When you have a miscarriage, suddenly it seems like the whole world falls into two categories: Women who have been where you are at and women who are pregnant.
After I miscarried, friends and family blanketed me in support and even complete strangers shared their stories of loss with me. It broke my heart to hear their voices crack as they relived their own losses, but it also gave me strength to know that they understood what I was going through and had lived through it because honestly, in those first days, I wasn’t sure I would.
The moment I found out there was no heartbeat, I felt a pain so primal that I didn’t even recognize my own sobs. They were howls of pain. For the first month or so, I didn’t want to feel anything. My doctor prescribed something to help me get through my grief.
I found myself blaming myself for my body’s failure. In my head, I knew it wasn’t my fault, but my heart needed an answer for why this happened. Everyone deals with loss differently. Some people cope well at the time and feel overwhelming sadness after. Others recover quickly and experience pangs of sadness at random times. I call these “emotional time-bombs,” and I still experience them a year and a half later. Some pains are triggered by the anniversary of the loss. Or the expected due date. Even holidays.
But sometimes the grief can turn into depression, and we need to seek help from a psychiatrist or a support group. My online support group, who had been through it all, helped me to survive the unbearable pain of losing a pregnancy. Women who lose a pregnancy are also at risk of developing PPD due to the sudden change in hormones, coupled with the overwhelming grief of the loss.
Here are some of the feelings that you may develop after a loss:
- A feeling of emptiness
- Sense of bereavement
- Sadness and crying
- Loss of interest in everyday life
- Loss of concentration
- Constant tiredness
- Feelings of guilt and failure
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolation and loneliness
- Lack or loss of interest in intimacy
- Pain or jealousy at the sight of pregnant women, babies or anything to do with motherhood
- Talking about it all the time, or finding it too painful to discuss
I felt every single one of the feelings on that list. If the grief turns to depression, seek help immediately. Sometimes in the thick of the loss, it is hard to see clearly.
In the book A Deeper Shade of Blue, Dr. Ruta Nonacs discusses grief and depression after perinatal loss and the differences between the two:
“With time, you will move toward acceptance of the loss and will be able to settle back into your life. It is unlikely that you will completely obliterate these painful feelings, but you will eventually be able to give them their allotted space in your emotional life … The symptoms of grief after a miscarriage typically last about six months to a year and do not usually affect your ability to function for a prolonged period of time; however, some women may have a grief reaction that is more intense or more prolonged. When the grieving process seems unbearably intense or seems to persist for a longer period of time, this may be a sign of what is called ‘pathological’ or unresolved grief, or this may be an indication that depression has complicated the picture.”
If the grief lingers too long or begins to feel too overwhelming, it may be depression and it’s time to get help for your own sake. You did nothing wrong. You don’t deserve to be punished with depression.