“You Were Hardly Pregnant”: Early Miscarriage Misunderstood

Dawn Davenport

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understanding-the-pain-of-miscarriage

The emotional loss of early miscarriage is misunderstood in general, but throw years of fertility treatment into the mix and you’ve got a minefield for misunderstanding. Case in point:

Dawn, I’m addicted to the podcasts and somehow think you’ll get where I’m coming from and understand my frustration. Any advice would be great. We’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 years, 7 months. If I gave it much thought I could tell you the number of days too. We didn’t wait too long, and we don’t know why we can’t get pregnant. (I’m 31 and DH is 30).

We had our first IVF cycle, which we saved for a year to pay for, this past summer. It failed. We did a FET [frozen embryo transfer] in November. It worked. I couldn’t believe my luck. Telling my parents that I was pregnant was one of the best experiences of my life.  I was floating on air, but 3 weeks later the embryo stopped growing and all of a sudden I wasn’t pregnant. We are devastated.

It’s like this huge black cloud has moved into our house. But the part that has been hardest for me to handle is the response I get from almost everyone. They say, oh that’s a bummer or I’m sorry, but then they move on and act like it is something minor like having to replace the carburetor in your car. A bummer, a head ache, but ultimately nothing to get too upset about because after all you were hardly pregnant. Then they tell me how common it is—it seems like everyone loses a baby at 3 weeks and just gets over it. My parents were like, Oh well, if it was going to happen better that it happened early. You can try again.

Nobody seems to get how hard this is for us. I know on one of your miscarriage shows you talked about support groups, but they all seem more for people who lost children closer to birth or right after birth, not for someone who lost the baby in the first weeks of pregnancy. And now with the holidays and all the family gatherings, I just want to crawl into a hole and disappear with my pain. Any thought?

Hardly pregnant??? Haven’t they heard the expression “there’s no such thing as being a little pregnant”?

First, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m also sorry that you feel so alone with your pain especially at this time of year with all the happiness and crowds. There is nothing worse than feeling alone in a crowd.

Infertility Changes Impact of Early Miscarriage

You’re right that few people understand the pain of miscarriage in general, and the earlier the miscarriage, the less the understanding. Truthfully, early pregnancy loss is quite common, but many people who aren’t infertile either don’t know they are pregnant that early, or if they do, they haven’t invested much emotion in the pregnancy at that point, so it is easier to take the philosophical approach that is was probably for the best. But these people aren’t infertile.

Infertility patients have often invested years of emotion, money, and energy into getting those two blue lines. This pregnancy is the answer to years’ worth of prayers. Yep, the infertile have a whole lot invested in the pregnancy from the second the embryo is transferred. Oh course you are devastated even if there was something wrong with the embryo, and it is “for the best”. And let’s face it—trying again is not as easy for the infertile as simply making love. If you don’t have more embryos frozen, you will have to go through the physical, emotional, and financial pain of another IVF cycle. Yeah, the average fertile person doesn’t have a clue, and they don’t realize how truly fortunate they really are. That ignorance is a luxury the infertile do not have.

I think it’s helpful to realize that most people, especially those who love you, are more clueless than callous. That shift in your attitude will go a long way to soothing your hurt. They probably think that minimizing the importance of this loss will help you “get over it” faster.

How to Explain Your Pain

I would try to explain what it took for you to get to this pregnancy. How it was the answer to years of prayers, money and energy. Explain what it will take to “try again”. Using “I” statement, tell them that their quick dismal of your pain hurts you and leaves you feeling alone. (Ex. I feel abandoned with my grief when you suggest that I’ll get over it soon. That may be true, but right now I hurt and need your understanding.) If you are a person who can write it out better than talk it out, or if your family is the type that needs time to process to avoid becoming defensive, then send them a snail mail letter. Nothing registers importance more than a written letter. For mere acquaintances, I wouldn’t go to the trouble and probably wouldn’t even share the details of why you are grieving.

Resources to Survive the Holidays after an Early Miscarriage

If you don’t get resolution before the holidays and are convinced that being with your family will cause you more pain, then don’t hesitate to limit your exposure. We have tons of suggestions of ways to handle the inevitable stresses of being involuntarily childless over the holidays.

Other Creating a Family Resources You Will Enjoy

Image credit: wolfsoul
First published in 2012 and updated in 2016.

