The Solitude of Pregnancy Loss

When a child is lost before their life in this world ever truly begins the mother is both alone in her grief and suddenly an unwitting member of a crowded club, no one wanted to join. No one knew that child like she did, no one ever will. She is the only person who can physically feel the loss in her body. The isolation that comes with that kind of loss can feel unbearable. While no one else knew that specific baby like she did, many can understand her loss.

The statistics of pregnancy loss are readily available, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, Oxford University and many more all share their findings of 10%-20% of all known pregnancies end in early pregnancy miscarriage. As many as 50% if you count those losses that occur prior to the woman taking a test. As an educated woman myself, I knew these statistics when my husband and I decided to start a family, but it felt distant, no one I knew had ever lost a baby surely.

When I lost my first pregnancy at 10 weeks, suddenly family and friends came to me and shared their own stories of loss. People closest to me opened up for the first time about their own traumatic experiences. I was shocked and felt betrayed. Why were they only telling me this now? Maybe I would have been more prepared for my own loss if I had known how many people I loved that had gone through it already. How could they have hidden this from me for so many years. I was being welcomed into a club I never wanted to join and I resented it.

In my own grief, I was naïve to how society treats pregnancy loss. I didn’t know what was coming and I wasn’t prepared to handle the well intended cruelness I would soon be facing. Many women learn to stay silent about their own loss because of how they are treated by those closest to them at the time. No one knows what to say to a woman who has just lost a child. The idea alone makes others uncomfortable. So, they try to be uplifting and positive and in the process invalidate the child the mother lost.

What NOT to say:

“You can always try again” Friends, family and even doctors often times jump immediately to the next potential pregnancy, as if the promise of a future child will erase the one you lost. Sometimes in the next breath after receiving the news, you are being told that the next pregnancy will likely go better. If a child is born and a few years into their life they died of something tragic, no one would tell the grieving parents that they can just make another child to replace the one they lost. That would be cruel.
So, why is it people feel it’s appropriate when the loss occurs before birth?

“It’s for the best if there was something wrong with it” This one is so common and so disgusting, it leaves me speechless every time I receive it. The very idea that if the baby isn’t “perfect” you shouldn’t want it is disturbing in so many ways. The unfortunate truth is this cruelty doesn’t only apply to pregnancy loss. Parents whose baby is born different than the “norm” also receive hurtful comments or unwanted sympathy for the loss of the “ideal baby” objective. This is never acceptable, please stop saying it.

“Everything happens for a reason” This comment is a favorite among the religious groups. If this brings some people comfort, fine, to each their own. To me it was confusing and hurtful. To imply that my baby died for a reason but be unable to provide what that reason might be isn’t helpful. I can’t think of a single reason that might make me feel better about the death of my child. Let parents grieve without trying to convince them that their loss is a good thing.

“It wasn’t meant to be” This falls right in line with the last one for me. What is this supposed to mean? If someone’s fiancé dies in a car accident the day before the wedding, would you tell the grieving loved one “the marriage just wasn’t meant to be”? Of course not! Because that is cruel! The baby was real, the future the parent’s dreamed up for that baby was real, the love for that baby is real! There is no need to try to convince a grieving parent that their loss is no big deal, it’s a big deal to them.

“At least you know you can get pregnant” At least… No, stop! Trying to look on the bright side is admirable but not helpful to a grieving parent. They aren’t ready to see the silver lining, and it doesn’t lessen their pain in any way. To follow that up with a sentiment about how now you know you can get pregnant is in the same category as “you can always try again”. This baby wasn’t a practice run.

“You’re young, you have plenty of time” I hate this well intended comment! I received it a lot regarding pregnancy loss and infertility, at least at the beginning… Infertility and pregnancy loss don’t discriminate by age. Young people struggle with it too and implying that the pain, frustration and grief are somehow less valid due to a persons age is insulting. It also creates a future cruelty as the woman ages and they stop receiving this comment. I received this constantly at 24, 25, 26 etc. as I neared 30 I heard it less and less until those who used to say it, just looked at me with hopeless sad eyes. They made it perfectly clear with their change in attitude that I was no longer “young with plenty of time”. Didn’t your mother teach you to never comment on a woman’s age.

