I’m going to talk about a very delicate topic. This may be a very difficult one for people who have had a similar experience. So, deep breath.
In my book, I wrote a fair amount about my experience with so-called “mental illness” and, while those words have caused people to weep to see many of their own experiences reflected, I believe this kind of release can be cathartic. I also believe that talking about the things that make us weep leads to even more healing, because in these true conversations, we begin to find new answers. And so, I talk about the difficult things, the stuff with stigma, the aspects that trigger judgment, the experiences we’re often asked to keep to ourselves.
After I miscarried, I could not bear watching a specific realm of television ads. The ads were intended to discourage abortion, but my soul could not differentiate. The commercials showed a lone woman gazing sadly out a darkened window. They talked about the absence of Cheerios on the floor, of no tiny voice crying out in the night… For me, these ads, unfortunately, hit the nail on the head.
At this time in my life, I was relying on episodes of Star Trek to lull me out of my agonized brain and heart and into sleep. It was the only thing that worked. But at one point in my efforts, late night Star Trek became newly interspersed with these ads. The first few times I saw them, I cracked. Over and over and over I melted into a rocking sob which endured long after the 30-second commercial had closed.
I had lost this baby, and the pain of that was unbearable for me for many, many months. Once, when I was confident I had healed enough to function normally, I found myself cheerfully walking downtown on a break from work when I was suddenly overcome with tears and confusion. I had no idea what was happening, but recognized that the experience was strangely familiar. I eventually identified it: for some reason, I was re-experiencing everything I had felt at the time of my miscarriage. Finally, I realized: this was the baby’s due date.
The pain a person might experience with miscarriage cannot be overstated.
On the day I learned I had miscarried, I experienced some grace amongst the fear and anguish. When I first realized what was happening, I was in the public library. I ran into the washroom, where I curled myself into a ball, struck with pain and fear. At the time, the “only” symptoms I was experiencing were those of toxicity -a symptom that can develop when the baby dies but stays inside the womb for an extended period. A woman in the washroom -a complete stranger- asked me if I needed help. I said yes, and reluctantly shared what was happening. She offered to drive me to the hospital -mere blocks away- but I was extremely nauseous and feared I would vomit in her car. I asked her to call an ambulance. She did, and sat next to me, holding my hand, until the ambulance arrived.
(You know, there are these people -angels- who appear in your life and you never find out who they were so you never get to say another thank you. I always have an inkling of hope that some of the angels in my life will happen to read the blog post that includes them, and realize I’m thanking them here!)
I was embarrassed to be travelling in an ambulance with no symptoms I considered to be “emergency enough”. But I was scared to be without professional care and in the end I’m really glad I asked for this help, because of who was attending. Of the two paramedics, I remember that at least one was female. After she rolled me into the hospital’s emergency department, and just before she had to leave me there, she paused for a moment, leaned over, and whispered to me something along the lines of, “I know this is hard. I’ve been there. I lost a baby this way, too. Hang in there. It’ll get better. You’ll see the light of dawn again.”
I hung on to this woman’s words for dear life. Actually, not her words so much as her incredible generosity -her sharing of her experience, one unique to some women. The first person I’d known to have miscarried, or at least to have spoken this experience aloud to me. Someone who’d gone through this. Someone who might have blamed herself, too. Someone who might have made three previous trips to the emergency department, convinced that something was wrong, only to be told each time that “everything is fine, go home”, left to second-guess her “mother gut”.
She didn’t have to tell me this. She didn’t have to break from her professional mode long enough to whisper words of utter empathy. She didn’t have to pause to assure me, a complete stranger, that somehow hope would return after a situation in which there is no longer basis for hope.
I’m compelled to write about this grace, to acknowledge the healing that occurs when we tell each other our true stories.
I’m compelled to write about something else, too: Some miscarriages can be prevented. In so many cases we don’t know why people miscarriage. In my case, tests were completed and all that was determined was “cause unknown”. I learned that this is the determination in approximately 50% of miscarriages.
Many miscarriages occur because of heartbreaking physical trauma, for example, or for other clear reasons. Many of them don’t.
Many women who report symptoms of “mental” illness, or autoimmune issues such as lupus, or the diagnosis of autism in other children also report a history of miscarriage. All of these issues fall within the diagnostic concept of gut and psychology syndrome, which proposes, of course, that these conditions stem from a single cause, and which can be addressed by a single program. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website states:
Celiac disease also has been found in several studies to be a frequent cause of miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage. Miscarriage occurs 31% more in undiagnosed CD patients than the normal population.
And yes, many women who have experienced one or more miscarriages find they can successfully carry a baby to term after implementing a nutrient-dense diet. I want to tell you that. Other women have found they can newly carry a baby to term after eliminating allergens, or after a course of herbal remedies, or after implementing another approach.
There is hope.
Such a sensitive topic. One filled with grief for so many women, and men too. So sensitive a topic, I’d rather not talk about it. I want to not bring up painful memories for readers, and I’d prefer to avoid angry or judgemental comments, such as the ones I received “in real life” after my son was born prematurely (three years before I learned about the effects of a nutrient-dense diet). But I’m going to override all my fears today, so that I can share this information with women who crave to carry a baby to term and who remain at a loss about what is interfering with that.
If you are a woman who dreams of carrying a baby to term, consider looking into the impact of a nutrient-dense diet. Of course, as I say in my book, a nutrient-dense diet is not a panacea -it will not resolve all causes of miscarriage (or prematurity or any other development within a pregnancy). But do I believe a nutrient-dense diet will make all the difference for some women and their babies? Absolutely.
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