Since we started trying to get pregnant 18 months ago, my partner and I have been through two miscarriages. The first was pretty early. I was only 8 weeks. It was hard, but then we got pregnant again pretty quickly. When I miscarried again at 14 weeks, it was devastating. We’d waited until I was 12 weeks before sharing our happy news with our friends and family, only to have to tell them a few weeks later that I’d lost the baby. That was 6 months ago and my partner is keen to try again, but I’m terrified. Our doctor says there doesn’t seem to be any problems with our fertility. But I honestly don’t know how I’ll cope if I lose another baby. What should I do?

Written by our mental health expert, Dr. Karen Kranz, Registered Psychologist.  

I am so sorry for the loss of your two pregnancies. I understand you feel devastated by what has happened and terrified to try to and conceive again. You are not alone. Fifteen to twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. The emotional pain of miscarriages and recurrent miscarriages can be intense and long lasting. There are cultural and personal differences between people and how they manage, cope, process, and move through the pain of miscarriages. I encourage you to permit yourself to patiently and compassionately acknowledge and experience the full range of emotions that you’ve been feeling, in the wake of these significant losses.

Feel your sadness, grief, and loss. These babies that had started to grow within you are no longer. Wondering, missing, and longing for a lost child is common. What makes the experience even more difficult is that the loss is relatively invisible. Most people will express their sympathy but there will be no public acknowledgement that a life and a dream have ended. Perhaps you and your partner might like to mark the loss of your babies in some manner. Some couples plant trees to acknowledge their children that left them before they were born. Some release balloons to symbolize saying goodbye, or name these babies that will always hold a place in their hearts but are no longer. Engaging in any of these types of rituals helps to acknowledge the reality of your loss. By allowing yourselves to acknowledge your sadness and grief, it will be easier to let go and say goodbye, thereby making space for something new to begin.

If there is anger, allow yourself to feel and explore these emotions. Under your anger you may be experiencing fear (e.g., “will I ever have a baby? What will my life be without children?”), hurt (e.g., “why is this happening to me? This is so unfair”), or inadequacy (e.g., “My body has failed, I’ve failed as a woman and a wife…maybe I don’t deserve to be a mother”). I encourage you to examine the beliefs that you have associated with your miscarriages and understand that your miscarriages are not your fault, and you are no less a woman or partner for having gone through this painful experience. Trust that in time you will heal.

Going through painful life experiences alone further complicates the process. Reach out to your partner. Let your partner know s/he doesn’t need to take away your pain, that you will not always feel as bad as you do right now, and that what you need right now is the patience and compassion you are trying to have with yourself as you go through the pain and loss of two miscarriages. You may also want to reach out to others who have been through a miscarriage. If you don’t know anyone personally or do not feel comfortable sharing your feelings with people you know, reach out to a local or online support group (learn more here) or a counsellor. It is helpful to know that you are not the only person who has felt devastated by a miscarriage and terrified of getting pregnant again. Having your feelings acknowledged by others is an important part of the healing process.

It is entirely understandable that you are terrified of getting pregnant again – to risk having your heart broken again. And really why would you? Most likely it is because you have a lot of love to give, your partner has a lot of love to give, and together you have a lot of love to give to a child. Love is why you would risk getting your heart broken again. When you are ready to conceive again, remember not only what can go wrong but remember the love.

So after you have cried as many tears as you need to cry, and after you’ve reconnected with the love that drives your desire to have a child, I encourage you to make space for a new pregnancy, a new baby. Allow yourself to open your heart to why you even want to enter into another pregnancy and risk another miscarriage. Having children is about opening your heart even though there are no guarantees that the journey will be free of heartbreak. It takes time to acknowledge and grieve the two miscarriages and it takes such courage and a vision of love to risk again.

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