#80 | Roundtable: Mothers Who've Miscarried

February 10, 2021

Approximately 1 in 5 known pregnancies result in miscarriage before 12 weeks, and 1 in 4 women have experienced a miscarriage in their lifetime.  Despite it being a relatively common experience, it is often left unspoken of, leaving mothers heartbroken and shrouded in feelings of guilt and failure.

Today, Amanda, Nicole and Meghan share their heartfelt stories, expressing the deep emotions surrounding their losses. Amanda suffered three miscarriages between the birth of her two boys, and deeply regretted going to the hospital when her first miscarriage occurred. Nicole, who works in the medical field, opted for a DNC, but did so only when she felt ready. Both women were struck by the lack of emotional support offered by hospital staff and even their own medical providers; they described walking through the halls as a sort of "walk of shame" during their surreal moments surrounding their DNCs. Meghan, who had just committed to a home birth the day before her miscarriage occurred, opted to go through her loss naturally at home, and then held a series of memorial rituals with her husband, sons and midwife in the following days. This episode demonstrates that no matter how a woman goes through her loss, the emotions of guilt, regret and isolation can be universal.

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View Episode Transcript

I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that it would happen to me. I never thought that I would have a miscarriage.

I felt like it was my fault. I just kept saying over and over again. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.

We have all this support for postpartum women. But what about women who lose their babies? Where's the support there? Where's my phone call?

I just never knew that a life that I never met would cause so much grief.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

My name is Amanda. And this is the story of my miscarriage. So I actually have had three, the first time I got pregnant, I had a full term birth my son Teddy who's now six healthy baby boy. And when I wanted to get pregnant again, we tried and I got pregnant again right away. And I was really, really excited because I had just found out I was pregnant around the time where my brother and his wife had a baby. So I was really excited because I felt like I had this exciting secret that Teddy was going to get a sibling. He was going to get another cousin. And after she had the baby, I went to go visit her about a week later, I had been pregnant for about Yeah, about seven weeks at that point. And then a week later, around eight weeks I went to go visit her and see the baby and I started miscarrying at her house. I just started bleeding, like profusely, I went and told Lenny, my husband and I, I was trying so hard to not cry. I was trying so hard to be quiet because I wanted to celebrate my sister in law's, you know, new baby, and I didn't want to take any attention away from her. And it was really, really hard, because obviously she just had a new baby and I was losing mine. In the process. I had horrible, horrible cramps and I felt just really awful. So everyone in my family had kind of knew something was happening because I kept coming in and out of the bathroom. I had tears in my eyes. And you know, everyone in my family knew and I just wanted to go to the hospital. I don't know why I wanted to go to the hospital. I think I just think I was just scared. I didn't really understand what was happening. And I wanted to make sure that you know, I was okay, there's so much blood. We packed up in the car. My my sister happened to be there, thank God. So she stayed with Teddy while Lenny took me to the hospital. And it was probably one of the worst decisions I've made was to go to the hospital when I was miscarrying because I went to the ER, and they wanted to do a sonogram and use like the wand and see what was happening. I don't know why, because I was bleeding so much, it was pretty obvious what was happening. And they wouldn't