'Asian women who have a miscarriage should also know its not their fault'
By Mita Mistry
27th May 2019

Miscarriage is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking and traumatic experiences couples go through. It leaves them feeling anxious and uncertain about whether they will ever be parents and have the baby they’ve been dreaming of.

But what does it really feel like to lose your unborn child? And how does the silence around miscarriage in the South Asian community affect a woman going through this emotional roller coaster?

I caught up with 'Kiran' who talked about her heartfelt experience of loss.

How does it feel going through a miscarriage?

I have had three miscarriages and each one was a different experience with emotions from shock, deep sadness, grief, loneliness, anger and emptiness.

The first miscarriage happened after a few years of trying for a baby and just before IVF. We were filled with joy at becoming pregnant naturally and hopes for our future as a family were bright. A few weeks into the pregnancy, I started bleeding, panicked by this my GP referred me for an early scan. Waiting for the appointment over five days was agonising. Deep down I knew I was miscarrying, and it was hard to remain hopeful or positive, but I tried to stay strong.

The second was tough like they all were, and the pain often blurs into one huge block of pain. But the third time was scary because I was 39 and knew conceiving gets harder with age. This of course, brought a different set of emotions ranging from apprehension, anger, grief, frustration as well as optimism, hope, acceptance and anticipation.

How did it affect your day to day life?

I stopped my teaching job and decided to focus on my health to recover, especially as my employer was unsupportive. It affected my social life and I found myself avoiding leaving home. I went through a period of depression where motivation for simplest things like washing up was a struggle.

But I needed time to be with my grief and love for my lost babies. Friends would check on me, but most stopped after the third miscarriage as many of them felt I shouldn’t have been trying for a baby without fully recovering first. But recovery can take time and time was not on my side if I wanted children of my own.

What was the hardest part of dealing with the miscarriage?

I had imagined the baby’s face and future, but the grief of this loss was heartbreaking. During grieving a few relatives had passed away, yet my loss was treated as less relevant and completely ignored by most. It was a harsh contrast to witness support for grieving relatives versus no support or acknowledgement for my grief.

At the mourning of relatives, it was difficult to be around young children and babies knowing I was carrying my baby that wouldn’t see the world. And people passed their baby to me which holding in my arms felt unbearably sad.

Some people made indirect comments that I wasn’t strong because I needed time to grieve or I should be more positive. And this was not easy to hear because processing and letting go of pain is different for everyone. You can’t think your way out of grief, it is a journey, and many did not understand that or my choices.

How did your family and friends help you?

My husband supported me during the miscarriages, and the emotional support he has given since has been tremendous in helping me. I would break down in tears often and he allowed space to express my feelings.

After the first miscarriage, support from friends and family was heartwarming; visiting me, sending flowers, cards and love. Their presence and acknowledgment of what I had been through made a difference especially after experiencing the opposite from other family members. I felt less alone and that I was deserving of support to get through it.

How did the community support you? How did that make you feel?

Miscarriage is still a taboo and not talked about openly in the Asian community, so I didn't feel comfortable opening up. There is a strong blame mentality because many people asked if I had been eating properly, taking vitamins, praying, resting and so on. These hurtful suggestions were not helpful because many women who have been through a miscarriage already question themselves and what they could have done differently.

But it comforting when some relatives disclosed they too had miscarried. I do wish they had been open sooner and perhaps I would have felt less alone because miscarriage is common.

Did you seek professional help? If so what? How did it help you?

I visited a counsellor in a non-judgmental space to talk about my grief. It has helped me to be kind to myself and patient with my emotions and life. I was able to process a lot and speak openly about things I may not want to burden my friends, family or husband with. If you've spent years blocking or avoiding addressing your feelings it can be very helpful.

What advice would you give someone going through a miscarriage?

Seek counselling and support from the right people. There’s no shame in seeking professional help because miscarriage can be incredibly emotionally draining.

Avoid judgmental people who offer unsolicited advice without listening to you. It’s ok not to see people who don’t understand. And give yourself love, you deserve it after the trauma you've been through. Self-love for me meant doing guided mediations, being in nature and reminding myself that I'm good enough regardless of what crap society spews out.

Start talking about it and make sure women know miscarriage is not their fault and they are not alone in their experiences. And keep checking on your friends as they probably don’t want to be a burden so may not speak up. Sometimes you just need someone to listen without trying to fix it.

AUTHOR: Mita is a newspaper columnist, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapist, Acupuncturist and expert in other healing techniques.
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