The silence around miscarriage is deafening especially considering how common it is. Although incredibly difficult to re-live the loss, talking about it is essential and empowering. It provides a release, allows for embracing all emotions and is the first step to healing.
With that as the intent, presented here is an interview of Lisa Gold about her personal miscarriage experience.
Lisa Gold is a Psychotherapist from Michigan, USA. She works in private practice with people who struggle with anxiety, depression, relationships, stress, transitions, women’s issues and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
She is the mother of a 10 month old daughter and savours every moment of it. She loves taking nature walks with family and enjoys yoga and cooking.
I sincerely thank Lisa for agreeing to talk about such a difficult topic. She is an inspiring role model for other moms to open up, accept and heal.
This interview is about coping with a miscarriage. It is hard sharing something so personal. Please tell us what made you agree to talk about it.
Honestly, I am not really sure what made me agree to talk about my miscarriage. One night, when I was having a hard time falling asleep, I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a post by @solidstarts that had caught my eye. It was a picture of a woman leaning over as if she were hugging herself but there was a hole in her stomach. In the caption, Jenny shared her experience of having a miscarriage and how this picture spoke to her at the time. It helped her feel seen.
Honestly, seeing that picture and reading her caption made me feel seen as well so I commented on the post. The next thing I knew, I received an email from you reaching out and kindly asking if I would share my story.
As a psychotherapist who works with women who struggle with perinatal mood disorders, I know how lonely and isolating pregnancy loss can feel. But yet, I still have a hard time sharing my experience with many people.
How did you know you suffered a miscarriage?
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant, we were over the moon and filled with so much excitement! I had called the doctor the next day and they instructed me to come in about 3 weeks later based on the date of my last missed period.
By the time we had our first appointment, we had only told my mom and two of my closest friends. I tend to be superstitious and I remember telling my two friends, “Don’t get too excited just yet, we have to get the pregnancy confirmed by the doctor tomorrow” even though I was still so beyond excited! I told them I would let them know how the doctor appointment went once it was over the next day.
My mind had completely jumped ahead to calculating the due date and all the changes and accommodations we would have to make in order to prepare for the baby!
My husband and I went in for the ultrasound and were completely caught off guard when the technician became silent. She basically hinted that something was wrong but said she was not allowed to let us know and that the doctor would be in to speak to us. My heart sank. The doctor took a look at my ultrasound and informed us that it looked as though there was an empty sac, meaning, the fetus may have not developed. However, my HCG levels said otherwise. They told me to come back in a few days and if my HCG levels had doubled, then this would be a viable pregnancy.
I remember having multiple missed calls and texts from my eager friends to see how the doctor appointment went but I couldn’t bring myself to even look at my phone. I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t respond to them because I felt like I couldn’t’ even function, let alone, put this into words.
A few days later I went in to get my blood drawn again and nervously waited to get a phone call with my results the following day. I remember getting a call from the nurse, who informed me that “based off of [my] HCG levels and the way [my] ultrasound looked, it was likely that [I] had a molar pregnancy”. When I asked her what that meant, she told me I had cancer. I literally dropped to my knees and was in complete disbelief. I knew in my heart that I did not have cancer. I then asked several clarifying questions and then demanded I speak to a doctor.
Eventually, I was able to speak to the doctor, who reassured me this was not a molar pregnancy and that it was a “missed miscarriage”. She explained that this meant my body was still in fact pregnant, however it was not a viable pregnancy and my body just hadn’t realized it yet (hence, why there was no cramping or bleeding and why I was experiencing all the pregnancy symptoms).
The doctor reassured me that there was nothing I could have done to cause this. I clearly remember her saying, “trust me, if there was an actual way for you to cause a miscarriage, abortion would not even need to be a thing”. She also told me that 1 in 8 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but I honestly didn’t believe her at the time. She then walked me through my options, which included taking a medication to allow the fetus to pass at home or to have a D&C in the hospital, which is what I ultimately chose to do.
