Hi all! So I wrote this essay for my Psychology course called Miscarriage, Infant Loss and Post Traumatic Grief for my Psychology class and I thought I would share it with you all. Uncorrected.
In 2015 I got pregnant for the first time. I was due in May 2016. I was so scared but very excited. My guy and I barely knew each other. We were both torn on how we would be parents. I’d always wanted a family of my own I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. In the beginning, I felt great. I was healthy, everything was in the right place; I didn’t have a worry in the world. We decided to stick it through and on Chase and Charlie for boy and girl names. I remember how happy we were, young and exuberant. That was until things began to go wrong. According to the doctors, it would be a waiting game. There was nothing we could do. There was nothing they could do. We had to wait and see what my body, what the baby, wanted to do. I’ve never been good with patience. I tried. I called myself strong. I called myself a warrior. I tried to get through everything with a positive outlook. It didn’t work. My optimism did me no good. Everything began to fall apart. I officially lost my baby on October 23, 2015 at 12 weeks. The pain brought Tony and I closer together. He stayed in the hospital with me, took care of me, and watched over me while I cried my heart out.
In January, 2017, I found out I was pregnant again. My due date was October 23, 2017. The same exact date I’d lost two years before. This couldn’t be a coincidence! We were overjoyed. By this time, we were deeply in love. We’d moved in together, had great jobs and could afford to take care of a child. We already had money saved and we were ready to take on this new adventure. My doctors told me that it was very common for women to lose their first pregnancy and that I really had nothing to worry about. Everything, again, looked great, healthy and in the right place. At 11 weeks, we now know, I lost my mucus plug. At 15 weeks my water broke. I rushed to the hospital and they confirmed it. Our little happy, healthy baby was without fluid. They suggested I terminate. I couldn’t believe they wanted me to get rid of my baby when I could see her there on the screen. She had a great heartbeat, was moving just as much as she should and seemed fine. They told me that if I stayed pregnant I could get an infection and that the baby would die anyway. The doctors said the infection could get so bad that they would have to do a hysterectomy. I knew that couldn’t be my only option and pressed for something else. Something that could help us, help her. The doctors said that there was one thing we could do only if we make it to 24 weeks, which she strongly said I wouldn’t. If I made it to 24 weeks I would get antibiotics and shots, then I would live at the hospital, on bed rest, for the rest of my pregnancy. That would be 4 months. She did say that my body could take the choice out of my hands. That I could delivery naturally and they wouldn’t be able to stop it but if I didn’t, she might have a chance to live.
I jumped on it. I could do it! I had an office job and so I was determined to stay as still as possible, drink as much water as possible, to replenish her fluid faster than it was leaking, and to war against infection. I made it to 19 weeks. I went into labor naturally, just like they warned. I was on my way to work when the contractions started. At first, I thought they were just false contractions and I clocked in and started working. It’s silly to think about now but I really sat at my desk and tried to rock through the pain. I’d never been through labor before! Finally an older coworker told me to rush to the hospital because I was about to have the baby. I cried my eyes out. I called my guy and told him to meet me at Winnie Palmer and left. Iris Giana was born at 3:15pm that day. It was the most beautiful, terrifying, amazingly traumatic moment I’ve ever had in my life. Seeing her there, on my chest, with her tiny feet, moving her tiny hands. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually given birth to a human and that I couldn’t keep her. She was perfect in every way and yet, she wasn’t big enough to survive on her own.
One of the most disheartening things about it all is that I couldn’t even be with her in her last moments. I almost died from blood loss, the placenta got stuck, and they had to rush me to surgery. I held her for as long as I could but the pain was just too much. They had to take her from me. Knowing that the next time I saw her she would be dead made my physical pain so much worse. I could deal with the fire in my belly, with the sharp stabbing going down my sides but I couldn’t deal with seeing them take her away and knowing I couldn’t say goodbye. I remember telling her I loved her so many times. Wanting her to know it wasn’t in vain. That she meant something to me. To us.
In the beginning, it was hard for me to see my guy being happy or experiencing life without being as sad or distraught as I was. American Pregnancystates “Generally, women are more expressive about their loss and more likely to seek support from others.” This was very true for us. He was very quiet about everything. I didn’t really see the grief from him until a few months later. “I was only a dad for 30 minutes” he randomly said to me one night. It hurt my heart and I cried for days. I couldn’t handle being a source of pain for him and knowing there was nothing I could physically do to make it better.
In 2018 I found out I was pregnant, again. Again, we were excited. This will be the time! We have a plan. My doctors have a plan. Just get to 12 weeks, they said, then we can put in a cerclage and start you on shots to protect the baby. It would finally work. It was another miracle. This definitely can’t be a coincidence, I remember saying. I was due October 23, 2018. The same exact date as the pregnancy from the year before and the loss from 2015. This is a sign from the gods. I got to 9 weeks and then the bleeding started. I rushed to the hospital. “Save my baby, please!” I remember telling them, but there was nothing they could do. She was already gone. No heartbeat. They had no reasoning, couldn’t see anything wrong with her or with me. She was just gone.
I’ve had so many experiences with grief in my life. I’m a foster kid with mom issues, twice over, and at one point I had no hope. I had no direction but I kept going. I pushed forward. I graduated high school. I got a job, sometimes two or three at a time. I took care of myself despite feeling helpless and unwanted and unloved. I beat the odds and the statistics. I did it! I thought the pain and anger and disappointment was finally over. Despite all of this ‘achieving’ I’d done, nothing, nothing could prepare me for this. I wanted to give up. I wanted to float away and not deal with the pain of my losses. The love in my soul that I feel for them every day. The tug that is telling me this will never work. Still, months after my most recent loss, I don’t know if I’m healed. I don’t know if I ever will be.