allow money to come with me. So I was in there with like, a male tech who I think was like 25. And he was pushing the wand in me, and it was just an awful, horrible, painful feeling. And I was just sobbing uncontrollably. And I just kept, you know, so anyway, that part was over. And I just sat with Lenny in there for a while until, you know, they confirm there was nothing there. And, and then, um, and then we went home. And then a little while later, we tried again. I got pregnant. This time I was about 12 weeks along when I started telling everyone. I told everyone at work. My my colleague who worked right next to me was was also pregnant. She was about eight weeks pregnant, so we were going to be due within a month of each other. Both with our second child we were really excited. I remember again, just total lack of humility. I went even after my first miscarriage, I went to the hospital to get my sonogram, and they couldn't find a heartbeat. I remember her exact words were Sweetie, I'm so sorry. There's no heart not seeing a heartbeat. And I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop shaking. I called my husband he wouldn't pick up he was teaching at the time I called his principal actually and the Secretary ran down to go get him I was all by myself in this hospital and just found out that I lost this baby. And I had already told everybody and it was just, it was just awful. I just I just remember feeling like I couldn't cry hard enough. And I kept as soon as he came to the hospital, I just couldn't stop apologizing to him. I felt like it was my fault. I just kept saying over and over again. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Um, then about a week later, I went to go visit my midwife and who was tied to the hospital where I was. I think I was trying to seek an answer what happened even though we didn't know what happened, I did have to have a DNC. She I had asked her, you know, what do you think happened? I said, Do you think it's my weight? Do you think it's, do you think it's because I'm so heavy, and I mean, I'm heavy, but I wasn't like obese or anything. And she said, I don't know, Amanda, it could be it could be, it could be that. And I knew, I knew it wasn't really that I don't know why I asked her that I think I was fishing for someone to comfort me that it wasn't my fault that I didn't do anything wrong. And, and I I didn't get that from her. So I, I left the practice. And then I tried again, and we had gotten pregnant again, I think about like, half a year later. And as a teacher, you try and get pregnant at certain times, because you want to have your leaves in the spring. So you can go right into the summer and have time with your baby. So at that point, I didn't care anymore about that I just was so desperate to give my son, sibling. And, um, we had gotten pregnant, and then I had lost that baby naturally about like six weeks later. So it was it wasn't, you know, it wasn't very developed, I had had the positive pregnancy test. But I hadn't even gone in and seen, you know, an OB yet. But it and I felt really silly crying about it. But it it, you know, because it was so early, but it didn't make it any less painful. And so. So it was just another devastating blow. And I you know, at that point, you know, I was looking into adoption and everything. And I just remember feeling really angry at the world when I found out how expensive it was to adopt a child. Because I had felt like I had all this love to give and all this. I wanted a sibling so badly as I grew up with siblings for my son, Teddy. And I just was angry that this was such a difficult thing for me and my family. And we eventually try it again. I could not have been more terrified when I was pregnant with jack and jack is a healthy baby boys. He's he'll be two in February. But the whole time I think I would not go to an appointment alone. And I switched providers, I just was trying to find the right person who would fit with me. And, you know, thank God. I was lucky enough to have him. Yeah, it was probably the hardest time of my life.

