Friday, November 18, 2011

Featured article: A Mother's Guilt

| |

A Mother’s Guilt

Trying again after the loss of an infant

By Shannon M. Mason

The loss of an infant, at any stage, is a heart wrenching situation. Miscarriage occurs in 15 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies and 3 to 4 percent of all reproductive age couples have recurrent losses. (Cohen, J. 2005) These statistics do not make the pain of a loss any easier on the parents who are going through the experience. Nor does it make the decision to try again any less guilt ridden.

The desire to have a child is often so strong that once a woman has conceived she begins to connect with the life growing inside her. When that life no longer exists there is a painful void. Often that void is filled with the desire to try again but it is not without worry, stress and even guilty thoughts. A mother’s love is so strong that she can continue to connect with the life that was once inside her own body and replacing that life with another is a decision riddled with questions.

Trying again can be confusing and scary. Many questions may be going through your mind. Here are some facts concerning loss:

  • Having one miscarriage does not increase your risk of having another.
  • Having losses during your second trimester may indicate cervical incompetency and should be tested.
  • Once you see a heartbeat over 100 beats per minute your risk of miscarriage is less than 10%.
  • Most miscarriages are due to a chromosomal anomaly and if this is your first, then the chance of having a healthy baby in a subsequent pregnancy is excellent.
  • Most all miscarriages happen because of a problem with the fetus, not due to something the mother may or may not have done.
  • Women who try again soon after a loss may be more successful than those who delay.

The time for a couple to try again is a personal decision. Not only does the body need time to heal, so does the mind. Another pregnancy will not replace the previous loss and it becomes difficult to know where you are in the role of parenthood. You may find it hard to say that you are a parent since you do not have a living child. In actuality, you are the most precious of parents as your love now spans across the heavens to reach your little one.

When the time is right you will find yourself expecting another child. This new pregnancy will be bittersweet. You may find that others will ask if this subsequent pregnancy will be your first child. Feelings of guilt may accompany your answer. Technically, this is not your first child but how do you explain? How strong is your ability to talk about your loss? If you are able, you can mention that this is not your first pregnancy and give a brief explanation that you have another child who did not make it to birth or passed away shortly after. For some, this explanation is much more difficult. When I am asked this question I reply that “we have seven angels watching over us.” This response was not always easy and to this day still brings feelings of grief when spoken.

With this new life growing inside, it is perfectly acceptable to be happy. Staying positive is sometimes difficult as your thoughts may drift to your other child(ren) but that is normal. Take each day one step at a time and celebrate the milestones of your pregnancy. Understand that there is no right or wrong way to handle a subsequent pregnancy. Your decision to try again is because of the vast amount of love you have for your family and that love is large enough to encompass all of your children, without a need for guilt.


Thank you for sharing.

Post a Comment