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Pregnancy loss and miscarriage: ‘You haven’t told anybody, and you’re going through this horrific pain’

SEATTLE - All week, we are tackling the topic of infertility. But one aspect that isn't talked about much is pregnancy loss.

It's more common than you might think - the March of Dimes estimates 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, although many believe that number to be even higher.

Most of the people who go through pregnancy loss suffer alone. That's how it felt for my husband and I when we went through our two losses on our path to parenthood.

But October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month- a great opportunity to open up this conversation and make it less of a stigma to do so.

Dr. Lora Shahine was our doctor through our fertility journey, and runs the Center for Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Pacific NW Fertility in Seattle.  She's also the author of a book on the topic called Not Broken: An Approachable Guide to Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss.

I asked her to describe for us the specific grief of pregnancy loss:

"Not only do you have to go through the physical part of recovering from a miscarriage, but a huge emotional impact, especially for women. It is so full of self-blame, guilt, and it's very isolating," Dr. Shahine says.

She goes on to point out that doctors are really good about advising against announcing your pregnancy until you've cleared the first trimester, but the downside to that is that if you do miscarry, you are now faced with reaching out to family and friends in the middle of your grief.

While it's easy to blame yourself and your body, Dr. Shahine says she still finds ways to offer people hope. "The most common cause of miscarriage is an issue with the embryo," she says. "And it's really hard to change somebody's mindset, but in a way, the woman's body is working. It's saying... this is not the right pregnancy, it's not meant to be. That doesn't take away the emotional pain... So I can say, listen, this was not the right time, but you got through so many hurdles and you are working, and if you can just try again the very next time, it's a brand new chance."

The emotional pain is especially difficult. For us, losing a baby twice was a grief no one could have prepared us for. You haven't met this baby, and yet you mourn the loss of who they were to you and who you had envisioned them becoming. You then have to erase all of the eager anticipation you had been feeling dreaming about and thinking about adding this baby to your family.

But again, Dr. Shahine says there is hope. "You really have to take people from feeling guilty and broken, to leaving feeling hopeful- because they should."