Grieving

Just over a week ago, I had my last beta hCG. It came back as 2, which is considered a negative result and means all the pregnancy tissue has gone from my body. It’s over.

The months that this pregnancy took to resolve have been like a nightmare in every sense: horrible, but surreal. I have been living in bewilderment, from one blood test to the next, not knowing what would happen. It seems that it has taken a completely negative pregnancy test for the full force of what has happened to hit me. Of course I knew that I was pregnant, that we were losing the baby, that it was a potentially life-threatening situation (? ectopic pregnancy), that it was a horrendously drawn-out process, but… I guess I was dealing with one detail at a time, and now that there are no more in-the-moment issues to tackle, I’m forced to look at the big picture and it’s too much. It’s overwhelming and devastating.

On a practical and physical level, things aren’t too bad. The doctors are working on the assumption that this was a ‘normal’ miscarriage of a uterine pregnancy, which shouldn’t affect our chances of conceiving again. However, because they can’t be certain that it wasn’t ectopic, they’ve recommended I have an HSG (‘tube test’) before our next cycle of treatment. This will show any blockages in my Fallopian tubes that could have caused an ectopic pregnancy, but even if there is a problem, I’m in the best possible place for appropriate fertility treatments such as IVF. As I have to wait for the hospital referral, then have the test done immediately after a period, then wait for another period before resuming treatment, it means we can’t try to conceive again until at least the New Year, but that’s not my biggest concern right now.

My biggest concern is my mental health. I am really struggling to cope with everything emotionally and my Christian faith, which would normally be a comfort to me, is severely shaken. I’m not sure whether I’m clinically depressed, or if this is just all part of bereavement. But it does feel as though I’m going through a big bereavement that is not acknowledged by our society. There is no funeral, no sympathy cards, no flowers. Instead, there’s just me failing to show up at a conference in Venice for “personal reasons”. I have to go to my father-in-law’s 60th birthday party tomorrow and I don’t know how I’m going to explain the fact that I’m not in Venice – I don’t expect many people to understand. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with everyone congratulating OH’s cousin, who just announced her pregnancy and is due the week after I would have been. Apparently it’s not the done thing to piss on her parade by telling everyone about my miscarriage. But I feel I desperately need my loss to be acknowledged.

Miscarriages are so common – why do we all feel we have to suffer in silence? Part of me wants to say ‘fuck it’ and be open and outspoken, and I feel this may help other women too, but part of me doesn’t think I could cope if I get a negative response. On Thursday, I posted about my pregnancy loss on Facebook. I have been posting all of these blog entries to a select group of friends – and you’ve all been very lovely and I really appreciate it ๐Ÿ™‚ – but Thursday’s post was the first that all my Facebook contacts could see. I thought I might get replies along the line of, “I’m sorry to hear that,” and maybe the odd person sharing that they’d been through similar. Instead, the only person to acknowledge my post in any way was my mother. To add insult to injury, a number of my friends chose to click ‘like’ on an inconsequential status about chai lattรจ instead. I wish to God I had never posted about that lattรจ, because at least then I could kid myself that my friends simply hadn’t been online.

I’m used to the stigma and silence surrounding mental health problems. I never thought I would get it with miscarriage too.

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9 thoughts on “Grieving

  1. Hi Marga, I am so sorry about the very difficult time you are experiencing. I know from two dear friends who had miscarraiges, that all you say is true…they felt as if it was a loss that just got “rushed” through somehow and even though both have babies now (which I am sure you will too), it’s not a situation where the good outweighs the bad. it’s a loss, a bereavement and like all losses, will change you and stay with you and become a part of you. The note of hope I would add is that all losses do become just that…normal, and a part of you…maybe “new” normal is a better phrase. It won’t always hurt like this. Take great care of yourself and I completely agree…talk about it when and where you need to. Bereavement brings with it often, this desire to tell the story frequently…I guess it is part of our mind making sense of what has happened. In no way should you be made to feel that you shouldn’t do this, and I’m sorry that that has been the case. I think doing what you are doing will bring you into contact with many who will gladly listen to your story and share their own and I hope that you will gradually begin to feel better now. Thinking about you xxxx

  2. I’m really sorry that you’re struggling right now. I guess it must be a relief in a way that the roller-coaster is over now, but it must be very painful too.

