Grief of a Miscarriage is Real

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For me, the loss of my child due to miscarriage was just as painful as the loss of my living infant.  It’s a fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage or loss.   Miscarriage often happens early in pregnancy, so we tend to discount that the pregnancy was “real”.  I assure you that the pain you feel is very real.

There was a biochemical and maternal desire in me to have a child.  I knew being a mother was part of my journey.  When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I was overwhelmed.  At first, I couldn’t believe that it was happening.  I had been trying to get pregnant and hopeful that I could and would have a baby.  After several months of trying, I looked down at the pregnancy test stick.

My heart froze when I saw the word “PREGNANT”.  I started to breathe more quickly and my heart began to race.  My mind and body were cycling through a variety of emotions, all at the same time.  I was excited to be pregnant.  I was terrified to be pregnant.  I was grateful and proud that after months of trying, I had finally succeeded.  I was pregnant!  Balloons, streamers, confetti, right?   The thought that I could become a mom in less than a year scared the heck out of me.  I was bringing a life, a real person, into this world.

I was so excited to be pregnant that I wanted to tell everyone.  And even though I was only six weeks along, that’s exactly what I did.  I started planning what was going to happen next and trying to decide what I needed to buy, what I needed to do and how my life would change.  Each time I played out all the scenarios in my mind, I grew more excited for my future.  This was really happening and I was elated.  I soared through the first ultrasound appointment at 8 weeks, and I could see the baby on the ultrasound screen.  Things became even more real.  This was happening.  I was walking on cloud nine as I went through each day, wondering about all that was going to happen.  I started buying maternity clothes because I am a planner and I knew I’d be needing them.  I thought about baby blankets, stuffed giraffes and cute little shoes.  I started noticing babies everywhere.  I visited the baby section of the local store to see the outfits that melted my heart with joy and anticipation.

There were no thoughts of potential miscarriage in my world.  Why would I ever believe that something so tragic could happen to me?  I was excited for my 12-week ultrasound when I visited the doctor.  I climbed on the table, ready to see my baby again.  The technician put cold lotion on my belly and started the ultrasound.  That was when things got weird.  She stopped talking and kept readjusting the probe on my belly.  She added more lotion and her face changed and showed concern.    I gasped and my heart skipped a beat.  Something was wrong and I knew it. What the hell was happening?

Quickly, she turned and left the room and said she’d be right back over her shoulder.  She was gone for what seemed like an eternity.  Was something wrong with my baby?  When she returned, she explained that she couldn’t find the heartbeat but the doctor wasn’t there so could I come back tomorrow? I asked if my baby was okay and she said she wasn’t sure!  Um excuse me?  Are you out of your mind?

I left the office in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true but knowing that my pregnancy had ended.    I kept myself together until I reached my car.  I opened the door, climbed in and as the door closed behind me, the tears began to fall.  All my dreams were gone in a single instant. The next visit reinforced my fears and the tears continued to fall for a seemingly endless number of days.

For all of you who have lost a child to miscarriage, I want to assure you that the pain you feel is just as real as the pain a mother who loses a living infant feels.  I’ve experienced both.  The moment you find out you are pregnant, you begin dreaming of a new reality that includes a child.  When that child is taken from you, you feel the pain of loss.  I want to apologize for anyone who discounts your loss as not being “as real”.  Your loss is REAL.  Your hurt is real and your grief is real.  I want to acknowledge your pain and let you know that you are not alone.  Earl Grollman says, “The only cure for grief is to grieve.”  Give yourself time to grieve, find others who know your pain and know that you will be okay.  From one mother to another, you can and will get through this.

Catherine McNulty

Founder of Grief INSPIRED

 

 

Catherine McNulty

More Articles Written by Catherine

After losing her infant son in 2011, Catherine embarked on a journey to do more than survive grief. The loss forever changed the trajectory of her life and sent her looking for meaning and purpose for the life she was given. She channeled the love for her son into her own healing, self-growth and personal empowerment. Today, she has created a framework to grief that disrupts conventional ways of looking at loss. She challenges her clients to step outside of a victim mindset and regain control of how they navigate grief. She teaches how to grow through grief and encourages speaking openly about grief to break down the walls of silence around grief. Catherine lives in San Diego with her family where she speaks, writes, and offers coaching to those who want to do more than just survive grief. She is a board member of Empty Cradle and volunteers at Miracle Babies and the Ronald McDonald House. Her business, Grief INSPIRED supports those who are grieving and guides them to create a new normal that honors the ones they’ve lost.

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