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.