Miscarriage: Pain, Guilt and Grief
By: Ronke Alao
It was about 1a.m and I was alone in the bathroom waiting. Excited and nervous, I stared at the home pregnancy test for what seemed like hours even though it was just a few minutes. I knew I was pregnant. I had to be. We were very hopeful, my husband and I. We had been married for over a year and while our long distance relationship turned marriage came with its challenges, we had prayed that the four months we were going to spend together would result in pregnancy. Month number one was coming to a close.My wait was finally over and I held my mouth shut with my hand. It was all I could do to keep from screaming. I was over joyed. The test confirmed my suspicion and I was indeed pregnant.
Fast-forward two months later, It was days before Christmas. I was bleeding and my husband and I left for the hospital. An ultrasound scan was done and I was diagnosed as having an “incomplete abortion ” so I underwent an evacuation of what was left in my uterus. We were devastated to say the least. Not only was the procedure physically painful, it was emotionally exhausting. Though it was the contents of my womb that was removed, I felt like it was my heart been ripped out. “They took my baby , they took my baby” was all I could mutter over and over in the recovery room. I felt empty. My husband did his best to console me but I couldn’t be consoled. I cried till I had no more strength to cry.
Though it was the contents of my womb that was removed, I felt like it was my heart been ripped out
Having a miscarriage is an experience I do not wish on my worst enemy. One goes through similar emotions as someone who lost a dear loved one but sadly in this case, one might not have the same level of empathy as someone who lost an “actual loved one”. Yes, it’s true, society doesn’t view losing a fetus the same way they view losing a family member. People feel sorry for your loss but in essence they think you couldn’t possibly grieve much over a child you never met, especially if the miscarriage occurred in the first three months of pregnancy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is, while others might be vaguely aware of the existence of the unborn child, the mother- to-be is fully aware that a human being is growing within her so when it so happens that that new life is no more, she doesn’t just see it as a small pool of blood and tissue. It’s her baby who just died.
She doesn’t just see it as a small pool of blood and tissue. It’s her baby who just died
As mentioned earlier, women who have had a miscarriage go through a series of emotions that include shock, guilt, shame, feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and grief. The guilt can be quite overwhelming and even the word “miscarriage” tends to suggest a woman’s guilt. To miscarry implies she didn’t carry well, after all its the woman’s responsibility to carry the baby to term. Amidst the pain and sadness, I couldn’t stop wondering what I had done wrong. It was almost as if I was desperate to prove my guilt. Was it something I ate? Perhaps it was that piece of meat I ate, or my clothes were too tight around the waist. That is the kind of self-torture that most women go through when they lose their babies. Imagine when people, in their own ignorance, compound the torture by insinuating that the woman did something that led to the end of the pregnancy, it’s simply too much to bear. It took a year for me to finally accept the loss was no fault of mine.
I believed the best way to handle the situation was to act like it never happened and just move on but that was bad idea
In speaking with other women who have had the unfortunate experience of losing a pregnancy, I am amazed not only at how they have the same sort of emotions but also at the similarities between how society responds to them. It didn’t matter if it was here in Nigeria or some place else like the United States, people just didn’t seem to understand what a woman who has lost her unborn baby goes through or that she needs to grieve that loss. I found it easier to talk to strangers on an online forum who’ve had similar experience than talk to people around. People usually mean well but telling someone their baby died because God needed an angel isn’t only lacking in comfort but it’s downright stupid and isn’t true. God is in the business of blessing us with babies not killing babies. It can be a hard subject to discuss.
In my naivety, I believed the best way to handle the situation was to act like it never happened and just move on but that was bad idea. I soon realized I had to grieve in my own way before moving on. The happy face I had put on wasn’t working. I remember breaking down in tears one day from the pressure and my husband tried to tell me not to cry. Well, I snapped. “I just lost a baby! I want to cry. I need to cry” It’s okay to cry.
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Ronke Alao is a writer who gives time-tested and simple principles to help women enjoy their relationships and marriages. Her methods teach women how to get past the confusion of dating and getting to the place where they really have fulfilling relationships and marriage.
She is known for her ‘up-close and personal’ style of getting her message across and drawing lessons from her personal experience. She is married to her best friend, Wale, who is her biggest cheerleader. Her online newsletter,EveryWoman’s Heart, is read in over 90 countries. Download her free E-book– Embracing The Real You