Losing a baby, no matter how early during pregnancy, is as real as the sadness it leaves behind. Miscarriage is a surprisingly common case – as many as one in five confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. Experts believe that most women lose a baby before a woman becomes aware of the pregnancy at all. But if you were looking forward to a positive pregnancy test and experienced a loss a few weeks or months later – you are deeply and painfully aware of what happened. No matter what the first sign of loss you notice, be it blood or cessation of pregnancy symptoms or even visible cessation of a heartbeat on the ultrasound, you are touched by this loss. You may feel very sad, even depressed, angry, confused, lonely. As I often say, you may become a mother to the whole world the moment you give birth but it is really different – a woman becomes a mother the moment she realizes she is pregnant. It is the moment when a woman motherly begins to take care of her child she is carrying, fearing the real and unreal dangers lurking in her womb. If she has experienced a miscarriage or bleeding in pregnancy before, the fear is even greater. I often hear that someone “exaggerates” by mourning for a child who was not even born or stillborn – because she did not even get attached to the child, did not meet him, etc. It is difficult to explain that you become a mother 9 months before the child is born and that your child is for you just as real and just as loved and wanted as someone over 20 years old. This is why women often misunderstand and support the environment after a miscarriage.
Most early miscarriages happen for a reason. Between 50% and 75% of them occur in the first 12-14 weeks, and it happens because the fetus was damaged in some way. Maybe it could not be implanted in the uterus or was poorly implanted, may have had a genetic disorder, some significant chromosomal abnormality due to which he could not survive. Whatever the cause, the result is that the embryo or fetus could not develop normally. This is the basic expression of natural selection – which is why most babies in the world are born healthy. Spontaneous abortion can happen to any woman regardless of race, health, age, and other factors. A woman has no reason to blame herself or think she deserves it. Certain factors increase the risk of fetal loss, such as age (e.g., a woman over the age of 35 has a higher chance of losing than a woman in her twenties), but quite healthy and young women often experience the same. Be gentle with yourself, do not burden your grief with guilt. A miscarriage can happen to any woman. The sadness you feel is real, no matter how short the pregnancy may have been – you may feel that loss deeply. Even though you never saw your child, you knew he was growing inside you and you created a bond. No matter how abstract that connection is, you have felt it. You already saw yourself as the mother of that child, and then that relationship was abruptly severed. It is clear that it can be painful, and that you may now feel discouraged, depressed, angry because it happened to you. You may have withdrawn from close people – especially those who have babies themselves. Some women in these situations even have trouble sleeping and appetite – and acceptance. You may feel the need to cry. These are all-natural, healthy responses to the death of a loved one (and it’s perfectly normal to love your baby you haven’t given birth to yet, who you haven’t had a chance to hold in your arms yet). Share your grief with your partner. It is possible that your partner is grieving as well but in a different way. It will help if you share your feelings with each other instead of trying to protect yourself from sadness. If you think it might help you, share your grief with a friend, sister, mother. Religious women can seek solace from spiritual leaders. If your grief is too deep, seek out a therapist or support group. Talking to others who have had a similar experience can help. In time, the sadness will pass. Allow yourself to grieve as much as you need to.
A stillborn child can overwhelm parents with immense sadness, despair. Parents can feel like the end of the world has come. There is nothing that can scare a pregnant woman more than the idea that she might lose a child, and the real experience really slashes the parents. Although rare, stillbirths can occur even in pregnancies that seemed completely normal – making the shock and disbelief even greater. Losing a baby also means losing dreams, hopes, expectations. You feel pain from which you see no way out. You may be blaming yourself unnecessarily or looking for the culprit in someone or something. You may even be in a state of shock, completely frozen, and feel absolutely nothing. You may not get the support of a partner in the way you specifically need in this situation, but remember that this experience is difficult and painful for him as well, and in addition to the loss, he also feels the pressure to be strong.
What can help in the grieving process?
While it’s hard to imagine holding a lifeless baby in your arms, maybe even scary, try to take your baby if at all possible. It’s a lot harder to grieve for a child you haven’t seen or touched. Once the eviction process begins, you’ll be glad you held the baby in your arms – at least that one time. The person you lost cannot be replaced, and all people have names. Name your never-born child and say it out loud. Grieving for a person rather than a never-born baby will make death more real and ultimately help you say goodbye. Save something that will be left behind the baby, such as a lock of hair, a blanket in which the baby was wrapped, maybe even a photo (which you don’t even have to see if you never need it). Mothers know how to grieve and mourn often because of the fact that they do not remember what the baby looked like, what shape the nose or lips were, what hair color. To make the grieving process easier it is good to participate in the baby’s funeral. It may seem easier to take sedatives that will stop the pain but you can regret it later – any loss must be regretted to prevent more severe consequences. Sedatives can relieve pain instantly but also delay and complicate grief. Talk to doctors and ask anything you are interested in about your baby, death, and the birth itself. Be aware that it may not be easy to lose your baby it is probably the most painful thing you may have experienced. Seek help and support. If you do not get enough support from family and friends (or if that support is not what you need), talk to them, or seek professional help. Cry as much as you need, don’t suppress your feelings. Do everything that relieves your pain – whether it is going to the grave, lighting candles, praying, crying, talking to a certain person, walking, or writing. What is most helpful to you is the best choice for you. There is no set deadline for you to feel better, but even though it doesn’t seem like it at first – one day you will wake up, and the pain will not be as strong as it was before. Time truly makes its own. Although it sometimes seems like an eternity, even though suffering is never entirely a thing of the past, one day you will realize that you have become stronger and that you have more strength to deal with the loss you have experienced. You will never forget, but one day you will know that you can and must go further.
Remember that you must never give up on yourself. Keep walking, no matter how small the steps. Every step, even the smallest one, is a sign that you are continuing your journey. You can sometimes get lost, but never stop traveling.