You Can Bounce Back After Miscarriage
"What if I have another miscarriage?"
This is a scary thought. If you’ve already had a miscarriage, you know the pain of miscarriage. You were previously peacefully unaware. You thought “Yay! I’m finally pregnant, now all I have to do is wait!” You’d heard of other women having miscarriages, but surely that wouldn’t happen to you. If you’ve waited all this time to get pregnant, or spent all this money to get pregnant, then surely that won’t happen to you. But realistically 20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. So hoping it won't happen to you just isn’t a powerful way to move forward.
It turns out we are much stronger than our minds think we are. Do you remember that climber that got stuck between two boulders a few years ago and ended up cutting his arm off with a pocket knife? Do you think if someone would have asked him a year prior - Do you think you could cut your arm off with a pocket knife? - he’d say “Yes! I’d love to!” No! He’d probably say, like you’re saying now - there’s no way I could get through that. But it turns out, the human resolve is full of surprises.
In some ways your willingness to have a miscarriage is the beginning of your willingness to endure pain that is required to be a parent. Becoming a mother, as Elizabeth Stone put it - is like having your heart walk around outside of your body. No one wants the pain that comes along with seeing your child get hurt, be made fun of, not get a part in the school play, be dumped by a boyfriend, etc. but are you willing to feel these pains in order to be a parent? Your willingness to hurt - but not wanting to be hurt can still help you get through. Aron Ralston didn’t want to cut off his arm. But he was willing to do what he had to do to survive. And so are you.
Resilience comes the latin root word saliere meaning to jump or to leap. Saliere is also the same root word of the word salient, meaning prominent, striking. The point at which you decide to act in line with what is important to you, regardless of fear or future possibilities, is the most important time. Resilience means to find a new starting point, to jump back, to find the meaning, the prominent point from which to realign your life. What do you really want?
More important than the question: “Can I endure a miscarriage?” Is “Who are the people I would ask for help if I did have a miscarriage?” “What would I need? Would I be able to provide that for myself, or find the right people who could help me get it?” Knowing that being resilient is an innate human capacity, you can then get to work strengthening the net that you’ll need to catch you. Resilience means processing and accepting grief, trusting that you will continue to breathe, and knowing how to ask for help.
One thing you can do right now, is make a list of people who have been supportive to you in the past when things go wrong. Who was helpful during your last miscarriage? Now make a list of the things you do that help to ground you, distract you, relax you, or focus you. Put at least 20 activities on this list. You know have an emotional first aid kit. Put it on the fridge, or slip it into your wallet, and know that no matter what, you will jump back.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of Resolve, The Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Contact her to start feeling better.