Not that we need more reasons to avoid what we hope we don’t experience, October is not only Depression Awareness Month (see this post), it’s also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For some of us, this reminder is extremely painful. If you have ever been in that place where you have lost a child, born or unborn, it’s heartbreaking and our condolences are with you. And if you’re going through infertility, the struggle to get pregnant every month can compound the difficulties and magnify the emotions. When we’re young, the fear is that we could get pregnant. It seems all too easy, and no one we ever know has struggled to get pregnant, had a miscariage or stillbirth.
Not everyone is aware of what a chemical pregnancy is, but its an extremely early miscarriage. Generally this is a pregnancy that ends before the first ultrasound. Typically you’ll get a faint pink line on a pregnancy test (or a dark pink line) and before you know it the pregnancy is gone. It’s estimated that 50-75% of pregnancies are chemical pregnancies and there are various reasons for why they end, but many women don’t even notice. It’s suggested that many of them are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, and no, there is nothing you did wrong.
Miscarriages are pregnancies that spontaneously end between 6-20 weeks gestation. Some women are fully aware that they are pregnant and have started to celebrate, others might not have even noticed the missed period before it happens. Some miscarriages require a D&C (dilation and curettage) and others just require an extra tampon or pad. It’s estimated that 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Think of your 10 closest girlfriends, chances are at least one of them has experienced a miscarriage. And if you consider that the average American has at least 2 children, then you can bet 2 of your friends have lost an early pregnancy. And if you know anyone who has experienced a miscarriage it is NEVER ok to say anything like “at least you lost it before you became attached to it.” A pregnancy loss of any kind is a pregnancy loss, and is extremely difficult to process.
A stillbirth is a pregnancy that is lost at or after 20 weeks of gestation. It’s rare at around 0.6% of all pregnancies. Stillbirths can happen for a variety of reasons but it’s thought that the majority come from a placental abnormality.
This can happen for many reasons, but one that keeps most new parents up at night is SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The rate of SIDS is about 0.13% of all live births. It’s rare, but it can keep you up at night.
Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re just hoping for any pink line on a pregnancy test. And for many of you, the struggle continues past getting that faint pink line and getting to a happy healthy baby. For many women, the struggle to get or stay pregnant was not something we heard of until we were in the same boat ourselves. This month is a reminder you are not alone — whether the struggle is getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
Please understand that you are not insane, crazy, neurotic, or hormonal — everything you are feeling is valid. The more we share our stories, the more light we shine into the darkness. Doing so, helps us find clarity and possibly treatments for things that can be treated.
If you have suffered a loss (unimaginable to someone who is not in your shoes), we send you light, love, and peace.