Three thoughts post miscarriage
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Fertility Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
We spent the days following surgery hiding out at my parents’ house. To be honest, I think we were both dreading returning home due to the negative association we’d created – the 10-week scan had been just a short walk from our house. By using my parent’s as a ‘safe house’, it meant we could protect ourselves from having to relive the painful memory of finding out we’d had a ‘missed miscarriage’. I knew going back to the empty silence of our home would be difficult as it mirrored the pure and utter emptiness I now felt inside of me. It was so much easier to be surrounded by distractions – my mum cooking or dad gardening – than to have to face up to and accept the harsh reality back home.
Thanks to the support of Steve’s wonderful work colleagues, he was able to take time off to be with me. This gave us valuable time together to talk through our thoughts and start processing what had happened. During the day we’d go for long rejuvenating walks in nature, giving us the opportunity to check-in with one another, to make sure we were both okay. At night, there were many times when we couldn't sleep. It'd be three o'clock in the morning and rather than lay there wide awake with our heads buzzing, we'd go down to the kitchen, make hot drinks and off-load everything that was on our minds. Here are three particular thoughts that surfaced for me at this time.
1. I HAD NO CONTROL OVER IT
As a Natural Fertility Therapist, I practice what I preach by having a pretty healthy diet and lifestyle. I’d started to prepare for pregnancy three months prior to trying to conceive, to make sure I was in optimum fertile health for conception to take place and thereafter, pregnancy. I knew the risk of miscarriage was high, that we had a one in four chance of miscarrying. I also knew the reason for miscarrying can be the result of random events completely out of our hands, such as abnormalities with the baby’s chromosomes (genetic material).
It was this that I found hard to get my head around, the fact it was an element out of my control, made worse by the thought it could very well happen again and there was nothing I could do about it, except keep healthy and hope that it didn’t. What I tried not to forget though, was that the miscarriage had happened for a reason; something wasn’t right with the development of the baby. It actually surprised me just how much love and gratitude I felt towards my body for having the ability to stop the pregnancy early on, knowing what was best for our little one.
2. DID I HAVE THE RIGHT TO GRIEVE?
There were times when I questioned whether I had the right to grieve. After all, there are those who have gone through experiences that one would consider much worse, such as ectopic pregnancies, still births or infant deaths. The thing is though, although it may have been a "common" early pregnancy loss, from the perspective of Steve and I, our whole world had been turned upside down and we felt completely crushed. It wasn’t just about grieving the loss of our foetus, but more so the loss of our immediate dreams that we’d come to visualise and look forward to. The life we were creating in all senses of the word.
Looking back, it was ridiculous we felt we had to give ourselves permission to grieve. We all have the right to grieve if we feel loss, no matter what the scenario or how emotionally intense society may deem it to be. Not only that, but I believe we can’t compare our experiences to those of other peoples, as they’ll always be different and have different impacts on us individually.
Something I came to realise is that it wasn’t just the ‘missed miscarriage’ itself that caused me trauma, but my experience of it, so the way it happened. For me, I kept visualising the distressing moment we saw the image of our lifeless foetus on the screen, when we found out both verbally and visually we’d had a ‘missed miscarriage’. I found this particular memory the most painful. It was only by having the courage to acknowledge the emotions that surfaced around this flashback and to accept what had happened, that I was able to come to terms with it.
3. WHAT IF WE HAD MORE MISCARRIAGES?
Many nights, I started to catastrophise in my head – Steve always says everything seems 10 times worse at night – he’s so right. It's like the proverb says "Morning is wiser than evening". I kept on thinking: What if my period never returns? What if we can't get pregnant again? What if we have another miscarriage? I was dreaming up scenarios that may never arise, creating a future full of fear.
Talking things through with Steve, I realised it’s okay to be afraid, that we can’t let fear stop us from moving forward with our lives, constantly asking “What if…”. After all, what if we got pregnant and had a beautiful healthy baby? I needed to acknowledge fear as being part of my fertility journey. I needed to stop fighting it as only then would it loosen it's tight grip it had over me. I needed to choose to bravely move forward despite feeling utterly terrified.
At the end of the day, the future will always be uncertain and out of our control – there are no guarantees in life. However, if we focus our attention on building up our emotional strength, then no matter what life throws our way, we will have the tools within us to be able to get back up and dust ourselves off, ready to try again.