So thank you for sharing that. Amanda. My name is Nicole. And this is my miscarriage story. So I have a daughter, my husband and I have a daughter who is a year and a half. And just this past summer, we decided to try for our second baby got pregnant right away very exciting. And I had gone for my regular appointments, you know, my regular sonograms, and everything checked out, okay, everything looked great. I felt great, which was change my daughter, I had felt every food aversion under the sun and nauseous the whole entire whole nine months. Gosh, so this was a big change. And, you know, and but all my appointments checked out are perfectly fine up until 12 weeks, and I kind of just thought, wow, maybe I just got lucky this time. And everyone kept saying every pregnancy is different. You know, some of them you don't feel well, some of them you feel great. So, in the back of my head, I kind of thought you know, these lack of symptoms, you know, is everything okay? But, but maybe I'm just lucky this time. So you know, up until 12 weeks and everybody knew we were pregnant. We had made an announcement and everything taking pictures with our daughter and my 12 week appointment. They couldn't find the heartbeat. And I thought to myself, well I feel fine. Never better I feel great, you know, no cramping or anything like that. So they took me right in to do an an ultrasound to look at the baby just to see you know, maybe it was just the ankle maybe they just couldn't hear the heartbeat so and I kind of chalked it up to the fact of that as well. So I'm sitting there waiting. And you know the second the ultrasound technologist rolled the transducer over my belt, I'm actually a radiology tech so the second two pictures came up I I saw that the baby's heart was not moving and boy at first sight. I sat there kind of looking at the pictures and I thought Wow, I never thought this would happen to me. And, you know, as a as a medical person, you know, I, I understand that this happens, I can accept that I, you know, I, you know, know the statistics and the facts and you know, this happens and I can accept that, but oh my gosh, I was not prepared for the emotions to follow. So, I'm gonna cry just so, you know, we got the news. And I kind of thought, Boy, I never thought this would happen to me. I get it, it happens. You know, this is common, it happens to people and I tried to kind of talk myself down because I was alone. So I sat there and I got dressed, I had called my husband and and the tears just came. And I called my my mom right away to and my sister was happened to be at my mom's house, I told them both at the same time. And while I was still sitting there in the office, waiting for them to come back and tell me what to do next I and I kind of immediately was thinking, What's going to happen to me now? Do I? Wait, do I need to go for a DNC, which I did end up doing? And because I was 12, I was 12 weeks, they had recommended that I did the DNC. So I ended up call it the second I walked out of the office, I ended up calling a girlfriend of mine who this had happened to a number of times, and I hadn't even called my husband back yet. I the second I walked out of the office, I called her because I just needed somebody to call me down. And I knew that she was the first person who popped into my head, someone who's been through this before, who's gone through this experience. And I said, What do I do. And she was the only person who I knew who could calm me down. And she and she did and kind of told me a little bit of her experience. So I was able to kind of think a little bit more clearly by the time I called my husband and my mom back. And I remember walking to my car, and thinking, you know, again, I was kind of trying to just rationalize it to myself, like, Okay, um, I know that this happens, and you're going to be okay. But as I said, I was not prepared for the emotional toll that this takes you and the guilt that that Amanda had mentioned that you feel, gosh, did I have too much coffee? Did I not take my bike? Did I skip my vitamins too many times, and you kind of go through all these things in your head that What did I do wrong and at 12 weeks to so when we found out that okay, it was nothing that we did, it was just a random genetic thing. And this happened and this is what most of them are caused by it was nothing that you did, I did feel some guilt lifted, that it was confirmed that you know, nothing that I did. So that didn't make things a little bit better. And, and I don't know if people think about this quite so much. But the whole four to five weeks afterwards, when you're waiting for kind of your cycle to return. I sort of felt like even though the procedure was over, which was you know, scary guy never had any kind of like surgery or anything before. So that was scary for you know, to mentally kind of get through once that was over. And he kind of process everything that whole four to five weeks waiting for or even longer. I think for some people, you feel like the brunt of this is over. And but my body is not back to normal. And I felt like once my cycle had returned, I felt better. Like it was just really monumental that Okay, my body is back to normal. And looking forward to kind of trying again and looking forward to the next step. So that's when I felt like things looked up and got a little bit better was now that now I can look forward to moving on.

