Miscarriage Grief Can Live On

"Every year, I get the two ornaments for 'baby 1' and 'baby 2' and I hang the ornaments on the tree," said Goodwin, who is also a member of Mend.

Cole says the grief of a miscarriage is often physical and concrete for one parent, and more intellectual for the other.

"Women experience pregnancy, men intellectually acknowledge pregnancy," said Cole, who noted that even after the father feels the baby kicking, it often does not lead to the same thoughts as the mother has.

"They're not the same as feeling the baby move itself ... there's a different emotional chronology between the partner and the pregnant lady," said Cole.

Moreover, research shows men and women often don't discuss this difference. Swanson sites statistics that 85 percent of couples have a limited discussion about a miscarriage, and that the mother-to-be and father-to-be mourn differently.

When asked "just what did you lose," Swanson said, "we frequently find that women would say, 'I lost my baby,' 'my son' or 'my daughter.' Men would talk in more vague terms, like 'I lost my future son' and mostly that they lost a relationship with their wife, their beloved."

She tells married couples the man may have promised to have and to hold in sickness and in health, but "you never said 'and feel the exact same way you do.'" Swanson added she see the difference in reaction is even translated to the pregnant and nonpregnant partner in lesbian couples.

Men and Women Can React Differently to Miscarriage

Paula Miltenberger, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating women in Dallas, said this difference need not impede the couple's healing.

"The biggest thing is to allow the person who's had a miscarriage to talk about it," said Miltenberger. "A lot of these women will suffer in silence, because they feel like no one understands."

If the woman's mourning is not addressed or gets complicated, doctors say she can go on to carry the burden of a miscarriage into their next pregnancy. Researchers such as Joann O'Leary at the University of Minnesota have reportedly also found that untreated grief after a miscarriage can change the way a woman mothers in subsequent pregnancies.

"I actually have seen situations where wonderful, wonderful mothers with great personalities don't see how they are expecting their one child to be more than the child ever could be," said Cole.

In his work, Cole said he has found that women mourn what the baby meant to them as much as the life itself, which can complicate the next pregnancy if the mourning wasn't addressed.

"Every pregnancy represents hope, and every mom when she's told that she's pregnant has a set of ideals that have to do with her upbringing, hope for herself and her future," said Cole. "All of that hope [can] go away when a miscarriage occurs."

Indeed, Goodwin said her subsequent successful pregnancies were fraught with worry rather than elation.

"Until that baby comes out of your body and is breathing, nobody can convince you that it's OK," she said.

Beyer said after her first miscarriage, she stopped trying to bond with her baby in the second pregnancy. While she kept a journal in her first pregnancy, in the second pregnancy she didn't keep one. By the third, she tried the journal again but it sounded curt.

"I wrote 'here it is week 9, this is when I lost your brothers and sisters, and I hope you're holding on OK,'" said Beyer. "I never got anything for the baby until the baby kicked."

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