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Odds of miscarriage

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
When it comes to something as personal and heartwrenching as miscarriage, it's hard to think objectively about the statistics. But as a scientific type, I can't help trying.

We say that the odds are strongly against a woman having two miscarriages. But if you've had one miscarriage, it doesn't affect your odds of having a second one (excluding chronic factors like low progesterone). Any given pregnancy has a 1:3 or 1:4 chance of miscarriage, depending on whom you ask. Those of us who've had one and get pregnant again have the same chance of miscarrying this time as we did last time. The odds of two miscarriages in any two successive pregnancies are 1:9 to 1:16. Those aren't outrageous odds.

We all want to think, "Since I miscarried last pregnancy, this one will work, because the odds of two miscarriages are so small." But that isn't how it works. Chance doesn't care what happened last time; it's just as chancy now. So my chances of having two miscarriages in a row are 1:3 -- the same as a primip's chance of having one miscarriage.

... except that I've seen the hb at 9 weeks so now it's like 1:33, but that is still not an outrageously small chance.

Maybe if we could be objective about it, it wouldn't seem quite so much like everything is stacked against us? Of course it's impossible to be objective when it happens. Hence this post for those of us who still have a small but not infinitesimal chance of losing our pregnancies. If we do, we can keep trying. The chances next time are probably the same. Dang, I can't seem to spin this in a way that isn't depressing.
post #2 of 18
See my post on Observation of the Day
post #3 of 18
Objectivity definitely helps me a lot. I've done the whole "well, it happened last time so it SURELY can't happen again" and got an ectopic pg for my trouble. The odd thing was that pg was a 1 in 2000 chance of happening in the first place. So odds are both comforting and daunting at the same time.

But I'm like you, and if I can analyze my way in or out of something, it makes me feel better. I've definitely considered the odds here, and I guess for me, the bottom line is just getting through the days right now. Every day that I don't bleed is a good one for the moment, and will be for another few weeks until I get to 13 or 14 weeks.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Oddly, I'd be less than totally devastated at bleeding, because I'd think, "Well, at least my body is capable of miscarrying naturally. It's better than having another D&C." Last time I waited 3 weeks after finding out (5-8 weeks after the baby died) and NOTHING, not even a cramp. So a natural miscarriage would be a progression somehow.
But my baby is FINE, he's going to be FINE, and I'm going to stay pregnant until October and then have a great birth! that's my mantra.
post #5 of 18
I understand why you look at the numbers. I used to be the same way. But after my second miscarriage, I just less mathmatical and more insane. I swear, I thought I was going to miscarry every day of Thomas's pregnancy. This time it's much easier... but I still have fears lurking in the back of my head. Scenarios pop into my head of not finding the hb in the midwife's office, or starting to bleed. I try to banish them... but it's hard.

In the end, there's no equation to explain the unfairness of it all.
post #6 of 18
One of my very dear friends told me yesterday that really, the first trimester is all about managing the fear, for women who have had losses before.

She's really right. I find myself terrified every day. I'm like the only person I know who could simultaneously think I'm feeling movement and convince myself that my baby is dead.
post #7 of 18
[QUOTE=blueridgewoman;7633294]One of my very dear friends told me yesterday that really, the first trimester is all about managing the fear, for women who have had losses before.
QUOTE]

This is so true : I've been walking on eggs the whole last 6 weeks I've known about this pregnancy, even though I know that it won't change much even if I don't do anything or if I do my usual stuff...

Only 1-2 weeks till it's over and I can relax...
post #8 of 18
Thanks for posting this. Another really important thing to remember is that risk applies to populations- not to individuals (unless explicitly stated as a personal risk). This fact was drilled into me during my first year of graduate school and I think it's really important. Knowing this doesn't always assuage anxiety, but it is helpful to keep in mind.
post #9 of 18
Yes, it can be either comforting or misleading to look at stats, especially when, as swim said, you're taking a number for a population and applying it to yourself, individually. The "risk" of having another miscarriage after having one is the same, but if you look at women generally, most of them who have had one m/c go on to have a healthy pg. It is rare to have multiple m/cs. But for me, as an individual, since I had a hormonal problem causing my losses, until I did something to fix that (or my body fixed it on its own), actually carrying a preg past the first trimester was highly improbable.

I think. I'm not a natural at understanding the language of stats.

I wonder, though, if knowing that miscarriage itself is something that isn't rare would help more women who experience it? The first reading I did about pregnancy when I found out about my first preg was in my first year bio textbook. So it was from a different angle than most of the other material I ended up reading. It addressed miscarriage in a straightforward, plain way, and said it was much more common than I had previously realized. I think knowing that helped me when I had my first m/c. But that one was followed by a healthy pg... multiple losses really are a different thing, to me.
post #10 of 18
When I had my first m/c, I felt so, so alone. Thankfully, the close friend I mentioned in my other post had losses before and had been really open about it, so I knew I could talk to her. But I think there is just such a taboo about it for some reason.... It's always been very important to me to discuss it with people if I feel comfortable, because I think so often it's disregarded or made so scientific that there is no room for emotion.

