When facing miscarriage or infertility the feelings such as confusion, shock, frustration, irritability, or for the woman to see herself as having less value than other “fertile women” may make sense. A woman may begin to internalize statements such as “God does not love me or does not care for me. Surely He knows that I am open to life, to be fruitful, to raise children and He has not made it happen.” These initial feelings are expected because a woman never dreamed of having reproductive challenges.
Did you know that many studies show that it is not unusual for a woman experiencing reproductive loss to become symptomatic for depression and anxiety? Another study even concludes that “previous prenatal loss showed a persisting prediction of depressive and anxiety symptoms well after what would conventionally be defined as the postnatal period”. So, it is only fair to believe whatever affects the body will undoubtedly alter a woman’s psychological and spiritual well-being as well.
So, as the heart is flooded with emotions from this kind of challenge, there will be three paths for a woman to choose from:
1. Give in to her emotion. That is the state when the woman feels that she is the only one experiencing miscarriage or infertility and then begins to question everything about herself. Recently, a woman said to me that her story felt too heavy and burdening. She had a difficult time talking about her situation because of the sense of failure towards herself and her family. That can lead to isolation, which in turn causes her to be more depressed, thus creating a vicious cycle.
2. Ignoring her emotions and moving forward with life as usual. That is when a woman is so overwhelmed by the death of her baby or the shock of being unable to be pregnant that she is afraid to enter that space of suffering for fear of what she may see. So, it feels safer to avoid her feelings altogether. I have come to appreciate this quote by Benedict XVI from his letter Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope) that says: “it is not by fleeing from suffering that we are healed; it is rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”
3. Reaching out for help. This is the step I encourage all women to take. In my journey, I have realized that infertility or miscarriage are life-altering events. Indeed, they are crises that may shift a woman and her spouse’s dreams regarding their union. When the woman chooses to reach out to someone to assist her in processing these feelings and emotions, she is allowing herself to ask the hard questions, being honest about her feelings and the answers provided, digesting them, and finally trusting her motherhood desire into the hands of the One who knows her more than anyone else.
Miscarriage and infertility are medical issues, not character flaws. At the same time, these conditions are so interconnected with a woman’s sense of self that it may result in feeling like a punishment from God. I found consolation from scripture in that I had to constantly remember to “reassure our hearts before God in whatever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 John 3:20).
Each woman is unique before God. Birthing a child is a beautiful gift from God. And God gives different gifts to each of his daughters. Your gift cannot be compared to mine or another. Your motherhood journey will be as unique as you are! It could be that God is accomplishing something more in you while you are waiting to bring a child home! It could also be that God has a different path for you regarding your mothering journey.
He calls us to trust!
So, feelings can be difficult to manage especially if it feels like every woman around you is becoming pregnant! By its nature, infertility reminds us month after month that we are childless. Walking alone, those feelings can wear away at the most confident and faithful woman. Miscarriage may shake the very foundation that life is safe and predictable! Trying to navigate your life’s challenges and subsequent consequences regarding a family will require intentionality, honesty about your feelings, and trust in God. Through it all, know that God is greater than all of this.
He sees you and He has not abandoned you!
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Margalita is a wife, mother, and Catholic psychotherapist in private practice who specializes in working with women who feel heartbroken and devastated after a pregnancy loss. Learn more about her here!