An Obstetrician’s Point of View: The Devastation of Early Pregnancy Loss
As an obstetrician, I enjoy entering the exam room and seeing the excited, yet nervous, faces of the newly expecting couple. I see the wheels turning in their mind. Will it be a boy or a girl? Can we do this? Are we ready? Seeing the start of a new family or an extension of an established one is one of the best aspects of my job. Unfortunately sometimes, I walk in the room to sad faces and teary eyes. All hope and aspirations gone with an ultrasound that shows no heartbeat. I see the wheels turning in their minds, also. What happened? Did I eat or drink the wrong thing? Maybe I’ve been under too much stress! What if we can never have a baby? My first words are always, I am so sorry. It never gets mundane or become routine. This should be one of the most joyous occasions in a couple’s life; however, it has now become sad and depressing.
Early pregnancy loss is quite difficult. From the couple’s standpoint, it’s the end of a dream for that child they had probably been praying for. They probably had imagined how spoiled and loved this little one would be. Ideas about the color of the nursery had probably already begun in the crevices of their mind. They probably went so far as to already have the name picked out. So heartbreaking.
From my standpoint as an obstetrician, I grieve, too. Sometimes, I even cry with them. Every time, I cry for them. I wish I could take away the pain and sadness. I wish I could give a sound medical reason that would take the hurt away. I wish I could answer that question that every single person asks that experiences this…why? Unfortunately, when the loss occurs so early, we rarely know why. Many times, it’s likely a chromosomal defect or a natural error in development. My answer is always the same. I tell them that they haven’t done anything wrong to cause such devastation. I encourage them not to blame themselves, because it is not their fault. I tell them it’s okay to be sad and grieve, regardless of the fact that they are only a few months along. For most of us who have had babies, we know the love for our baby starts with the positive pregnancy test.
Be strong. To all those negative people that can’t understand why you are so upset, ignore them and say no to their “helpful” advice. No! You are not crazy for being so sad. No! You can’t just get over it. No! You can’t just decide to have another baby to replace the one you lost.
Allow yourself time to mourn the loss of the child you’ll never feel kick in your womb. It’s okay to mourn the loss of that first cry. Weep for the sleepless nights you would’ve been up feeding the little one or changing a diaper. Weep for the loss of the first crawl, the first step, and the first word. You, my friend, are allowed to mourn, to be hurt, and to cry. Please, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You have lost a precious piece of yourself.
When the mourning is over and you have received closure, know that happiness will find you again. Be aware that you are not alone. Pregnancy loss is sad, but it’s more common than people think. This commonality concerns me at times, because it makes some erroneously think that this is no big deal. Any woman who has ever suffered in this way knows firsthand the traumatic and emotional impact that such a loss can bring. You must believe that at your core, you are a wonderful human being and you’re not being punished for any wrongdoing in your life. Your season will come. You will never replace the child that you lost, nor will you forget. And no one should ask you to. But because of this lost, when you are blessed with a child, you will love a little harder and truly appreciate the gift of life. Surround yourself with positive people and remember that time heals all wounds.
- Pamela Lacy