    I’ll start with the last bit of your post – I think facebook is sometimes where people go for mainly light-hearted stuff, that or things that they can click on and respond to quickly and easily. There’s a lot on my facebook feed day-to-day, it’s easy to miss things – and I’m sure the same is true of a lot of people. Even if people click ‘like’ on something, they could have missed your other post or seen it but felt sad but unsure what to say or thought “that’s really sad, I must make time to respond to that properly”, but because of the busy nature of facebook and all that can go on on there, simply forgot. I have to be honest, I have missed quite a few of your updates, much like I miss updates from a lot of my friends unless I have the time to check everyone’s profiles individually. Not because I’m not interested – just because I’m busy. I guess what I’m saying is – as painful as it can be to put yourself out there and not receive a response, and I’m sorry people didn’t respond, I’m sure it wasn’t personal or meant to be hurtful at all.

    I’ve not heard many people talk about miscarriage, but then I don’t know how many of my friends have actually experienced it to know whether people are not discussing it or it simply hasn’t happened to them at this point. It’s up to you how much you feel like sharing with people, but any kind of difficult or painful topic can often receive less attention from those who haven’t been there, particularly when it’s on somewhere like facebook where there’s a lot of other stuff going on. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve seen it happen with a variety of posts on difficult/painful topics.

    I think the other thing is, people that I have heard talk about miscarriage can view it in different ways. Some people view things in a different way – seeing the pregnancy as ‘cells’ rather than ‘a baby’ up to a certain point, which may affect their reaction. I’ve never known anyone who has been going through treatment to conceive (until you of course). I don’t know how unusual your situation is – how many appointments others might have had if they weren’t going through a similar process in terms of conceiving as you – but perhaps if someone wasn’t aware that they were miscarrying until later on then there might not have been such a roller-coaster for them. I don’t know. But if your situation is more unique that might explain the lack of people talking about it, or it might be that people either view it differently themselves or simply find it painful to talk about and therefore it’s not talked about.

    I’m rambling and wondering I know, I guess what I’m trying to say is – try not to take an apparent lack of concern as an actual one, or people not talking about it as being that it’s totally taboo. Talk about upsetting topics in general is often less visible too.

    I really am sorry for all that you’ve been through, I can only imagine how difficult and painful it must be. You have every right to feel how you feel, and to take the time you need to grieve. Grieving can be such a painful, and at times debilitating, process, so maybe try not to jump to any conclusions about your mental health at this early stage. I think it’s ‘normal’ to feel utterly crappy when you’ve suffered a loss, and to struggle to deal with things. Unless it persists at this level for a lengthy period of time or you get to a point where it becomes really unmanageable, it seems likely that it’s a normal part of bereavement – which sucks hugely, but (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now) will get better. (I hope you read that in the way it’s intended – to be comforting that you’ll get through this. *hugs*).

    There’s not a lot I can say about the affect this has had on your faith, as I’m basically an atheist (even though I do consider that I have a spirituality!)….is there someone, perhaps at church or someone else who shares your faith, that you could talk to about this? For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s uncommon for something like this to shake someone’s faith – maybe talking it through with someone might help?

    I’m thinking of you – try to take things easy where possible and be kind to yourself.

    • Thanks. I really appreciate your support, and you give me a lot to think about, as always. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m aware of the nature of Facebook, and the different reasons why someone might not comment on (or not see) my post, but I guess I underestimated the extent of this – I thought some people might not know what to say (etc.), but I expected more replies than I got, and it hurt. It’s not that I think people are trying to be hurtful, or even that they don’t care. I think it’s more that I feel this need to have my loss acknowledged, and believing that my friends are probably thinking of me in private isn’t quite the same thing. In retrospect, maybe Facebook wasn’t the best place, but I’ve heard it said a lot that there is stigma about miscarriage and people are unwilling to talk about it, and that resonated with my experience. I think you’re right that this is also the case for most difficult and painful topics, especially those where as a society we don’t have set phrases and rituals.

      I have had some wonderful replies to this blog post already, though (thank you!) and good support elsewhere / before too. I’m not going to give up on reaching out, and I don’t want to make any assumptions about people being unwilling, but I am scared of rejection and feeling the need to protect myself. Of course this is an issue I face anyway, it’s just so hard trying to battle it at such a very difficult time.

      Mental health-wise, I think my main concern is not “am I getting depressed again?” but more how I’m going to cope emotionally however it gets labelled (which I guess is progress in itself!)

