By Christine Cioppa
“Maybe your baby is watching over you now,” consoled a family member.
I thought I had a reason to be confident about my last pregnancy. A heartbeat, however faint, was picked up at 6.5 weeks. I was elated.
But at my doctor’s visit at 9.5 weeks, the doctor paused and was unusually silent. His assistant stared on, with a stone-like face. With some prodding about what he saw, he finally confessed I lost the baby. I thought for sure the little sack I saw above his head on the monitor had a tiny fetus moving in it, but he shrunk down the image quickly before I could really assess the situation.
“Are you sure there’s no heartbeat?” I stammered once, twice, and then three times. “Yes,” he apologetically confessed. I looked back at the doctor, just stunned.
Then suddenly a swoosh of grief overcame me. Fighting an explosion of tears, I pressed my fingers tightly over my eyes, as if to poke the tears back in them. I did not want to see their apologetic faces or have them witness the outpouring of my grief.
After his condolences, the doctor told me to meet him in his office, when I was ready. There he encouraged me to try again and walked me through the different fertility options, should I need them.
Later I learned that miscarriage is common. It’s a secret many women hold on to, until another woman joins the club. Only then is the secret revealed by some. I couldn’t believe how many people told me about their own miscarriages once I admitted mine. Research shows that 10 to 25 percent of “clinically recognized” pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is way more common than I thought.
The doctor told me what to expect physically, but not emotionally. He didn’t direct me to the March of Dimes website for info on loss and grief. Or to the American Pregnancy Association’s web page on emotional healing after miscarriage. Some women, like myself, are left to muddle through the emotions on their own and figure it out.
When miscarriage strikes during a military deployment, the aftermath can feel devastating.
“Things happen for a reason,” people rationalize. I know it is really difficult for people to find the right words when someone is experiencing grief, so I tried to take those words in the best possible way. I don’t believe there was a “reason” for it.
A friend shared that if it wasn’t for her miscarriage, she wouldn’t have the daughter she has now … and she couldn’t imagine life without her. She conceived within a few months of her last miscarriage. But month after month passed without another double pink line on a pregnancy test. There was no silver lining for me within the first few months after miscarriage.
Many say it is for the best if the baby would not have been healthy. Though, who is to say what is best? Maybe health could have returned or maybe a good life still could have been experienced and lived.
What was comforting for me was when someone told me that not everyone handles “grief” the same way, and that it is okay!
Some suffer in silence with their secret. I had told the world I miscarried. I vented not for sympathy so much but just to vent it again, as if doing so could ease the pain.
In my grief, though, humor has not served me well. When I joke to people that maybe my toddler was created from my last “good egg,” I’m met with puzzled stares or that deafening phone silence. I let my laugher trial off awkwardly, not understanding the disconnect.
Everyone handles grief in their own way, I remind myself.
There is a community of women doing it every day, managing their own grief over miscarriage. When we share our experiences, though, with each other, we move an inch further through the grief.
If you have suffered a miscarriage and are looking for help, please visit:
Healing physically after miscarriage: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-loss/physical-recovery-after-miscarriage/
Healing emotionally after miscarriage: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-loss/miscarriage-surviving-emotionally/