Eight out of ten pregnancies end in miscarriage, the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.
Even though miscarriage is a common occurrence; it is an undoubtedly painful, sad and lonely experience. Getting over a miscarriage can be very difficult. A positive pregnancy test brings a lot of excitement. Baby-names, the sex of the baby and plans around work and childcare immediately come to mind.
You might think of yourself as a mother or a father and the things you will do with the baby. It can be a huge shock to lose the baby and you may feel very alone, and even disappointed by your body. Women often experience the same cycle of emotions as anyone who has lost a close relative or friend; denial, anger, guilt, feelings of emptiness and longing.
1. Denial (a refusal to believe what has happened).
• 2. Anger (blaming yourself or others for the loss).
• 3. Bargaining (striking a deal with yourself or God to have things return to the way they were).
• 4. Depression (feeling unenergetic, tired, discouraged, guilty, punished, and/or as if there’s no pleasure or joy in life).
• 5. Acceptance (realizing that life has to go on, and regaining your energy and goals for the future).
The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits
Some women experience physical symptoms from their emotional distress. These symptoms include:
• trouble sleeping
• difficulty concentrating
• loss of appetite
• frequent episodes of crying
• broken or suffering relationships with family or friends
• self-harm/suicidal attempts or actions
The hormonal changes that occur after miscarriage may intensify these symptoms.
As you work through this difficult time; respect your needs and limitations. Ask for understanding, comfort, and support from those closest to you. Seek counselling to help both yourself and your partner. You don’t have to face this alone. Allow yourself plenty of time to grieve and the opportunity to remember.
Generally, women are more expressive about their loss and more likely to seek support from others. Men may be more action-oriented, tending to gather facts and problem solving, and therefore often do not choose to participate in support networks that consist of sharing feelings. This does not mean he is not grieving. Often men bury themselves in work when they are grieving.
Parents experience different levels of bonding with a baby. The bond between a pregnant woman and the baby growing inside her is unique. A woman can begin bonding from the moment she has a positive pregnancy test. Bonding for the father may start as he experiences physical signs of the baby, such as seeing an ultrasound picture or feeling the baby kick.
However, especially for men, real bonding may not develop until after the baby is born. This is why men may seem less affected when the loss of the baby occurs early in pregnancy. These differences may cause strain in your relationship as you try to come to terms with the loss.
Miscarriage can be physically painful but for many couples, the emotional fallout is far more overwhelming. You may both feel low for some time and may find it difficult to come to terms with the loss of your baby. Don’t bottle up your feelings: try to express how you feel to each other or a close friend. Keep the communication lines open by sharing your thoughts and emotions. It is important to be respectful of and sensitive to each other’s needs and feelings. Acknowledge and accept the differences in your individual coping styles.
You have the right to:
Know the facts about what happened and potential implications for the future. Seek answers to your questions, look at the medical records, and take notes.
• Make decisions about what you would like to do with your maternity clothes and baby items. Others might try to make quick choices for you; instead, use others to help you figure out what option is best for you.
• Protect yourself by avoiding situations that you know will be difficult. A baby shower, seeing a woman nursing, family events and visits to the gynaecologist might trigger memories. You can protect yourself by limiting these interactions.
• Take time to grieve and heal. There is no set time allotment for healing nor is it something that can be rushed.
• Receive support even though this may not be easy for you. If you feel out of control or overwhelmed, consider seeking help from a therapist to help guide you through the grieving process.
• Be sad and joyful. It is okay to feel sad at times but the key is to not let it control you. Others have survived their grief, and in time you will too. Do enjoyable things because laughter and joy are healers. Remember that celebrating bits of joy doesn’t dishonour your loss.
• Remember your baby. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting or making memories insignificant. You may want to name your baby. Some women find comfort by doing something tangible like planting a tree, selecting a special piece of jewellery, or creating a picture book. On the anniversary you may want to share a special time with your partner.
At CBT Kenya, we can counsel you through the grieve of miscarriage. You can give us a call on 0739 935 333/0756 454 585 or visit our website for more details on what we do. We are located at Kims Court, Theta Lane, Off Lenana road.