Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why does miscarriage hurt so much?

I was honestly, given everything, taken aback at how much my two losses have hurt me. I can understand why a woman who has gone through IVF or years of infertility is that shattered by a pregnancy loss: it is not just the the fact that she has lost an incredibly precious promise of the future, its also about the years of emotional investment, of taking nasty drugs that disrupt your body's natural processes. It is almost like the Sisyphus and boulder situation, where you have spent eons pushing that boulder up the hill, only for it to flatten you on its way down.  I can understand their pain and frustration.

In my case, so far, I have paid relatively little money and even that I could comfortably afford. I have had no drugs injected into me (or taken orally for that matter), my conceptions were entirely without any medical intervention other than getting the swimmers into me. I got pregnant both times I tried. My 2 first trimesters were pretty easy.So basically, I went through the entire get-pregnant-and-lose-babies with a minimum of financial and physical liability.

With early pregnancy loss, its not the same as have lost a child you know, it is more like the loss of an infinitely precious promise that had yet to be realized.  From a philosophical standpoint,  I'm pretty darned aware that miscarriage has happened billions of times.  All this has made me wonder, has my soul ever occupied the body of any child that died, at any point, during those 9 months? If the theory of the soul + body is really true, then its highly likely. Maybe after that death, my soul entered the body I occupy now. If I had gone somewhere else, I would'nt be where I am now. I would maybe have different parents (NOT ok with that!), a different identity.  When you think about it in this way, then the grief associated with early pregnancy loss diminishes a little.

Also, one really does not think about this, but sometimes, your situation could be far worse than what it is. If we think early pregnancy loss is hard, then imagine a parent watching their child die of Tay Sachs, or or childhood cancer, or some of those completely horrible premature aging syndromes.  Or imagine a child being born with a disability that would make his or her life difficult forever. If, as Hinduism puts it, that the body is only a garment for the soul, then I wish, above all else, that my child gets a good dress, with no rips or tears or sleeves missing. So if a first trimester miscarriage is really saving me from something worse, then I am okay with that, honestly. I've been in a unique situation, of actually knowing that to be true in the case of my second pregnancy, with the Turner's Syndrome diagnosis.

So- little physical or financial investment and being at ease, mentally, with the theory of the journey of souls---and still this hurts like crazy. I feel like I've been scarred for life, with each loss gouging the cut a bit deeper.  I want to make that hurt go away, because, I might have to go through the process of pregnancy loss yet again. And if it keeps hurting so much each time, I fear I would not have the emotional resources to keep at it multiple times, to find my golden egg.

I've always been an eminently practical person. That practical nature, now, is demanding that I diminish in some way the specter of miscarriage, so even if I have to go through it again, it is a little stumble rather than a giant fall.

Despite all this tough love and merciless laying out of facts, I fear I've made little progress.


  1. My couselor says you can't compare pain.
    Loss is loss.
    Pain is pain.
    I'm struggling too.

  2. I am also struggling. It hurts like hell and I fear I will not have the emotional resources or fertile time left to keep at it. Thank you for this post. I hate to hear of other's suffering but it helps to know that I am not a weirdo, that I am feeling what others feel. I don't feel so alone.

  3. Jay, this is a great post and not too dark. Just an honest account of your feelings and I think everyone should read it no matter their situation. I understand what you are saying. After going through miscarriage, it's hard to find the will to get back up and know that trying again, could land you in the same dark place. I don't know what I will do at this point. I might keep going, I might now. But if I don't, I didn't give up...I will have made a decision to get my life back. And, you're right, there are others who have been through worse than us with our early losses. I can't imagine the pain of a stillborn or later. Hugs...

  4. Dost mine eyes deceive me? Finally a post from Jay?

    It does hurt. And I don't think it's really helpful to compare this to the loss of a child who had a disease or an accident. An argument can be made either way, I think. Surely those parents will tell you they would not wish they hadn't had their child or that they had miscarried him, right? Who gets to decide what is the "worst" thing that can happen? (Sort of in the vein of the "at least you don't have cancer" way of comforting someone who's had a miscarriage)

    I do believe that a miscarriage or two peppered into the middle of an otherwise robust and healthy reproductive career is an entirely different thing than infertility, IF + loss, or recurrent loss. I will say that for me, anyway, the more times I go through miscarriage, the more the individual miscarriage itself feels like a stumble instead of a fall; but the more the whole reproduction process itself feels like a fucking careening free-fall into the abyss.

  5. What you are experiencing sounds to me like normal grieving, and IME grief defies logic. I know you don't want to feel this pain, but sometimes feeling it lets it out, so it has less power to haunt you later.

    I remember several months ago, thinking I could never get through a third loss, yet here I am, on the other side of my third loss, and I'm beginning to have hope again. It is possible to keep getting up and moving forward. I like how C said it: each subsequent loss becomes less of a crisis in itself, it's the whole reproductive process that weighs more and more heavily.

  6. I don't know what those parents would say, but I know for one thing- If I had a pregnancy diagnosed in utero, with something like Tay Sachs (a disease which will result in the certain death of the child around age 2), I would be hard pressed to continue such a pregnancy. My point was, all the examples I brought up spoke to serious genetic defects. The most common cause of miscarriage is genetic defects and if If nature did not have this clean-up mechanism, then a lot of us would be dealing with grief that far overshadows anything an early pregnancy loss subjects us to.

    I am very glad my second pregnancy (with the Turners Syndrome) ended. I still grieve over that bloody moment that meiotic non-disjunction occurred in in either my egg or the sperm, robbing my child of an entire chromosome, but THAT is the part I regret...not the fact that pregnancy ended. That, was a blessing.

