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When The Worst Happens: Dealing With Pregnancy Loss

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I know that you have not experienced this particular pregnancy horror, but you give excellent advice and also maybe some of your readers out there have been through this.

Up until last week I was pregnant with twins. 19 weeks pregnant! Supposedly past the point where the bad stuff can happen! And yet, it did. After a totally normal ultrasound on Wednesday, my water broke Thursday, and, although the babies were still fine in there (normal heartbeat, etc.), there was nothing they could do but deliver them, and they were stillborn. Nothing I’ve experienced in my life so far quite matches the horror of having to deliver dead babies. The doctors say they are not totally sure what caused it, maybe a subchorionic hematoma (I had bleeding at weeks 10-12), and they said this is no indication that I couldn’t have a normal pregnancy next time (this was my first pregnancy).

But — I am so scared. I know the odds are good for a healthy pregnancy next time, but what happened to me this time was against all odds — twins are rare (these ones were identical, and not produced after IVF or anything), and supposedly the chance of a second trimester miscarriage is only 1% and yet it happened to me. I’m nervous that I have an incompetent cervix, or some other issue that they don’t know about, and that this is going to happen again. And I’m afraid that the only thing that will show me otherwise is a live, healthy baby in my arms — which would be fine, except for the 40 anxiety-filled weeks that are sure to come in producing that baby. Everything I read on the Internet just scares me more, and makes me think I had this problem or that problem, and so I think that reading the Internet is not the way to go in this case.

Any advice you could give me in how to move on from this, and how to have a relatively happy non-anxiety-filled pregnancy next time would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Heartbroken in SF

Oh, oh, OH you sweet thing. I am so SORRY. I just want to give you a hug, I really do. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain and that I am just now getting to your question, even though you sent it a month and a half ago and that I’ve spent that month and a half talking about being pregnant!pregnant!pregnant!

Finding Community on the Internet

You mention that reading the Internet has not been the best thing for you, but what do you think about writing on the Internet? A blog, perhaps? I know many grief counselors suggest journaling as a way to deal with losses like yours — you know, letters to your babies, that sort of thing — and that could also be an option. But there can be something extra therapeutic about publishing your musings on grief, even if no one else ever reads them.

Your babies were here and you loved them and they were real and part of your family, and now they are gone. Write them letters, create a tribute with your ultrasounds, refer to them by their names. There is no reason (in my mind) to mash your emotions and grief down as quickly as possible in the name of “moving on.” Women, in particular, just aren’t wired this way, I think.

Gwendomama (who lost her son to a growth disorder at 13 months) had a great post about how she handles the loss vs. how her husband deals with it:

Not surprisingly, dh and I have processed our grief about Elijah in completely different ways. In my opinion, he did what most fathers in his position would do – he jumped off the emotional cliff. I wallowed in it. He didn’t want to talk about it; I needed (still need) to talk about it. He has a low tolerance for my need to process the details over and over, and so I rarely process with him. But he also has, on occasion, taken this sort of superior status on his process, as he condescends to me in my grieving path. For instance, you do realize, that I choose this pain, don’t you? I choose to hold on to this grief. But he, because of his buddhist leanings, is not holding on to it! See? Simple.

But I don’t judge him or tell him that I think he is full of shit and grief. I just let him do it his way. Who am I to say what works? Dead babies don’t get you some sort of special manual, you know.

I imagine we’d have the exact same dynamic at my house, too.

Gwen has had another pregnancy and baby since losing Elijah, as have many other bloggers who experienced earth-shattering losses: Karla at Untangling Knots, Cecily at Uppercase Woman, Julia at Uncommon Misconception, Tertia at So Close, Julia at I Won’t Fear Love, Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry, Kate at Sweet|Salty.

I don’t mean to turn this column into a morbid blogroll of death, or anything — I just admire these women very much and am…grateful, in a way, that they’ve chosen to share their stories over the years and given me the chance to pause and say a prayer/blessing/wish for the children that they loved and lost. Some of these bloggers started writing as a way to deal with their grief; some were already writing and continued to write furiously through every stage of it. It seems to have helped. I hope it helps.

Since I have never been where you are right now, I have no idea if clicking on any of these links will help or if you simply can’t imagine reading about a story remotely similar to yours. Even if you can’t read those blogs, just know that you aren’t alone. That there’s no “right” way to grieve over your particular loss, and that your fears for the future are completely normal. Your experience will color future pregnancies. Of course it will. Again, perhaps writing about your fears will help you keep them organized and in check, instead of letting them drive you to WebMd and EverythingThatCanGoWrongWithYourBaby.com day after day.

There are happy endings to be had, in many shapes and forms and delicious healing baby smiles. I hope you get yours soon.

Published March 14, 2008. Last updated March 27, 2018.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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