All the things I did wrong when dealing with pregnancy loss
I’ve experienced pregnancy loss - 5 miscarriages to be exact - and looking back, here are all the things I feel I did wrong. This isn’t about treatment details or procedures I could have done sooner. I am talking about the mistakes I made when it came to dealing and coping with miscarriages - because for a long time, I just didn't.
- Not telling my friends. Well, of course, my husband knew, but we didn’t really share with anyone for a long time. It’s hard to not have your social support network around you, and it’s also hard to gain perspective on things when you’re keeping things to yourself. All the times I went to work or attended events while I was pregnant and super nervous - or while I was in the middle of a miscarriage - but put on a brave face and pretended that everything was okay took a huge emotional toll.
- Not taking time to grieve. After each pregnancy loss, I never really took any time to grieve. I was so stressed out with making a new baby that I “forgot” to acknowledge the crisis I was in the middle of and to honor the child lost. Unfortunately we also experienced some insensitive comments from health care professionals saying “well, this is very common.” Looking back, I think they were just trying to reassure me that things would work out in the end, but not simply saying, “I am sorry for your loss” also added to my feeling like this grief was not valid.
- Keeping it a secret at work. I’ve been working from home in the middle of miscarriages, bleeding out what I had hoped would be our little miracle. Instead of actually taking sick days, I joined meetings online and made sure that I put the time into work so no one could call me a slacker - or worse, suspect that something was not right. In the end I had to tell my boss, just because a meeting with my new fertility clinic coincided with a company conference (and yes, this was a relief as she turned out to be very supportive).
- Not taking care of my mind. This one goes hand in hand with the point above - by not acknowledging the grief of baby loss myself, I also didn’t acknowledge the mental struggle. This meant that I didn’t spend any time trying to find tools for me to manage and handle the grief and the stress. As someone shared in our community recently, “It took me a long time to understand that I was not a loony just for needing some support.” I thought the same thing for a long time. Once, I googled psychologists nearby, but just picking up the phone to call someone was not something that I could muster the energy and courage to do.
Luckily there were some things I did right as well. My husband and talked a lot, and we also made sure to go on outings and trips, putting an effort into not having our whole lives revolve around our losses and fertility struggles. For example, once when we visited our fertility clinic in London, we also popped over to the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio, and I actually ended up having a great time, despite all we were going through. This also meant that our trip was not only about our losses - but also about us doing something we enjoyed together (we are both huge HP fans). And eventually, I started to open up about our struggles - at first to close friends, but then also to colleagues and acquaintances - and we were genuinely surprised by the warmth and community that received us.
Not taking care of myself and acknowledging my losses sure did come back to bite me in the ass. I’ve never fully been able to enjoy my pregnancies, I’ve struggled with postpartum depression (which could have happened anyway but to me it's obvious that my mind was much more vulnerable from all we had been through), and I had to eventually build up the courage to see a psychologist and start learning tools and techniques to acknowledge and cope with my losses and the heightened stress that I had lived with for so many years. This experience has taught me about how important it is that we dare to talk about baby loss (in whatever form it comes - because sorrow and grief hits us all differently and doesn’t necessarily depend on what week it happened in), acknowledge it, and recognize how it can affect our mental health.
These experiences are the reason why I was part of starting Tilly: to create a platform where we can support others going through infertility and loss, and where we can help clinics understand the emotional challenges of baby loss and infertility so they can better support their patients. We aim for all of us to come out of the other side with our minds intact and our bleeding hearts slowly healing. The scars might stay forever, but we can carry those scars with us and still continue to live our lives fully.
With much love and sympathy for all of those touched by the grief of baby loss,
Founder of Tilly
A mental health app for your fertility journey
Evidence-based self-care tools and facts. Supportive community. Treatment tracking.
Understanding the Impact of Care Provider Support on Pregnancy Loss Grief
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month
Tilly is recognizing World Childless Week
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