I totally, I totally understand what you mean about the about getting the results of the DNC, it took for it felt like forever to see what it was. And for us it the baby had trisomy 21 just downs and I, my first the whole reason I wanted to become a teacher, which is what I'm doing now is my first kid I was a parent to a boy with downs and I just remember, like shouting, I would have loved that baby and given everything to that baby I could have I don't care if it had downs and all that stuff. And I I remember my aunt sang to me at the time. She said, Amanda, your body was helping you your body was doing the right thing your body was was you know was working for you. And I said no, it's not my body. I felt like my body betrayed me. And she said No, it didn't and that was really hard for me to hear at the time but now after enough time to heal. I believe that was really true.

My name is Megan and I never ever in my wildest dreams thought that it would happen to me. I never thought that I would have a miscarriage. And when you hear of people having miscarriages or you know of someone, at least in my case, I thought, Oh, that's so sad. And then I would just move on to the next thought, because I just didn't really put much thought or feeling into it. I come from a very big family, big Irish Catholic family. I never heard of anyone having miscarriages. I had one on two had two stillbirths and a miscarriage on the other side of my family. But that was so unusual that it was such an outlier. I never ever, ever, in a million years thought it could happen in my family, and especially to me. So I had two beautiful pregnancies prior to my miscarriage. I have a son who's four and a half, and another son who's two and a half. And both were very easy to conceive, had very easy pregnancies, actually, my second son, my two and a half year old, I didn't even know I was pregnant until nine and a half weeks. Because I was breastfeeding My other son, and my period was a little off. So we just sailed through those two and delivery as well. And, and when we decided on a third, we, we received positive test result right away that we just conceived very easily. And I just thought it was meant to be. And I kept growing. And everything felt like normal to me, whatever that was at the time. And my other friend had found out that she was pregnant while she was about a month ahead of me. So I was really excited that we'd have two little ones and our little crew growing up together. And so I on Halloween, I went to the bathroom, and I saw a spot of blood and I never blood before during pregnancy. So I thought, Oh, that's strange. But I had heard a story of my mom bleeding with my older sister just a little bit throughout her pregnancy. So I thought, oh, maybe that's it. And then the cramping started. And so I just kind of laid down. And it was kind of ironic, because the day before, my husband and I committed to a home birth midwife. And we had just, you know, talk to her and said, are so excited to work with you. That was Friday night. And then Saturday, I started bleeding. So it was very, very strange. So I called her right away. And I started asking questions, and she was very reassuring. And I just lay down the rest of the day. But every time I went to the bathroom, I was almost scared because I was bleeding a little bit, not a lot, but just a little bit every time and my cramps, it almost felt like I had my period, or like the PMS symptoms before my period. So I laid in bed on all day Sunday. And then the beauty of my home birth midwifery. My home birth midwife was that she came to my home. And she was so loving and kind and helps me. Just she tried to find the heartbeat could not find a heartbeat. But again, like you said, Nicole, it was, I was 11 weeks at that point. And she said, You know, these babies are so tricky at this time, they can just hide anywhere. So I just kind of chalked it up to that. And so I just waited. And every time I went to the bathroom again, I was scared. And so she was kind enough to order me an ultrasound for Monday and the next day. And so I went in and again, I was by myself, not by choice, but by current circumstances. And so I sat there and I just I just kind of knew, but the ultrasound tech just confirmed right away. And like, like you said, Nicole, I just, I just couldn't. I couldn't believe I just saw the picture, the image of the fetus just floating there. And I just could not believe it. It was almost, it's very surreal. And my husband unfortunately was with me on FaceTime. So I was alone, essentially. And so I went home after that, and I just started cleaning the house and cooking and doing everything that I hadn't done for the past two days because I was just like I was angry. I was upset. I was everything. And the hardest part was we had just told my family a week before that because we had family from that came in into town and we just wanted to share the good news. We had told our sons and they were so excited. I mean, they talked about it all the time they got out there baby dolls, they were like obsessed with the idea. So it was very fresh. So I was very concerned about telling them. So I think in my instinctual process of like, avoiding my emotions, but moving through them, I also helped the baby come, because that night after we had put our sons to bed, I was able to pass the baby naturally. And my midwife was on the phone with me while I was doing that. And I had never, never even known what that experience would be like. And it's different for every person, of course, but for me, it was just incredible. I couldn't, I couldn't believe how long it took, it took about two hours for me. And it was just so emotional for both my husband and I, it was just devastating. I just never knew that a life that sorry, that I never met, would cause so much grief. So, at the time, my midwife had told me to collect any remains that I could. And I didn't want to I was like, No way I'm not doing. But at some point in the two hour process I managed to, and I was really glad I did. She came over a day or so later. And we did an entire ceremony with the remains. And we had told the boys and they were very, very upset. But they understood because death was something that we always normalized in our house, we do normalize, because we're out in nature a lot. So they see bugs dying, and they see things dying all the time. So it was but just to not have the baby anymore, it was really sad for them. So anyways, we did a ceremony with the midwife where we wrapped the remains and avocado leaf, which is a very like healing ritual that other tribal cultures do. And we wrapped the baby in white cloth, I wrote a letter, my husband wrote a letter, the boys drew pictures, and we put it in a box, and we put it all and had a ceremony in our backyard. And we we buried the remains of the baby where the kids play. So my husband said that that was very, that was a huge closure for him just being able to write that letter, and to say goodbye to the baby in that way. For me, it took a lot a lot longer. It's still resonating with me very strongly. But like you said, Nicole, I felt so out of sorts in my body until my period came again. And then I've been feeling a little bit, you know, better more like myself, I started to shrink back a little bit, a little bit. And I was able to just kind of connect again with myself. But like both of you said, I am constantly still thinking like what, what could I have done better? What? What did I do wrong? Yeah, that's beautiful. I wish that I had done something like that. And I think often you know about how you said writing a letter or something, too. We actually we found out that you know, that our baby was a boy. And I would love to write something around miscarriage. I think it's really neglected in our society. It's not something that just goes away like, oh, there was a blip? No, it's with you always.

