Was there anything I could have done to prevent my pregnancy loss?
It is perfectly normal to wonder why this has happened. It is frightening that something so unpredictable can occur. Perhaps knowing the reason “why” would help. Usually, nothing could have been done to prevent the loss. But the only way to be sure is to ask your physician. If the answer is that that nothing could have been done, then try to accept that difficult fact. It won’t help you to continue to search for answers, feel guilt, or blame yourself or others.
What kind of feelings can I anticipate?
You have just experienced a loss that may leave you feeling numb or angry, or a puzzling mixture of both. You may have experienced the loss of a loved one before, but this loss is different because it represents a loss of someone who was more real to you than to any of your family or friends. This baby represented your hopes and dreams. To you, this baby may have revealed his or her uniqueness by its movements, the sound of its heartbeat, sonogram pictures or just by the way the pregnancy progressed.
Some of the feelings you may experience include:
Depression - This is a very normal feeling and usually alternates with other feelings throughout your bereavement. It is strongest around six months after your loss and then begins to be resolved. You may feel depressed also on your due date or other significant family holidays that you planned to celebrate with your infant. Share your feelings with your partner, family and friends. Above all, don’t isolate yourself.
Signs and symptoms you need to watch for are as follows:
- Loss of appetite or overeating Loss of appetite or overeating
- Excessive sleeplessness
- Excessive sleeping
- Feelings of isolation
- Loss of energy
- Loss of life goals
Numbness - This is present for the first few weeks, when the loss hasn’t completely registered. This numbness may help you get through some of the difficult moments, like telling others, making funeral arrangements, etc.
Searching and Yearning - When the numbness wears off, you may have many feelings. Some parents spend time yearning for the baby who won’t be there, others find themselves spending time in the nursery with a baby blanket or toy. Some women actually say that their arms ache to hold the baby. Feelings of anger and guilt can arise, and your partner may bear the brunt of it. It is natural to ask “Why did this happen to our baby?” or “What did I or we do that led to this?” In most cases, there is no clear-cut answer. Understand that these painful questions and feelings will eventually pass. It my be helpful for you to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss and clarify your medical experience, or with your pastor or counselor to gain insight, perspective and comfort. Joining a group for bereaved parents may help you feel that you are not alone at a time when many well-meaning friends may not understand why you have not gotten “over it” yet.
Resolution - At last the intensity of your feelings subsides. No, you never forget this baby. This baby was and is in your heart forever. But you gradually begin to return to life and the pleasure of doing things again. People may offer sympathy and condolences—many of them helpful and supportive. Sometimes people will say things that will be painful, such as “You can always have another.” This well-meant comment may hurt, because you know that there can never be another like this one. Listen to that hurt, but remember that while you cannot replace this baby, you may one day choose to create an entirely different one. Allow yourself to experience the process of grief, so that the next pregnancy will be enjoyed and not saddened by feelings of grief from this loss.
How soon can we plan another pregnancy?
The answer to that question is different for everyone. There are two experts to consult: your physician and yourself. Your physician can determine when you have become physically able to carry another pregnancy safely. The second expert is you. Only you can know if you have healed emotionally. Remember to allow time so you can involve yourself in a new pregnancy and a new life.