Miscarriage and Infertility: Ambiguous Losses What followed for Aisha was a self-described “week of.

Miscarriage and Infertility: Ambiguous Losses

What followed for Aisha was a self-described “week of
hell”—the emergency room trip, a stomach pump, the nurse who rebuked her,
saying, “You tried to kill yourself. You don’t deserve sympathy.” This
humiliation preceded commitment in a private mental hospital, a court hearing
to determine her sanity, and the requirement that, before leaving the hospital,
Aisha schedule an appointment with a counselor.

Aisha and her husband of three years were facing not only
the reality of never giving birth to their own children but also the
possibility of a
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Miscarriage and Infertility: Ambiguous Losses

What followed for Aisha was a self-described “week of
hell”—the emergency room trip, a stomach pump, the nurse who rebuked her,
saying, “You tried to kill yourself. You don’t deserve sympathy.” This
humiliation preceded commitment in a private mental hospital, a court hearing
to determine her sanity, and the requirement that, before leaving the hospital,
Aisha schedule an appointment with a counselor.

Aisha and her husband of three years were facing not only
the reality of never giving birth to their own children but also the
possibility of a diagnosis of cancer. It was too much to bear, and after a day
spent drinking with her husband and friends to calm down, Aisha went home and
“tore the kitchen apart,” broke her arm against the wall, swallowed a bottle of
antianxiety medication the doctor had given her, and then called her mother,
who finally assisted Aisha in getting help. She sat down to wait for the
emotional help she so desperately needed. No one was listening to Aisha. No one
had grasped the totality of her pain. “I just want someone who can understand
what I am going through,” she cried. From the moment she learned she could
never bear a child, Aisha was grieving the loss of future plans that would
never be realized. She would never be a mother, never hold her infant, and
never have a family. All of those holidays, birthdays, years stretching out
ahead of her, alone and barren.

She feared that her husband would leave her for someone
younger who could give him children, and that she could never look at children
again without being reminded of her loss. All she had ever wanted was to be
married and raise a family. Now that dream was shattered.

How to go on? Why go on? The existential questions stretched
like open fields for miles in front of her—questions that were not easily
answered by the meaningless mantra of well-meaning friends and relatives: “You
can adopt,” or “Relax, you’ll get pregnant.”

More than losing her footing, Aisha had her future plans
yanked right out from under her in one horrible afternoon. She needed time just
to accept the reality of her loss before she could even start to think about
the future. It was months before she was able to accept the diagnosis. It was
even longer before Aisha could start to dream again about the color, the
texture, and the design she would weave into the rug of her new life.

Discussion Questions

1. What are some losses experienced by the couple and by the
individuals in the couple?

2. What makes Aisha’s loss ambiguous?

3. What are the primary and secondary considerations a
professional counselor would need to address?

4. How can you better help Aisha to grieve and move on to a
healthier, more vital life?

5. With a peer as a client in this situation, role-play
implementation of the task model of crisis assessment and intervention
presented in Table 1.1.

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