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Around the office water cooler (otherwise known as Slack these days), what started as a one person share about infant loss turned in to a much bigger realization— that about 20% of Bobbie moms had suffered from one or more miscarriages. So many of our closest colleagues and friends were all part of the same club, one that nobody wanted to be a part of— The Miscarriage Club.
Through many tears and virtual hugs, we learned about each other’s deepest, darkest moments. We also learned that these shared moments help bring about much needed, honest conversation. It’s often the most important topics that we don’t spend enough time talking about, so we’re here to talk about miscarriage. We’re sharing some stories in hopes you’ll share yours. We’re also sharing information, because we need to hear from doctors when it comes to numbers and facts and science.
We spoke with Dr Jane Van Dis, OBGYN, who reminded us that there’s no “one way” for women to feel about pregnancy loss. She answered our key questions about pregnancy after miscarriage and shared with us some very important stats.
- Does having a miscarriage mean that you can’t have another baby?
- Is there a certain ‘recovery’ time after miscarriage before trying to conceive?
- How do we explain the guilt women feel after a miscarriage?
- Where can women go for mental health concerns when it comes to miscarriage?
- Jane’s recent stats on miscarriage
Does having a miscarriage mean that you can’t have another baby?
Dr Van Dis: The answer to this question is 100% no— with the acknowledgment that there are many ways to have a baby. The majority of miscarriages are due to genetic incompatibilities or errors in genetic codes for mother, father, or both. Sometimes the reason for a miscarriage is anatomical, for instance, a fibroid or polyp inside the uterus interferes with the pregnancy, sometimes it’s an infection. There can be a lot of different reasons that pregnancies miscarry. I’ve had patients that have had both tubes removed – and yet can still get pregnant through IVF. Other women might need a hysterectomy due to cancer, their eggs can be preserved and they go on to use a surrogate. Again, there’s the common way that babies are made and born, but there are many different paths to parenthood.
Is there a certain ‘recovery’ time you suggest that women wait after miscarriage before trying again to conceive?
Dr Van Dis: No there isn’t. Women often hear from their doctors that they need to wait 3 or 6 months, but unless you’ve had surgery or procedure on your uterus, there’s no specific amount of time that a woman needs to wait before trying to conceive again. Psychologically, I tell my patients that they may feel most comfortable trying to conceive after a “normal” menstrual cycle, but it isn’t necessary or required.
How do we explain the guilt women feel after a miscarriage?
Dr Van Dis: It’s important to remember that miscarriages aren’t all a woman’s fault or responsibility. It could be a woman’s genetic code in the egg, but could also be a man’s code in his sperm. Could be due to unknown environmental exposures or medications. There is a lot of complexity to pregnancy loss and I would urge women reading to not let the blame fall solely on their shoulders, to talk to their medical professional, and to reach out to communities (friends, on-line miscarriage communities) if talking through the loss would be helpful emotionally or spiritually.
Where can women go for mental health concerns when it comes to miscarriage?
Dr Van Dis: I really like Dr. Jessica Zucker, a psychologist who specializes in miscarriage, she has a book titled I Had a Miscarriage and a very strong miscarriage community on IG. I’ve been on webinars and IG-live sessions with her and she’s phenomenal as are the experts she talks to, including Dr. Lora Shahine, an REI physician in Seattle.
Dr Van Dis’ recent stats on miscarriage:
- As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy later.
- Many couples who experience a miscarriage worry that it will happen again. Fortunately, at least 85% of women who have had one loss will go on to have a successful pregnancy the next time, as will 75% of those who have experienced two or three.
- The likelihood of recurrent miscarriage is small. According to ACOG, about 5 percent of women have two or more consecutive miscarriages and 1 percent will have three or more.
