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Hidden Secrets: Overcoming Feelings of Guilt or Judgment after Miscarriage

elizabeth b. October 7, 2013

Human brainstorming. Young adult woman pensive

You should just be thankful for the children you have.

Your feeling sad is only dishonoring God.

Your baby is in heaven now. You should be happy.

It’s not your fault.

                             ……but you don’t know what I did.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34: 18-19)

A Surprise Blessing

In January, I learned that I was expecting our sixth baby.

Even after getting a plethora of positive tests, including a confirmation blood test, something didn’t feel right.

Because the bleeding I had turned to random spotting and since I didn’t have cramping, the midwife suggested it was normal early pregnancy spotting. While I’ve had faint positives followed by a period, I’ve never had a confirmed pregnancy that didn’t end with a full-term, healthy baby, so I tried to let it go.

Knowing my progesterone had been low for a while, I considered asking for a check, but I tried hard to fight my fears. While at the local health food store that afternoon, I picked up a fresh bottle of progesterone cream, second guessing things. But hoping everything was OK since I was able to conceive (after all I didn’t need supplementation during my other five pregnancies and don’t like to take unnecessary supplements), I put the bottle back on the shelf.

I put the bottle back on the shelf.

That’s what I did.

I’ve been known to do crazy things for my children. I’ve questioned doctors’ advice, gone against mainstream thought, traveled to different states to meet with special needs therapists, etc. Even if something didn’t work, at least I knew that as my child’s advocate, I did everything possible to make sure they were taken care of. I was angry with myself for feeling as though I didn’t extend the same courtesy to the child within my womb.

As soon as the cramping began, I gathered my confidence, listened to my inner voice, and requested a progesterone check. While the hCG was still positive, it confirmed that the progesterone levels were indeed too low to sustain a pregnancy.

It took awhile before I finally admitted to a friend that I was afraid I harmed my own baby. Having had a miscarriage herself, she assured me that it wasn’t my fault.

Then I heard from other women who shared the same guilt.

I noticed that no one had a trivial argument—these women were all intelligent ladies who had very plausible sounding theories. I heard everything from their having a glass of wine to sitting in hot jacuzzi tubs to taking a turn on fast and furious carnival rides, all after learning they were pregnant.

One main thought came to mind—not only do we live in a fallen world, we’re simply not that powerful.

The Creator and Giver of Life is far stronger than any of our best laid plans and efforts.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139: 13-16)

Unexpected Judgment

While either real or perceived, I quickly learned that many women who have miscarried feel a sense of judgment from others. As though the guilt wasn’t enough, some women have had to endure the pain of judgment for mourning the loss of their babies. One was told she shouldn’t be sad because her baby was in Heaven, another was told that she was sinning for not remaining joyful through the loss (what especially broke my heart, was that this came from her pastor). 

Regardless of the specific comment, these women still miss the baby they hoped for. While I only knew of the pregnancy for a few weeks, it was long enough to start the plans and anticipation. And not only was I affected, but so were my children, as they mourned the loss of their sibling.

Finding Peace

Looking back, I finally understand that there was absolutely nothing that could’ve been done. Likely by the time I got the positive pregnancy test, it was already too late.

I have peace in knowing that I didn’t walk alone. I continue to trust His Sovereignty, knowing that it didn’t take Him by surprise. He sees the bigger picture, and while I may not know the purpose of my baby’s short time with us, I trust that He will use our testimony and the testimony of women who are joined together through this journey.

If you’re dealing with guilt or feelings of judgment, I encourage you to find a trusted friend you can speak with. I didn’t open up for awhile, and I believe it contributed to the depression I fell into shortly after. If need be, talk to your midwife or your physician about local support groups. Even if you had an early loss, don’t feel embarrassed or that your feelings aren’t warranted. 

Of all of the women I’ve spoken with, each concurred that by not addressing their emotions, underlying fears, and feelings of guilt, they only halted the healing process.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your provider, you can find resources for support groups online. I’ve read positive things about National Share and the online support group Miscarriage Support Groups.

Another resource for in-person support can be found through your local Birth Network chapter, which is one of my favorite organizations for finding information regarding pregnancy, birth, mothering, and even loss.

If you’ve experienced a loss, what encouragement do you have for other women who have or are experiencing a loss of their own? What’s the best advice you can give to help a woman let go of any guilt, ignore feelings of judgment, and experience healing?

