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Challenge: Pregnancy and Infant Loss

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RECURRENT PREGNANCY LOSS

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Never in a million years did I think that I would be writing this kind of post. After all, I learned that out of the 15% of women who have 1 miscarriage ONLY 1% go on to experience 3 or more miscarriages. My 1st miscarriage was also my 1st pregnancy. I went on to have a healthy baby boy during my second pregnancy and thought miscarriage was something I could leave behind. I was convinced that it would never happen again. That was my mindset during my 1st pregnancy after having my son. And I lost that baby at 8 weeks. That was my thought during my 2nd pregnancy after having my son. And I lost that baby at 6 weeks. By the time my 3rd pregnancy after having my son came along, I was no longer that hopeful. My heart was on pins and needles the 10 weeks that latest pregnancy lasted.

Each of those losses hit me so differently – even though they all hurt equally. The one that hit me really hard was the last one because it was then when I started to doubt whether I would be able to have another healthy pregnancy. After giving others many pep talks about how you cannot get in your head and you just need Mother Nature do its magic, I was the one needing the pep talk. But I learned that almost nobody wants to talk about miscarriage, let alone recurrent pregnancy loss. Many many women messaged me privately about their experience but nobody was willing to call things as they were in a more open way. That is what prompted me to write this post.

I felt so lonely. I felt like I was failing at something I truly wanted to do – giving my son a sibling to grow up with. And nobody wanted to talk about it. There are not many peers when it comes to miscarriage. I learned that a friend of mine had had 3 miscarriages and she only told me (and has never told the world) after having her little girl. What were we so ashamed of? Why were we choosing silence? What happens after that silence is pain. A pain that is accompanied by the fact that there are many things that come with miscarriage that will shock you and that nobody told you about.

If you are reading this, let me first tell you that I am sorry that you are. Because you probably know exactly what I am talking about. If you don’t, thank you for reading, as it will help you understand what some of the women around you go through and you may be of great help to them if you know about the hard path they are walking through. These are the things I wish I knew about recurrent pregnancy loss that nobody told me about:

1. It takes time for your body to get the signal that you are no longer pregnant.

This is extremely hard to process. When you miscarry, your body doesn’t go back to normal overnight. Your hormones take weeks, if not months, to adjust and go back to normal. If hormones had caused your breast to be swollen, it will not be back to normal very quickly. This is a very painful reminder of what has happened to you. Same happens with bloating. If you happen to get a bloated tummy during those 1st few weeks, it will take time for it to go back to its normal size. This happened to me after my last loss and it was awful. I actually had to have a D&C to remove the remains and the pregnancy and walk around with a swollen belly for weeks after that.

2. The joy of seeing those pregnancy lines is gone.

As I said above, I remained really hopeful up until my 3rd loss. But my 5th pregnancy was so different. I had experience so much loss in such a short period of time – 3 miscarriages in 3 years – that it was really hard to jump for joy when I found out I was pregnant. I talked to myself hundreds of times a day. “We are gonna be OK”, I said to the baby so many times. But I was afraid to no end. I was unable to truly connect with that pregnancy due to fear. It pains me to even write this because I consider myself a fearless person. But RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) had turned me into a fearful person.

3. It takes a toll in your physical relationship with your partner.

If you are in a healthy relationship, you probably have a strong physical connection with your partner. That strong physical connection led to my pregnancies. But after my 3rd loss, I was afraid to get pregnant again. I went from wanting to connect with my partner as much as possible to fearing that connection that could turn into a pregnancy that could then turn into a miscarriage. So we went from a strong physical connection to a stressful one. We are working on it and, fortunately, we are a good team when it comes to understanding that healing takes time and that will get to our happy place eventually.

4. Many people will feel uncomfortable around you.

This one is always hard for me. After my second miscarriage, I decided to be open about my losses. Even more so after my 4th. What I did not realize when I initially made that decision is that there is such a stigma associated with miscarriage. I think that it, precisely, because I am the exception and not many women feel like opening up about losing a baby. As a result, people had no idea how to act around me the 1st time they saw me after a miscarriage. There was even one time when an entire room froze when I walked in days after losing my 4th baby. I almost broke down because it fell so isolating. Days later, at an event, a friend just came and gave me a big hug and I realized that that was the right approach. She did not question me. She did not say “I am sorry” – which I believe people are afraid to say. Her hug said “I am here for you”.

5. The world around you moves on from your pain very quickly.

It still shocks me how fast people forget about your miscarriage. It had been only a couple of weeks when a family member found me crying and had no idea why I was crying. Like it never happened. As if being pregnant one day and not pregnant the next does not come with months and even years of grief. Like once the baby is gone, all feelings attached to that pregnancy are gone. You really have to prepare yourself for seeing how the world simply does not understand what a painful and long process comes with the loss of a pregnancy.

6. The bleeding for weeks will be a constant reminder of your loss.

I have had so many nightmares about this. You truly wish that once the bad news are heard, you can at least start grieving “in peace”. But the truth is that your body is telling you for days on end that you lost a baby. In a horribly painful way. You go to the bathroom and you see blood. When you are standing, you feel your blood coming out. You feel and feel and feel blood leaving your body, just like your baby did. It is an excruciating process that you never forget.

7. You may never know why it happened.

If you have had a miscarriage, you know that you wondered “did I do something to cause this?”. Your doctor will tell you that there was nothing you could have done to prevent it, but you will still think that maybe that one glass of wine before you found out you were pregnant or that Zumba class were too much. Once you accept it was not you – if you do – you’ll need answers. And one of the roughest things to deal with is that many, many, many times you will find no answers. You will feel like your body failed you, like it did not do what Mother Nature prepared it to do, and nobody will be able to tell you why it is not doing it.

8. It will hurt forever. It will get better but it will not stop hurting.

The earlier you understand that the pain that comes with a miscarriage does not go away, the earlier you will be able to start feeling better. I have learned through my own grieving process for the loss of my Dad, that you automatically want to fight those feelings. They are deep and they are beyond overwhelming. You just have to feel them and accept them as part of your journey. The intense deep pain will decrease, but there is a hole in your heart forever. As soon as you accept that, you will start being able to live with that whole a much better life than the life you live when you fight trying to close the wound.

If you follow me on social media, you know that I am very positive person and this post may caught you by surprise. I wanted to be raw and vulnerable, because that is exactly how this journey feels. It is heartbreaking and lonely, and I did not want to paint a false picture for anybody. If you found yourself here today because you have had a miscarriage, please know that I am very sorry. I also wanted to share a few resources that will help you feel less alone as you grieve and cope:

Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. – She is a psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health and her account @ihadamiscarriage has helped me so so much

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