One in four women experiences a miscarriage. I am part of that one-in-four statistic, and I never thought it would happen to me. We all say that, right? “It won’t happen to me.” We reassure ourselves so we don’t stay up at night, drowning in worries we cannot control and thinking about issues we cannot wrap our inexperienced minds around.
I miscarried on June 4, 2019. My worries began early on when I saw that second faint pink line on my pregnancy test. I was ecstatic but also felt deep in my bones that something was wrong. Less than 24 hours later, I miscarried at home. It was my first pregnancy, and it was a chemical pregnancy, which meant that it happened at the fifth week of gestation — before I could have an ultrasound or even my first prenatal appointment. When this happens, the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus.
There was nothing I could have done differently to prevent this from happening, but I spiraled into a grief I never knew before. My husband and I sat on the couch, playing video games, talking about what happened and eating takeout food for a week. I kept myself afloat by focusing on my company and goals I wanted to achieve. In reality, I was barely treading above water.
We live in a world where sharing our own pain can be a catapult for real change and helping others who find themselves going down similar paths. Miscarriage has been stigmatized in the past, and shining a light on the issue can help others who find themselves dealing with a miscarriage they never planned to have.
I am currently in the second trimester of my second pregnancy, and while I wish it could be easy all of the time, it most certainly has its challenges. I still think about that little life we lost as I look at the ultrasound photos of our growing baby inside me.
Here are three ways you can manage your miscarriage fears during the first trimester of pregnancy:
Know that disconnection is normal.
Many pregnant women experience some level of disconnection with their baby, especially in the first trimester. I was alarmed the first time I felt emotionless toward my baby. This is what I prayed for, so why wasn’t I more excited? The truth is, your body and brain undergo massive changes during the entire gestation of your baby. Hormones run rampant, and you will not feel like yourself sometimes, especially when you’re fearful that something may happen. I feel like I used to be more excitable, but the tragic loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or any other way changes you. This is 100 percent normal, and while it may seem like this disconnection lasts forever, there are still some lights at the end of the tunnel. You may have bursts of excitement as you research baby names or plan for your future baby’s nursery by pinning items on Pinterest. It’s a rollercoaster, and the ups and downs are part of your changing hormones. As time passes, fears still happen, but once you’re past the first trimester, the miscarriage risk is less than one percent. You can combat disconnection by talking with your baby, taking some time to relax or working on a project for your baby. I’m currently working on a quilt for my baby, choosing to remain cautiously optimistic.
Realize that these fears are only temporary.
As someone who has generalized anxiety disorder, keeping calm is not normally in my vernacular. I internally and externally show signs of distress, from random panic attacks to feeling overwhelmed while just cooking dinner. Often, my anxiety during pregnancy comes from the fear of the unknown and of the loss I suffered with the miscarriage. When I feel anxious or depressed, I hyperfocus on how the loss of a child made me feel — and how I do not want to experience that again. The truth is, we cannot control the outcome. As a control freak, I receive daily lessons in this. Just realizing that these fears will pass, and your normal day will resume, is comforting. Practice breathing, try to think positive thoughts and use other proven ways to treat your anxiety and depression when it hits. The most important thing you can do is to just let it happen without judgment.
Talk about how you feel.
Letting others know how you feel is vital. You cannot bottle all of your emotions because you will eventually implode. Because I do have pre-existing mental health issues, I schedule visits with my therapist once a month to talk about pregnancy woes and other items on the docket. If you experience a worry you cannot shake, call your OB/GYN and let him or her know what is going on. Ask as many questions as you’d like during appointments, and do research to learn about what is going on with your body and baby’s growth. Talk with someone you trust about how you are feeling. I wouldn’t be able to handle pregnancy without the love, support and patience from my husband. Not only does he tend to my craving errands, but he is my voice of reason. Plus, we have shared trauma that only we can fully understand.
Kaylin R. Staten, APR
an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, expectant mom + a cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.