20 October 2012

Guest Post by Eileen Rife--Misconceptions about Miscarriage


When Mourning Comes: Living Through Loss
Misconceptions about Miscarriage



October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. If you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby, please know that my heart hurts with you. Often miscarriage is a misunderstood loss. Because the medical profession still does not fully know why miscarriages occur, the event is shrouded in mystery. When I experienced the loss of two babies at four months gestation, I experienced all the varying emotions of grief: shock, denial, anger, and sadness. 

A woman may succumb to several misconceptions surrounding her miscarriage. (CFP comments:  I believe this can apply to premature births, also.)

I did something to cause the miscarriage. 

Guilt is a common feeling among women who have miscarried. They tend to blame themselves for the event. If only I hadn't lifted that heavy box or painted the bedroom. If only I had eaten more vegetables. If only I hadn't jogged on Wednesday, this would not have happened. The truth is, in the majority of cases, the miscarriage or spontaneous abortion was beyond the woman's control. Her body expelled the baby because there was either an abnormality in the fetus, her uterus was malformed, an infection was present, or a host of other reasons the medical profession has not yet discovered. Blaming herself will only keep her stuck in the past and prolong her grieving.

I am a failure. 

A woman often suffers a lowered self-image due to her thoughts regarding the miscarriage. She mistakenly feels that she failed herself because of certain expectations she has concerning the pregnancy and motherhood in general. She feels she has failed her husband and family. This, of course, is untrue as she had no control over the response of her body. She may fear future pregnancies because she is uncertain as to how her body will react. She feels out of control.

Once the miscarriage is over, I can get on with life as usual.

I tried to do this after our first miscarriage, picking up with my housework and daily responsibilities as if nothing had happened. Underlying feelings of anger and sadness kept churning within me, affecting my relationship with my husband, Chuck, until months later I finally spewed them out before the Lord, which opened the door to my emotional healing. 

A woman needs to grieve her loss fully. Often the losses that occur suddenly with no warning, as with a miscarriage, are the hardest to deal with. She needs to talk her feelings out with God in prayer and in writing. She also need to share her feelings with her husband and with a trusted friend. Sometimes, another woman who has had a similar experience can be of help and comfort.  

A man does not feel any pain associated with the loss.

A woman needs to recognize that her husband is grieving in his own way, too. He may be hesitant to express his feelings, because he feels the need to be strong for his wife and keep the function of work and home going while she is recovering. During our first miscarriage, I was so absorbed in my own pain that I did not see Chuck's hurt. I even vented my anger on him, accusing him of not feeling the loss or caring about the baby. In truth, he was hurting, too. Since he was not physically attached to the baby as I was, he could not fully relate to the empty feeling of losing a part of himself. First, he grieved for my hurt and pain. Secondly, he grieved the loss of our child.

I (Chuck) shielded my feelings from Eileen in hopes of easing her discomfort when, in actuality, I needed to face the pain honestly and talk through the feelings with her. Honest sharing would eliminate the distance between us, pulling us together as we worked through a common grief. Since I lost my job two weeks before our second miscarriage, our grief was compounded. We had two major losses to grieve. As a man, my role as provider was threatened which affected my significance. I was busy re-establishing my identity when we were side-swiped by the miscarriage. When I saw Eileen in such physical pain at the hospital, I felt powerless and helpless. I was afraid she might die. There was nothing I could do but tell her I loved her and pray for her and the baby. Once she returned home from the hospital, I had to keep the household machinery running while she recovered physically and emotionally. I couldn’t give myself permission to fully grieve until I met the needs of the family in front of me.

Sometimes, a man needlessly shoulders the responsibility for the miscarriage and goes overboard trying to make things up to his wife. While kind deeds are helpful, open sharing is even more healing after the loss. He needs to express his fears and doubts so that their future relationship together will not be hampered. Sharing creates strength in the marriage and acts like a glue, bonding the couple together. Eileen and I have found that writing our thoughts and feelings down is an effective way of expressing grief when emotions are fresh and unrefined. 

In my (Eileen) novel, Chosen Ones, Yvonne and Dan experience the heartbreak of miscarriage with many of the dynamics mentioned above at play in their story.

Eileen's newest book Second Chance released in 2012.  

Giveaway: choice of any of Eileen's books to the winner. Must post the link to this post up on Facebook or Twitter (click on the title of the post up top and then go to the URL in the while line above on the computer and copy that and paste that onto your FB post.)

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and insights with us EILEEN! Blessings!

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  2. EILEEN and CHUCK, thank you so much for being with us on OTT and for sharing about this very heartbreaking time in both of your lives. I had 3 miscarriages-one at over four months along and as you mentioned, Eileen, I tried to go on as if nothing had happened. I actually grieved for fifteen yrs (but didn't even realize I was still grieving about it), because I never conceived again. I had these 3 miscarriages one right after another.