  7. Great post. And it's your blog-so if you want to be dark, be dark! But IMO it's not too dark and it's a chance for you to express some feelings. I am struggling too. It's nice to read that someone else is feeling a little bit how I am feeling and makes me feel like I am not totally crazy to be feeling so much pain for my miscarriage...if that makes sense. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. xx

  8. Great post. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around my two m/c...and to this day, I don't really know how I feel. I definitely shut down after the second. I mean, lots of people have a miscarriage with their first pregnancy...but after the 2nd, I was thrust into the terrifying world of RPL and it made me question EVERYTHING. All of a sudden it was more than just ovulation, lining build-up, egg meets sperm, and implantation. There were chromosomes involved, antiphospholipid antibodies, etc. So, I think I grieved for a few days, and then just shut it out of my mind. Of course, a month later, I completely lost it, and was out of commission for about a week.

    It's a hard pain to describe, or for people to understand, because our babies weren't something they could physically see. What gives me hope is my belief that the soul of my baby hasn't left me, it is just waiting for the healthiest body. That at least gives me comfort that I didn't really lose my baby, his or her arrival has just been delayed. This might sound crazy (or in denial maybe?) but that's how I need to think of it, for myself.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and how you feel...

  9. Jay, this post isn't dark, it's real and full of raw emotion. It's something that we all understand.

    I love that you are looking for the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. I too believe that it is sad that your child was diagnosed with Turner's but a blessing that they weren't forced to live with it and (most importantly) you weren't forced to make a painful choice.

  10. Beautiful post. It hurts So Much! You're right, it has absolutely changed you - it changes all of us - forever.

  11. Ok, I read it as also including things that wouldn't necessarily be detected by a prenatal screening. I am with you - I would terminate rather than carry to term a baby with a terminal diagnosis. I was thinking more along the lines of people who are blindsided by it. Now I get what you're saying, and I totally agree. As much as miscarriage sucks, it's paradoxically something that has gone right.

  12. Miscarriage robs you of bliss and stings your heart, no doubt about it. Recurrent Loss plays tricks on your soul and seems to haunt you at the most inconvenient of times. Loss changes you. I find it very difficult, even though I'm headed in a new direction. It never leaves you...but it does eventually get easier and doesn't consume you like it once did. Somehow that happens. But dark days come and it's ok to feel it and be in it. I truly believe that truly experiencing the pain, allows you to eventually heal. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself this time.

    I've posted some really 'dark' posts, but I've always felt better once I let go of it and hit that 'publish' button. In a sense, it releases some of the pain.

    Hang in there.

  13. I love that: the body is only a garment for the soul. But, like you, I want that garment to be made of sturdy stuff. Armor, really, because life is a pretty difficult deal already. Loss hurts. Recurrent loss means, I think, for many of us, hurt that is compounded, sometimes many times. Like you, I've often been astounded at how much this has hurt. And sometimes also astounded at the fact that I've managed to get up again.

    It's a very difficult thing to know how to consider this. Like you, I consider myself a practical person. And so, in a biological sense, I understand that it is highly probable that many more pregnancies do not survive than do. But I think it's impossible to divorce the practical parts of our minds from the emotional. Because, after all, we go through this with our emotions as much as we go through it with our reason. But it's a very, very tricky balance.

  14. Hi Jay. Hope you are keeping well. It's so weird, I see myself in yourself! I had a miscarriage  in January 2012 and now I'm pregnant again and at the stage where I lost our first baby(7.5-8 weeks). I'm sooo nervous of everything unravelling again. Have a scan next week. I too studied science specializing in zoology and think about things in the depth you do from reading your blog. Are you from India? My husband is Indian Hindu. I'm Irish. On the PCOS front, I've had three different opinions on whether I have it or not from 3 different doctors. My current doctor is a gynaecologist and attends lots of conferences on PCOS and says I definitely have it even though I have regular cycles&ovulation and scan showed normal ovaries. According to the Rotterdam Criteria I have two symptoms from two out of the three categories: slightly raised androstenedione and acne (falls in the category irregular cycles). Anyway, the reason I decided to comment here is because you hit the nail on the head with this post. The thing that amazed me the most was that no matter how much I rationalized things scientifically, theoretically, philosophically and practically about the whole process and experiences of miscarriage, the good old hard wired maternal instinct overrode everything and all you could feel was grief and loss. And I still do. And always will. That is a mother's love. So don't fear that you've made little progress. You have achieved more than you know. Even if our silly biochemistry or genetics aren't wired up too well, at least you can feel the innate grief at losing an incredibly precious promise of the future. We don't question our sense of happiness when we have a baby. And it's only natural  it is matched by the sense of grief when we lose a baby. When you have a baby you won't stumble into happiness, it will be a giant fall into happiness. It's no different for loss. You can't avoid that giant fall and somehow protect yourself for only a stumble next time. So allow yourself to feel the pain. Resistance only creates more pain. I need to continually remind myself of this! I wish you lots of healing energy and to everyone that experiences miscarriages.

  15.  Hi Kris! Thanks for your comment. Biologically, our situations do appear similar, and I think a situation of *maybe* PCOS resulting in subfertility is all too common, in theory anyway. The scientist in me wants evidence, and that will never be forthcoming, sadly.

    I am Indian,  and an agnostic Hindu :)  Its kind of a lucky thing, many parts of that religion( its a giant buffet table of good and bad IMO)  really are geared to making one stoic, and that is the best attitude to take into this journey I think.

    I very much hope this pregnancy goes smoothly for you!  If you have a blog, I'd love to follow.