October is a month that bares many hats in terms of causes and attempts to raise awareness about social issues. I’d have to google it to see how many different things there are attributed to October, but the one I’m going to focus on right now is miscarriage and infant loss.
First of all, 15-20% of pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage. It happens, a lot, for an innumerable amount of reasons and when you’ve been waiting for a child for so long losing them at any stage of the journey is devastating. It doesn’t matter if you were eight weeks pregnant, or 12 weeks pregnant. The moment the pregnancy was confirmed by a doctor or multiple OTC pregnancy tests that child became real. The potential for all of the hopes, dreams, the preparation for a massive life changing event, it all begins in that moment. To lose all of those things, suddenly, often times without warning delivers quite an emotional blow.
Not only is it difficult to comprehend the immediate 180 change after a loss, it’s also extremely painful from a physical standpoint. It is one of the most difficult physical experiences I’ve been through. It starts with small cramps, a little bit of bleeding, which is scary enough during any point of pregnancy, and then everything cascades from there. You’re scared when the pain begins, panic at the sight of blood; then the worst of it happens.
The pain intensifies, as the same principals of labor to deliver a healthy child apply to a miscarriage. You’re in pain, you’re bleeding profusely, and no one can help you. You’re completely on your own. There is the emotional aspect behind it happening all at the same time as the physical aspect. Thoughts running through your head repeatedly: “you lost the baby. You didn’t do this right. It’s your fault.” all the while in agony. Then, after the worst physical pain is over, it becomes an emotional battle.
Many women choose not to reveal their pregnancies until the second trimester when the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly, but for those that don’t, after experiencing a loss there is the arduous task of informing the ones closest to you. Many of whom react with a flippant “oh, I’m sorry. You can try again”, or the others who spout off scientific facts “it wasn’t a real baby yet anyway. It happened because of a chromosomal abnormality.” This, and that intensifying the shame and embarrassment. Further perpetuating the fact that the grieving process is insignificant at best and irrelevant at worst.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. I hope with the effort to raise awareness of miscarriage and infant loss society will also come to accept the need for grief in all of its forms.