 

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7 Comments

  1. I felt such guilt after both of my miscarriages. I could have done this or not have done that. I can honestly say that after many months the guilt is fading. The loss is still there, some days it hurts so bad. This week I would have been finding out what gender my baby would have been.I lost this pregnancy at 12 weeks. Knowing that has made this week hard. I know I will get better the Lord will sustain me and see me through. I have four wonderful children at home and now 2 in heaven. So willing to trust in God to decide the fate of my fertility. I listenend to the song by Selah “I will carry you”. so many times it gave me such comfort to know that my sweet babies are with my savior. If you know someone who is having a miscarriage I would give some advice, listen and acknowledge that their baby was real. Don’t worry about making her cry, she is going to anyways. I just wanted to know that my baby mattered to them too. Bring them lunch or dinner and let her know how much you care. Some days are still going to be harder than others, I know that, but knowing that I will someday get to see my dear ones is such a wonderful thing.

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  2. Melanie, thank you so much for sharing your story! Yes, I know exactly what you’re saying and I know many women can also relate and it will help others to read your words and know that they’re not alone. It DOES help to have others acknowledge the baby. As strange as it may seem to others, it’s a loss in itself that the baby we looked forward to announcing wouldn’t have a “proper” announcement. It helped a great deal for me to still let others know that the baby we hoped would join us would be with us in eternity. Of course the pain is still there and when my due date came around, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that were to come. Isn’t the promise of Heaven wonderful? Yes, we still miss our babes now, but it does give me peace to know that one day I’ll get to meet that little one.

    Thank you again for visiting and sharing your heart.

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  3. After having 4 healthy children, we lost our 5th. I grieve what could have been but hold TIGHT to what I know: God LOVES me (John 3:16); He can be trusted (Jer. 29:11); and I don’t have to understand why (Prov 3:5-6). I would repeat this in my head over and over until the emotions passed and I was again BELIEVING these truths and trusting my God because He IS TRUSTWORTHY!

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  4. I’ve lost 7 babies. I hold 2 beautiful daughters tightly, but still miss the 7. I wonder about them a lot. I actually know it’s not my fault, but where I have the issue is that people tell me to look to the 2 I have. Well, yes…but sometimes it’s ok to be sad for the 7 I lost, too.

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  5. On Father’s day, June 2011, I told my husband I was pregnant with our first precious baby. We had just been married in April and headed to Cagayeon de Oro, Philippines for a 6 month mission trip in May. We were so excited, we skyped home to tell everyone the news. By week 8 I knew something wasn’t right. We were alone in a tiny house in a country where I didn’t know very many people. We had the pastor and his wife but it was still hard especially with the language barrier. I phoned my Dr in Canada and he asked me to find a hospital that could do an ultrasound so we did. Thankfully God had already prepared me that our baby Ezekiel was with Him because the Dr who performed the ultrasound just said “that’s strange there is no heart beat” and that was it. I was given a perscription to take to make it so the baby would come out but I decided to let God take control of that. We prayed about it and with the blessing of the Lord and our church we decided to go home… but first we had a commitment to keep to stop and help build a new birthing centre in Manilla, PI. I helped deliver many babies and delivered one by myself while the midwife watched… all while I knew Ezekiel had left his earthly body that I was still carrying. It gave me compassion for these women. I loved them all the more. At 10 weeks on July 15, 2011 we boarded a plane for Korea. While sleeping in the airport I woke immediately to a huge pain and a gush. I ran as fast as I could to the bathroom to find Ezekiel was leaving my body… thankfully my Dr had warned me as to what would happen I was prepared. I didn’t realize it was going to happen on the plane though. That was the longest 12 hour flight home. I had contractions for the first 6 hours but I just wanted to be home so we didn’t let on what was happening. God was with us and that was all that mattered to me. I often wonder if we weren’t in a 3rd world country if it would have made a difference, maybe if I ate better or had the right vitamins. But women have healthy babies there all the time so that was untrue. God gave me peace to talk about it in my church when we got home which opened the door for others to share their stories that were kept secret for so many years. Ezekiel’s short life was not in vain. He was created for a purpose and I will see him one day with my Lord.

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  6. […] of A Mama’s Story shares her thoughts on overcoming feelings of guilt or judgement after a miscarriage on Modern Alternative Pregnancy. I think this is incredibly important, as I know that I dealt with […]

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  7. […] visit Modern Alternative Pregnancy, where I share my story and the story of other […]

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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