“What caused the miscarriage?” Nothing! After my first pregnancy loss, I desperately searched for a cause. Was it something I ate? Something I did? Something I didn’t do? I couldn’t accept that this just happens, it’s entirely out of anyone’s control. My doctor, my husband, friends, they tried to convince me that it wasn’t my fault but I couldn’t accept it. There had to be something I could have done differently to have prevented it. If not… If it wasn’t caused by anything, that meant I couldn’t stop it from happening again. I also hate the word “miscarriage”, it implies that the mother did something wrong. A miscarriage of justice is a failure of the courts. The actual definition of the word according to Webster dictionary is “corrupt or incompetent management”. Using that word to describe pregnancy loss puts the blame on the mother for not successfully carrying the pregnancy to term. We don’t need help blaming ourselves or obsessing over what might have caused it. Don’t add fuel to that fire.

“Nothing at all” For me this hurt the worst. It didn’t happen right away but over time the silence was defining. After my first pregnancy loss, loved ones rallied around us with well intended encouragement. After my second pregnancy loss we heard only from very close friends and immediate family, checking on how we were doing and asking for updates on our efforts to become parents. After my third pregnancy loss, nothing. No one asked if we were pregnant yet anymore, no one joked about how trying is the “fun” part anymore, no one mentioned pregnancy, babies or our previous losses anymore (at least not around us). We made people uncomfortable because we had lost too much for their positivity to sound sincere anymore. Others continued living life and growing their own families while we stood stuck in our recurrent tragedy. Many felt afraid to share their own good news with me because they worried it would hurt me to know they succeeded where I had failed. Knowing they had all given up on my ability to grow a child to term and chose to pretend none of it had happened at all was the most hurtful.

What TO say:

“I’m sorry for your loss?” Pregnancy loss is the death of a child. Treat the grieving parents as you would if the child had lived outside the womb before it passed away. Don’t invalidate the child these parents love.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Some may not be ready to talk about how they are feeling. Having to inform people about a pregnancy loss is difficult and painful. Don’t push they to talk about it if they aren’t ready.

“How can I support you during this difficult time?” They may not know what they need for support so feel free to offer meals, help around the house or whatever else you are willing to do to help out while they recover. Pregnancy loss is emotional, mental and also physical. Try to support the person in the way THEY need support.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you” Positivity in the face of tragedy is cruel. You are better off saying “that really sucks” or “I’m sorry that happened”. The honesty of not trying to cheer them up will be much more appreciated.

“I’m here for you if you want to talk or need anything” Letting them know you are available if they need you is a major way to help them feel less alone. They may not take you up on it, but I promise they will never forget the offer.

Unfortunately no matter how alone we feel in our loss, we aren’t alone. Walking down the street most of the women you pass will have suffered a pregnancy loss. In your own family tree, many will have suffered at least one pregnancy loss. We feel alone because the topic is sad and people don’t know what to say or they say the wrong thing and make us feel even more alone. Somewhere along my journey I decided to speak up and openly talk about my recurrent pregnancy loss. Often times it makes people uncomfortable and can feel like oversharing but it’s important. I want everyone to know my story so if it happens to them, they know at least one person who has also been there. I want people to know my story so we can dispel the fantasy that creating life is easy and perfect.

I talk about my pregnancy loss in a way that is unemotional and approachable for others to ask questions without worrying about hurting my feelings or being invasive. I want people to ask questions. I want to help other people learn what to say to someone they love that has suffered a loss. Over my 10 year journey of growing my family I have lost 6 of my 8 children during pregnancy. Everyone else says I have two children, but I have 8, only two survived.

The babies we lost are real.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Start a Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: