Miscarriage survivor turned author offers advice to women and loved ones
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By Orville Williams
Having a miscarriage is one of the most dreaded experiences for women hoping to become mothers, but one survivor hopes to ease the burden for those in pain and their loved ones by sharing her story.
Jihan Williams – a St. Kitts and Nevis national, lawyer, social development advocate and now author – suffered a miscarriage herself, losing her son when she was six months pregnant.
Although she naturally needed time and support to overcome this personal trauma, she didn’t stop there, going further by writing a self-published book, titled “Lifting the Weight of Miscarriage: Healing Insights on Pregnancy Loss for Sufferers and the People”. Around us”.
Speaking on Observer AM earlier this week, she revealed several details about her ordeal, including the fact that she was struggling to conceive, before being faced with the worst possible reality.
“I was trying to get pregnant for four years, so after having this period of disappointment and then for it to finally happen, you’re super excited.
“Everyone around me was so excited. I had an aunt in New York who planned to come home the first four months to help me with the baby, so I wouldn’t have to deal with that. [alone]“, she revealed.
The pregnancy support advocate explained that putting pen to paper, talking about her own experience, first helped her heal, before she realized it could do the same for others who struggle to cope with such trauma.
“It was a difficult journey, but I started writing as an emotional outlet. I started doing it for myself, but then I started having more experiences where it was clear to me that the people around me didn’t know how to treat me,” she said.
“They didn’t know what to say, they didn’t know what to do [and] there were things being said and done that didn’t sit well with me, and the more I spoke with other women who had gone through this experience, the more I realized there was a universality behind this experience – yet so many people don’t know.
“Having had these kinds of conversations many times, I realized that this is something the public needs to hear.”
If you ask family members or friends of a miscarriage victim, who have no prior experience of such events, they probably won’t know how to go about providing comfort, even if they do. that is really necessary.
In these cases, people tend to take the path of avoidance rather than confrontation, as a means of protecting the emotions of their loved ones.
According to Williams, however, this is far from how someone who has suffered a miscarriage should be treated.
“People choose this option because they’re afraid they’ll say the wrong thing, trigger you, or upset you, so they stay away. But people need to understand that staying away is actually more hurtful. .
“I think the appropriate response is to recognize [the loss]. The thing you don’t want to do is act like it didn’t happen. So you don’t just follow your daily life by taking care of [the mother] and don’t even acknowledge the fact that she is in pain or that this loss has occurred.
“What I often tell people is…just say ‘I’m so sorry for your loss. [and] if you need me, i’m here – if there’s a way to help you during this time, let me know’, as it could be something as simple as bringing lunch or ‘help with chores, errands or something like that that eases the load,’ she explained.
She also emphasized, during the interview and in her book, the importance of acknowledging the pain experienced by fathers who share miscarriages, again using her own situation as an example.
“There’s a whole chapter in the book called ‘Forgotten Fathers’, because people seem to forget that fathers are grieving too, and we’ve had so many experiences where people ask him how I’m doing.
“Nobody asked him how he was doing and that’s a huge oversight because people seem to think men are rocks and they don’t feel anything and they don’t have any emotions. In my experience and other experiences I have observed as well, nothing could be further from the truth.
“So we really need to give space for men to grieve and heal from this process as well.”
Williams’ book, which chronicles her post-pregnancy experience – as well as her second-trimester miscarriage – is available at the Best of Books store in St John’s, as well as online at Amazon.
Six myths and facts about miscarriages
- Miscarriages are rare – MYTH. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health states that “up to 10-15% of confirmed pregnancies are lost.” The organization notes that the number could be even higher since some miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman is often unaware she has ever been pregnant.
- Miscarriages are completely preventable – MYTH. A miscarriage is most often the result of genetic problems in the fetus that cause growth and development to stop, which is beyond the control of the mother. Other reasons for miscarriage include problems with the uterus or cervical incompetence.
- A woman must wait several months after a miscarriage before trying to conceive again – MYTH. Experts say it’s safe to start again — in most cases — as soon as you feel physically and emotionally ready. Experts say that while it’s true that women who have miscarried are more susceptible than those who don’t, most women who have miscarried have healthy pregnancies.
- Sadness and guilt are normal feelings after a miscarriage – DO. The experience of a miscarriage can be accompanied by emotional aftershocks. It’s normal to have questions like “why me?” or “did I do something to cause this?” and experience feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness after a miscarriage.
- Vaginal bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage – DO. Experts say the most common symptoms of miscarriage are bleeding from the vagina and abdominal pain or cramps, although they note that vaginal bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a miscarriage. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. If you have a fever over 100.4°F, something solid or tissue-like coming out of your vagina, or if you have foul-smelling vaginal secretions, see your OBGYN immediately.
- Taking care of yourself could reduce your risk of miscarriage – DO. Although some miscarriages occur due to uncontrollable circumstances, there are medical conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes or thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism that could contribute to the risk of miscarriage. Experts say that while there’s no way to be sure you won’t miscarry, you can reduce your risk by avoiding cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and stomach injuries.
Source: Banner Health Blog/bannerhealth.com
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