“There is no heartbeat”
My best friend was in the gynaecologist’s office, scared to death for her unborn baby, after she started bleeding.
At first, there was pain, so much pain. So much blood!
Then, disbelief. Did this really happen? Did she just lose her little baby, just like that?
And then came the big one. Doubt. And self loathing. I saw my friend retracing every step that got her to the scanning room where she was told that the baby isn’t growing anymore.
“Did I lift something heavy” she asked me, “I must have lifted something heavy. Or maybe it was that cocktail I had at that party two months ago?” Then she calculated, and concluded that the party happened surely before she conceived. But then she doubted again, maybe she miscalculated she thought. For several days after the bad news, the doubts and self checks continued. Perhaps she shouldn’t have taken that trip to the mall last week, she thought, commuting could have harmed the baby. I told her it was only a 20 minutes drive, in a Mercedes. That could have done no harm. Could it be the coffee? The pizza? She even hated herself for eating cashews.
“I must have done something wrong, why else is this happening to me?”
It was painful to watch. She was the one who suffered a major blow here, causing her insufferable physical and emotional pain. And yet, she was blaming herself for it, finding inadequacies in her body, in her conduct, in the way she cared for her unborn baby. For a second I felt she was being ridiculous blaming herself for something that was no goddamned fault of hers.
This is something common to all or at least most women who have suffered a miscarriage. They tend to blame themselves for it, find fault in something they did, something they ate, drank, or whiffed.
Looking back today, I know I was wrong and so is my friend. I sincerely urge any woman going through a miscarriage to stop feeling like this. It’s not your fault. It’s not because of something you did, or didn’t do. Doctors have confirmed that in most cases, a miscarriage is due to genetic reasons or unpredictable problems in the way the fetus formed in the first place. In any case, it is purely biological and not a result of something you did wrong.
It’s not your fault. Period.
While it is important to give in to the situation and grieve, you should not turn to self loathing. Give yourself the time to feel the loss. You need some closure and that cannot be rushed. Remember though, that with time you will feel better. You must believe that as painful as this may be right now, it’s not the end of the world. You will conceive again and you must look forward to that.
What’s more important is to let go of the guilt and start taking better care of your body, now that it has been through a painful process of miscarriage. Eat well, take rest, replenish the energy you just lost and prepare for another pregnancy. And the only way to do that is by accepting and loving your body again.
A lot of women feel so betrayed by their body that they become harsh to it. This leads to neglect and loss of health when you should actually be taking much better care of it. Women have been known to not take their pain meds after a miscarriage, because they feel they deserve the pain!
You do not deserve the pain.
Not only emotionally, miscarriage is extremely punishing physically. In many cases, there is too much blood loss, pain and discomfort. The risk of infection is higher and the need for iron and other supplements is increased. You must follow your doctor’s directions, take your meds regularly and eat carefully. You need to be kinder to your body. Never, ever hate it or feel let down by it.
Look out for your partner too. He realises how hard this must be for you, so he’s probably trying to be strong for you. That shouldn’t drive you to think he doesn’t feel the pain. Talk, talk a lot. Let it out, let it go. Accept help from your partner. It’s okay to feel vulnerable; it’s okay to feel weak.
Don’t be afraid to talk to friends about it. Most women say they felt completely alone after a miscarriage. You’d be surprised to know though, that nearly one in four pregnancies suffer a miscarriage. Yet, most couples tend to think talking about this is in some way, embarrassing or uncomfortable. Please understand that it isn’t so. Only by talking to friends will you find out that one or more of them might have been through the same. That will definitely give you a sense of companionship and help you cope better. Maybe your friends know what happened, and wish to help, but don’t know how to bring it up. Let them in.
Bottomline, take care of your health, replenish your body and talk away your pain. And do not, DO NOT blame yourself. Sometimes, it really is no one’s fault. And it’s not fair, it’s just not fair. But Cest La Vie!
And believe it or not, this friend of mine, who is really skinny, was borderline anaemic and too weak at handling pain. After she had a miscarriage, and after she was done grieving, she really did say this to me-
“Guess what though, one thing I’ve found out for sure is that I’m not as weak as I thought I was. I have lost so much blood and suffered so much pain, and yet, here I am. Who knew I even had that strength in me?”