Pregnancy Loss Counseling
Are you grieving the loss of a baby and a promise of parenthood taken from you before they had even arrived?
Have you miscarried and now find yourself unsure of how to grieve this invisible, often unspoken and unvalidated loss?
Could you use support as you face the grief and anxiety that come with trying to conceive or carry a pregnancy after a pregnancy loss?
The death of a baby before birth and even early miscarriage are real losses that cause grief and deserve mourning, and yet these are marginalized experiences that often go unshared and unsupported. After miscarriage, you are left with a private loss to mourn that may feel undefined or ambiguous. Without clear ways to honor feelings about an unclear loss, we are left anchor-less in what is often a turbulent internal storm.
If miscarriage is so common, why do I feel so alone?
If you are dealing with a miscarriage, you may feel like you are the only one who didn’t have a baby easily and “on-schedule,” and the sense of isolation that creates makes the pain of your loss that much harder to take. No one wants to talk about pregnancy loss—those who haven’t had one don’t know what to say and those who have been through it don’t want to open themselves up to awkward reassurances and minimizing comments. In the silence surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth, it is easy to conclude that pregnancy loss is rare and you should simply move on if it happens to you.
"A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it, and they go from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she’ll know."
–Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Another challenge of pre-term pregnancy loss is the confusion it leaves in its wake. You may question whether you have a right to grief, especially if it was an early miscarriage. You may even blame yourself, assuming you must have done something to cause it. Perhaps you feel ambivalent trying to get pregnant again or find yourself struggling with anxiety as a post-miscarriage pregnancy proceeds. . .and all of that is normal.
Confusion about how you actually feel or are supposed to feel may be the crux of your struggle, or you may be quite clear that it is a loss that you need help in processing. Miscarriage support can help you clarify what it is you need and begin healing. With the support of a compassionate professional who understands that even an early pregnancy loss has an impact, you can find your own meaning, cope more easily with painful feelings, and find the perspective needed for overcoming a miscarriage.
Pregnancy loss counseling helps heal the past and grow the future.
Starting therapy is an act of faith that with the proper support, you can grow and heal. As a counselor and art therapist with a grounding in existential psychotherapy and mindfulness, I will help you reconnect with your Big Picture and your present-moment experience so that dealing with a miscarriage does not sap you of focus and energy for the difficult decisions ahead and the demands of your day-to-day life.
Miscarriage support can help you to learn to treat yourself and your partner with compassion, even when you are struggling with feelings like fear, guilt, shame, and anger. In pregnancy loss counseling with me, you will use creative techniques to grieve the loss of the baby you had hoped for and honor the person you have become through your experience.
Through the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I will help you learn to ground yourself in the present moment so you can simply watch the undertow of self-defeating thoughts that try to knock you off-center and stand in the tidal wave of painful feelings that threatens to drown you. You will also clarify your values and learn to connect with them in the moment, so you can act on core values rather than the kind of emotions that lead to self-sabotaging actions. Finally, if you are open to using your creative muscles, we may use Art Therapy and Sandplay Therapy techniques to explore the meaning of your experience and find your way to your next move.
Having been through more than one experience of pregnancy loss myself, I have a deep connection to other women who have experienced the pain of pregnancy loss and a strong call to help others navigate these journeys. With 15+ years in the mental health field and expertise in grief therapy, infertility, and pregnancy loss, I am able to bring the skills of a seasoned professional and a deep well of personal experience to my work with you.
But you may still wonder if pregnancy loss counseling is for you. . .
“When we get pregnant again we’ll be fine. What can therapy do that time and getting pregnant can’t?"
Counseling can give you a dedicated place and time to freely and unapologetically explore the feelings a pregnancy loss has left you holding. You may well get pregnant again and another pregnancy will likely do a great deal to ease your pain around a prior miscarriage, but each pregnancy is different and a new one may not fill the hole your loss or losses created. In fact, sometimes pregnancy following a miscarriage brings more anxiety and grief because we now carry the fear of a second miscarriage; trust in the process of pregnancy and the assumed outcome of a healthy baby you may have once had has been undermined.
Whether you decide to try to conceive again or conclude that you prefer to adopt or re-envision your family structure, support in navigating this process can be critical to seeing clearly and freeing up energy to make important decisions about your family’s future, grieve what you have been through, and recommit to other important things in your life. A miscarriage support group would be an excellent way to get support around the experience as well, but sometimes people benefit from more individual attention and therapeutic work tailored to their particular experience.
“How would therapy after a miscarriage be different from other counseling I’ve had?”
Therapy that focuses on grief work and the unique aspects of pregnancy loss can be significantly different from other forms of therapy. When a pregnancy is cut short, a woman often struggles with self-esteem, identity, relationships, values, body image, and existential issues all at once, on top of the pain of raw loss and the confusion of what do next. A therapist skilled in working with these issues supports her client in practical decision-making while helping her to integrate her experience into her life story from a place of self-compassion. After a pregnancy loss, it can be hard to arrive at a vision of your desired future based on values rather than goals alone. Pregnancy loss counseling can help you gently distinguish between the two so you can identify your "should's" and more easily pursue a path that is true to yourself. In session with me, you will learn to gently make sense of the emotional, spiritual, psychological, and bodily impact your loss has had on you and discover how to use your experience to move forward.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or discuss any questions you may have about pregnancy loss counseling, please call me at 720-336-5852 or contact me here. I am happy to do a free, 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. I do my best to return all voicemails and emails within one business day.