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  1. #1

    Grieving lost babies

    The Star: Grieving lost babies
    Mar. 19, 2004
    Sadness and guilt following miscarriages and stillbirths may often be buried

    Despite all the high-tech wizardry, miscarriages often still remain a medical mystery, with about half of all pregnancy losses unexplained. And miscarriages are so common — they end about 15 to 20 per cent of all known pregnancies — that they usually are not investigated until after the second or third incident.

    "A lot of people don't realize the chance of loss," says psychiatrist Gail Robinson, director of Women's Mental Health at the University Health Network. "In this age of technology, they think once they're pregnant we can fix everything."

    The psychological fallout, even after a single early miscarriage, can be devastating. Friends, family, sometimes even spouses, brush aside the grief with well-meaning but dismissive comments, "You can get pregnant again" or "It's for the best." "It would be like coming to the emergency room to find that your husband had died and being told, `Don't worry. You can get married again,'" says Robinson. "The message is, don't grieve. Get over it."

    Friendships can be frayed, marriages jeopardized. Even the bond with other children can be tainted. For solace, some seek out bereavement groups. "Everyone assumes you're over it — except people who've had similar losses," says Cassandra Worbanski, 29, who has had two miscarriages....

    With the majority of miscarriages unexplained, the women often fill the void with guilt. "They blame a glass of wine they had, a run they took, ambivalent feelings about the baby, a long-ago abortion," says psychiatrist Robinson. "They pull in all kinds of things to explain it."...

    While reactions to a miscarriage vary widely, about 75 per cent of women with early losses feel their baby has died, says Jan Pearce, executive director of Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario. The others view it as just something that happened, a learning experience.

    The deeply grieving majority often find that friends and family don't feel their pain. "The big problem is reconciling the opinion of the world that nothing big happened with the way they feel," says Pearce.

    "At some point it hurts more to go on than to quit. I felt huge gut-wrenching pain and enormous relief all at the same time. My life wasn't on hold anymore." -- Sandra Glahn, who suffered seven miscarriages in 10 years
    When Cari Haim miscarried at eight weeks, she felt devastated. It was a first miscarriage and she was only 25, but none of that helped how she felt. "I was quite surprised by how hard it hit me," says Haim. "I felt guilty for being so upset. I kept telling myself it wasn't a real tragedy."

    But it took her two years to recover. "My husband never understood the depths of my despair," says Haim, who thinks it contributed to their eventual divorce....

    Five years later, in another relationship, she got pregnant and miscarried at nine weeks. Again she felt deep sorrow. "Both times I found myself very instinctively apologizing to the babies, `I'm sorry there was nothing I could do to help you.'" But this time she attended PBSO support groups. "They didn't judge how I felt," says Haim. "They allowed me to grieve."

    A husband and wife often mourn differently, sometimes creating marital tensions. "People have their own styles," says Robinson. "She may want to be sad and talk about it, but he may think she should be out playing golf."

    Having not physically experienced the miscarriage, he might not feel as sad. "He may be in a bind," says the psychiatrist. "He's afraid if he brings it up he'll upset her, but she gets the message not to talk about it."

    Or the man may blame himself, feeling guilty he couldn't protect his child. "I hear dads saying, `If I'd been a better provider, my wife wouldn't have had to work and maybe this wouldn't have happened,'" says Pearce....

    For information on Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario's support groups and other services, call 905-472-1807 or 1-888-301-7276 or visit http://www.pbso.ca. Bereaved Families of Ontario also offers self-help support groups for families who have experienced miscarriages or stillbirths. In Toronto, call 416-440-0290 or visit http://www.bfotoronto.ca.

    ...more from this article

  2. #2
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    Terminating a pregnancy

    Hi,

    I'm new to this group. Last year I terminated my pregnancy due to a chromosonal defect (trisomy 9). The medical professionals told me my baby would probably die before it came to term or it would die shortly after birth. My husband and I had discussed beforehand that we would terminate the pregnancy if their was something seriously wrong with the fetus. The post I'm replying to talks about miscarriages and grieving the loss of the baby, when the loss can't be explained. How do you grieve when you caused the loss? You can paint any picture you want, you can talk about quality of life, or the undue stress and hardship you would cause your child if you allowed her to live but I keep on having this nagging feeling that I put myself before my baby and I don't like it. And I find it hard to grieve when it was my decision, sometimes (heck, most times) I think I should feel guilty and punish myself. I understand this is a very sensitive topic and I'm well aware that I may open myself up to attacks but I'm hoping that someone can offer me insight and not judgement.

    Thank-you.

  3. #3

    Grieving lost babies

    Just wanted to give you a warm welcome and tell you not to worry about being judged or attacked here.

    I think grief counseling would be beneficial. It sounds like such a hard, painful time that you have been through and are still going through.

