The Lasting Grief of Miscarriage

Julie Ryan Evans

miscarriageMiscarriage is one of the most difficult things a woman will ever go through. The disappointment, the feelings of failure, and the fear that you'll never carry a baby to term can wreck the strongest amongst us. But typically, with time and especially with subsequent children, we learn to move on and recover ... or so people think. A new study, however, shows just how many women -- no matter how strong they appear or how many more children they have -- are still grieving years after losing babies.

The study found that 13 percent of women who had miscarriages and then had another baby still showed symptoms of depression 33 months after the loss. Of those who had two miscarriages before delivering a healthy baby, 19 percent showed symptoms of depression.

I get this.

I suffered two miscarriages, and at the time, they hit me with a grief I'd never experienced. I don't care where you stand on the pro-life/pro-choice debate, when you want a child desperately, the minute you see two lines on that pregnancy test, you have a baby -- a baby growing inside you, who you plan for, and dream for, and imagine in your life with. He is a part of you, a part of your family ... until suddenly, just like that, he's taken from you, before you even get to hold him in your arms.

Then what? There's no funeral, no process to say goodbye, no miscarriage condolence cards coming -- just well-intentioned family and friends trying their best to say something helpful, when no one -- not even you -- knows of anything that can help. So you and life move on, and you get wrapped up in the excitement of a new life, tentatively at first, then with more enthusiasm. From time to time you wonder about that other baby, how he would have looked, how they would have been different, and you feel sad.

I wouldn't say I was ever depressed about my losses after I had my son and daughter, though I don't know. Sometimes you don't know why you're sad. But whenever women talk about their pregnancies, what their symptoms were, and how they found out and told the world about their babies, I think of my two pregnancies during which I experienced these aspects, but never had my babies. And I get this study even more.

Have you experienced a miscarriage? How long do you feel like you grieved afterward? Do you ever stop?

Image via valentinapowers/Flickr

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