Healing After Miscarriage
If the unexpected happens when you're expecting, you will get through it. We've got some advice to help the process along.
When I decided it was time for baby number two, I stopped using birth control, cozied up to my best beloved, and soon enough found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test—just as planned. But when I went for my first prenatal appointment, at roughly nine weeks, that plan suddenly collapsed. “We'd expect to see a heartbeat at this point,” the ob told me as she squinted at the ultrasound monitor. A few days and another ultrasound later, the bad news was confirmed: The fetus had died between five and eight weeks.
What amazed me was what happened later. Because I'd had no reason to suspect anything was wrong—no bleeding, no problems with my first pregnancy—I'd already spread the good news around; now I had to tell everyone what had happened, and I was astounded by their responses.
“Oh, yeah, a miscarriage. I had one of those between my two kids,” an acquaintance told me.
“I lost a baby at thirteen weeks, the day after I told my extended family I was pregnant,” another friend confessed. (I'd never known!)
“I didn't bleed, either,” a mom I knew from my son's preschool told me. “Like you, I went in for an appointment and they couldn't find a heartbeat.”
And on and on. To my great surprise, it seemed that more people had had miscarriages—the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks—than hadn't. Henry Lerner, M.D., coauthor of Miscarriage: Why It Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks, confirmed my suspicion: First-trimester losses are incredibly common—so common, in fact, that most women who have had two or three children will have had a miscarriage along the way. “Four out of five times, the pairing of chromosomes in early pregnancy happens normally; one out of five times, there's a chromosomal miscombination,” Dr. Lerner tells me. In other words, a whopping 20 percent of all pregnancies fail, more than 80 percent of them in the first trimester. So if it happens to you, know that you're not alone. And know that both your body and your heart will recover, however long it takes.