    I came to a point where I tried never to think about it and was quite successful, but fifteen yrs. later, God Who knows all things granted me a supernatural healing! He gave me a dream where He took me to the portals of Heaven, and although He wouldn't let me go inside yet I saw the glorious beauty of the entrance. And there waiting for me to come join them were my three children that I had lost, all so close to the same age they looked like triplets. I was so overjoyed that they had been taken care of by Jesus and that I would see them again someday!

    When I awoke my skin was tingling and I was so excited that I awakened Paul! I told him when we go to Heaven we already have three children waiting on us, and that we had two that God had entrusted us with to make sure they made it there as well. God is so awesome and faithful!

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  3. I had not heard of this book. I'm sure many women need these words of comfort.

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  4. DIANA, I didn't know that. So beautiful that the Lord showed you this in a dream! Hugs!

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  5. I was awestruck, MARIAN! I hadn't even thought about the miscarriages in a long while and then out of the blue (pardon my pun), fifteen yrs after they took place comes this Heavenly dream! Just more proof that God never forgets our tears and in His time, He wipes them all away.

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  6. Oh, and just to clarify I had two children already...they are not adopted, but are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. lol

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  7. Diana, that made me cry reading about your dream. God loves our babies so much more than we can imagine. What a blessing to have Eileen on the blog and share these helpful insights.

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  8. DIANA, you made me cry, too! Thanks so much for sharing and responding to the Holy Spirit's prompt to do so. One day we will get to see those babies that were lost to us on earth. A real comfort.

    CARLA, I bet you are getting excited about the upcoming birth of your first grandchild.

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  10. My son and daughter in law lost a baby this past August. It would have been my first grandchild. As my dear friend has said, it is a tangible loss, because each family member has certain hopes and dreams associated with that child, and your heart opens to greet that new life. When I found out that they were expecting, I taught my 12-y-o daughter to crochet and we had begun to work on a baby blanket for this precious little one. Thank you for this article and for acknowledging those of us who know this loss.

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  11. Diana, I just read through the comments, and that is just beautiful. What an intimate God we serve. Thank you for sharing that.

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  12. EILEEN and CHUCK thank you so much for sharing this with us. I was blessed to have two healthy sons with no problems but my mom had several miscarriages. I wish she could have read this when she was going through her lose.

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  13. DIANA WOW! What an amazing story. I'm so glad GOD gave you comfort by letting you see your precious babies. He is so good to us.

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  14. EILEEN, I'm so thankful to God that you and your husband have shared so openly and from your heart, and I pray that God will bless and use your story and books to encourage and help many others in similiar situations.

    DIANA, your story gave me tingles! How awesome that God gave you that dream straight from heaven and His heart to minister to you. What a joy it will be for everyone to meet their lost babies and loved ones in heaven!

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  15. NOELA, it gave me the tingles to relive the dream again, and also the tears, CARLA and CARRIE...being reminded of a faithful God who granted healing to a young woman who never even asked for it, but needed it so badly.

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  16. Thank you, KATHLEEN. I can count on one hand the people that I have shared that dream with and felt compelled to do so here.

    Intimacy is what He wants with each of us, and sadly it's often the thing that us as human beings shy away from. We often think of Him as being a big untouchable God way up there, when He longs to be our Father and to commune with us every day. I talk to Him everywhere I go...especially in my car. I'm sure people think I'm nuts! lol

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  17. Wonderful interaction, Ladies! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your personal stories and insights. God who knows and cares about every single detail of our lives also weeps with us. After our first miscarriage, a friend called me while I was still in the hospital and shared Psalm 56:8: "Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?"

    That verse became so personal for me that a few years ago I decided to begin what I like to call, "Tear Bottle Evangelism." One of my neighbors who doesn't know the Lord grieved the loss of her father, so I wrapped up my tear bottle someone had given me, noting the verse and context, and gave it to her.

    Later, out of the blue, I received an authentic Jewish tear bottle in the mail from my cousin who conducts tours in Israel. She had no idea I'd given away my tear bottle. In the letter she wrote, "Just thought you might like to have one of these to remember your mother by." My mom had died a few months earlier.

    God's touches are always personal and right on time.

    God bless each one of you!

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  18. EILEEN, thanks for sharing this post with us this week. so COOL about the tear bottle from Israel! Love your heart!!!

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  19. I was thinking today about what KATHY said about grandparents losing a grandchild. We forget that they grieve too and there is a loss of a dream, a special child, that first grandchild in many cases. I have heard the miscarriage rate in first pregnancies is 50%.

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