The Loss of a Baby in Pregnancy
When a pregnancy terminates early without the birth of a baby there are strong feelings which “go to ground” in our unconscious. Some parents-to-be are able to talk to others at that time and then there are those for whom it must be kept secret.
However, even for those who can talk about it at the time there soon comes a time when they feel they cannot go on talking about it. The loss of a baby during pregnancy can be the loneliest experience for hopeful parents-to-be. It may be that everything is exciting and positive when we get pregnant for the first time. We can be full of plans, plans to tell our family, plans to tell our colleagues in work and our friends through word or social media, and of course lots of plans for our child and their future. Where will we have the birth? What type of birth? Plans to name the baby – lots of plans all looking forward.
Or perhaps the pregnancy and ultimately the termination has come about in difficult and challenging times and no one knows anything about it. We may experience guilt for our so called “choices” and this guilt will always get in the way of healing. Failure to conceive is also a most painful experience as we never got to have those exciting and natural feelings realised. We also are dashed by what we thought our first pregnancy would be like: in a loving relationship, sharing the news with our loved ones.
So in each of these scenarios we have all the feelings of loss but, at times, we must keep the burden of this loss to ourselves and we must grieve what happened – by ourselves.
It should be said that these unspoken feelings are present in both parents-to-be. Often the father-to-be can try to act as “the strong one” and accessing their emotional self is both difficult and on occasions too much. They revert to other means of coping which can be detrimental to their health and well-being. They too watch their peers have children and watch their peers share their excitement and their life with their child.
The Loss: No Matter the Circumstances
There can be devastation of losing a baby in no matter what circumstances – all the plans are gone. All the people have to be told there is no longer a baby about to arrive. This is met with disbelief and, on occasion, awkwardness. You begin to see less of them – both because they find it hard to know what to say and you are super sensitive to their words. It may be that you watch your circle of friends become parents and this can make you feel more isolated and not wanting to bring down the mood of the new expectant parents. So you stay away….. These feelings are present no matter why or how we lose a baby including the capacity to conceive a baby in the first place.
The felt sense at this time can be heartbreak. And if you’ve experienced this heartbreak it won’t matter if the loss was this week or 30 years ago or indeed anywhere in between these times. Few people are able to cope alone with the pain of loss. Often bringing up the subject is simply impossible but the burden of loss and sorrow lingers long in our psyche. We may watch our peers’ children growing up or we may even see children in the street and longingly think our child would be that age…. The reason we have those thoughts is because we still hold the longing at a deep place inside us.
Celebratory times such as Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s day, Christenings, dates which would have been the birth day of the baby or the date when we had lost our baby can be very challenging and although we appear to have “moved on” these feelings continue – just under the radar. Sometimes we can’t even put words to how we feel but there is a kind of deadness or lack of enthusiasm around these times and events and because there is perhaps no one event, around those times, to explain our apathy it makes it difficult to take part in such occasions. We may feel like disappearing “until it’s all over” !
There is Help: Psychotherapy Can Make a Difference
But there is help and psychotherapy with a professionally trained therapist will help to lighten the burden and allow the unspeakable to be said. You may read this and think “oh I could never talk about that it is too painful…..” While psychotherapy is a “talk therapy” it is also carried out in a safe and confidential environment. Psychotherapy can be carried out in a nonverbal way when often talking can be too difficult. Silence in the company of another is a powerful experience. The therapist will never ask you “what’s wrong with you” if you are choosing silence. They will wait with you and honour your pace. It should be known that until we release these long held feelings from where they linger, deep in the crevices of our unconscious, they will remain and block our capacity to live life to our full potential.
If anything that is written here is resonating with you or someone you know please do look for help with a professional psychotherapist.