      Thanks also for your suggestion that I talk to someone at church. There are definitely clergy I could approach when I find the courage, or Christian friends I can talk to.

      xxx

  3. Hey ๐Ÿ™‚

    I remember you posting that link – I was idly looking at Facebook on my phone while sitting on a bus, and probably would have commented had I been at home at the time, but trying to do so from the phone would have resulted in ten million typos and me giving up in frustration. It is a horrible feeling to post something so personal and receive no feedback – I’ve had the same reaction before – but it’s more to do with how quickly Facebook moves than how much people care for you, I think. I certainly care about you! I can’t fully understand because I’ve never been pregnant, but the whole thing from start to finish sounded so stressful and traumatic that I’m not surprised you’re feeling rubbish now. And on top of this you have grief to deal with – it must be an awful lot to get your head around. Burn out from stress and grief are completely legitimate reasons to feel like crap. I don’t want to sound dismissive at all, but hopefully because this isn’t a result of randomly messed up brain chemistry, and you do have very clear reasons for feeling like this, you can work through it with support and it won’t turn into full blown depression. Be gentle with yourself โค

    A good friend from college who lost a baby started a local charity for people who have been through miscarriages, stillbirths and loss of a child during their early years. It's Sweet Dreams Our Angels on Facebook. She concentrated on providing hospitals with memory boxes to begin with, but they are quite a supportive bunch too, and the founder is based locally. I don't know if you'd be interested in getting in touch with them, but they do good work at raising awareness of stuff like this and reaching out to other people who are in need of support.

    Take care xxx

    • Thanks. I’m still trying to figure out what I might want in terms of external support (charities, counselling, etc), but it’s good to know about the options, and in the longer run I probably will want to do some awareness-raising stuff! It has been very stressful and traumatic and I guess this is the classic ‘falling apart when it’s all over’ thing. Thanks for your support, I really appreciate it. xxx

  4. Hey, I’m sorry you didn’t get responses when you shared on Facebook (I would friend you but I can’t seem to find out how to do it) – although I’m sure its not that your friends don’t care. I know people – including me – find it hard to know what to say when someone is faced with bereavement, especially to do with children. My mum (who had a stillbirth and then a child die at 6 days old) said people used to cross the street to avoid her after her loss, and how awful that was.
    I don’t know a great deal about pregnancy, as I’ve never been, but I thought that hospitals were better now about helping with mothers who’ve had miscarriages? That there was counselling available?
    I would say that depression is a normal response to this – need not be a recurrence of illness, but something that will ease with time.
    I don’t know what to say about the Christian faith element – I don’t know enough, but if you ask at your church you might find someone who has been in the same situation who can help in ways I couldn’t. That said, if you want to talk or anything I’m happy to – not just about the Christianity thing either.
    Take care

    • Thanks. It must have been so awful for your mum when people would cross the street to avoid her. I’m glad I’m not in that situation, at least! Unfortunately, I still hear of that sort of thing happening today. I’m hoping that when I feel a bit stronger I can speak out about miscarriage more and maybe go some way towards changing that.

      My miscarriage was dealt with by the fertility clinic, and the staff there have been very supportive. I can access counselling through them too if I want it. At the moment I’m not sure whether I do, because I’ve had a lot of therapy in the past that hasn’t always been helpful, and I might prefer something from a Christian perspective.

      I’m going to write about the problems with my faith, and either email it to you or post it on this blog, depending on how courageous I’m feeling. The crux of it is that I feel abandoned by God, although it’s a bit more complex than that.

      I emailed you about Facebook. ๐Ÿ™‚

      xx

      • I think it’s completely understandable to have faith problems after something like this. An image I have always liked from Adrian Plass is of a child thumping their fists on their daddy’s chest, angry and hurt and then getting out and falling asleep there. Maybe we do that with God, sometimes, I certainly have had my moments of feeling angry with him – and some questions have no answers, no nice little reply that can be trotted off to explain why horrible things happen to people who don’t deserve it. I try to think that, one day I will see things clearly, we see through a glass darkly after all.
        You are more than welcome to email me – or I’ll read it on your blog if you like. Sometimes it helps to share, even if we can’t come up with nice easy answers (wouldn’t it be lovely if we could?)
        Added you on Facebook ๐Ÿ™‚

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