10/08/2016 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 30 Comments



30 Responses to “You Were Hardly Pregnant”: Early Miscarriage Misunderstood

  1. Anonymous says:

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  2. AMY HUGHES says:

    I know I am way late to the game on my comment but it really helped to read another’s experience in regards to this. I had a superstem IUI that failed then got pregnant with the next and lost that baby at 8weeks. I went on to have two more superstem IUi’s and finally got pregnant and now have a two year old. The comments and lack of empathy I got from so many was unbelievable. Unfortunately that included other women that had been there including infertility. The worst comment ever was “you dont really need a baby,( like you can go on), you just really want a baby”. I mean WHAT!?!? Thats just one of the many comments I got along with people trying to rush me on to feel better or not saying anything. For years I knew my feelings but didnt feel I should talk about it if I was around women that had lost their babies much later in pregnancy. What I always tried to explain is ive been in love with this child for years before this happend. Ive prayed for this child, endured needled after needles, surgeries and tests, paid enough money to at least pay for their first year in college. All to get my baby here so even though it was “only” 8 weeks its been years for me. Anyways, thanks for listening. Obviously this subject still sticks out to me.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      [“you dont really need a baby,( like you can go on), you just really want a baby”.]?!?!?! Who says stuff like that? Wow! Infertility and miscarriage suck!

  3. Cindy Modrosic Cindy Modrosic says:

    christi – you are a better person than i am because i never again would have spoken to someone who said that to me.

  4. Laura Upton Laura Upton says:

    And I too do not think what was said was comforting!!

  5. Laura Upton Laura Upton says:

    People can say some harsh, cruel words – often without knowing it. However, if we take time to politely educate them, then we’re helping. I know, it’s hard and most people don’t want to hear it, but I won’t stop doing it!

  6. Vera DiMartino Whittler Vera DiMartino Whittler says:

    Christi Tipton that is horrible. There is no way anyone would see it as comforting.

  7. Christi Tipton Christi Tipton says:

    Thanks Anna, it was pretty callous and unforgivable. It took me years before I really spoke with that friend again.

  8. Anna Park-sargent Anna Park-sargent says:

    Christi Tipton well that’s definitely one of the rudest comments i’ve heard. honestly, inexcusable!!

  9. Christi Tipton Christi Tipton says:

    After 6 m/c total, I’ve heard a whole lot of comments meant to console… or something like that. My ‘favorite’ is still the one a friend made after my first m/c: “It’s all for the best anyway, you really aren’t ready for a baby.”

  10. AndrewandKatie Rickenbach AndrewandKatie Rickenbach says:

    “A Person is a Person, No Matter How Small!” – Dr. Suess

  11. Cindy Modrosic Cindy Modrosic says:

    thank you dawn. sadly, my IF and m/c experience was easier than our adoption experience. glad everyone here has the support of others here.

  12. Vera DiMartino Whittler Vera DiMartino Whittler says:

    Big Hugs to you too and thank you so much for sharing your experience-I have found pages like this one to be very supportive <3

  13. Jen Tang Jen Tang says:

    We went through this exact thing! Our first miscarriage was after natural conception. But our second miscarriage was 3 yrs into trying, after 4 failed IUIs and 1 failed IVF. We got preg on the FET only to find the betas not doubling. We were in our late 20s at the time, so I got a lot of “Oh you’re young. You have plenty of time to try again” a friend who had a miscarriage at the same time said to comfort herself and me “it was just a ball of cells” Obviously I didn’t agree. As much as you can try, I honestly don’t think anyone can understand unless they’ve been through it. And having a miscarriage after going through infertility is even harder for people to get unless they have been through it. Big hugs to you!

  14. Vera DiMartino Whittler Vera DiMartino Whittler says:

    my last miscarriage was at 6 weeks-I was devastated and I actually had a friend say that I should be over it by know (then she told me she was pregnant). No matter the length of the pregnancy, a loss is a loss. People deal with grief and sadness differently, it is not up to others to tell us how we should feel.

  15. Terri Cb Terri Cb says:

    I’m so sorry. A loss at any stage is still a loss that should be acknowledged. Esp. when you’ve been trying.

  16. Heather Megna Heather Megna says:

    My pain came more from our infertility Dr because of all people that you would think should know the physical, emotional and financial aspects, was very flippant about the whole thing. Because of his reaction I did not share with many people what had happened until two years after the fact when we had decided to adopt. It was then that I started receiving comments like “if you got pregnant once it can happen again” etc. After 8 years of trying and two years after the miscarriage, those words still hurt. It has been 8 years since then and I do not talk about my miscarriage with many people just because they don’t understand what we went through or the lose that was suffered.

  17. Cindy Modrosic Cindy Modrosic says:

    i was also 31 for my first IVF. our 1st fresh cycle worked. we had a super high beta, so we figured it was twins. went in on my husband’s birthday to find out if it was 1 or 2 in there. there was 1 baby with no heartbeat. i will spare the rest of the details, but we did an FET with our only frozen, another fresh, 2 donor embryo cycles (one was a chemical) and even a surrogate/donor embryo cycle. we also paid out of pocket. the emotional, physical and financial toll cannot be understood by people who haven’t been there. if you are reading this, please PM me. my friends who understood are the reason i made it through. (i am now the mom of the 2 most handsome, intelligent boys on the planet. adoption wasn’t easy either, but i made it to the other side.)