It does. And I just got so angry that it wasn't spoken about and nobody talks about it. And it happens to so many women. Yeah. And these, the majority I'd say of these women feel such shame and get stuck because they believe it's their fault or they feel and I remember like I remember talking to us Cynthia about it. I remember logic like logically I understand this is not my fault, but it feels like it is because I'm the one carrying the baby. My body has to be like the temple where the baby is carried. So what I ended up doing, which I really can't believe I did, but was very healing was I actually wrote a post on Facebook about it. And I like gave a heads up that you know, this is going to be like me emotionally vomiting on everybody and people like who I haven't seen since like Middle School. Yeah, but I felt like the world needs to know about this and the world needs to know that this happens all the time. And if I do couldn't even get through to one woman who maybe has it and wouldn't talk about it. Then I felt like, I just want her to know, I hear you, I see you and, and it's traumatic, and it's awful. And if we could only live in a society where there was no shame around it, and it was so normalized, we would think we would avoid a lot more heartbreak than we would need to put up with and still, you know, I have a colleague who had a miscarriage, and she, you know, she kept it to herself. And she finally told me, and she said, I don't know why I didn't say anything. I just, I just couldn't. Yeah, I really feel for these women.

I think so too. Oh, boy, I cannot imagine going through this in a vacuum without, you know, I mean, you know, I understand people grieve in their own way. And some people, you know, keep it to themselves, and don't really feel that they want to talk about it, it makes them upset. And it you know, on the receiving end, too, it makes others upset. Sometimes people don't really know what to say, but boy, I could not have gotten through this without my mom. And my I mean, my co workers needed to know and, and that just the outpouring of support, and people would send cards and even just a text message and talking about this happened to them. And I think they say the statistic is one in four, or Some even say one in three, but I think it's even more than that.

So it depends on if you're looking at confirmed pregnancies or not. So this is the thing with miscarriage. That's so often it happens before women actually even know they're pregnant. And that is about a third of pregnancies. And then of confirmed pregnancies. It's closer to one and four, one and five.

Can we go into how you felt with people's comments when you told them the news? What was helpful?

