How to live beyond miscarriage
By: Michal from All Things Mom Sydney
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I am so sorry you are going through this or have been through this.
Miscarriage is a horrible occurrence that no one should have to go through. I want you to know these three truths:
You have done nothing wrong. This is not your fault.
It is perfectly normal to feel sad and miserable.
In time you will be able to live beyond this.
Before you go any further – if you think you are miscarrying please go and speak to your doctor. Bleeding does not necessarily mean that you are miscarrying, it could mean a variety of things. This article is not about miscarriage nor is it a source of medical information – it is purely to help people who have experienced miscarriage like I have.
There is no good time to experience a miscarriage
There is no designated age when it makes it easier to miscarry no age when it makes it easier to accept and move on.
I was young when I miscarried and while it meant my body had more years to potentially bear children I’m not sure it made it any better. When you’re young you think you’re invincible so when you miscarry it is a huge blow to your perspective on your life and the fragility of life and how cruel some experiences can be. It is a very rude awakening to learn that you are fallible and your body can and will let you down.
There is also no point in the pregnancy when it feels fine to miscarry. You have suffered loss regardless of how far along you were or how long you knew you were pregnant. Hopes and dreams can be created in an instant, just as quickly as they can be taken. Physically it may be easier to treat an early loss but emotionally it can be as hard as having carried for a longer time.
I miscarried 5 years ago and I still remember every moment of it like it was yesterday.
I was in my late-20s and had never been to a gynaecologist before. In hindsight I know that is not wise but that’s the way it was. We found out I was pregnant through the over-the-counter pregnancy tests and in our excitement immediately booked a doctor’s appointment with the closest and most available female gynaecologist. We were so excited we just wanted to be pregnant. Off my husband and I went to our very first gynae appointment.
I didn’t know a thing about the doctor in question, I didn’t know what she was like, whether she was any good or whether other people had favourable experiences. Again, in hindsight I should have gone to someone who had been recommended to me but I didn’t know any better.
The first cursory blood test showed I was pregnant but it was very early in the pregnancy so the doctor scheduled another appointment accompanied by another blood test. This test also came back with positive results.
The third test was different. The HCG wasn’t doubling as it should have been. In 85% of pregnancies HCG levels should double every 72 hours according to American Pregnancy Association. However just because your HCG isn’t doubling doesn’t mean that there is a problem, there can be a number of other reasons for the HCG being low, it is always best to have an ultrasound to determine what is going on. Following an ultrasound it was evident that there wasn’t any heartbeat.
My husband and I were heartbroken. Utterly heartbroken.
I blamed my work schedule and my stress levels for the miscarriage. I was convinced that I had done something wrong that had caused the pregnancy to fail.
While the miscarriage was truly devastating what made the situation worse was the manner in which it was handled by the doctor. The doctor telephoned me and told me to come past her office and pick up some medication which I would then have to administer to myself to ensure that the foetal sac tissue passed out as it had not done so yet. The process of administering the medication to myself in the prescribed method (I will not go into detail) was dehumanising and extremely painful. I will never forget that.
For me the hardest part of the miscarriage was the sense that I had done something wrong. I was convinced that the hours I was working coupled with the stress of being a newly trained lawyer had caused the miscarriage. This is not true.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises that “Working, exercising, having sex, or having used birth control pills before getting pregnant do not cause early pregnancy loss. Morning sickness does not cause early pregnancy loss. Some women who have had an early pregnancy loss believe that it was caused by a recent fall, blow, or even a fright. In most cases, this is not true.”
Miscarriage is not a sign of incapacity to carry children, don’t think of the worst.
At the time that I miscarried 5 years ago it was common to be advised to wait to try and fall pregnant again. Doctors would often suggest waiting 3 months so that your body could heal, the more conservative doctors would have told you to wait at least 6 months but in the last year new research has indicated that you don’t have to wait this long to try and conceive again.
According to the ACOG “You can ovulate and become pregnant as soon as 2 weeks after an early pregnancy loss.”
In my opinion the only reason you should wait to try and conceive again is purely to ensure that you have emotionally recovered from the miscarriage. You do not want to spend your whole pregnancy thinking about the miscarriage and panicking that this baby will not carry to full term – you need to be able to be in the right head space to enjoy the pregnancy and all the special moments that accompany it.
Despite my experience and the pain it caused both emotionally and physically less than a year later I fell pregnant with my son. The pregnancy was good as was the birth and the little terror has just celebrated his 4th birthday.
This is a very dark time for you and it will be for a little bit but like every other challenge in life, it will pass and you will be able to look back on it with less hurt than you are feeling right now.
HOW TO SURVIVE RIGHT AFTER MISCARRIAGE (THE IMMEDIATE ACTION PLAN)
- Don’t be alone if you can avoid it. Make sure you are with someone you trust and who cares about you.
- Ensure that you have been properly assessed by a medical professional to determine it is a miscarriage and not an ectopic pregnancy. Don’t assume that it is a miscarriage. Some websites and doctors will tell you that if there is bleeding it must be a miscarriage and not an ectopic – unfortunately this is not always the case.
- Be aware of the medical options available to you. I know of at least 3 medical options that you can take in event of a miscarriage so discuss your options with your doctor. If you are currently experiencing a miscarriage please talk to your doctor at length about what options are available to you and what is best in your situation. Make sure you know what could possibly happen as a result of each treatment plan.
- Live in the moment of sadness and heartache. Feel it all and discuss it even if you think the person you are discussing it with has had enough – so you know that you can move on when the time is right, safe in the knowledge that you have confronted all of those emotions. If there is no one that you feel comfortable talking to you can join an online forum such as the ones hosted by Netmums or Essential Baby or the UK Miscarriage Association, these are just three of the few I found online.
- Cry if you want to, go back to work if it’ll distract you and your medical practitioner says that is okay or eat an entire pizza and box of chocolates. Do what you need to do to in order to stay sane in this moment.
- Know that is is not easy and it may be painful (it isn’t always) and that no one is experiencing this experience as you are right now. I am so sorry for your loss and your hurt right now.
HOW TO SURVIVE AFTER YOU HAVE GRIEVED
- Have faith that you will fall pregnant again and that you will have a successful pregnancy the next time around.
- Look after yourself, eat right, exercise, drink water and it will not only create a good environment for a prospective baby but it will help you lift your spirits.
- Talk about what you went through as and when you want to, it will help you process what happened and ultimately move past it.
- Do all the things you won’t be able to do when you do have a baby – sleep, travel (even to the neighboring town), watch movies, buy pretty jewellery, buy a great pair of shoes, date your partner, drink wine or drive around listening to loud music in your car.
- Find something to laugh at. You may end up crying afterwards but it’ll make you feel so much better.
- When you are ready move on. Pack away any clothes you bought so you aren’t constantly reminded about what could have been, delete any social media statuses you made so no one asks you and tell your friends and family that it is behind you but if you need to talk you will be sure to let them know.
I am so sorry that you have experienced this. It seems so harsh, so unfair. I am sad for you and with you. Know that you are not alone and there is a community of women who have been through this too and are willing you to be alright.