What were your immediate emotions?
Through that experience, I was just in complete shock and I had so much anxiety. It was about a full week between getting that first ultrasound and then the blood draw and that was really hard. I just felt like I could not catch my breath for that entire week.
I remember feeling so protective of my little baby right from the beginning.
When the doctor first told me this might be a miscarriage, I just assumed that automatically meant I wasn’t pregnant. I was already feeling the symptoms, so I felt almost stupid. I remember telling her, “but I am pregnant” over and over again. The doctor reassured me that I was pregnant, it’s just that the fetus did not form.
What helped you cope with the news at the time?
Someone close to me had actually gone through a miscarriage 3 weeks prior to my miscarriage. I remember she had been texting me while I was at the doctors office (she did not know I was pregnant). As soon as I found out the news, I remember walking out of the office and texting her back saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know how to say this. I was pregnant and now they’re telling me I am having a miscarriage”. That friend literally dropped everything, ran out of work and drove straight to my home. She let me share my experience, helped me process the complete shock I was experiencing and cried on the couch with me for hours. I’ll never forget it.
What support if available, might have helped you cope better?
Looking back on it, I think I would say having more knowledge and facts about how common miscarriages really are would have been helpful. It likely would have made me feel less alone. However, deep down, I know that would not have actually taken the pain away. I do think I would have felt less isolated and maybe have blamed myself less though. I only ended up telling a hand full of close people about it and only one of which actually had a miscarriage herself. However, almost everyone I shared it with told me they knew of someone who had had one too and that felt comforting.
How long has it been since the event? How do you feel now?
My miscarriage happened in November 2018. We were very fortunate to get pregnant again 4 months later and we now have a beautiful and healthy baby girl! Honestly, I still think about my first baby often, but the pain has softened immensely, especially when I look at my daughter.
I will say, my pregnancy with my daughter was filled with a lot of anxiety because of my miscarriage. I was so scared to do anything that would harm this baby. This was definitely hard to deal with and made my pregnancy and postpartum experience pretty tough.
How did you heal and accept the loss? What did you tell yourself? What support did you get?
I actually found a therapist who specializes in women’s issues and perinatal mood disorders right when I found out I was pregnant the first time. I knew that historically, transitions have been hard for me, so I wanted to surround myself with support. I am so glad that I already had my therapist before experiencing the loss. She was a huge support for me and helped me really explore the deep layers of grief I was experiencing.
I remember feeling so confused as to how to process this loss because there was not a lot of language surrounding a loss of something that is not yet living.
I had lost both of my grandparents the year before all of this, whom I was extremely close with. My therapist helped me untangle the grief I had from them with the complex grief of my baby. She helped me through this entire process, and I am so grateful to her.
What do you wish you had done differently?
Truthfully, I am not sure how to answer this question. Looking back on it, I am not sure I wish I had done anything differently. This was definitely one of the most difficult experiences and greatest loss I had ever experienced, but I believe the way in which I coped with it was the best way I could in that moment.
What resources do you recommend for moms suffering from loss?
Talking and time are the most healing resources for something like this. There are a lot of really amazing support groups for people who have suffered a miscarriage. Postpartum Support International (PSI) has many free virtual support groups along with a registry of certified therapists in your area to help you. While I understand why, I hate that not a lot of people talk about their experiences. I think it is so empowering to know that you are not alone in this.
Is there any parting message you would like to give moms of angel babies?
Just know that I see you, I hear you and I stand with you. Please take time and honor every emotion you experience. If you feel like staying in bed, if you feel like running a marathon or anything in between, honor yourself and your emotions. I truly believe everything happens because of a reason and when we are in those dark moments, it can be so hard to have faith in that. I look at my daughter every day, and although I know she did not replace my first baby, I feel that my higher power brought her to me because of this loss.
Thank you Lisa!
Do you want to join this campaign to break the silence? Contact me and let’s talk about that!