By far, the saddest thing I encounter in my business is when a friend or client or potential client (read, anyone I know) has a pregnancy loss. It’s not uncommon that I am one of the first to know when someone has had a positive pregnancy test. I get a very intimate look into how a plus sign on a urine test begins the thoughts of a future with that child in your uterus. If doesn’t matter if it was a long awaited pregnancy or a surprise. Women contact me and talk to me because they are excited and preparing to welcome a new person into their family. Yes, sometimes they are fearful or anxious, too, but in the conversation they pour out all their hopes and dreams for the expectation of a new baby. And then, they go for an ultrasound and there is no heartbeat, or perhaps no sign the pregnancy progressed beyond a chemical response. Or they begin bleeding and it’s not the benign bleeding of implantation but a miscarriage. Or they get past the first trimester only to have their baby pass in the womb due to a genetic defect or some reason they may never know.
It’s often a devastating experience for women and their partners.
For some women they are faced with decisions they never expected or planned to have to make. Do they employ expectant management and wait for the non-viable pregnancy to pass naturally? Do they choose to have a D&C? Do they take an abortifacient medication? Big decisions to make when you’re shocked, bewildered, and grieving.
There is no right or wrong answer. It’s what works for each woman and in informed consent with her provider.
Relationships can become strained because we as a society are still struggling with how miscarriage and pregnancy loss is talked about — or more specifically not talked about. Male partners often have very little resources on how to support their partner in her grief and even less on how to deal with their own loss. If the pregnancy had already been announced to family and friends then difficult and awkward encounters happen for months as people find out about the pregnancy loss. Well meaning people will offer clumsy platitudes in an effort to ease the grief and can cause added pain to the situation. Faith and belief systems may be questioned or changed.
The process is painful. Physically and emotionally, pregnancy loss is painful. It can take a long time to recover from both and there is no set time limit on physical or emotional pain. Some women will find it is no more painful than a heavy period and others will experience heavy blood loss and cramping. Some will require medical help in the form of surgery or other procedures. Some women will find they want to go immediately back to work and distract themselves and others will curl up in their bed and cry for a long time. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
If you are a woman experiencing pregnancy loss, I am sorry. I am a loss mom myself. You didn’t cause this. It’s not fair. It’s a very real death and birth. Take all the time you need to recover physically and emotionally. Try to have honest conversations with your partner about what you are experiencing. Ask your partner how they are feeling and try to draw together. Treat yourself with love and compassion. If you are unable to face telling other friends about your loss, appoint a trusted family member or close friend to spread the news. If you want and need company, ask for it. Find supportive people, perhaps in the form of loss groups on social media or locally. Journal your feelings. Name your baby and have a ceremony if that makes you feel better. Create a keepsake box or plant a tree. Order a memory necklace or go so far as to get a tattoo. There are many meaningful rituals to do if that brings you comfort.
The grief will subside one day — and it will also rear its head at weird and unexpected times. Grief is not a straight line, it is often more of a weird tangled thread and it does not always manifest as tears and sorry. It may manifest as anger or anxiety, sleep troubles, loss of appetite, etc. If you feel you are struggling to the point of despair or unable to function on some normal level please seek professional help in the form of a therapist or speaking to your provider. If your provider is not a compassionate and understanding source of help, seek help elsewhere.
You are not alone
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