As a culture, I guess we've never been good at things which happen for reasons we cannot readily explain.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueridgewoman View Post
I'm like the only person I know who could simultaneously think I'm feeling movement and convince myself that my baby is dead.
You're not alone. I managed both yesterday.
post #12 of 18
I know that after 3 consecutive, successful pregnancies followed by 2 consecutive missed miscarriages, I have tried to find statistics that make me feel a little better. However, then, I run into my SIL and my good friend and so many women who had later losses. I mean, I thought what I went through was bad until we saw our friend carrying his stillborn's casket out of the funeral service. I can tell myself that my odds of miscarrying are lower since we have heard the heartbeat, and we are getting closer to that "magic" time when things are supposed to be better, but my mind realizes that someone is on the bad side of those odds. Those numbers on the bad side represent someone. So, I just choose to believe that this pregnancy is successful and pray for that. There is nothing I can do about those odds, so I refuse to fret (as much as possible, anyway). I try to stay from any statistics that seem to, in my opinion, hate any woman pregnant over 35 and I just remember every woman I know who had healthy pregnancies 35, 40 years and older.

On the subject of miscarriage being taboo. I have to agree that it is. To this day, there are people close to me who get all uncomfortable when I mention one my babies I lost. Like I should just forget them. I refuse to do that just to make others comfortable. I think that others need to change, not me. I am happy that after the devastation that my children went through when we lost our babies, that they can talk about it freely and openly with us and it isn't about crying or lamenting anymore, it's about remembering those siblings they lost. I would hate to tell them, hush, hush, we can't talk about that.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueridgewoman View Post
One of my very dear friends told me yesterday that really, the first trimester is all about managing the fear, for women who have had losses before.
Very true. I've been holding my breath this whole pregnancy. Even hearing the heartbeat won't make me feel better. I heard the heartbeat last time and against the odds, I still miscarried. I can't wait to feel this one move. That will really reassure me.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueridgewoman View Post
One of my very dear friends told me yesterday that really, the first trimester is all about managing the fear, for women who have had losses before.

She's really right. I find myself terrified every day. I'm like the only person I know who could simultaneously think I'm feeling movement and convince myself that my baby is dead.
I think that is a very wise statement. I think there is a large amount of women also managing that fear even without prior loss experience.

I have not experienced pregnancy loss, but I have watched enough friends go through it (at various points in their pregnancies) that I have a pretty high fear level every day of both of my pregnancies. With DS, I bled for 4 weeks so that was really hard. But at least I had seen him in an u/s a few times and knew that he was alive for the time being. With this pregnany, I have absolutely no idea what is going on. I haven't heard a heartbeat or anything yet. I do the same managing of the two opposing ideas on a daily basis. I guess it is from vicarious trauma for me.

I know it must be must be much worse if you have had a miscarriage before.

Something about the fear maybe is preparing me for when the baby is born...I had never experienced fear like that before (when DS was born). The whole world became dangerous...the wall was even dangerous because he bonked his head on it.

I have to keep telling myself that I only have so much control in my life and the rest I have to leave up to the powers that be.
post #15 of 18
I should really clarify-- *I* think that watching others who are close to you experience loss is nearly as difficult on a woman who then becomes pregnant. The thing is that the whole miscarriage thing moves from "something that can happen to other people" to "something that could very potentially happen to me."

I think in our society, we tend to sometimes blame the woman for the miscarriage too- even if we don't realize it. There's some defense mechanism that kicks on in us that says "well, you must have done SOMETHING to cause it..." But then when it happens to someone you know and love, you realize that sometimes, it just happens and there is nothing they could have done.

Perhaps the level of mourning isn't the same, but I would venture to say that the fear is.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
If we could cause miscarriages, there would be lots fewer unplanned babies out there.
I've never heard anyone imply that it could be the woman's fault, which is good since I'd have to kick that person really hard in the head!
post #17 of 18
I've heard it a million times.... It still hurts, every time.
post #18 of 18
Interesting thread. I've really had a hard time relaxing and enjoying myself this time. My losses last year were very early at 4 and 4 1/2 weeks. I ended up going to an RE to see if it was something easily remedied and it seems like it was! I'm 9 weeks today. But I still don't think I'll relax much until I'm out of the first tri and feeling movement!

It's just hard and there's no way around it. Everytime I've had a dr's appointment I don't sleep the night before. I had one this morning and I'm soooo tired!! I just hate stressing about it..

I've been focusing on the statistics too..They're really on our side! I mean I had a 10% chance of multiples on Clomid and I missed that one! So I need to focus on the good side of the stats and not "borrow trouble" as DH says and focus on the bad side of them!

As for it being taboo I really think it is. The thing that bugs me is that so many people have an "opinion" on the subject and don't know ANYTHING about it!!! I had someone tell me I probably had my 2nd m/c b/c I got pg too fast after the first one (4 1/2 mo difference!)..Hello??? Why can't you just say you're sorry???
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