Yeah, I that goes back to you know what my aunt said to me at the time, when I said, You know, I feel like my body betrayed me. And instead of saying something like, I hear you, or I understand that you feel that way. And I can only imagine you feeling that way. She said it didn't, your body did the right thing. And to me, that was such a punch in the gut. And like a stab in the heart because I wanted that baby, I didn't care what I didn't care what happened to that baby, or problems that the baby would or wouldn't have. You know, growing up, that was the last thing I wanted to hear. So we also live in a society where people don't like to see other people upset. They don't like to let other people feel their feelings, of anger, shame, guilt, all of those things that that any person needs to go through to properly grieve a traumatic event. So people are very quick to shut it down. That's not only invalidating for the mother who's grieving for the baby, but it's just not a healthy. It's not a healthy grieving process. It signaled to me like, I need to get over this or, you know, this happens a lot just move on. And I don't think that's what my end at all had intended for me to feel. I don't think that's what anyone intends for them to feel. They just want you to stop growing and to feel better. I also feel like, I do feel a little hopeful. I feel like the older generation. So the older women who I work with, they would all say you'll have another you'll have another you'll have your family. I didn't really get that from women. My age, I got a lot of, you know, I'm so sorry. What can I do? You know, what can I do a lot of questioning, like, what can I do to help you? How can I make you feel better? how can how can we get through this, which was wonderful. I don't know if that's me being assumptive. But I feel like there's you know, maybe maybe I think we're getting a little bit more better about understanding mental health these days. And, and the important to grieve, and to feel these feelings, it's so so important. Because if you don't, they're just gonna come out and in other ways, you know, let let the woman grieve that baby, that's the baby that they wanted so badly in the baby that they'll love forever, and the baby that will always have a part of their heart. And just let them feel that and just be there for them. Yeah, I completely agree with, I was actually gonna say something very similar about how I feel, you know, kind of in this day and age, we are becoming so much more aware of people's mental health. And that part of the grieving process, and this is to acknowledge those feelings and to really kind of move through every step of the grieving process. And I agree to that, I think just because they don't know how to come for you, and they don't know what to say. They find it easier themselves to just avoid the conversation, not realizing the impact that maybe it has on you. Because what you need right now is connection with someone and I found when people sort of avoid the conversation, it really makes you feel a little bit more isolated. Because what again, what you need is connection with people and I found that the people who asked me questions about it, how did I feel? How am I feeling now? How's your husband feeling? How's he doing? going with it. I think sometimes people forget about the dads.

Yeah. And the avoidance. Again, I just have to say that I be avoidance and people trying to avoid you and talking talking to you about it just cements the guilt and shame that you feel like, Oh, I'm supposed to be feeling this way because no one wants to talk about it.

Right? The first time I saw my family afterwards, I just sobbed on the couch. And my brother put his arm on me, which was comforting and beautiful at the time. But then I didn't receive any follow up. There was just nothing. It was just silence. And in that silence for me, it was really isolating. And I don't, I don't think in a lot of ways people and like you said, intentionally do it. I think there's a lot of discomfort around it. But the other thing I didn't realize and miscarriages and I don't know if this is the difference between doing a DNC versus having the baby naturally passed, because I've never had a DNC but I bled for two and a half weeks afterwards, like I did with my two sons. Yes. I kept having to, like, tell my close friends and family that like I'm in a postpartum, I'm postpartum right now. I i and everyone's experience is different. But I really experienced emotionally, physically everything that I did with my two sons, that I actually birthed and carried for nine months. So that took an emotional toll on me as well, because I felt like my hormones were all out of whack until I had my period again. And I felt like I was a little bit more balanced. I had two friends that came over with meals for me. And that was just amazing, because they've treated me like I just had a baby, which I think I think we need to do more of in my opinion.

I'm so glad you said that. Megan, because that's this is the thought that's been going on in my mind for the last 20 minutes is to talk about the difference between how we manage a miscarriage do it in the in the case of letting it pass naturally, versus the DNC? Yes, it's harder, you go through that that postpartum shift, but it also gives you the time and space to process. And so often because miscarriage is really common in the medical community is sort of like okay, let's just quickly clean this up and be done. Come on in, we'll do the procedure. It's very uncomfortable procedure. It's invasive, it's cold, it doesn't feel it doesn't feel supportive.

I wanted to talk about that too, actually. So I'm really glad that this is being brought up. I had the DNC and I felt nothing. Even when I was at the appointment, where they told me that the baby had died. I didn't feel anything. They said we can do the procedure today. We can do it tomorrow. And oh my gosh, I I felt this is such a shock. I need more time with this baby. Emotionally, I needed more time with it. I wanted to carry it for another day or two, I needed to say goodbye. So we made the appointment for later that week. And it was very easy. I was I was afraid I'd never had any kind of procedure before. So kind of getting over that part mentally It was tough. But afterwards, I still had nothing. I never had any cramping. very minimal bleeding. It was almost like this whole thing was just such an emotional whirlwind and it just was here and gone. It was like nothing happened. I had no anything.