We are honored to share stories from our friends who speak their truth in order to help further the conversation surrounding miscarriage…
The doctor said I could get pregnant but I could never successfully have kids. My mom said, ‘doctors tell you what they think, but God has the last say. Look at me, you’re going to have a baby when you get married. It’s going to be a girl because you are going to need to get back everything you have ever put me through.’Anita Patton
I was so traumatized by my miscarriage that I completely blocked out the day it happened.
I just had an anniversary that I don’t want to celebrate, I joined a club that I do not want to be apart of . On October 5, 2020 – I had a miscarriage.
Everyone’s miscarriage experience is different but the thing that remains the same are all the questions you have for yourself— Could I have done something different? Why did this happen to me? What if this happens again? Miscarriage has robbed me of the experience of a carefree pregnancy. When the moment happens again, I’ll constantly pray that there isn’t blood when I wipe. I can’t disregard a cramp because you never know..
This loss is common but the conversation around it is not. It needs to be normalized so women can stop feeling abnormal that it happened. And for those that have experienced this, I’m so sorry— I know we’re part of this shitty club, but it’s a club where we need the members more than ever.
I didn’t realize that there were so many ways to have a miscarriage. One of my friends had a chemical pregnancy—a positive test one day, and then the next day just gone. Another friend lost her baby at 10 weeks. It was so heartbreaking to see a heartbeat the first visit and then nothing the next.
At my first doctor’s appointment, I braced myself for bad news… but despite trying to be emotionally prepared I was still stunned to hear that I had had a miscarriage, and then doubly shocked that my variety was something different. An “anembryonic pregnancy”—or blighted ovum. The only thing on the monitor was an empty sac. No embryo, no fetal pole, just the outline of what was supposed to be our first baby. To add insult to injury I was terribly nauseous, and so angry to be throwing up over what was basically nothing sitting in my uterus.
With my second pregnancy, I was a wreck waiting for that 9 week appointment. I wanted to know sooner and not grow hopeful or attached. My doctor said there was no way to check in that early, which I now know is false. I waited over a month, only to find out at 9 weeks 3 days that my baby had stopped growing at 9 weeks 2 days. That one felt different. My first pregnancy, there wasn’t ever the form of the baby to mourn. But with my second, I could see the possibility of the baby, the shape of it on the monitor, that was with us yesterday and then suddenly not. And I had had over a year of trying to get pregnant since my last miscarriage to make the weight of losing that baby feel even heavier.
I just stared at the toilet and I refused to flush. I was just like this is our baby here. I was losing it and I was crying. You wonder what did you do wrong. Was I angry this day or working too hard?Paige
What my doctor didn’t understand is why I wasn’t bleeding. She was still worried I was having an ectopic pregnancy and told me to stay near emergency services (no remote hikes for me). After hanging up I dried my eyes and walked straight into a two hour meeting. I must have been in shock. After the meeting I sat down at my desk and thought, “I can’t be here.” I told my boss, “I think I’m having a miscarriage” and I went home. I called my husband from the car and he came home from work too. We sat on the couch and cried. And just like that, I started bleeding.
This is what no one told me about having a miscarriage. I imagined it to be this one, intense, terrible day. But it wasn’t for me. It was a slow bleed for eight days. I had a little bleeding Thursday and Friday. I sat at work with a pad on, quietly losing a baby no one even knew that I had. The most bleeding happened Saturday and Sunday. On Monday I had a return visit to the OB. She did another ultrasound. Turns out it was an intrauterine pregnancy, not ectopic. She told me everything looked really good. ‘Looked good?’ I thought to myself. ‘What does that even mean?’ What she meant by that was that my body was naturally ending my pregnancy and I would not need to have a D&C. She said the bleeding would stop by the weekend (meaning the 23rd). We had determined that my date of conception was the 23rd of the month before and I sat stunned at the rollercoaster of those thirty days.
For me the thing that has been the most illuminating about this experience is when you think you are going to have something that you didn’t know you needed and instead, you are met with a resounding no. All of a sudden this place inside you is not only empty, but it’s empty when it was supposed to be stuffed very very full. You realize how little patience this material world has for the experience of loss when it doesn’t have a resolute outcome.
