You Can’t Quantify Pain: Supporting Others Through Loss

By: Becca

When it comes to pregnancy and infant loss, for the couple, the close family, even friends and colleagues, the emotion and pain can be felt like a tidal wave over the people involved, these people feel loss in different ways, and deal with it differently.

It is hard to quantify pain, how do you measure how sad you are? Or how sad someone should be?

The answer is, you can’t, and you don’t need to, this is the most important thing to understand when supporting someone through such a loss, it takes time and space, neither of which should be given a limit.

As someone who has had two pregnancy losses, something I experienced was people trying to quantify and justify my feelings for me. I didn’t need this. But with something so simply sad, it is hard for those around to know quite what to say or how to act, but the best thing to do, in my experience is not to force it. Words of wisdom are not always helpful, silences don’t have to be filled and words don’t (in my experience) heal all of the time! 

My first loss, was one that I only recently have allowed myself to see as such, but when it comes to this topic, a child, a potential, a future, the loss of that is something to be mourned. Mourning isn’t something to hide or to be embarrassed about. It is a healing process, and perfectly natural.


Let me be more specific…

I can’t have my own children naturally, I went through the menopause painfully young (this is a story for another time and place) but this gave me the knowledge that donor egg IVF was the only route that would lead to a chance of pregnancy.

I am a control freak. I blame the control my body took away from me over my future for that one, but yeah, control. I try to have as much knowledge about everything in my life, and my approach to this with IVF was only exacerbated.

I did everything in my power to make sure I had as much knowledge of what lay ahead of me as possible. I wanted to be prepared for any scenario, and I was.

Mentally, I knew what was to come, but emotionally, I had no idea! 

My first cycle was a learning curve. I fell pregnant, there was a (low) level of HCG in my blood. I took it all in my stride, but when I went back for my re test ( 48 hours later) the levels had dropped. And in the next 48 they dropped again, this is termed a chemical pregnancy. It sounds so, well, chemical. The name made me feel removed from what was happening. Although I knew what it was, I didn’t stop to think about it and went through the motions of coming off the hormones they fill you full of and the painful loss of all that follows.

And so life went on, I tried again and got pregnant again.

This time the HCG levels kept doubling every 48 hours as they should, on and on they went until we had to wait for the 12 week scan. I felt pregnant, my partner had a glint in his eye, every time I asked for more food, or wanted to eat Nutella with everything!

It was crazy, the feeling, it was what I had always wanted, what I had dreamed of for so many years!

At the 12 week scan, I had an internal, this is normal for someone who has had IVF. She poked around a bit, then she poked around some more, and didn’t say anything, I knew something was wrong! She told us that baby was too small, but that it wasn’t over and to come back in a week.

I remember my partner saying to me, ‘you know we have small babies in our family.’ I loved him for his positivity, but I felt so much pain at his naivety! I didn’t know if he was saying it just for me, or if it was because he truly believed things could be ok.

But I knew, right then, that it was over for this little one that we loved so much already.

The weeks that followed were painful. We were given false hope more than once, and it all ended with me being rushed to hospital, and being admitted for days.

I lost my baby in a glorified storage cupboard in the hospital because all the beds were taken. Something which was later talked about in the fertility clinic at our next appointment. It hurt to know they had discussed something so private to us so openly between themselves.

After the miscarriage, people used to say to me, at least you got further than the last time, or it would have been much worse another couple of month down the line.

At the time I just went along with it all. I was a broken person, a shell of my former self and not up for the fight at all.

But now, thinking back at those comments, how awful they really were. The first cycle, we never had a scan, we never saw our baby, but the embryo had attached to the lining of my womb and for a very (short) while. My body was sustaining that small part of me, and then my body pushed it out, in a very painful and obvious way. That was a loss. It was not something to be belittled or to be compared with our other, more obvious loss.

We mourned them both. They were both inside me and growing. We talked to them every day, willing them to make it far enough meet us. They didn’t, and that hurts.

It hurts still. It hurts that they were our only chances, and that those chances are now over.

For anyone supporting someone going through any pregnancy loss, I understand and appreciate stories are different. But in each individual circumstance, you cannot quantify the grief someone feels. To compare that grief to someone ‘worse off’ is insensitive, because no matter when the loss happens that is just what it is… a loss. And to that individual it is everything!

About Becca
My name is Becca. I went though the menopause at 15 years of age. Before I even knew what menopause meant!
It was a hard time and I felt so abnormal it really impacted my teen years. Especially when I got the diagnosis of osteopenia (pre cursor to osteoporosis which I now have). It was a devastating blow and really didn’t help my confidence as a teenager, who already had anxiety when it came to my body and the way others viewed me.

Fast forward ten years, I was engaged and ready to start a family. After being on an IVF waiting list for 7 YEARS, we were finally at the top of the list and started treatment!

It was hard on our relationship and we had other pressures going on in our normal life too! But we went for it, full force and did everything we could to prepare.

After 3 cycles, one early miscarriage and one at 3 months, as well as a fail, we ran out of NHS funded cycles. The pain and toll it had on us both was too much, and quite frankly we couldn’t really afford to fund any cycles ourselves. Not that I think we would have if we could afford it, so we made the decision to draw a line under it all. IVF was over, and our new childless life began.

This was only a year ago, I am now blogging about my experiences, writing a book and raising awareness for mental health issues, pregnancy loss, childlessness and IVF.

I see myself as somewhat of a warrior. We got through it, we survived as a couple and that is something to be celebrated!
Read more from Becca on her blog: Post IVF World

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