I never really thought about it that way. I think maybe that was I mean, I always figured maybe this this baby since it was 13 weeks. And since I had the DNC was the hardest to I don't want to say get over it. But the hardest to heal from or start to heal from. I don't think you're ever healed. By the way. I don't think that's that that's always going to be that's always going to be with you. Those babies will always be with me. I remember feeling I remember them saying okay, we're going to sign you up for we're going to do the DNC tomorrow. And to me at the time, I think I was so traumatized. I wish that they had had a counselor or someone or someone who could I mean, not even my own midwife was just like, oh, yep, it happens, you know, so cold and so, you know, just just I just felt like I just felt like I was bothering everyone in the medical community about even the midwife about so I feel so sorry that I treated that.

Amanda I felt the same though. I felt the same. It was this like reaction. I think that's Just part of it, I felt that I wanted out I wanted out. And I think that's why what had to go on with my life and come in home and clean and cook and do everything I just, I wanted away from this experience I wanted to escape I wanted out.

For me, it was safer to do the DNC because I know, after I think after about 10 to 12 weeks, they kind of lean a little more towards the DNC, just because if you do attempts to pass naturally, I think sometimes not everything comes out, I don't know. It's definitely

the risk of bleeding and complication. infection is higher. And yeah, and for me, too, when I delivered my daughter, I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage. So I thought for myself, boy, if I try to do this at home, if I try to wait and do this on my own, how much blood will be too much am I going to now will I be scared. So I felt at Personally, I felt safer at the hospital.

And that's important. I think giving women the time and space just like you, Nicole took a few extra days to process this, I'm not ready to come in and do this today. Right now I need a little bit more time to process this and bond with this before I release it. I think that is that's the more important piece, I just wish that they had brought in someone or there was a count, or they had offered that or something, you know, and I think you know, you're just so vulnerable in that moment, you're beyond vulnerable, you know, you can barely breathe through your tears and, and just I felt like there was no space for decision making, or really not even a space for me to be emotional about it. I mean, I felt I just remember them making me feel like I and maybe this is just my own perception, but like I was bothering them, like they had to get the appointment. And I was like, Well, my, my baby is dead. You know? And, and you know, can't you can someone please like help me. It was just you know, and I, when it's your first miscarriage, even if it's not, I just feel like this, people just don't know what to do or say it's just so awkward. Even even people even with mouth, nudity, who deal with it all the time.

I'm in the medical field myself. And I think and being on this side of this really drives home that point to what you just made, Amanda is that, I think sometimes when you're the provider, you're the one taking care of the patients This is perhaps routine for you to see perhaps the providers or the midwives see this type of thing every day and and to them to take a few moments and and listen to your patient who's sobbing in the chair who just lost her baby and who now has to walk out of that office with everybody looking at them, like with sorrow in their face. And you're kind of it's almost like you feel like it's a walk of shame down the hallway. Totally, and being the patient being on the other side of it. You You look forward to somebody calling you and saying how are you? And I don't think I think my midwife had called me That evening, but I wasn't ready to talk about it. But I think maybe a whole week went by before anybody called me again. And I kind of thought I feel like we put out support for women who just have babies. And, Megan, I think I think this is a good point. You know, as far as you're, you're almost kind of postpartum. We have all the support for postpartum women. But what about women who lose their babies?

Where's the support there?

Where's my phone call from? You know, somebody? I think a whole week went by before somebody called me again. Yeah, I think the medical community I think, definitely can do better and calling and saying how are you and supporting that a little bit.

