Since our ectopic pregnancy loss, I have seen a grief counsellor twice and began working with my fertility coach again. The grief counsellor recommended that my husband and I consider attending our local Perinatal Loss Support Group that meets once a month.
Last Tuesday (which also happened to be my first day back to work), my husband and I went to our first group session. The session was 2 hours in length and was held in a conference room at a bereavement centre (meaning office building).
There were 13 people in attendance including the grief counsellor, 8 sets of couples, 3 mothers and 1 grandmother. I was relieved that there were 3 other men in the room as I know my husband wouldn’t have been pleased had he been the only one.
Since I am a highly energetically sensitive person, I could feel the intensity of the grief as the room started to fill up. Lesson learned for next time. I need to protect myself better before we go.
The session started out by introducing yourself and telling a bit of your story. I dreaded this moment. I was almost last to go and I knew I would burst into tears the second it was my turn. And I did.
As I regained my composure, I made a joke about only wearing mascara because it was my first day back to work and apologized for the black streaks that I’m sure were about to appear on my face. The thing is, once you’ve cried in public as much as I have, you actually learn how to avoid those black streaks even if you aren’t wearing waterproof mascara. I highly suggest the blotting approach to dry up those tears.
After introductions, there was an open discussion where you could bring up issues, scenarios or feelings to share with the group. The newcomers tended to keep to themselves and were less open to start (me included which is a surprise). The regular attendees all knew each other and openly shared their worries, wishes and experiences.
As the conversation flowed, the highlight for me was actually seeing what my husband was getting out of it. I was quite relieved that he could relate to many of the other husband’s stories (i.e. crying when alone in the tractor). I was touched that these men were willing to share their vulnerability and emotion. That takes strength.
As for me, I was torn between a sense of commonality and a sense of aloneness. As a grieving mother, I belonged with the group; however, I was the only infertility patient which made my story a bit different than the rest.
When discussing the concept of guilt, I spoke up about how I actually didn’t think there was anything I could do to prevent my ectopic. During our beta limbo, I made it quite clear that I would not end my pregnancy without proof of an ectopic. After I shared this story, I felt like I received blank stares from everyone except another woman (who I had previously met but that’s another story). This woman agreed with me and said she held no guilt either.
Also, there were only 3 couples (including us) who didn’t have other children. It was a bit difficult to hear the woman share stories about their growing their families, but it made it quite clear that another baby will not just magically make the feelings go away.
Overall, what I got out of the session was the following:
- Many women continue to grieve their pregnancy losses years after they happen
- There are many ways you can commemorate and celebrate the life of your angel baby
- Even after you have other children, you will always remember your previous losses
- Men show their grief differently, but it affects them nonetheless
- Everyone deals with the grieving process in their own way
Was attending the session worth it? Definitely for both of us. This experience brought my husband and I closer together as he was more willing to talk about how he felt after our loss once we got home. It also helped me to see that grief is acceptable and normal following a pregnancy loss. I had been telling myself to pick it up and get my act together. After hearing some women talk about how it still affects them years later, I realized that this loss will never leave me. I will grow and learn to deal with it, but I will never forget my baby.
Would I go again? I struggled with this one for a few days, but I decided that yes, I will return for at least one more session. I feel like I need to give it a second chance. Different people come every month and maybe next month another infertility patient will be there who can better relate to my experience.
As for individual counselling, I’ve decided to not reschedule for now. I’m working with my fertility coach once a week and I prefer her approach over the other counsellor’s.
Would I recommend a loss support group to you? Yes, I would recommend attending at least one session. I think there is lots of value in hearing other couple’s experiences as it truly does make you feel less alone. You do not have to share any of your own story if you are not comfortable doing so. If you are looking to find a pregnancy loss support group, I’d recommend contacting Resolve (in the US), IAAC (in Canada) or your local hospital.