Psychological reflections on miscarriage

When helping patients in the hardest moments of their lives, it is important to have empathy for them—and for ourselves.

Throughout medical school, I found myself the happiest during my OBGYN rotation, especially in labor and delivery. Nothing can describe the pure joy that comes with being there for the most important day of someone’s life. Although medical providers are technically not family members, in OB, when delivering someone’s child, it feels so close. Most of the sentiments I came across in this field can only be wrapped up by the word elation. However, when OB is sad, it is devastating.

It was not until later this year in my rotation through the emergency department that I examined someone and knew she was miscarrying. The ensuing silence was deafening. No amount of empathy can ease the pain for someone losing a much-wanted child along with the hopes they had for their future, for that day in labor and delivery when they would have started or grown their family.

Many of us pursue medicine because we envision ourselves helping others. I had not yet had an experience in which I felt more helpless—although I am sure I will. Patients go through the most at the end of the day, and it is an honor to be trusted to care for them in these moments. OBGYN, and medicine in general, will always be worth it. But moments like these deserve time for reflection. As providers, we see so much. We empathize with patients who are going through hardship hundreds of times every day. The hardest moments we witness, however, should be a reminder to extend that empathy to ourselves so we can continue to care for others.

Miscarried Dreams

Something is not right

Scarlet anxiety spills

Stains white paper red

Black screen tinged with grey

Searching for a beating heart

Empty—no flicker

Hands cover her face

Salted tears in gaping wounds

Open vault expels

Hopes were once so high

Dove deep and hit rock bottom

Empty vessel cries

Silence grips the room

Do you need someone with you?

Or just solitude

Slide the curtain back

Privacy in a loud room

It is not enough

Mx Mendelow is a third-year medical student at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. She received her BA in Romance Languages and Literatures and International Studies from the University of Michigan and practiced as a licensed esthetician prior to medical school. She hopes to pursue OBGYN and incorporate her love of psychiatry into her practice.

Originally published on our sister publication, Psychiatric Times.