When the loss is the absence of something you never had fully, it makes it very hard for not only you, but your loved ones as well as the rest of the world to process the level of pain that is exuding out of you. There’s not a lot of understanding there.
I appreciate all attempts of understanding this ghost, feeling this absence, and with it hopefully a more general understanding that all pain needs treatment even when there doesn’t seem to be a visible wound.
We spend years being afraid of getting pregnant. Birth control is pushed on us, we don’t learn about ovulation, and if we’re sexually active we are always waiting for our next period in fear that our contraception didn’t work. The truth is that we aren’t really aware of how difficult getting pregnant can be, so flash forward to when we are ready to start a family, we come to find out that it’s not all that easy to conceive, and even harder to reach full-term and give birth to a healthy baby.
There are so many books that try to prepare us for pregnancy, but why isn’t anyone preparing us for the 1 in 4 chance that we may lose a baby?
Don’t get me wrong, nothing can truly prepare you for the physical pain, shocking amount of blood, heartache and bleeding that lasts for weeks. Pair that with the emotional rollercoaster as you cross the due date off the calendar, sit in meetings in diaper sized pads and have to break the news to your family and toddler that there is no more baby in mommy’s belly.
I remember handing the phone to the ultrasound tech (sorry I get emotional still thinking about it). I wanted a video of the baby and the heartbeat. But instead I got a video of the doctor having a hard time finding the heartbeat. Asking me questions. Saying she is sorry and that she couldn’t find the heartbeat.Diana
It was so easy to get myself right for the little dude on the way. I ate right, I exercised, I meditated––all of the things you’re supposed to do…I’d never been so happy and healthy (in the middle of a pandemic, with no job or social life mind you!).
When I lost him though––control alt delete. I’m a year into the healing process and feel like I am nowhere near rebooting my $h!t. I continue to ask why I can’t care for myself in the way I could care for him? I so badly want to be that kind of “HAPPY” again. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that I am taking steps every day to heal.
We’re all too damn hard on ourselves. If you got out of bed this morning you’re killing it!
Some things that have helped me and maybe they’ll help you too:
Past Life Regression Therapy
Talking about the experience (obvious, but do it!)
My pocket Jizo statue
Alex Toussaint Peleton Classes
Give up control : (
My miscarriage happened at what would have been 8 weeks. I never even made it to my first doctors appointment to confirm the pregnancy. It turns out our little blob stopped growing at 6 weeks. I barely had time to connect with the idea that I was going to have a baby, and it was so quickly taken away from me. Everyone told me to be grateful that this happened so early on, that the fetus never even had a heartbeat, and it would be so much worse if it happened later. How could any of that make me feel better?
I was heartbroken, depressed, and yet I felt guilty for not feeling super connected to my baby because I barely had time to get there. It took a while to get out of the depression and let my guilt go, and I wish I had people to talk to who understood what I was going through.
I realized pretty quickly that no one talks about miscarriage. We shouldn’t hide it away like a dirty little secret.
I’ve never been one for superstitions, but I spilled the salt that morning. Not once, but twice. Now I can’t bear to look at that little salt cellar the same. I can’t look at myself the same. It changes something inside of you in a way I’ve never experienced. I feel hollowed out. Like someone has scraped through me with a spoon.
I’ve spent so much more of my life in the role of a physician rather than a patient— until recently. My empathy has grown for how slowly time moves in the emergency room when you are the one waiting for an answer. Restlessly shifting in those plastic chairs with nothing to stare at but the muted walls and clock.
Even though I already knew, I needed someone to utter the word “miscarriage” to make it real. It was there, and now it was gone. It felt as if everyone was tiptoeing around it cautiously filling the room with words of uncertainty. I needed to breath, and I couldn’t until the word was spoken.
Suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby