Jana Kramer is expecting her second child in November, but the country singer says she still has the multiple miscarriages she previously experienced on her mind. In a new YouTube vlog, Kramer speaks candidly about how she's had three miscarriages and two chemical losses—and how hard it has been to get to this point in her latest pregnancy.
“I debated even saying anything, but I think that’s the problem with miscarriage: It’s not talked about,” she said in the video, while tearing up. “And it should be. It’s sad because when you find out you’re pregnant, it’s so exciting and you want to shout it and tell everybody. But you don’t because of stuff like this, and instead, you’re left alone in this feeling of just being so alone."
It’s hard to know exactly how common miscarriage, which is defined as the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy, actually is. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that about 10 percent of recognized pregnancies are miscarriages within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, while the American Pregnancy Association says that up to 25 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. About half of these losses are caused by chromosomal abnormalities, ACOG says.
Not everyone experiences grief in the same way following a miscarriage.
Working through that grief is a process that takes time and a lot of reflection, Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF. And that can mean that you just don’t feel 100 percent like yourself for a while after you have a miscarriage. “Grieving the loss of an unborn baby is a complex, multifaceted experience that changes over time and varies from person to person,” she says. “It takes time to adapt to the sudden and profound experience of being pregnant and then suddenly not because the baby was lost.”
One of the most important things that women need to do after a miscarriage is allow themselves to grieve, Mendez says. Trying to brush your feelings aside or hold them in can only make it harder for you to move through the grieving process and could even lead to mental health complications, she explains.
So, some find it useful to "lean into" their grief, Jessica Zucker, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health and creator of the #IHadAMiscarriage campaign, tells SELF. That may mean just letting yourself feel sad or crying when the moment strikes. Being OK with having these emotions—feeling them when they surface with no judgement—can ultimately help you move through the grieving process faster, Zucker says.
As with all types of grief, you may never really "get over it." However, there are some things you can do to learn to live with the experience instead.
If you find you get caught off-guard and start thinking about your loss in places where you’d rather not, like at work, a baby shower, or child’s birthday party, distraction might ultimately help, Zucker says. That can mean taking some deep breaths, focusing on your breathing, and feeling the ground under your feet, Tamar Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a women's health expert and reproductive psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. Acknowledge how you're feeling and then try to return to the present moment. “Sometimes, that’s the best we can do,” Zucker says.
When you do get in those situations, Dr. Gur recommends trying to find some time to let out those emotions as soon as you can afterward. That may mean crying in a bathroom, going in your car and listening to sad music for a moment, writing down how you're feeling, or calling a friend, she says. "Sometimes we're afraid we're going to break down and never be put back together, but we're strong resilient women," Dr. Gur says. "You'll feel intense sadness and then it will go back to a manageable size."
Overall, know that you're not alone, and you can take whatever time you need.
The process of coping with the loss can take anywhere from weeks to years, Mendez says, and there’s no proper timeline for this. You may also deal with grief in waves or as a result of certain triggers. For instance, you may find that you suddenly tear up after weeks of feeling OK, or that you still can’t handle going down the baby aisle at your local grocery store even though it’s been months since your loss. Certain dates, like the date and anniversary of your loss may also be hard to handle, Zucker says.
As for the long term, Dr. Gur recommends doing what you can to establish routines in your life that are healthful, like exercising regularly, eating well, and practicing mindfulness, yoga, or whatever you can do that makes you feel comfortable in your mind and body. It's also a good idea to pick up habits or hobbies that you do only for yourself, like learning a new skill or taking dance lessons that you've always thought about doing. And, of course, if at any point you feel like you need or want additional help, reaching out to a mental health professional can be incredibly helpful.
“Many of my patients wonder, ‘Why do I still feel this way? I should be better by now,’” Zucker says. “But grief knows no timeline, we must be gentle with ourselves through the process.”