With 15 to 25 percent of pregnancies ending unexpectedly, miscarriages are more common than most think, yet there aren't enough open discussions regarding this matter — and understandbly so. For the women who endure it, the grief is too much to bear.
There’s a sense of guilt, Suri C., 30 years old, told Latina. At the time of her miscarriage, she didn’t even know she was pregnant. “I remember the day. I was home in my parents’ apartment, and suddenly I started feeling a series of very strong cramps, which started to intensify as they were coming. I attributed this to my [overdue] period. I thought, 'well, they aren’t going to stop, and I can’t take the pain.' Within minutes, I felt something come out, somewhat like a large blood clot, which surprised and scared me since I knew I didn’t have my period yet."
Miscarriages are most likely to occur during the first three months of gestation, with a loss after the 20-week mark recognized as a stillbirth. However, most expectant mothers don't notice signs. “What shocked me most was the fact that everything was going so perfectly wonderful, until I unexpectedly started bleeding for no apparent reason,” said Catherine P., 18 years old.
For both women, the hardest part wasn't solely coping with the loss, but facing the guilt that lingered after.
A study conducted by the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal found that almost half of the people who have had a miscarriage feel remorseful. Three-quarters believe stress was the culprit, while 64 percent say their heavy lifting was to blame. Out of those that suffered a miscarriage, 57 percent said they were never given a reason, a startling detail researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center say could contribute to the negative feelings experienced.
What's more, miscarriages aren't just devasting for the mother-to-be but for the father who likely feels helpless as well. Compared to couples who experienced a successful pregnancy, those who miscarried had a 22 percent chance of breaking up. Still, not all odds are unfavorable. There's also a chance the loss will bring the couple closer, as both sides can feel as only the other knows exactly what this particular loss is like. "Most couples do very well and often become closer after loss," said Katherine Gold, an assistant professor of obstretics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Miscarriages can also be challenging for the famiy members who want to be supportive, yet can't help but stand on the sidelines. "[My cousin] would post the process of the decorations for the room. She chose every single detail. [The family] had to take her to counseling and advised her husband to take every single thing out of the room and paint the walls white. She now has a beautiful baby girl, but I know she thinks about her son, too. I just didn’t know what to say, and it never seemed like the right time to call. At first she was devastated, and then she was feeling much better and I thought bringing it up wouldn’t do her any good. Time went by and I never said anything," Sheryl M., 30, shares.
Additionally, Gold believes healthcare professionals, society, friends and family need to be understanding of just how much of a profound impact miscarriages can have on families.
Though common, miscarriage is a topic often too uncomfortable and painful to address. Furthermore, its an occurrence too unique to those who experience it for anyone else to chime in with subjective opinions, making sensitivity essential.