"Barely three weeks after our elaborate wedding ceremonies, I got pregnant. Of course, everything has always been working out so well that it was difficult for me to imagine challenges in life. I was nine weeks gone – life was happening very typical for me as a pregnant woman. My doctors were pretty happy with my health; I would say, I had a clean bill of health. One afternoon, after some minor domestic tasks, I decided to take a nap before my husband returns from work. By the way, that was becoming the routine ‘cos, I wanted to give my unborn child all the golden opportunities to develop well.
Not quite 45 minutes, I was regaining full consciousness, and at the same time, I felt an unusual warmness around my thighs, only to realise that my shorts were drenched in blood. A thousand and one questions/thoughts ran through my mind – How? What happened? When? Little did I know that it was the beginning of my journeys with ‘miscarriages’. So far, I have had six miscarriages. Every time it happens, everything in me says – Not again!”
The above real-life story was recounted by Sandra*. She is probably one of the strongest women that I have met who has gone through unimaginable pains and experiences but have come out to encourage others by sharing her story. She wrote me an email and asked if she could share some encouraging words with Dazzling Insights audience. I was thrilled, even before I knew her storyline. It wasn’t until I signed an anonymity forms with her that she started sharing her heart-wrenching experiences about miscarriages with me.
Despite her experiences, she has chosen to encourage many women out there who are going through miscarriages. Sandra did a bit of research as she tells me her story, and she puts the following statistics to my face:
- About 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (i.e. the first trimester).
- Miscarriage rate is about 10% - 20%, while rates among all fertilization is around 30% to 50%.
- Approximately 5% of women or couples have two miscarriages in a row.
- In 2012, over 10 million miscarriages were estimated to occur in the developing world.
I summed up courage to ask Sandra how is it that with all your experiences and trauma, you are this strong. She replied to me: “that is exactly why I reached out to you because I want to put my experiences our there, perhaps it will help someone.” Immediately, I requested her to hold on. I grabbed my writing pad and started noting down all her points. The real-life stories that she shared have turned into articles that I believe will strengthen women and couples going through a similar ordeal.
If you are going through miscarriages or know anyone that experienced it, please hear Sandra out – I consider her words golden. More so, knowing the unmitigated audacity of hope and courage that made her reach out to me is worth the read. She has the following pieces of advice to give as ways that have helped her to cope with her serial miscarriages.
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1. First, do not live in denial
When a miscarriage happens, the reality of it dawns on you. What matters is separating fantasy or imagination from reality. When Sandra’s first miscarriage occurred, she was ultimately in denial for some days –she wouldn’t just bring herself to believing and accepting the obvious even when her doctor (trained medical personnel) confirmed it. It was totally unbelievable and heart-wrenching for her.
The first point that she mentioned is ‘do not live in denial of the occurrence. Accept it, take care of yourself, move on, and keep trying. Living in denial will only delay your healing and recovery, especially psychologically.
2. Please find out the possible cause of it, but DON’T blame yourself
Whenever a miscarriage happens, please find out the cause, but do not blame yourself.
Sandra said, “for whatsoever reason, I believe that no expectant mother will intentionally trigger a miscarriage. Also, no married woman in her correct senses will end a pregnancy, except, when there are life-threatening risks associated with the pregnancy. Of course, Ijeoma, you wouldn’t call such a miscarriage, maybe names like abortion will fit better. Even the definition of a miscarriage uses the word ‘unintentional’”.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, miscarriage is defined as an early, unintentional end to a pregnancy when the baby is born too early and dies because it has not developed enough.
Sandra narrated: “In my case, I was thinking that I was not doing enough for my unborn child, or I shouldn’t have slept when I did. But now, I have come to realise that life happens, despite and in spite. Sometimes, nature does its things even without consulting you. There are many reasons that people might give as causes of a miscarriage, but don’t beat yourself that you didn’t do enough to stop it.
Finding out the cause can be helpful; for me, my doctor couldn’t point to any reason at all. I am living with it. My husband is extremely supportive, and I would say he is the reason I am up and doing daily. That takes me to my next points.”
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3. Have someone/people that can genuinely stand with you
When my first miscarriage happened, I was worried if my husband will even believe me that our unborn baby ‘Peter’ is gone. We had loads of plans, but all those are yet to become a reality. When you have someone that can support you and talk you through, then be rest assured that you will cope faster than you ever imagined.
Ijeoma, permit me to tell all men out there that one moment that their partners or wives will need them the most (I mean their best part) is when she experiences a miscarriage. It is one experience that even my biochemistry knowledge is toppled and messed up.
Aside from your spouse, your mother, other family members, and close friends can also be there to support you.
"If you are going through miscarriages or know anyone that experienced it, please hear Sandra out – I consider her words golden."
4. Engage expert services if you need one
My first and second miscarriages were relatively less impactful, probably because we enjoyed so much support from family and friends. But, when I had my third miscarriage, first, we decided to keep everything quiet and did not talk about it, but after three months, I started experiencing shocks, nightmares and sleeplessness. I never realised that I was going through severe psychological trauma, according to the psychologist that helped me.
I would strongly recommend that you see a psychologist or professional mental health practitioner to guide you through. Please do not underestimate the extent of a nervous breakdown that can result from even a single miscarriage, let alone a serial one.
One of the ways that I knew that it was necessary that I saw a counsellor was when I couldn’t manage my emotions. I needed someone to listen to me in an atmosphere that I could freely pour out my thoughts as words. Yes, my husband was always there to listen. But I had a little reservation of how much he can handle since we were in it together. He strongly encouraged me to see experts, and he booked my appointments. For all the visits, he took me there.
[...to be continued in the next post]
Please keep dazzling and watch out for the complete article on this topic. I tagged this post ‘Dealing with serial miscarriages, and still, without a child: Lessons from Sandra’s experiences”. Sandra will appreciate that you take a bit of your time to encourage people that are going through miscarriages around you. As well as pray for them. In the continuation of her story, she talked about the positive impacts of prayers. It is in so doing that we will all grow together, support one another and dazzle together!
* Sandra is not her real name for anonymity purposes.