It is estimated that around 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means statistically we must all know several people who have experienced this tragic loss, so why isn’t anybody talking about it?
As the #ihadamisscarriage hashtag gains momentum on social media, and women finally begin to express their loss, Amy Huggins wonders why something so common has been so shrouded in secrecy.
Here she opens up about her own experience.
At my 12 week scan, I was filled with nervous excitement. The chance to finally see the tiny life I was growing inside of me had finally arrived. My husband had been excitedly tracking our baby’s development from poppy seed to lime size, with an app he had downloaded on his phone. After many years waiting for this moment to arrive, we were savouring every second of this new adventure.
As the nurse squeezed the cold gel onto my skin, and gently pushed the wand of ultrasound camera into my stomach, time stood still as she uttered the words which could only ever precede terrible news…’I’m so sorry’.
It was explained that my baby had stopped developing between 8 and 9 weeks, (apparently a very common time to miscarry), though this information brought us little consolation. We had entered the clinic as parents to be, our hearts swollen with joy, our bookshelves full of educational tomes about how to raise and parent our new addition. We left with tear stained faces, and a scan photo of a life that was not meant to be.
Naively, we had enthusiastically told our family and friends about our pregnancy, ahead of the supposed ‘safe zone’ of the 12 week scan, and now had the terrible job of calling and telling everyone that I had miscarried.
When I began to share my news, I was astounded by the number of friends and family who had experienced the same thing, once, twice or even three times. Why was nobody talking about this? Despite an age of oversharing, miscarriage remains a social taboo. The death of something intangible, something you never really had, can be an impossible situation to comprehend. The grief is so immense, but is measured by a feeling that it’s just one of those things that happen if you are ‘unlucky’. For early pregnancies there is no funeral, no time to say goodbye, and often no closure.
Your mind becomes a merry-go-round of guilt, as you search for reasons ‘why’?. Was it something you had done wrong? Of course there is usually no clear cut answer, which makes the fallout harder, with guilt and grief often morphing into anger, and the question ‘why me?!’.
I in 5 women in the UK will suffer a miscarriage, although they certainly don’t talk about it. It’s like a secret society that nobody really wants to be part of. When you discover a fellow member you bond over that unspoken, and often unresolved pain.
After miscarriage, all that is left is a fantasy of a parallel universe, where your baby made it into the world. Your wild imagination enables you to see their face, and hold their tiny hand. Every year your heart silently and inwardly recalls their birthday, albeit without the celebration of cards, presents and cake.
Human nature can be a cruel mistress, often creating tragedy without explanation. She also delivers miracles in abundance, and for all of us women who have suffered a miscarriage, that is the hope that we keep in our hearts.
How to heal the pain of miscarriage
It may seem obvious, but women who miscarry often feel they ‘just have to get on with things’. In early miscarriage there is no funeral, and therefore no real opportunity to acknowledge your loss and grieve properly. Many women therefore feel they have to carry on with life, often returning to work immediately. Mourning your loss is a key part of the healing process. Give yourself the time and space to grieve properly by expressing all the emotions you are feeling. Journaling is a wonderful way to express the gamut of emotions you will feel at this time.
Talk & seek support
Communicating with others helps share the burden of your loss. While it’s true that most people will find it hard to know what to say to comfort you, seek out a couple of close friends to confide in, and ask that they just listen and be present for you as you express your feelings. Denial, anger, blame and depression are all normal stages of the grief process. Acceptance can only be attained if these feelings are not suppressed. Seek out professional help if you do not feel comfortable talking to family and friends.
Honouring your baby and their significance on your life can be a poignant way of creating closure after miscarriage. Planting a rose bush in the garden, or selecting a beautiful piece of art, or a healing crystal to dedicate to them can bring comfort. Although life will inevitably go on, a tangible reminder of your baby can be a comforting way to keep their memory alive.
Amy Huggins is a nutritional therapist and fertility specialist. After being diagnosed as infertile, she used nutrition and naturopathic techniques to heal her body and reverse her diagnosis, giving birth to her first child in 2017. Amy now helps women achieve their dream of motherhood with nutritional and lifestyle coaching. You can find out more about Amy and her work over on her website www.amyhuggins.com or instagram, twitter or facebook