  18. Heather Megna Heather Megna says:

    I understand completely. What made it worse for us is that the infertility Dr didn’t believe me when I said I had miscarried because it was too early in the cycle for that to be happening. It wasn’t until after the blood work that the Dr acknowledged I had miscarried.

  19. Natalie says:

    I’m very sorry for the interviewee’s loss. It is heart breaking.

    I have had 5 pregnancies. Only one has resulted in a child I get to rock to sleep at night.One pregnancy ended in the second trimester. 3 ended in the first. I have never found a first trimester loss to be easier. You aren’t crazy for being so attatched to an embryo.

    Most people (our parents, siblings, and closest friends included) just don’t get it. It’s a sack of cells to them. To us, it’s our entire future. It’s rocking that baby to sleep, reading her favorite book for the thousandth time or the look on his face when they try ice cream for the first time. It’s a life we are trying to build.

    y advice to those who have lost a child, at any stage, is to guard your heart and cling to your spouse. We skipped family holidays for one season after a loss. My husband and I made mixed drinks, ordered takeout, watched old movies, and made love like teenagers the Thanksgiving after a loss. Our extended family didn’t get it… But my husband and I needed a break from the questions (or the dismissal of our pain) and the flippant comments. Be very kind to yourself and to your spouse.
    It really does help to remember that most people are clueless and won’t understand.

  20. KiwiHelen says:

    Of course, infertility does add a whole extra dimension of pain to pregnancy loss. I am now 40 and know that my chances of conceiving are dropping lower and lower every month while my chances of miscarrying increase. In New Zealand the opportunities for egg donation and adoption are quite limited, so it is likely that we won’t be able to expand our family any further.

  21. KiwiHelen says:

    Over the last five years,I have had six miscarriages, one termination for poor prenatal prognosis and, thankfully, one live birth of a beautiful son (now 2 years old). My losses ranged from just over four weeks up to 13 weeks gestation. All were devastating, despite the fact it was not unduly difficult for me to get pregnant. Miscarriage is a deeply painful experience for many women even if they did not experience infertility beforehand. But as many people here have already commented, it is widely misunderstood and minimised in our society.

  22. TAO says:

    Dawn,

    People in general, aren’t comfortable around loss, or grief. They may just not have the social skills, or knowledge of what is or isn’t the right thing to say. After the intial condolences they don’t want to go there again, other than perhaps how are you doing, hoping you’ll say just fine.

    Loss is loss but seldom is loss validated.

    As a society we don’t want to hear sad things because it makes us uncomfortable, helpless, insecure. We all need to do better than that, every single one.

    To the poster, I am truly sorry for your loss, and being at Christmas the loss will contrast so sharply with everthing else, that it may become unbearable. Be with the people who get you, and the rest will survive – don’t be guilted into anything you don’t want to do.

  23. Cindy, wow you went through heck and back. So glad you ended up where you did. Your two boys, by the way, are just two of the four most handsome and intelligent boys on the planet since they will have to join my two boys for that accolade. 🙂

  24. Heather, Did people also dismiss your pain at your miscarriage since you “were hardly pregnant”? Those statements people make, while not intended to hurt, just leave you feeling so alone.

  25. Emily: She said “Bummer”?!?!?! Really?!? Is that the best she could do? I am speechless.

  26. Jen, I think you may be right about not truly understanding unless you’ve been there. I think this is especially the case when it’s a miscarriage after trying for so long.

  27. Bev Gunn says:

    As a woman who has had four miscarriages (source of 3 unknown) I understand the loss and grief you are going through. “Getting over it” is for hills and mountains-not the grief of a death in the family-and a death is what it is. Most people treated me as if I had had a cold and it was now gone, while I was struggling with the feelings of total inadequacy and failure to be able to do what a woman was supposed to be able to do-have a baby. Even my husband did not understand and, to this day, he never has (and this is almost 40 years after the fact!) I have “gotten over it” for the most part, except for the part of me that always wonders what those 4 children would have been like, who they would have been, etc. I was blessed with 3 live births and have 3 wonderful children (now adults) but the wondering of “who were they” has never gone away.
    Cry your grief out, shout and cuss if it helps. It seems so senseless and wasteful to have lost your baby-and that is what it is-loss of a baby, although micoroscopic, it was your baby! Along with that loss went your dreams of you and the child’s future. Take time to understand your loss and mourn it-you HAVE experienced the death of a close relative-your child. Just know that time will cover the raw areas of the loss and you can gain perspective to continue on with life. But it sure is hard in the first couple of months! Know you are not alone and many have walked the path before you and it is literally worn in place by feet dragging through tears. Hold the hands of those of us who have been there and know we are with you in your sorrow. Bod bless you and cradle you in His loving arms.

  28. Yeah Vera, I’m really struggling with how in the world could someone think that it comforting or even acceptable. Christi, I guess you have to assume the best if she is a friend.

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