Women Should Talk More About Their Pregnancy Losses

hands holdingI was at lunch with a few women that I didn't know that well and we started talking about my twin boys and how lucky I was that they were healthy, full-term babies. Then, I just blurted out, "Well, it took us a long time to get pregnant and I had a painful miscarriage, so maybe this was just the scales tipping back in the other direction." Wait, what did I just say? I had just dropped into casual conversation an experience that had been so difficult and personal to me. A beat later, I got flustered and felt the need to downplay it: "It's not a big deal ... I have my babies now ... it's in the past ... I mean, it was a big deal, but now it's not a big deal."

But, then, the other women revealed that they had also had miscarriages, one had several. And here we were, now all Moms to healthy babies, sharing our stories which, in many ways, were really similar. I thought what a shame it was that I didn't have these women to talk to when I was going through my pregnancy loss.

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Maybe the fact that we were all Moms now is what made it easier to talk about. At the time of my own loss, a large part of my pain was the unknown, wondering if I'd ever get pregnant again, hold on to that pregnancy and have a healthy baby. If I'd known these women then and was able to talk about it like I can now, we maybe would have taken a lot of comfort from sharing with each other -- to know that we weren't alone, that our grief was real, that we would survive the loss. It felt so healing to talk about it now.

At the time though, I didn't really want to talk about it. What was there to say? Especially to the people who thought my loss had been too early to be a big deal. I even had a family member ask me why I was so upset since I never even saw a heartbeat. Those who were trying to help, but who hadn't been through it, would say things like, "It wasn't meant to be," or "That baby would have been messed up for life, so it's better that this happened," or "At least you know you can get pregnant." Of course, they meant well, and all of those things were true, but I wanted to scream, "I wanted this baby! I wanted THIS baby!"

The reality is, miscarriages, which are defined as a loss before the 20th week of pregnancy are all too common. In fact, anywhere from 10-25 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriages. So why don't we feel more comfortable talking about it? Is it too painful? Deep down, do we feel ashamed, like maybe it's our fault this happened? I know a part of me felt that way. I had to have a D & C so they were able to check the fetus for chromosomal abnormalities. When it came back normal, I remember calling my doctor everyday for three days, asking again and again, "Did my body do this then? Is it my fault? Was the baby healthy?"

A few months after I had my miscarriage, I was talking to a friend who had gone through it even further along in her pregnancy. She explained to me -- as the doctor had -- that a vast majority of women who experience this loss go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. But they have to deal with their pain before they can push ahead. And, they do move on, never forgetting, but with a desire so strong to bring a healthy baby into the world, it overrides any grief. Of course, these women then approach their pregnancies with more trepidation, afraid to get too attached, afraid to breathe easy.

My friend said that we are "warriors." I like that and the image it conjures -- a strong, brave woman, a survivor. Yep, we are all warriors, with the battle wounds to prove it, and if we're lucky, a healthy baby (or several) that makes the struggle all seem worth it. And I think we women-in-arms are made even stronger when we have each other to turn to for comfort and support.

Did you take comfort from friends after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss?


Image via Carnoodles/Flickr

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