in sharing my experience, it will normalize and help others understand the pain that comes with such a devastating loss.
My first pregnancy was normal and our son was born healthy and ready to see the world. When I was pregnant the 2nd time I did everything I could to make sure the baby was healthy and safe, but did feel a lot less anxiety. I casually went to my first doctor’s appointment only to have him tell me and my husband that the baby did not seem to be as far along as we thought. Her heart was faintly beating. He wasn’t sure if she was a younger baby than we thought and maybe her heart was just beginning to form. He told us he was cautiously optimistic and scheduled me to come back in two weeks. Of course, my heart skipped a beat as my husband assured me everything was going to be ok. That was the longest two weeks of my life! The thing that kept me going was that I still felt sick and tired and…pregnant. Honestly, because of my symptoms, after a week I felt we were in the clear. You can imagine our devastation when we had the ultrasound and stared at a black, still, empty sac. I literally felt like someone had ripped my heart out of my chest.
Even today, I cannot explain the pain I felt over the next several weeks. I was so sad. I constantly questioned myself as to what I could have done differently. My doctor was very patient and understanding. He explained that 40 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage and most of them the cause is unknown. That helped me understand it wasn’t necessarily anything I did, but that some pregnancies just don’t make it. However, knowing this did not make the pain any less bearable. I felt sad that I would never hold my baby in my arms. I wanted just one moment, just one! I thought about the dreams I had for my baby. Why my baby? I thought about what if something was wrong with me now and I couldn’t have any more children. I told myself I would never get pregnant again so I didn’t have to possibly go through this again. All those questions and thoughts tortured my mind as I grieved my child.
One thing that was really hard was how my husband handled it so differently than I did. He felt the loss immediately, but then seemed to be ok after a couple of days. I found later that this is very normal for most men, as they don’t feel that special connection with the baby until after the birth. It was really important for me to understand this so I did not feel angry with him for not having the same amount of pain I had. I had to remember that his reaction was not personal toward me- just different.
At first I was very hurt by some people’s responses. “Well, (sigh) it must not have been meant to be.” “Oh I am so sorry. At least you know you are able to have children since you already have one.” My personal favorite was “You can always try again.” Did they not understand this was my child? Someone that I had completely bonded with and dreamed about for the past 2 months? How would they feel if someone let them bond with a baby for 2 months, thinking it was forever, and at the end of the two months, someone snatches the baby from their arms and says they will never see them again. What if they would never know what their baby would become or how it would feel in their arms again? It is heart breaking! It took me a long time to realize people were well meaning and honestly, they didn’t know what to say. People were uncomfortable, they wanted to fix it and they couldn’t, so sometimes out of the awkwardness, they would say something inappropriate. I see that now but at the time this was very difficult. I felt a lot of anger at people.
As I did begin to open up about my pain, I found several people that had experienced a miscarriage. I just never knew because they kept it so private. I found them as a great support and someone I could talk to that truly understood. I would call them at a drop of a hat and just say, “I am having one of my days, pray for me.” Enough said, they understood.
I honestly can’t tell you at what point I began feeling myself again. It was a very gradual, slow process. Everyone is different. I can tell you what got me through: My family, my faith, and support from a lot of people. Mostly my faith carried me. Just knowing that one day I WILL hold my baby in my arms and snuggle and kiss them. That gets me through and offers me comfort, peace, and hope.
One thing that was very helpful in my healing was to find a way to honor my child. Fortunately, the hospital where I was treated has a memorial at a local cemetery for babies lost by miscarriage. I visit the memorial every year and know I can always go there if I need to. It took me a whole year to actually go there. I knew it would be painful, but there is something about that sacred place, a place I can be with my child. I also wrote a letter to my child, telling her what she meant to me and how I would always love her. This was again, painful, but very helpful in my healing process.
One thing I believe very strongly in is using your pain to create meaning. Because of this, I have found great healing in helping other women who have experienced this loss. It still amazes me that 4 out of 10 pregnancies end this way. And yet I never knew so many people in my own circle had experienced it. Because of this, I am very open with my loss. I want to help others the way I was helped in my grief.
If you have experienced loss through miscarriage, I want to say to you that I am deeply sorry. Deeply. Please surround yourself with support from family and good friends. Allow yourself to grieve. Work thru the pain and allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. You may have an entirely different experience than I did or anyone for that matter. That is ok. It is your experience. Allow yourself to feel it and move through it, at your own pace.
Unfortunately, not everyone is surrounded by people who understand or can help them through the grieving process. At Imagine Hope Counseling Group we are not only trained professionally in helping people with grief and loss, but we have experienced it first hand. If you would like additional help from a trained therapist, please call us at 317-569-0046. Or visit our website at www.imaginehopecounseling.com. We also have additional resources on our website related to grief and loss.
Imagine Hope Counseling Group serves the Indianapolis metropolitan areas including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.
Empty Arms. by PamVredevelt
Related Categories: Grief Issues, Stress, Parenting