Easing the Anxiety of Pregnancy after Miscarriage

In response to a recent post, someone included a link to this article in a comment. I liked it, and wanted to share it.

Even though I had never experienced a loss of any sort (early, middle, late miscarriage, fetal demise, stillbirth, infant death), the following description of these post-loss mothers resonated with me, mirroring my feelings during this pregnancy:

“‘One Foot In — One Foot Out’ describes women’s sense that the pregnancy is uncertain, so they steel themselves emotionally by acknowledging that the pregnancy may not end with the birth of a live baby,” says Côté-Arsenault. “They cushion themselves against attaching to the new baby.

“For most of these women, carefree enjoyment of a pregnancy is not possible. Instead, it is a balancing act between trying to insure safe passage of the baby while maintaining emotional stability.”

There was always a nagging something in the back of my mind; but I tried to ignore it and overcome it, and be attached to the baby. I think I did for a while, but then something happened when I started spotting the second time, and I just felt like it was a farce. I was living under the sword of Damocles, although I pretended like I wasn’t, and acted like I wasn’t, and tried to convince myself that I wasn’t. Perhaps that was my body telling my mind what my uterus already knew; but perhaps not — some of these mothers in this article did not truly believe they were actually going to have a baby even in late pregnancy, although they did.

“It would be wonderful if pregnancy losses were acknowledged openly in our culture too,” she said, “but at least hospitals in this country have gotten better about helping women acknowledge a lost baby,” noted Côté -Arsenault. “When a baby dies, giving the mother the baby’s photo, footprints and handprints is much more routine. We have made progress. Now we need to recognize the impact of perinatal loss on subsequent pregnancies.”

Being open about my miscarriage has brought a lot more response and sympathy from women who have had miscarriages than I would have guessed. I knew that a large percentage of women have had miscarriages, and I knew a lot of my friends in particular had had miscarriages; but there were a lot of women who told me about their miscarriages, when I had not know that before. And I don’t know why. Certainly, some of it is that I was not close friends with them at the time they had their miscarriage(s); many of my facebook friends are people I see once a year, or perhaps even less. But I was surprised at some of them — multiple miscarriages, even, and I never knew it. And then all the stories from those who had not miscarried but had experienced spotting and even bleeding — I never suspected it to be so many.

It’s almost like women are expected to just accept the miscarriage and go on, not telling anyone that they were pregnant unless absolutely necessary — almost like it’s a secret. A naughty secret. Sure, some people are private; some have probably heard some not-so-sensitive comments on their loss, so I understand why some wouldn’t broadcast the news of their miscarriage. Others like to keep the news of their pregnancy private, to have something just to share between them and their husbands, until something happens that makes them need to tell (start showing, morning sickness they can’t hide, etc.); and then if they happen to have a miscarriage before they’ve told, then they’ll just not mention the pregnancy at all. I understand that; but I think many people do themselves and others a disservice. Because then it remains hidden, it remains not talked about, and through peer pressure, or not wanting to be an oddball or whatever, nobody else says anything either. It’s almost like a girl being sexually abused by her step-dad, and thinking she’s the only one; then finding out 20 years later that he abused all of her sisters, plus his own daughters, and a few neighborhood girls as well. A wall of silence.

Now, I’m doing okay. I really thought I’d have a hard time with this, but I’m not. Perhaps that may change at some point, but so far, so good. But many others hurt deeply and grieve terribly, over early or late losses. And if the wall of silence remains, they don’t know whom to turn to, for someone who has gone through a similar experience. Perhaps they even think they’re the only ones. But if they are likewise silent, then those others who have previously experienced loss won’t even know that they are going through or have gone through the same thing, and need comfort. And the cycle perpetuates.

That’s one of the reasons why I was so open about this pregnancy and miscarriage, despite (or perhaps because of) my uncertainty and fears. I want to help break the cycle, and break down the wall of silence. Because we are not alone in this world, and we shouldn’t have to act like we are.