This post has been a long time in the making. I started writing it in March of 2012, shortly before I became pregnant again. I have not edited my content since I picked it back up, I have simply added references at the end. I want to preserve the raw emotions as they bleed through into what is supposed to be quasi-academic-styled writing. I know that it is incomplete, a part II will be written at some point.
I've classically been a person who doesn't tolerate my own failures well. I'd like to think that this is what drives me to succeed, but I'll be honest, and say that it's caused a few of my "characteristic" (according to my mother) meltdowns.
I truly felt that when I miscarried my baby, I had failed. I had not only failed myself, but I had failed my fiance and my baby by being incapable of doing the one thing my body was made to do--to bring new life into this world. I agonized over it for months. I felt terribly alone, despite support from almost everyone I shared my story with. It wasn't until recently that I decided to look at it a little more objectively, and see what kind of structured research had been done on the topic.
The overarching themes surprised me. Some of them I understood--and some of them caused a subtle 'ah-ha' shift in my thinking. The most significant, however, was the sense of a loss of control. Losing that baby--having your baby die inside of you--has no solution. When people suggested that I replace the baby that I was pregnant with, by having another, I felt so misunderstood. I didn't want any baby, I wanted that baby, my baby that my husband and I had named.
A popular internet site, Reddit.com, has a sub-category (known as a subreddit) exclusively for miscarriage. I found it while casually surfing, but one quote really struck home with me. A man had posted how his marriage was struggling after their miscarriage, because his wife was continually talking about the baby they had lost, and what point in the pregnancy she would be if she had not lost it. Another user replied that by talking about the baby and the pregnancy, what the woman was really trying to say was:
"I still miss this baby, I still think about him every day, its not over for me." -Vexwyf
Even for the most intimate couple, it can be taxing to talk about something so difficult and painful repeatedly, especially when the physical aspects of the loss are limited to the female partner. However, the studies I found covering this topic found that medical providers are not adequately addressing the psychological aspect of loss of a pregnancy.
In my own experience, I was seeing a midwife when I found out that my baby had died in utero. When I called to schedule a follow up appointment at six weeks, to make sure that everything had gone as expected and that my medications had worked, they refused to let me see my midwife anymore, and insisted on scheduling me with the doctor who had confirmed my baby had died via ultrasound. He had been callous and awkward, so I simply refused a follow up. All I had wanted was to see my midwife, who looked almost as crestfallen as I had felt when we realized my baby was dead. All I really wanted was a healthcare provider who not only acknowledged the physical aspect of my condition, but the mental one as well.
This actually turned out to be another of the overarching themes that emerged from interviews with women after miscarriage.
Adolfsson, A., Swanson, K. M., Wojnar, D. M. (2011). Confronting the inevitable: a conceptual model of miscarriage for use in clinical practice and research. Death Studies, 35: 536-558. Accessed April 2nd, 2011.
Comment by Vexwyf on Sub-Reddit: Miscarriage. (2011). http://www.reddit.com/r/miscarriage/ Accessed April 4th, 2011.