“It was really hard when I lost my second son, William. I still feel odd when I tell people about it, because they don’t usually understand, even if they are well-meaning. I’m so grateful for our two healthy children, but I’d like another. Of course, part of me thinks I’ll always feel like something’s missing, because William isn’t here.”
The woman above lost her child in a miscarriage at five months. She was well past the “danger zone” of the first trimester. Her child had a name. She’d been dreaming of what life would be like with another son to play with her firstborn boy. Though she has since had a successful pregnancy resulting in a beautiful daughter, she still finds herself occasionally feeling melancholy about the “what might have been” of her lost child.
Another woman, Nalla, was so excited to have children. She married late in life, so she and her husband were excited to immediately start on their family. The couple quickly saw a fertility specialist when they didn’t conceive immediately; the therapist confirmed they would not be able to have children. Soon after, the potential adoption of an infant fell through. Nalla and her spouse are both struggling to reconcile the loss of the dream they each had for their shared life.
Leana has two healthy children, but lost three children in utero. Each of her pregnancies nearly cost her life. She knows now there is nothing she could have done to prevent any of the circumstances, but it took her years to come to that point. She struggled with guilt over whether or not she could have done anything to prevent the losses. And her spouse had his own struggle; watching his wife suffer as she lost multiple children was incredibly painful, as was the loss of the potential in each of those little lives.
Miscarriage and infertility carry a difficulty specific to certain kinds of physical ailments and mental health issues: people often suffer from each of these in silence, your social circle unaware of what has happened to you. Miscarriages may happen before you’ve told anyone you’re expecting, and even if you have told people, they likely don’t know how to respond. In some cases, you may feel that your loved ones are ignoring your pain, when in fact they often simply don’t know how to express their condolences appropriately. In other cases, some people may simply not understand your grief.
Infertility and Miscarriage
Pregnancy should be a beautiful, exciting time, filled with love and expectations. However, when you have suffered a miscarriage or are having trouble conceiving, the opposite is true. The loss of an unborn child causes not only grief, but also loneliness sometimes made worse by others having no knowledge of your loss. When they are aware, they may be unsure of how to respond.
If you experiencing infertility, each month’s cycle without a pregnancy can feel like a loss. You will most likely have to watch friends and family get pregnant, have baby showers, and enjoy their growing children. The pain of watching loved ones have what you so deeply long for can also be confusing and challenging. At Thriveworks Austin Counseling, we have counselors that understand your pain and are ready to help you navigate the healing process.
Each person feels differently about miscarriage and infertility. This can be difficult for a couple, as each spouse reacts differently to loss and challenges. Men and women experience this very differently, and in addition to the sadness over the miscarriage or infertility, this can cause distance in the relationship. Thriveworks Austin counselors can help you and your partner understand each other’s experience and work to create an atmosphere of respect and love for the other.
Involuntary Childlessness and Post-Traumatic Stress
In the United States, “…nearly 30 percent of women experience problems with fertility, a rate 50 percent higher than indicated just over a decade ago” (Schwerdtfeger). Chances are if you haven’t suffered from a loss, you know someone who has. Considering how common this painful situation is, it’s surprising it’s not discussed more openly. What’s not surprising is that it can result in post-traumatic stress—which, once more, is not often discussed freely.
You might not think of miscarriage and infertility as traumatic, but they very much can be. The loss of life in one case, and the loss of lifelong hopes in another, can have long-lasting effects. When the two are combined, the pain of the after effects can be multiplied.
People who have experienced either likely won’t be surprised to hear their experience could be classified as traumatic, but those who haven’t experienced miscarriage or infertility might be. Loved ones can be helpful during this time by listening and validating whatever feelings the couple or person shares. If you don’t know what to say, acknowledge that and offer your love and support.
Thriveworks Austin counselors are compassionate, neutral listeners who are here to help you process whatever feelings you’re having surrounding this difficult time. There is no right or wrong. We want to help you heal and make a plan to move forward. The days can be good again.
Thriveworks Austin Infertility and Miscarriage Counseling
Perhaps you have been struggling with infertility for years. Maybe you have just experienced your first miscarriage. Whatever your situation, help is immediately available. We can’t treat the physical situation of miscarriage or infertility, but we can help provide emotional support so you’re stronger as you walk through the process. Thriveworks Austin Counseling never operates with a waiting list. We have appointments available for new clients within 24 hours.
Call us today. We would be honored to walk with you on this journey of healing.
Scherdtfeger, Kami L. and Karina M. Shreffler. “Trauma of Pregnancy Loss and Infertility for Mothers and Involuntarily Childless Women in the Contemporary United States.” Journal of loss & trauma.