Cynthia and Trisha, you will also talk about a lot on your podcast about choosing your provider and how important that is. And I really can attest to that through this experience, because I did have a midwife with both of my sons in a hospital setting in a birthing center. But for this baby, we felt called to have a baby at home through a home birth with a midwife and I must say she really was there for my home birth she was there for me she was so supportive. Like I said she walked us through that whole beautiful ceremony and provided such closure that is not given to to women who access the traditional medical setting. Even though I didn't produce a baby that's living. My birth process with this home birth midwife was beautiful.

When we did our roundtable episode on stillbirth in Episode Number 14, we had someone in there who had actually gotten so involved in this stillbirth community that she was able to educate us. And one thing that we all learned is learning that the grief peaks at four months for moms is stillbirth, that really hit home because you realize the support has long dried up by then it has long stopped by then I feel like that hits the nail right on the head. I mean, I'm trying really hard to go back to this. But I, I like I said before I went to go have EMDR therapy. And it didn't really happen until like two months after my losses. Because I think there's just this, this stuff sits there. And it has to be dealt with. And like I said before, if you don't deal with it, it's going to come back. And I think again, it's always there. So it's kind of cyclical, a little bit, the you know, even just having the conversation today, things are coming up again. But the EMDR therapy really helped me. Because every time I did it, you know, it was it felt like less traumatic. And I had to get back into that headspace of where I was. So everything from having that horrible conversation with the midwife to getting ready for the DNC to coming home. I think this is always going to be with you, I think, I think four months, even though it sounds surprising, that that's always gonna stay with you. So I'm actually not really surprised to hear that. I think that makes total sense.

I do think in our Western busy culture as well, we don't take the time and the space to actually sit with our grief. And I've really been trying to do that. And I think like Trisha said, it was a blessing to go through postpartum because it really did slow me down and physically so that I had to just stop and be with my view with myself. And I think that after that postpartum period, I could see four months being a pivotal point because you, your body has healed. And if you haven't dealt with the emotions that you've experienced in the trauma that you've experienced, and it's going to come back.

I think a lot of it is that four months later, people think you're over it. And they're just going to upset you if they bring it up. This is the culture we're in. And really what I think happens is you go through this progression of emotions, you can't possibly process them all at once, you can't possibly go through the full course of your guilt at once, or the fear of whether you'll get pregnant again, or the anger and the injustice. And every time you feel that stab wound when you pass a woman who has a baby and you just wonder if you're going to hold the baby again. You can accelerate that process of all the thoughts and things you're going to feel. But everyone around you like that loving arm your brother put around your shoulder, Megan, like four months later, he's thinking, she looks good. She seems fine. She's functioning, and I don't want to upset her. And as one woman said in that episode, you can't remind a stillbirth mom of her loss because it's all she thinks about.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I feel like I'm very lucky to have had another baby after I think that was part of the healing too. Obviously, these feelings are still here inside me because they come up if I'm if I talk about them enough, but I felt such a healing when I had had when I had had jack. And I felt like all I could think about was my my babies that I lost until I had him. I think just acknowledging to yourself that it will, that baby will always be there with you. And there will always be a little bit of a hole in your heart. I think the tricky part is learning to accept that and be okay with that. And then, and I'm not even gonna say move on because it's just it just goes with you. So you don't you don't move away from it. You just take it with you. Right, you know, for the rest of your life. I'd imagine.

What's a women who experienced miscarriage most need to hear?

You're not alone, and it's not your fault.

Yeah, I agree.

I agree that you're not alone and that you're loved and you're supported. And I have to say for me, I didn't really need much. I just needed someone to spend time with me.

I think the most important thing for me would have been questions like How can I help you? And just silence in many cases so that I could just cry in someone else's presence. But I think there's so much variance between what people experience and miscarriage that we need to hold space for that. And we need to start with. I'm so sorry. How can I help and then leave space for that woman or man whoever is suffering with that. loss, to be invited to have that opportunity to, to discover what they need and to get what they need in that moment.

Women are just incredible and and so strong. And you know we we this happens to us and we keep going.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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