Child Loss & Grief

Recurrent Baby Loss – Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Five Miscarriages

Eloise Edington  |   1 Dec 2020

Sadly, baby loss affects one in four women. It is something we discuss a lot on Fertility Help Hub, through shared experiences and expert support. We have asked Allison Schaaf, the founder of Miscarriage Hope Desk (a friendly evidence-based resource), what she wished she had known before her five miscarriages. Allison is also the founder of meal planning website, PrepDish. Read on as she shares her personal journey with recurrent miscarriage.

Over to Allison | @miscarriagehopedesk

My journey to build my family has been unexpected. It has included four miscarriages, an adoption, another miscarriage, a failed IVF cycle and a natural pregnancy and birth (all in that order!). My struggles with recurrent pregnancy loss have taught me so much.

Below are five things I wish I could have told myself years ago, when I first started trying to conceive.

Related Article – Miscarriage Comments: What To Say and Avoid Saying

1)  Allow Time to Grieve

Trying to conceive can feel like a race against time, but one lesson I have learnt, is that skipping over the grieving phase, after baby loss, is simply not an option. In order to move forward and make decisions, it has been important first to allow myself time and space to grieve. Otherwise, I am not in the right mindset to make a well-thought out, informed decision or might hastily rush into a decision. Grieving is important and necessary, no matter when the miscarriage happens. I have had a miscarriage at 6 weeks, and one at 11 weeks. While the grieving process may have looked and felt different for these two experiences, it was nonetheless important. Baby loss is a loss, no matter when it happens.

Another thing to keep in mind during the grieving process, is that you and your partner will grieve differently. In my situation, my husband and I have completely different ways of expressing and going through grief.  From the outside, it often looked like he wasn’t grieving. I didn’t see tears from him, nor overt expression of emotions, which I was displaying. It was through couples’ therapy that I came to understand and even appreciate our different ways of experiencing and expressing grief.  While our grieving never has looked the same, we have come to better understand and appreciate that we each have our own process.

Related Article – How Infertility has Rocked these Women’s Romantic Relationships; and How Communication has Improved Them

2)  Finding an Exact Cause is Unlikely (But Worth Exploring)

It is rare to discover the exact cause of a miscarriage with certainty, and many times even a plausible explanation can be hard to come by. This can be difficult to accept. Over the years, my mind has tried to rationalize and find certainty, even when it does not exist. Ultimately, I’ve learned to accept that most miscarriages come with a lot of unanswered questions and to be ok with that.

While knowing a cause with 100% certainty may be impossible, I found asking why, as well as doing the research and testing, worthwhile. Over the years, we uncovered potential factors that may have contributed to my miscarriages. One of these was a blood clotting issue I have, called Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). APS has a very specific protocol that I have followed to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.  We also found out my husband has fragmented DNA on his sperm. Being able to help control these two factors in our future pregnancies is, in part, what I believe led to a healthy, full term pregnancy. This is why I recommend advocating for yourself, pushing for more testing when you feel it is warranted and including your partner in that fertility testing.

Related Article – Grief and Grieving: When a Baby Dies

3)  Listen To Yourself

There is SO much you can do to help improve fertility when you’re trying to conceive. For me, I tried a lot of different modalities and stuck with the pieces that I felt were helpful at the time. A few things to consider:

My main caution with this piece, is not to try and do it all, find the thing (or a few things) that feel right for you. Go with your gut on this one.

4)  You Are NOT Alone!

While I often felt very alone in what I was experiencing, I’ve now come to learn that there are plenty of women out there with very similar struggles. I found it useful to connect with others either through face to face groups as well as online. I have a group specific for those going through miscarriage, linked here. Fertility Help Hub also has a supportive community in the Fertility Squad app, I would encourage you to go and and find your people! A great place to start is Facebook. Depending on your location, you may find there are also a lot of great local, in-person support groups.

Related Article – Fertility Springboard Podcast: Recurrent Miscarriage Warrior Linny

5) The Ending

More than anything, what I really wish I’d known before I set out on my journey to build my family, was the ending. There is nothing sweeter than holding a delicious smelling baby in my arms or listening to toddler antics and giggles at mealtimes. If I knew just how beautiful it would be in the end, I would have known from the beginning it was all worthwhile.

Related Article – Why Surrogacy? The Most Common Reasons

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