    I'm sure someone will come along soon with some better advice.

    Again, welcome.

    Janet :)

  4. #4

    Re: Terminating a pregnancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary1968
    The medical professionals told me my baby would probably die before it came to term or it would die shortly after birth. My husband and I had discussed beforehand that we would terminate the pregnancy if their was something seriously wrong with the fetus. The post I'm replying to talks about miscarriages and grieving the loss of the baby, when the loss can't be explained. How do you grieve when you caused the loss? You can paint any picture you want, you can talk about quality of life, or the undue stress and hardship you would cause your child if you allowed her to live but I keep on having this nagging feeling that I put myself before my baby and I don't like it. And I find it hard to grieve when it was my decision, sometimes (heck, most times) I think I should feel guilty and punish myself.
    It is part of grief to second guess your decisions or your actions or your lack of action, but the objective reality is that this was not a selfish act but an act of compassion and mercy. I agree with Janet that grief counselling would probably be helpful -- you have had a loss, you are entitled to grieve that loss, you need to allow yourself to grieve that loss. Working through misplaced feelings of guilt is part of that process.

    I understand this is a very sensitive topic and I'm well aware that I may open myself up to attacks but I'm hoping that someone can offer me insight and not judgement.
    Be assured that no one will attack you here or judge you, Mary -- we will not permit that. I cannot be here 24/7, as the kids say, but I am here every day and anything I miss the moderators will I'm sure pick up and delete/quarantine.

  5. #5
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    Grieving lost babies

    Hi,

    Thanks for the reply. I apologize for not getting back sooner but I've been out of town and haven't had the chance to sit down and post a proper reply.

    A little about me, I've been very fortunate and my life so far has been relatively good. I guess I've had small bouts of depression, starting in my late teens and my first year at university. I've been seeing a clinical psychologist off and on for the last 5 or 6 years, to discuss my depression and tendency to drink too much. After losing the baby, I did talk to him for a bit and it helped. I live in Winnipeg and the support I received at the Women's Hospital was also very good, they did suggest a group that my husband and I could attend. The group consisted of people who had lost their babies, either through a spontaneous miscarriage or a situation similar to myself. But we never went. The hospital did have a memorial service however, and we know where she is (the baby was a girl and we called her Claire) and that's comforting. I guess when I wrote the first e-mail, it was very close to the one year anniversary (October 29) and it had stirred up a lot of memories.

    I still have those memories and feelings and sometimes I use alcohol to cope, not a lot, it tends to happen in binges, I'll be fine for a few weeks and then I find myself picking up a bottle on the way home from work. My husband doesn't drink much and we never really drink together but he works night shifts and that's when I find it the most difficult. (Just as a side note, I never drank when I was pregnant.) It's not bad enough that I'm physically dependent just psychologically I think. Sometimes I think I would like to go to the group session mentioned in the paragraph above, but I feel like I've left it too long and I won't belong or it will just make me dredge up a lot of pain.

    One of the reasons I stopped going to the therapist was financial, my insurance plan ran out and I just couldn't afford it. I found one of the most beneficial aspects of therapy was just to talk and know someone was listening. I'm hoping I can find something similar here. I know it is not therapy but it's comforting to write something down and have someone reply. So, thank-you again for the replies and if there is anyone out there who has had a similar experience and wants to talk about it, please let me know.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2004
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    Grieving lost babies

    Hi,

    Just to start off, I'm not drunk. :-)

    This was my first post to this forum and I think most of my problems relate to it. I was prone to depression before, but losing my first baby in this manner really made me question so much. I no longer believe that life is fair, life is just life, bad things happen and good things happen and sometimes nothing happens.

    I guess I just wanted to add that the site http://www.babycenter.com has a really good chat area for parents who have lost babies. I haven't been there in awhile, the site always seemed to be down when I went to visit but I checked it the other night and it was working.

  7. #7

    Grieving lost babies

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary1968
    I no longer believe that life is fair, life is just life, bad things happen and good things happen and sometimes nothing happens.
    That's pretty much it. You never know what awaits you around the next corner. And all you can do is take your best shot at the time and hope it works out. And if it turns out not to be the best decision you could have made, push ahead anyway and try to make the best of whatever remains...

  8. #8
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    Nov 2004
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    Grieving lost babies

    Thanks for your thoughts. I just wonder what remains, if there's something I'm missing, sometimes I'll feel alright and I'll have hope, I'll think about getting pregnant again and I'll look forward to it, but 75 to 80 per cent of the time, I'm really scared. I never want to feel that pain again.

  9. #9

    Grieving lost babies

    I don't know if it matters how you lose a child. But I do know that losing a child is the worse thing anyone will ever have to endure.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2004
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    Grieving lost babies

    I believe you. Thanks.

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