The stigma of miscarriage

In my experience, miscarriage is often a silent grief. It’s almost an embarrassment to admit to having a miscarriage. Or three.

It was only when I experienced my first one (and since then two more) that I realised how many women there are who have gone through this kind of loss. They simply crawl out of the woodwork. There seems to be a stigma attached to confessing that you ‘lost it’. When it happens, you start to ask yourself questions like: ‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t my body carry a baby?’ Perhaps you even start to doubt whether you’ll ever bear a child.  

Actually, in reality, miscarriage is so common that it’s almost like a rite of passage for anyone wanting to have a child. Yet, and let me be clear here: the fact that it is common does not make it any less painful.

It’s a loss of a vision of the future, the sudden disappearance of a longing hope and a deep wish. No matter whether you lose the baby in the early stages, or at 6 months, it’s still a terrible disappointment which needs to be mourned. Also remember that during a miscarriage or even after the foetus dies, a woman may still feel and look pregnant for a while as the pregnancy hormone may still be present in her body.

Miscarriage happened to me

My first miscarriage was a huge shock, a loss of innocence. Although I knew that 1 in 3 first pregnancies result in miscarriage, I never thought it would happen to me. Even with my fertility issues, I assumed I would be okay.

The terrible shock of having your ultimate joy converted to horror when you start to bleed cannot be underestimated. At about 7 weeks, I started to spot. The doctor detected a faint heartbeat, diagnosed a threatened miscarriage and told me to rest and come back in two days for a scan. I continued to bleed slightly and by the fourth scan and multiple blood tests week or so later, the heartbeat had gone.

Since the foetus didn’t seem to want to expel on its own, I had a D&C. I remember waking up sobbing. The worst part was going from feeling and being pregnant to not being pregnant anymore within a day. You feel completely bereft and I was very down about it for a long time afterwards.

The second miscarriage a few years later happened on fertility treatment, after I’d given birth to my daughter. That it happened then made it worse because of the time and money spent on falling pregnant in the first place. This time, at about 7 weeks, I felt my pregnancy symptoms begin to dissipate and suspecting that all was not well went for blood tests. It didn’t bode well.

The doctor scanned and diagnosed a blighted ovum, which meant that the gestational sac was empty because the embryo hadn’t developed properly. He didn’t want to do another D&C so he gave me some medication to expel it. It didn’t work and a week later I had more inserted. Ten days of bed rest and painkillers later, I eventually passed a gestational sac.

The time in bed gave me the opportunity to mourn. And with an older child, you don’t really have time to feel sorry for yourself; you have to sort of pull yourself together. I also recovered more quickly this time because I have a child and I know my body can do it. Still, it was a pretty awful experience, as any miscarriage is.  

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