April 26, 2011

Depression After Miscarriage*

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I hope to post on as many topics as I can in order to help spread the word about Infertility. This post was originally posted by me over at Attain Fertility a few months back. I haven't shared these details to this extent here, but thought it was worth putting it out there again!


In November of 2008, just two days after my husband deployed to Iraq for a year, I found out I was pregnant. We had been trying for almost exactly one year, and I had accepted that I would not be pregnant before he left. On that morning, I noticed one pregnancy test left in our medicine cabinet and decided to use it. Not because I thought I was pregnant, but because it would expire before my husband got home and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Silly, yes. But imagine my surprise when I walked back two or three minutes later to throw it in the trash and noticed that faint pink line we all dream about getting. I was ecstatic.

On January 10th, 2009, I found out that I had miscarried. I had gone in for some slight bleeding, to ease my nerves. Even the doctor on call at the hospital said with my symptoms, he never would have had me come in. It was 3 a.m. I was completely alone. I sat in my car for an hour until I could compose myself enough to drive home. That night was also the first time I had found out I was carrying twins.

The months that followed were some of the hardest months of my life. Going home to an empty house after suffering a miscarriage was more than likely the worst choice I could have made. I didn’t want to be alone, but my friends around me didn’t know how to react to my news. Nobody wanted to talk about it, even though part of me did. I became secluded in my sadness, to the point that leaving the house became a chore. I was so afraid of something bad happening that it took everything I had to go to work in the morning. I couldn’t wait until I could head home in the evenings. A trip to a friends house a few weeks after the miscarriage resulted in a panic attack after leaving early. Going anywhere became almost impossible. I’m convinced now that had I been honest and gone to a doctor, that they would have diagnosed me with mild agoraphobia.

And then there was the resentment. I found out that multiple friends were pregnant in the months that followed. Some of those friends understand (now) why I couldn’t be happy for them, and others still don’t. It took one night, a bottle of wine, a very good friend and a lot of tears for me to realize that my post-miscarriage grief, something that is so normal for any woman who has suffered a pregnancy loss, had spiraled into something much bigger. I had let the depression that I was in get the best of me, and at the time didn’t see any way to move forward. Five months after my loss, I finally went back to my doctor and was put on anti-depressants. It as the best choice, for me, and something that I needed to overcome the hole that I was in.

Follow Up With Your Doctor
I had no follow-up from my doctor after the miscarriage, or after my D&C. I was never asked if I was OK by any medical professional, and so I didn’t know if what I was feeling was normal. I was simply told, you’re having a miscarriage. End of story. Make sure you call your doctor if you have any concerns. Sometimes having that reassurance that things are they way they are supposed to be, even if it’s not what we wanted, will help you get through it.

Talk About It — If You Want To
I wanted to talk about what was going on in my head, because I wanted some reassurance from my friends that what I was feeling was OK. Keeping things to yourself is good at times, but not always. The big things can tear you up inside. After my good friend sat me down and forced me to talk about it, I wanted to talk about it more. For me, it took calling a couple of friends and saying look, I need to talk about this. This is not something I want to tip toe around. Miscarriages are a difficult topic, and many of your friends and family may not want to bring it up for fear of hurting you. Let them know it’s OK to talk about it.

Take Time Off
Suffering a miscarriage can be one of the hardest thing we as women go through. In the immediate aftermath, you may not want to be around people for a while. Make sure you take care of yourself. Take time off work, or if you can, take a mini-vacation to get your mind off of things.

Pick A New Hobby
The Christmas after I found out I was pregnant, my parents bought me a very nice digital camera. In our family, it was a tradition, when the first child came along, to give the parents something to help keep the memories. After I miscarried, I took all that energy and turned it towards photography, something that I had ways been passionate about. Since then, I have started a successful photography business. Do something that makes you happy, or try something new that you have always wanted to do. Expending that energy towards something positive will help you heal and move forward.

Know When To Seek Help
Grieving for the loss of your baby is normal, and something that we as women must all do. It’s OK to be sad, and to hurt inside from your loss. Do not feel like there is something wrong with you if your sadness lasts longer than you expect. But when your sadness and depression starts affecting your daily life, and is keeping you from doing your normal day to day activities, do not be afraid to seek help. Doing so was a difficult thing, but it was the best choice I ever made, and I wish I had done so sooner. It doesn’t always need to be permanent fix. But it may help you feel better.

3 comments:

mommyodyssey said...

Wow - thanks for sharing your story. I really admire your strength for making it through all on your own. It's hard enough with the hubby around. I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for you. It just proves how strong you really are.

Brittany said...

Thank you :)

Tsoniki Crazy Bull said...

I always think it takes such great strength to talk about a baby who didn't join the world. It is so painful. It took my friends to just talk that helped too. I'm glad you have friends like that.

Thanks for sharing.