To the women experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss we are so sorry. It is a special kind of suffering to continuously cycle through hope and despair. There are many things you may be feeling, and all of them are okay. Our bodies, our relationships, and our lives are unique so there is no "right" way to navigate repeat miscarriage. The suggestions below are meant to offer you encouragement and remind you that you are not alone.
It can be hard not to feel responsible for your pregnancy losses since they happened inside your body. You may feel ashamed, like your body is broken. Or you may feel undeserving of being a mother, like you are being punished. But these are unhelpful narratives.
Guilt can naturally arise from feelings of helplessness. It can be hard to accept if your doctor can't give you a clear reason for your losses; it can feel easier to believe that if you just try harder, or try differently, it will all work out. That's because you don't want to go through this again!
Sometimes a new approach will work, but sometimes it will not. Either way, it is not your fault. In your moments of calm, try and let go. Ground yourself in the present moment, practice positive self-talk, or reach out to your partner or a helpful friend who can remind you that you are whole and loved.
There may be a lot of things that people say about pregnancy loss that you find insensitive or annoying. Often these comments are meant to help, but the person saying them doesn't understand the feelings associated with miscarriage. It's okay to tell them something they said made you uncomfortable, or that their advice is unhelpful.
People may tell you your pregnancy was "not meant to be" or that it will "all work out eventually." They say this because they want to give you hope. But know that you are fully entitled to grieve.
People may remind you to be happy for what you have, or that things could be worse. They say this because grief is uncomfortable and they want to pull you out of it. But know that you can feel two things at once - your grief doesn't mean you are ungrateful or lack perspective.
People may offer fertility advice, or remind you that there are "many ways to make a family." They say this because they want to help fix your problem. But know that your care choices or family building decisions are for you and your partner only. You do you, and no one else.
Getting pregnant again after a miscarriage is terrifying, but trying again after multiple miscarriages can feel downright insane. You may feel more scared and less hopeful with each positive pregnancy test. It's okay to need a break before trying again. Miscarriage takes a heavy emotional and physical toll on the body. Don't let anyone pressure you to try again before you feel ready.
It's also okay to decide you'd rather stop trying entirely and move on to alternative options, a life without children, or a life with your existing children. These are incredibly personal decisions, where there is no "right" or "wrong" path to choose. RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has put together some wonderful resources to help work through decisions about when to stop trying and how to more forward (link here).
Grief impacts each of us differently. Your grief may look similar to your partner's, or it may look very different. One of you may want to talk, the other might want space. You might be ready to move on a try again before your partner is ready, or vice versa. Communicate what you need, and let your partner tell you what he/she needs.
It is not uncommon for a woman to grieve more intensely or for a longer time than her male partner, but this does not mean her partner does not feel sad. There is still societal stigma around men exhibiting weakness and emotion, which may result in men acting stoic and strong even when they may be grieving.
Pregnancy loss may bring you closer together or become an obstacle to your intimacy - emotionally and/or physically. Recognize and accept that miscarriage may present a challenge to your relationship and don't be afraid to seek external support from a counselor, church group, family or friends if needed.
If you've lost pregnancies after having a child you may feel society is less sympathetic about your losses - as if you should be grateful for what you already have. Please ignore this narrative. Your desire to grow your family is valid, and your grief is warranted. The pain of any pregnancy loss is acute.
It is no easier to accept or cope with recurrent miscarriage after having a child than it is when you are childless. In fact it presents different challenges. While your child (or children) is certainly a light in your life, they also may make it harder for you to find time to address your grief. Suppressing or ignoring your feelings may make them erupt at unpredictable times. You may need to be more diligent in carving out time for self-care.
Depending on the age of your child, you may need to find ways to talk to them about what you're going through medically and emotionally. The Miscarriage Association in the UK, created a leaflet with helpful tips about talking to your children about miscarriage.
Miscarriage can lead to or exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression, or lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If miscarriage has made it difficult to cope with your daily life, please speak to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Counselling or psychotherapy can help if you are feeling depressed. You may also find it helpful to join a support group. Share hosts online pregnancy loss support groups. RESOLVE also has a listing of in-person infertility support groups. If you don't want to share your story with other people, journaling about it may help.
To manage stress and anxiety, it's important to eat right, exercise, limit caffeine, and get enough sleep. Taking time out for relaxation or mindfulness is also important. This can be as simple as listening to music, going for a walk, or taking a few deep breaths. The Anxiety and Depression Association has a lot of resources to help you manage your mental health.
It's National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and we're raising awareness for the 1-2% of couples for who experience recurrent pregnancy loss.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 during NIAW to support our research grant program and we'd love your help.