In Krosch’s study, they asked questions of women who have lost babies at varying stages of pregnancy, women who have had multiple miscarriages and also talked to women who had living children outside of their losses. “The “other children” comparisons indicated that women who did not have living children tended to experience moderately higher grief scores than those who had children after the loss.“ (Krosch) I can attest to this because I am one. For me, I believe the added fear, the added stress, is that I might not ever be able to have children. I believe that I would be distraught, after my losses, if I had children as well but the simple fact that I’ve had three very different losses and none of them give us any indication as to what is wrong or how we might be able to prevent it from happening in the future makes this a stressful situation. I don’t want to think of the possibility that I do all the tests, all the exams, spend all the money for the expensive health insurance and I will find that I can never carry. So I can definitely see how not having other children would give me a higher score on the grief scale.
Another thing that I found interesting about Krosch’s study is the factor they believed religion, or spiritual beliefs, took in growth, post traumatic grief and life after loss. “The greatest PTG was reported in appreciation of life, personal strength, and relating to others domains, and least in spiritual growth. The findings of limited spiritual growth are consistent with previous research in non-North American populations (e.g., T. Weiss & Berger, 2010), but may also be influenced by pregnancy loss-specific factors. Although some people tend toward spiritual understandings following perinatal loss, others report a marked departure (Cowchock, Lasker, Toedter, Skumanich, & Koenig, 2010). This suggests that some people’s spiritual beliefs may provide a framework for understanding the loss, while others’ beliefs may be rendered inadequate.” (Krosch) For me, I believe I was more on the side that says it made a huge impact in my recovering but not in the way it did for most of the women. The ones who ‘gained’ more faith in god or in religion may have said it impacted them greatly or that they felt closer. I, however, felt the exact opposite. There has never been a bigger divide between myself and god than there is now, after he has captured my joy and crushed it beneath his foot.
As a young child, growing up in foster care, I was impressionable in the sense that if something was strongly explained and sounded ‘amazing’ I might be keen to believe it. Christianity was that for me. My adopted parents were both pastors during my youth. They taught and they preached and they took us to church every single week. Some weeks we went to church three and four times. I was very autonomous as a kid and wanted to find my own relationship with god, not one forced on me. Once I did, I loved it. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the support, I loved the fact that I had consistent people in my life who seemed to actually care about my well-being; I also loved the drama. Of course. I grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong but also the importance of the grey area. I often playfully say, that back when I was 12, I was a Jesus freak. I wanted everyone to give their souls and live peaceful lives. That’s just to show how the dynamic role of religion played in my life as a kid and how it’s changed. I am no longer that way. After my first loss I was very angry. I was mad at everyone; my guy for not understanding, my mom for not helping me, my friends for never reaching out, my god for not delivering me from my pain. I still loved him, I still trusted him with my soul. I knew my heart was in safe hands. After my second loss I screamed at the heavens; “How could you do this to me? How could you cause me this much pain? What have I done to deserve this? Am I that evil of a human being?” (I will never forget the words my biological mother said to me after my water broke and I was terrified my little girl would die; “god will always take your babies because you are evil on the inside. Your soul is evil. I hope you lose your baby.”) After my third loss, March 2018, I screamed again but this time in resignation. I screamed inside with self-doubt, pity and resolution. That follows in line with Lin’s explanation of chronic grief. “These symptoms can be excessive anger, guilt and self-blame, or persistent depression, and they make resolution and adaptation difficult. With chronic grief, there is little or no sign of diminution of intense reaction a year or more after the loss.” (Lin)
So yes, I screamed out with a shaking fist. I screamed outin silence of my own mind. I said “I get it, god! You don’t want me to have children! What? Do you think I will be a bad mother? Have I not proved that I have so much love to give? Have I not proved that I will not take on the sins of my adopted mother and my mother’s mother and my mother’s mother beyond that?” That is the difference between those women and me. They found a deeper faith, something they could hold on to, and I wish I could say the same. For me, I had lost all trust in god. I believe in him, I don’t think that will ever stop. My foundation is just too strong. I just no longer believe that I can trust him. I can no longer trust him with my heart, my soul, my dreams and my future. As someone who always used god as the answer or someone who will help propel me into the future even thinking that feels as dark as midnight.
This topic is always hard for me but I love to share it with others. I am no longer ashamed of what I’ve been through. I am no longer scared to think other people, other women, will look down on me and think I am less of a woman. I am strong, I always will be. I want to help other women who are going through what I’ve been through to be as strong as I. That’s why I’m writing a book about miscarriage awareness, loss and grief from an angel mom’s perspective. I have complied submissions from women all around the world and I plan to use their stories, their soul specific paths to draw in those who feel alone. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced this and even those who are dealing with infertility but maybe haven’t experienced an actual loss. I just want to pour out compassion, awareness, love, understanding and, in the end, hope.
Thank you for reading my uncorrected essay!
Krosch, D. J., & Shakespeare-Finch, J. (2017). Grief, traumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth in women who have experienced pregnancy loss. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, And Policy, 9(4), 425-433. doi:10.1037/tra0000183
Lin, S. X., & Lasker, J. N. (1996). Patterns of grief reaction after pregnancy loss. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 66(2), 262-271. doi:10.1037/h0080177
“After A Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally.” American Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. 29 December 2017. Web. 2 July 2018.
Link to Miscarriage: Surviving Emotionally