Miscarriage survivor turned author offers advice for women and loved ones

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Attorney-turned-author, Jihan Williams, is encouraging loved ones not to ignore or avoid someone who has suffered a miscarriage. Instead, she advises them to be emotional pillars of support for the women in need.
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By Orville Williams

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Having a miscarriage is one of the most feared experiences for women hopeful of becoming mothers, but one survivor is hoping to lessen the burden on those suffering and their loved ones by telling her story.

Jihan Williams – a national of St Kitts and Nevis, an attorney, a social/development advocate and now an author – experienced a miscarriage herself, losing her son when she was six months pregnant.

While she understandably required time and support to overcome that personal trauma, she did not stop there, taking a step further to write a self-published book, titled, “Lifting the Weight of Miscarriage: Healing Insights on Pregnancy Loss for Sufferers and the People Around Us”.

Speaking on Observer AM earlier this week, she revealed several details about her ordeal, including the fact that she struggled to even conceive, before being faced with the worst possible reality.

“I was trying to get pregnant for four years, so having had that period of disappointment and then have it finally happen, you’re super excited.

“Everyone around me too was excited. I had an aunt in New York who was planning to come home for the first four months to help me take care of the baby, so I wouldn’t have to deal with that [alone],” she disclosed.

The pregnancy support advocate explained that putting pen to paper, speaking on her own experience, helped her to heal initially, before she realised it could do the same for others struggling to deal with such trauma.

“It was a difficult journey, but I started writing as my emotional outlet. I started doing that for myself, but then I started to have more experiences where it was clear to me that people around me didn’t know how to deal with me,” she said.

“They didn’t know what to say, they didn’t know what to do [and] there were things that were being said and done that were inappropriate to me, and the more I spoke with other women who had that experience, I realised there’s a universality behind this experience – yet so many people don’t know.

“Having to have those kinds of conversations numerous times, I realised that this is something that the public needs to hear about.”

If you ask family members or friends of a miscarriage sufferer, who have no prior experience with such occurrences, they will likely not know how to go about providing comfort, even though they will know it is definitely needed.

In those cases, persons tend to take the route of avoidance rather than confrontation, as a means of protecting their loved ones’ emotions.

According to Williams though, that is far from how someone who has suffered a miscarriage should be treated.

“People choose that option because they’re afraid to say the wrong thing, to trigger you or upset you, so they stay away. But people need to understand that staying away is actually more hurtful.

“I think the appropriate response is to acknowledge [the loss]. The thing that you don’t want to do is act like it didn’t happen. So, you don’t just go along your daily life dealing with [the mother] and don’t even acknowledge the fact that she’s in pain or that this loss happened.

“What I often tell people is…simply say ‘I’m so sorry for your loss [and] if you need me, I’m here – if there’s any way that I could possibly assist you during this time, let me know’, because it could be something as basic as bringing lunch or helping with chores, errands or something like that that eases the burden,” she explained.

She also highlighted, during the interview and in her book, the importance of acknowledging the hurt faced by fathers who share in miscarriages, again using her own situation as an example.

“There’s a whole chapter in the book called ‘The Forgotten Fathers’, because people seem to forget that fathers grieve too, and we had so many experiences where persons were reaching out to him asking how I was doing.

“Nobody was asking him how he was doing and it’s a huge oversight, because people seem to think men are rocks, they don’t feel and they don’t have any emotions. From my experience and other experiences that I’ve been able to observe as well, nothing could be further from the truth.

“So, we really have to give space for men to grieve and to heal from that process as well.”

Williams’ book, which chronicles her post-pregnancy experience – as well as her second trimester miscarriage – can be found at the Best of Books store in St John’s, and also online at Amazon.

Six myths and facts about miscarriages

  1. Miscarriage is rare – MYTH. The US Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health states, “as many as 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost.” The organisation notes that the number could be even higher since some miscarriages happen so early in pregnancy that a woman is often unaware she was ever pregnant.
  2. Miscarriages are completely preventable – MYTH. A miscarriage is most commonly the result of the foetus having genetic problems that cause the growth and development to stop – something that is beyond the control of the mother. Other reasons for miscarriage include issues with the uterus or cervical incompetence.
  3. A woman should wait several months after a miscarriage before trying to conceive again – MYTH. According to experts, it’s safe to start trying again – in most cases – as soon as you feel physically and emotionally ready. The experts say while it’s true that women who’ve had a miscarriage are more likely than those who have not to have other miscarriages, most women who have a miscarriage go on to have healthy pregnancies.
  4. Sadness and guilt are normal feelings after miscarriage – FACT. The experience of having a miscarriage can come with emotional aftershocks. It’s normal to have questions like “why me?” or “did I do something to cause this?” and to experience feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness after miscarriage. 
  5. Vaginal bleeding could be a sign of miscarriage – FACT. Experts say the most common symptoms of miscarriage are bleeding from the vagina and belly pain or cramping, although they note vaginal bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean you are having a miscarriage. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. If you have a fever over 100.4°F, anything solid or tissue-like coming out of your vagina, or you have any foul-smelling vaginal fluid, consult your OBGYN right away.
  6. Taking care of yourself could lessen your miscarriage risk – FACT. While some miscarriages occur because of uncontrollable circumstances, there are medical issues such as poorly controlled diabetes or thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism that could contribute to miscarriage risk. Experts say while there is no way to make sure you won’t have a miscarriage, you can reduce your chances by avoiding cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and injury to your belly.

Source: Banner Health Blog/bannerhealth.com

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