Monday, March 18, 2013

Coping With Miscarriage

Books, Web sites, even doctors gloss over the subject of miscarriage. What to Expect When You're Expecting, which finds space for questions like "Is it necessary to shave your pubic hair before labor?", devotes only a few pages to miscarriage. These resources don't prepare you for the grief, guilt, and self-doubt that take the place of excitement. And it would take a writer much better than I, to fully describe the physical and emotional experience.

Someone who has not gone through the loss of a pregnancy will find it very difficult to understand. The days, weeks, and months following a loss can be incredibly difficult and painful — even more so if it wasn't your first pregnancy loss, or if you carefully planned this pregnancy and thought you'd done everything "right." Or you may simply feel withdrawn and moody and unable to concentrate or sleep. If you told friends, colleagues or  family you were pregnant, you'll probably worry about announcing the turn of events and you may find even the most sincere expressions of sympathy difficult to take.

Depending on personality and background, each person's response differs. Men and women in general have different feelings about these losses as well, with women tending to feel more of a bond with the lost child. The intensity of pain depends on a number of factors, the most significant of which is the psychological investment in the pregnancy. Often the longer couples have been trying to conceive, the greater their sense of loss.

However, we must have an unflinching trust in the will of God. Ecclesiastes says "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in the mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things" and "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." Isiah (40:29-31).

If you are called upon to support someone who has just lost a pregnancy, the key is not to be the "answer person," or the "question person" but to provide time, empathy, patience, informed care, compassion, kindness and the encouragement to talk without trying to find solutions. The author of Proverbs 3:5-6 gave us a great piece of advice when he said, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Ijeoma Olujekun.

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