How to Cope with Miscarriage and Stillbirth
One mother who loved the first issue of From The Womb on 22 July, wrote privately to me and said:
Not sure if it makes sense but l've a thought to also include those who may have brewed something in the womb but were not privileged enough to hold the baby...miscarriages, stillborns. l think it will become all inclusive rather than focus on success stories only.
I am grateful that my sister Juliet, the mother who messaged me, broke the silence and was honest about how she felt. She is the reason why you are reading about coping with stillbirths and miscarriages in this second issue. We have a tendency to perpetuate the culture of silence when it comes to stillbirths and miscarriages. These are some of the most difficult life experiences parents, especially mothers go through. Does this ring a bell for you? Maybe it is you or you know someone who is suffering in silence? What I know for sure is that mothers need to be equipped to deal with the emotional, mental, financial and social impact of such losses so that they are still able to live their lives fully and purposefully.I know Julie is not alone. According to the American CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts:
both miscarriage and stillbirth describe pregnancy loss, but they differ according to when the loss occurs. In the United States, a miscarriage is usually defined as loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy, and a stillbirth is loss of a baby at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Healthy Debate Canada has reported that more than 3,000 babies die in their mothers’ wombs. That’s 8.4 stillbirths every day. Worldwide, about 2 million stillbirths and 23 million miscarriages occur annually. If you have experienced any of these losses, I want you to know that you are not alone and that it is ok to express how you feel. It is ok not to always be strong as a woman. My heart cracks open everytime I try to imagine the pain Julie endured after carrying full term and giving birth to a sleeping beautiful boy. What happens to the clothes, the baby shower pictures and videos, the gender reveal parties, the money needed to cover all associated expenses? Jo, our little sister asked us her elder sisters back home, as we all cried helplessly over the phone, inconsolable. How do mothers cope with this devastating loss? It is heartbreaking and yet it is a reality of life. In my book, Mother Behold Thy Son I shared the story of how my daughter Zanele was unresponsive after a very traumatic delivery where nurses intentionally neglected me and I started delivering on my own. "My legs were still open,I could not close them. My mouth was open,I could not close it. My chest was split open, I could not contain the pain. My eyes were open but no tears spilled out. God where are you? Alone in the maternity ward I mourned what I thought was my baby's death. Minutes seemed like a lifetime. I waited for the medical team to confirm the inevitable even as I kept my heart open for a miracle. I began to picture what would come next. So this is how it felt to lose a child after birth?"So in a small way I understand yet I can never fully understand. Zanele came back to life. She is my miracle baby. I also had miscarriages in at 28 and at 43 years old. The first one I was not aware of, until I was told at the hospital. The second one, I was well over 12 weeks and I wanted the baby. Not only did I deal with heartbreak, physical pain, emotional and mental turmoil, I was also judged for wanting to get pregnant at that age. At times when we need empathy and compassion, we get judgement and that can impact our mental health.If any of this has happened to you, know you are not alone! The Gynaecologist who did a sonogram on me lectured me on why I must never get pregnant outside marriage, implying that I sinned that is why I lost my baby. The duality of life sees the womb as a source of both joy and pain. From the womb we also experience loss, pain and untold grief.Ironically, it is on Julie's birthday that I had my second miscarriage. For me it is a very strong reminder that death is part of life and that the duality I have alluded to earlier, is here to stay. I feel that mothers and others will benefit from accepting this reality as I have. Grief is a process as they also say. It is true. When we lose the baby we anticipated to have and to hold, we question the Creator, why? We all know there is no answer that will come and that can cause us to be lost and stuck.
How do we cope with loss and grief?
Is it ok for me to ask you a question? If so, please answer this: If you are one of us, what are some of the most effective ways you have used to cope with your loss? If you have just experienced loss, I send you a lot of love and pray that you will find ways of dealing with your pain. I share some tips in no particular order, what I have used in trying to deal with my loss as each anniversary is a reminder of that loss.
1. Music Personally, I have used music to soothe my feelings. I also listen to music and I love all genres that sound good to my ear. I also compose my own music and play Mbira, a therapeutic traditional African instrument. music is a possibility for you, what is your preference? 2. Dance I love dancing and it makes me feel good and happy, especially sensual dancing that makes me feel feminine. Figure 8 by Jaana Kunitz is my best, then energetic African dance. 3. Writing I find writing therapeutic as I express the pain, frustration, anger, anxiety, stress, guilt and regret freely. At times it is only for me. At times I share with others, but I make sure I am emotionally ready as I did with Zanele's story in Mother Behold Thy Son. I noticed that the mom who wrote to me shared her story of loss on Facebook. So there, we have a common tool for coping, writing. 4. Counselling
I went for counselling to help me cope with the pain of miscarriage that was threatening my mental health. Have you noticed how it is easy for a mother to be mentally fragile after loss? Being proactive and seeking professional help is of vital importance. I do not know about you but some cultures like mine are still to embrace counselling fully. Being a Systemic Family Counsellor who has benefited from being counselled, I encourage mothers to seek professional help from licenced counsellors and therapists of their choice. 5. Mental Fitness I have been learning to find the gift and opportunity in loss and grief under the tutelage of Shirzad Chamine. Becoming a Positive Intelligence coach has helped me to deal with life's challenges from a 'sage perspective'. This means that when I suffer loss or adversity, I accept that everything happens for a reason and I begin to look for the gift and or opportunity in my circumstances. A positive mindset makes the grieving process easier. Grief is love as they say. Love is all about positive energy. Some mothers find purpose from their loss and commit to inspiring and healing others. On the other hand, others grieve with a negative mindset. That causes us to drown in our own tears and leads to self sabotage. We can easily spiral into depression and even avoidable death. That is why we need to break the culture of silence and talk about our feelings and to have an arsenal of tools to help us cope with life's challenges. We can convert our circumstances into gifts and opportunities. We only have to ask the Divine, "what is the gift?"
I share a picture of how I have captured my life journey and summarise turning adversity into a gift. We can move from pain but it takes a shift in mindset, which is perspective then we convert pain to power; and power to purpose, then purpose to profit and profit to prosperity.
I invite you to join Mothers United where we help mothers unleash their feminine power to become unstoppable drivers of change personally, professionally, and maternally so that they live their best lives, making the world more equal, loving and free, from the home to the globe. Our mission is to connect, empower, and unite the world’s mothers through networking and collaboration, education and training for mothers and children, and to enable mother-to-mother support. I am your sister on CALL ready for further dialogue about motherhood and the power we have as a collective. Discover our programs The Mentally Fit Mama and Sage Kids or book a free call with me and discover the power of positive mindset. Kindly share with mothers who need to hear this message.
If you would like to share tips for fellow mothers, connect with us on www.mothersunited.ca. Mothers United will change the world! Gratefully ,
#MothersUnited #PositiveMindset #FromTheWomb #CoachFran
A well written Masterpiece.
A must-read for any woman raising a son.