Healing the Wounds of a Miscarriage
Having a miscarriage can be an emotionally and physically traumatic experience.
Emotionally, it can bring up feeling of anger, fear, guilt, sadness, and worry. It may also, among others, bring feeling of shame, disbelief, failure, inadequacy, lowered self-esteem and even make you question your femininity. All of these feeling are a very normal way of responding to loss. However, they can cause you a great amount of psychological stress. Managing this stress is an important part of your full recovery. Please note that the physical state of your body; the hormonal imbalance and physical damage from the loss may slow down your psychological healing. Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time. Unlike your body, which may heal on a timeline, your emotions heal at their own pace.
Allow yourself time to grief but don’t be surprised if you feel no emotional at all.
Feel your emotions as they come, cry if that’s what your emotions want, scream if you want to, be in silence, be in bed all day, get away from it all, indulge, most importantly listen to your emotions and “obey” them.
Have realistic expectation for yourself and your partner.
You are both suffering a loss, so allow each other time to come into terms with the loss. While you may desperately want him to feel your pain and support you, please note that being the mother of the child, being the one who had the most intimate relationship of the baby; the loss will have the greatest effects on you and only you are fully aware of its impact.
Trying to getting conceive immediately after your loss will not eliminate the loss or make up for it.
It will also not alleviate the emotional pains of your loss. Embarking on a new pregnancy while still grieving the loss of one might actually interfere with the development of the new child as well as the bonding between the two of you. Only time and truly feeling and obeying your emotions will help.
If you have other children they may be a source of comfort or ease your pain while keeping you busy by minimizing the amount of time you spend thinking about your loss.
You might also find them as a trigger, especially if they are younger. They may also be a source of distress in that they may continue asking about their expected sister or brother. Keeping in mind that children are well aware of what is going on around them; they may sense your change in emotions and act out causing you to feel more overwhelmed.
People may not know what to say.
Many will overwhelm you with talk of your loss in the efforts of supporting you. Others may be fully avoidant of the topic as they fear that it might bring you more sadness or they simply do not know what to say. It is important that you let those around you know what you want. It will help filter out conversations that are uncomfortable for you to have.
Expect misguided comments such as, “at least you have other children”, “it was God’s plan”, or ‘you’ll get pregnant again”.
Avoid insensitive people until you have a certain degree of strength to handle such comments. Picking a close family member or friend to share the news with others can be helpful as it can be protect you from sensitive comments.
You will lose and build relationships.
You will be disappointed by lack of support from friends and family that you expect to be there for you. You will also be surprised to find others more supportive than you’d expect them to be. Or even get support from people whom you had no prior relations with.
Depending on how you respond to your loss, you will experience the following clinical stages of grief.
- Denial of the loss as a means of coping
- Anger towards yourself, your partner, those you feel are minimizing your loss or even towards God
- Bargaining spiritually with many “what if” and “if only” questions and thoughts.
- Depression, when you come into terms with the present and realize the depth of your loss. At this stage the following symptoms of depression may emerge. While depression is a stage of grief, some moms do get stuck at this stage. If you experience these symptoms consistently for a period of two weeks or more please seek professional help for treatment of depression.
The final stage of grief is acceptance:
- Acceptance of the loss and adapting to the new permanent reality. This is not to mean that you are now okay with the loss. No one is ever okay with a miscarriage and no one ever forgets it. It just means that you have acknowledge that what was will never be and that it was not in your power to control the situation and neither can you change it. Your feelings of guilt, worthlessness, emptiness, shame begin to wash away and you shift your energy towards making new connections or even trying to conceive again.
You will experience triggering moments.
It is normal to feel triggered. Times and dates around the anniversary of the miscarriage and of the expected birth date of your lost child may cause you feelings similar to those of your loss. In the beginning they may include the particular day of the week the loss occurred, then the date of each month. During such difficult times the anticipation of the date may actually be more distressing than the date itself. Seeing pregnant women or babies, advertisement of baby products, going for a doctor’s visit, seeing items that you may have already bought for the baby are also some factors that can be triggering.
Read more: How to Eat Healthy during Pregnancy
In additional to seeking counseling, creating a way to honour your pregnancy and your baby through an event can be a relieving way of acknowledging the loss as part of your life and of helping you heal emotionally.
Finding and talking to moms who have also gone through similar experiences can also help you heal and give you a support system for the future. Praying, positive self-talk, and keeping a journal can also help.
Finally, you will reach a point of moving on.
Don’t be guilty about it. Wanting to conceive again, having more good days than bad ones, returning to work, healing physically, or even sometimes forgetting about the miscarriage does not invalidate your loss. Your pregnancy, your baby and your loss will always be with you. However, you deserve wellness, happiness and a future.