“Hi, 4 years have passed since the miscarriage. I miscarried in late pregnancy and I am afraid that this will happen again. In the backyard I envy all mums, especially those who have children aged 3-4 years… We don’t talk about it with my husband. I changed the room, which was prepared for the baby, into my office almost overnight. I plunged into work. I wanted to forget as soon as possible. All things, which we bought earlier for the baby, I gave my acquaintances. My husband rebelled at first, but in this situation he said “pass”…
Dear Aurelia – will I overcome my fear? And will I ever be a happy mum?
Answer from Aurelia Kurczyńska, a psychologist:
INVICTA Fertility Clinics
What happened in your life, was undoubtedly extremely painful. Miscarriage is often accompanied by unpleasant emotions, excruciating, and almost physical pain, just like in case of losing somebody very close and loved, who lived and existed near us. Although the baby wasn’t yet in the world – it already had its name, baby room, bed, toys, and clothes. There was a place for it – loving parents were waiting impatiently for their little darling.
So, what does a woman have to face, when she is in advanced pregnancy and loses her child is such moment? She must stand up to tremendous sorrow, feeling of injustice, harm; she has to face almost unbearable emotions. Many questions emerge: Why Me? Why had to be me and not a woman who doesn’t want a baby at all and maybe shouldn’t have it at all? And all these things around which only painfully remind you about joy which was to come, but will not come… because the baby is not there anymore. A woman who is in late pregnancy, for whom the most important task is now preparing to bringing the baby to the world, who has already developed a maternal bond with this baby, who already loves it – when she loses it, experiences extremely painful emotions – overwhelming, deep grief and despair. A future mother is not prepared for such a blow. . She waits for joy and happiness, and not for such a difficult experience.
Some women (just like you) immediately decide to remove the things they bought earlier for the baby and do it to diminish suffering. They remove things – but it is impossible to forget, remove distressing thoughts from your mind and cut out from your heart this enormous suffering.
Four years have passed already from your loss. The fear however is still there – you wrote: “I am afraid that this will happen again”. This is completely understandable, appropriate to your experience. Probably there are still questions arising in your mind: What if I get pregnant again and miscarry again? How will cope with the loss this time? And finally: I can’t bear it again… and you retreat. The fear is too paralysing.
Some of my patients, in the result of the experiences similar to yours, decide not to get pregnant again just because of the fear that the situation repeats itself. They are panic-stricken that they will lose a baby again. Their minds start writing the worst-case scenarios. But it doesn’t have to be so at all. Many women succeed, they give birth to babies despite the previous miscarriage. Other women, in turn, want to get pregnant again as soon as possible, to soothe the pain after their loss. Such patients also come to my office. However, neither the former nor the latter decision is the best solution.
When the fear is so enormous that it hinders or actually prevents taking decision about preparations to the next pregnancy – the woman is deprived of her chance for another child by herself. On the other hand – when she decides to have a baby in the very short time after her miscarriage – the baby becomes a replacement child and may be burdened with its mum’s emotions resulting from still lasting suffering after the loss of the previous child. First you have to finish “mourning” the baby who is gone. No other child can replace it. You should be aware that the woman, when she takes such decision, undergoes simultaneously two psychological processes – on one hand she is mourning the loss of her unborn baby, and on the other hand she is in the course of preparations to welcoming another baby. This may place a very heavy burden both on her and her new baby.
Dear Anna – many women who finally get pregnant, even after many miscarriages, and have a baby (I have such patients as well), experience feeling similar to yours – fear, grief, and sorrow. Sometimes these emotions are present in the entire pregnancy period, and often make it difficult for the future mums to enjoy in full this exceptional, for a woman, time. The envy you are writing about is a neutral emotion. It is neither good nor bad. It is appropriate to your manner of reacting and personal experience. It is just unpleasant. It is a normal, human feeling; therefore it can appear in a natural way when you look at the children who are in the same age your child would be now, because your attention is focused on the lack of your own child – therefore your sorrow and grief. Although it may seem strange, concentration on the happiness of other women, their joy from having children – pre-school kids who are running in the yard with not entirely clean faces – may help you feel mentally better, because these children are the joy themselves. Only in the context of your own loss you start having unpleasant feelings looking at them. Being happy because of someone other’s child is possible, but it is sometimes possible only when we are already in the phase of the acceptation of our own difficult experience.
Talking to hour husband about what you are going through now would be a good solution. Suppressing emotions, lack of the exchange of thoughts between partners usually doesn’t lead to anything good. Allowing yourself to share what you have experienced and what you are still experiencing, would help in coping with these emotions, getting support from your partner. Miscarriage is difficult for both partners. Both woman and man experience the loss, but each of them in their own, individual way. Sometimes this is the source of the lack of understanding for the “weird” behaviour of the partner. Meanwhile, these reactions result from different manner of reacting. You concentrated on your professional work, tried to cope with the problem on the task orientation basis: you changed the baby room into the office almost immediately, gave away the things prepared for the baby; this met with a lack of understanding from your partner. The experience of losing the unborn child is painful also for your husband; it seems however that the way he lives through it is entirely different.
Surely, time also helps in coping with the mourning. However, it does not remove wounds, sometimes only makes them less painful, although the scars will remain forever, because it is impossible to forget, just like that. The memory of the baby will be there till the end of life. And this is not about forgetting – because it is impossible. Time is needed to make this difficult experience the integral part of the overall life experience. It is about learning how to live again, despite just this experience. Both partners have to give each other time – time for coping with the loss of their unborn child: time to cry over it. You should talk to each other with your family, let yourselves feel and demonstrate the unpleasant emotions – disappointment, anger, grief and enormous sadness. Certain “rituals” are helpful: saying goodbye to the child, writing a letter, making your loss more tangible even in the presence of other people. The aim is to make the loss more material, which is important for closing and processing the loss of hope for the child which was not born. Therefore the confrontation with the deep sorrow is necessary to move forward and not be stuck in the same place, although often in this moment this seems too frightening.
Sometimes the specialist support is required; the specialist will help the woman, man or the couple pass through the period of mourning and return to normal life. Set the new goals, help to accept what happened – the death of the unborn child.
At the end of your letter you ask: will I overcome my fear and be a happy mum? I don’t know, Anna. Unfortunately I don’t know the answer to this question. But I encourage you to seek the psychologist’s, psychotherapist’s help just to try to overcome this fear and finally manage it. And maybe then when this happens you will be ready to take the risk again and to start trying for your own baby again, or maybe to take another conscious and mature decision.
I wish you all the best.