October 15th is the national day of pregnancy and infant loss remembrance. It is a day that allows us all to take a moment from our busy lives to recognize the loss of life during or after a pregnancy. For those who have experienced these losses, I know you probably think about it on a daily basis. I thought I would take a moment to express the pregnancy loss side of things from an obstetrical provider’s point of view. My thoughts here could never replace the ones of grieving family and friends; however, I hope they can enhance a topic that is often ignored.
So why is pregnancy loss so taboo to talk about? Probably because we live in a society that thrives on happy stories. Or perhaps it’s the fact that a large majority of pregnancy loss takes place so early in a pregnancy. This leads to family and friends not yet sharing the news of their pregnancy to anyone. Being in a busy obstetrical practice, I regularly spend time with patients who have experienced, or are experiencing pregnancy loss. I’ve also experienced pregnancy loss both early and late amongst my inner circle.
No matter how many times I say it, telling a patient and her loved one(s) that you can’t see a heartbeat never gets easy. At first there is a clear flood of emotion from everyone, then there is an overwhelming desire to answer “why”. Trying to answer that question is easily one of hardest parts of my job. It’s one of the few times I feel inadequate in my chosen profession because overwhelmingly the answer to the “why” is “I don’t know.” I hate that I can’t explain the cause of the pregnancy loss or come up with a plan of care to completely eliminate the chance of it ever happening again. But the truth is that most often no such explanation or plan exists.
For those of you who have had me as their provider during some portion of your pregnancy loss, you know that I tell you the information above, and then I tell you that I know only one thing with near 100% certainty and that it is that it is not your fault. Nothing you did caused this to happen. And I believe it when I say it. I also tell most of you that once you recover physically and emotionally, that you should try again and that I want to be there to celebrate the happier side of pregnancy with you. I mean it sincerely every time I say it.
So on this day, we remember all of our pregnancy and infant losses. You will never be forgotten. I will strive each day to give you the best chance of having a successful pregnancy and will continue to be by your side, good or bad.