I’ll never forget the day I first found out I was pregnant. And I’ll never forget the day I first found out I lost the baby.
I was 6 weeks pregnant and dreaming about the future every day (despite jinx warnings from those who knew). Then one night I saw red spots in my pajamas. I had recently heard something similar happening to a friend who was also pregnant and based on her advice I just put my feet up and went to sleep fingers crossed that it will all be okay. But it wasn’t. By morning I was bleeding and there was no doubt about it. My husband rushed me to the military hospital where we were sent for an ultrasound. Those 45 minutes of waiting was one of the worst. Finally the test was done and we were ushered in to the doctor’s room for the report. While I lay there, hoping against hope, he looked at the scan and told me in a very matter-of-fact manner, “oh yeah, you’ve aborted”. That’s it. No sympathy, no empathy, no kind words, no reassurance.
I went numb. I could barely hear him describing to my husband that I would need to be admitted for a ‘routine’ procedure that would clean out the aborted foetus and that will be all. Not only had I not yet recovered from reeling under the news of the miscarriage, now I had to face an operation theatre (which I had never done before) and go through some cold medical procedure. Even though we followed the doctor’s instructions, both my husband and I were clueless about what would happen. Eventually I called up a very senior mother-figure like lady psychiatrist who I used to work with and she put my mind at ease, describing the procedure in detail and even insisting that I come under the care of the hospital I worked at. But most of all, just being there, being supportive and reassuring.
I got through the procedure, was discharged the same evening. After my husband brought me home, and we sat down together…that’s when the tears came, and came hard. I was hurting, confused, sad, lost. And I didn’t know who I could talk to. And neither did my husband. He was my rock then. And though I resumed work a few days later, the next couple of weeks were full of advice and even admonitions from those I knew, but nothing really helped.
Now I have an eight year old son and because of being a psychotherapist myself I’ve been able to process my emotions about the miscarriage. But I know there are so many of you out there who are probably now facing what I faced then and are looking for answers that tell you what to do to deal with the hurt. So here’s what I would recommend as a survivor as well as a psychotherapist:
Information Is Power
First, to put all those self-doubts to rest (where you ask yourself repeatedly what I did wrong, if I could have done something to prevent it)by finding a good, supportive, empathetic OB-GYN (yes, they are around, you just have to look harder sometimes) and have one session with them just to clarify your questions. Most of the times, miscarriages that happen in the first few weeks are a natural phenomenon and are not that alarming or indicative of a serious problem(this is what my doc shared after mine). Don’t merely rely on the internet to resolve your doubts. Once you know exactly what happened, and hear it from someone face to face, it will make a world of difference to how you process your emotions.
Don’t Deny Yourself The Grief
If tears come, and they will, let them flow. No matter how many times people around you tell you to stop crying, don’t deny yourself this release. It’s normal. It’s natural and you need this. If you let it out now, you’ll save yourself from a lot of unexpressed pain.
Involve Your Partner
At times like this, men usually retreat to the stereotypical roles they have grown up with. They are usually stoic and outwardly calm and composed. But the fact is, they lost their baby too. But they don’t know how to grieve because for most men, tears don’t feel right. Also, they don’t come forth much because they don’t know what YOU need. If you feel hurt or irritated that he doesn’t seem to as affected as you are by the loss, give him the benefit of doubt. He’s probably assuming that you need him to be like this. Say it aloud in words what you need from him and please don’t think “I shouldn’t have to say this, he should know what I need”. Believe me, he doesn’t and that’s not his fault. If you want him to hold you, say so. If you need to cry on his shoulder while he just lets you, let him know. If you want answers to understand why it happened but are scared to do it alone suggest to him that you google it together. Get him on your team, and this whole process will become a lot easier.
Hold a Private Goodbye Ritual
It’s very important that you say a proper goodbye to the baby you lost so that you can let go of the hurt and sadness and the fear which might come back to haunt you the next time you get pregnant. This is something you and your partner need to do in private. Create a goodbye letter for the baby together. Write your feelings, your messages, maybe include a token of your love. Then with all the love in your heart, bury it in the ground and plant a sapling over it together. This symbolic burial will not only allow a sanctioned release of your feelings (because psychologically we believe it’s okay to cry at funerals and we don’t bottle it up), but the planting of the sapling will instill fresh hope and give you a positive feel-good.
Set Your Boundaries
Finally, this last tip is for you to deal with all the people who will come up with questions, advice, home remedies, and instructions for you in the wake of your loss. This will include your parents and in laws (if they know). It can get quite overwhelming. So tell yourself this : “Even though I’m hurting and emotionally fragile right now, I’m still in control – of my body and my emotions”. You don’t HAVE to personally take everything everyone comes and tells you. Unless they have gone through something similar and they are genuinely making you feel supportive, you can just graciously smile at everyone else and say “I appreciate your concern and I’m sure I’ll find the best way to deal with it. Thank you.” And then just distance yourself in your mind.
No matter how you decide to deal with the loss of your baby, always remember, it’s your right to take your time to grieve and let nobody tell you differently. It’s a real loss and deserves real time. However, if you feel that the pain hasn’t faded after three months or more and you still find yourself crying all the time, you might want to consult a psychologist who can help you build more effective coping skills because probably the ones you have been trying aren’t working for you so far. There’s no shame, no embarrassment about seeking professional help. In fact it shows that you’re proactive about making sure that you learn how to deal with your loss in the most productive manner. So go ahead, take charge of your life, because YOU CAN!
About The Author
Prachi S Vaish is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and psychotherapist with an M.Phil in Clincal Psychology. She’s the founder of India’s first psychological services portal HopeNetwork.in. She has served as a psychological consultant at various hospitals in her career. Her areas of expertise include pregnancy and childbirth issues, couples and marital issues, recovery from extramarital affairs, recovery from trauma and abuse and anxiety disorders. She regularly contributes articles as a psychological expert to the Indian editions of Child and Better Homes and Gardens magazines.For her, the well-being of her clients is foremost and privacy and confidentiality are the pillars of her practice. She can be reached for personal consultations at her email ID firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: coping with depression crying when infertile depression depression in infertility emotional wellness female infertility miscarriage psychologist psychotherapy