Miscarriage, it’s the kind of word that comes with lots of stigma. It’s the kind of word that seems to hush the room when spoken, no-one knowing what to say, yet statistically, it happens often.
According to March of Dimes:
“Miscarriage (also called early pregnancy loss) is when a baby dies in the womb (uterus) before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For women who know they’re pregnant, about 10 to 15 in 100 pregnancies (10 to 15 percent) end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester before the 12th week of pregnancy. Miscarriage in the second trimester (between 13 and 19 weeks) happens in 1 to 5 in 100 (1 to 5 percent) pregnancies.
As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy later.”
This might be a tad tough to read, it’s certainly tough to write, but sometimes we need to share our stories to help others through their struggles. it’s that spoken about, yet unspoken thing that so many women have to endure. The United States is currently in the midst of an abortion debate, but we seem to forget about those who tragically lose a fetus, particularly when they are trying to conceive.
Unfortunately I know this from experience, twice. The first time, I was 8 weeks pregnant, we were super excited. Life was good. We had moved to Texas from Italy, my husband had left the Navy and started school to earn his bachelor’s degree. He was working a part time job, our eldest daughter was two and we were ready to increase our family. Money was tight and we didn’t have great insurance coverage but it was good enough to cover a pregnancy and we knew that once my husband had finished his degree, we would be ok. Life had other plans at that point in time though.
I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant. We had confirmed the pregnancy at a doctor’s appointment when I was approximately 6 weeks pregnant. They told us to make another appointment at 12 weeks, we were delighted. One of my hubby’s friends was having a party and I was designated driver (obviously). We were having a good time when suddenly something didn’t feel right. I went to the bathroom and had some fairly prominent spotting. We left the party shortly thereafter. I was concerned, but tried to remain as calm as possible.
The following morning, I dropped my husband off at work and was driving home when all of a sudden the bleeding became fairly heavy. It was scary. My two year old daughter was in the car. I was alone. We got home and she saw the blood and started crying asking if Mummy was ok. I was more scared for the scarring this could do to her than anything else at this point in time, so I tried to reassure her I was ok. Even thinking about it now makes my heart beat faster. With only one car, it wasn’t even like I could physically go and pick up my husband from work, so I sat there with my little girl and cried and miscarried throughout that day. Alone, in a foreign country, not knowing anyone close by.
When I did go and pick up my husband, who was blissfully unaware of all that had transpired throughout the day, he saw me and seemed to understand something was terribly wrong immediately. We decided to go to the emergency room to make sure it was a miscarriage and that nothing further was wrong. Unfortunately, it was all but confirmed (another blog to come about this whole ghastly experience) so I went home with a heavy heart.
I’m pretty sure I cried for the next week or so. I felt lost. I felt like I had failed. I felt alone. I wanted to give my Mum a hug and have her tell me everything was ok, but unfortunately she was on the other side of the world. Thank god I could at least talk to her on the phone! My husband tried to be there for me, but he didn’t really know what to say or do. I couldn’t help him either, I was a little lost and trying to hold my shit together for our daughter. He was doing his best to hold down the fort in every possible way.
What do you say when someone has a miscarriage? Well here’s what not to say, “it was obviously for the best as something must have been wrong with it.” Um, no. Just no. (and yes, people felt the need to say this to me). That might be true, but when someone dies after suffering incredible pain, you don’t tell their family that it was for the best, it just doesn’t work! Just listen. Say you’re sorry. If you’ve been through it yourself, share that information. Tell the person you have some understanding of what they’re going through. Remember that everyone feels pain differently, your experiences are probably different to theirs and if you’ve never been through it, then you honestly don’t understand. Be honest. Let them talk or sit in silence. Its similar to grieving for a loved one. You didn’t know that child, but you lost the promise of all that could have been. When you find out you are pregnant, you are excited, you can’t help but wonder what this child will be like; is it a girl? A boy? Twins? Will they be a prodigy? Will they be funny? Sweet? What sort of mother will you be? How many adventures will you have? So many things run through your head the minute a pregnancy is confirmed. And it’s all the could-haves that break your heart when you miscarry.
I mentioned earlier that I had a second miscarriage and I will share the details of that in part two of this blog. Miscarriage can be terribly lonely. Women feel ostracized by it. But you are not alone and it’s ok. You will get through. You will be ok. We will be ok. More than likely, you did everything right. No-one can really explain why miscarriages happen, but what we do know is that everyone experiences different emotions when they go through a miscarriage; you doubt your own body, you question what you’ve done to deserve this. Some people grieve immediately, others later. At the end of the day, it’s painful, but you are very much allowed to mourn your loss; to mourn the could-have’s.
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful and in your time of need, you know that you are not alone. Please feel free to share so others understand how many of us have been through this. Come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussie Mum’s Adventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures.
If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, please remember there are resources out there to help you.
In the USA:
March of Dimes