Managing the Grief of Miscarriage: A Personal Account

I became a mom at the young age 22, before any of my friends.  I had no idea what to expect, and I spent a lot of time reading and educating myself on how to be the best mom I could be.  My first pregnancy went seamlessly, and I was filled with gratitude at the opportunity to become a mother.  It was one of the most sacred times of my life.

At age 23 and 24, I experienced two miscarriages at 10 weeks and 12 weeks.  Once again, I didn’t know anyone who had gone through what I was going through.  Most people didn’t know how to support my grief, and I felt so much guilt that maybe there was something I did to cause my pregnancy losses.  Maybe if I was a better mother, or exercised more, or exercised less, or changed my diet, this wouldn’t have happened.  Years later, after talking to multiple doctors, I learned that there was nothing I did to cause the miscarriages and there was nothing I could have done to prevent them.  But at my young age, and without support, I felt lost and spiraled into bouts of depression and anxiety, racked with guilt and the unpredictability of life.


At age 25 I became pregnant again.  As the pregnancy progressed, I expected to feel less anxious, but the opposite was true.  On multiple occasions around 19 weeks, I started bleeding—sending me into panic attack after panic attack. Fortunately, at 39 weeks, my healthy baby boy was born.  I sobbed loudly the first time I held him in my arms.  My beautiful rainbow baby was finally here—he had survived my pregnancy.  

Walking Through the Dark

 

Despite my son’s healthy birth, my anxiety and depression did not go away.  Somehow, they got worse.  For months on end, I struggled with multiple panic attacks a day.  I had lost motivation for doing pretty much anything.  I experienced constant intrusive thoughts about bad things happening to my children—I was terrified to leave the house.  All of this sent me to a very dark place mentally.  I tried reaching out to my doctor, but was dismissed.  I did not have a good support system to help me navigate the grief and emotions that were plaguing me—and I felt utterly alone.

 

A few months later, when my baby was 9 months old, my father passed away from cancer.   All of this was an overwhelming amount of grief to deal with, and it was a daily struggle of reminding myself to just keep going and to take things little by little—some days it was all I could do to get through the next minute.  And then the next one after that.  

 

The last conversation I had before my dad passed away, I confided in him that I was struggling with a lot of depression and anxiety.  He told me, "I wish there was something I could do to take that away from you." Those words stuck with me and challenged me to find the support I needed for my mental health—I knew that was my dad’s wish for me.  

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

As I grieved my dad’s loss, I spent time studying about mental health, at first from podcasts and books.  I developed a strong support system of friends that knew how to empathize with my struggles.  My depression and anxiety diminished almost completely, and I felt inspired to help others do the same.  The year after my father passed away, I was accepted to a graduate program to become a therapist.  I spent the next few years balancing motherhood while studying mental health, taking tests, presenting at conferences, going to my own weekly therapy, and working with clients of my own.  I am now a licensed therapist, and I enjoy supporting my clients with their own mental health.  Even more fulfilling that my job, are the ways that I am able to support my children in their own mental health because of the education that I now have.

 

I don’t know why bad things happen.  But I believe that we can make meaning out of them if we are willing to work through hard things.  I am forever grateful for my two precious children—I know that having two healthy children is a blessing that is not afforded to every family.  I can’t say that I am grateful for having to go through two miscarriages at such a young age, but I am very grateful for the lessons I learned because of those experiences.  I learned how to better take care of my mental health and support the mental health of people around me.  I learned that when life is difficult, sometimes, you have to take things minute by minute.  Sometimes, you need to reach out and ask for help.  Sometimes you need to be reminded that you did not cause your miscarriage.  

 

I wish I could have told myself that one day, I’d make lemonade out of the bitter lemons I was dealt.  

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