When Rose* came to me after suffering two traumatic miscarriages, we began working on preparing her for her first cycle of IVF. We first explored her adopted coping mechanisms, and helped her to get a perspective on her perfectionist tendencies, her need for control and her habitual avoidance strategies. We paved the way for Rose to rediscover a sense of pleasure and achievement, to re-engage in relationships and to care for herself. Coupling this with relaxation and grounding techniques, we prepared her to derive the maximum benefit from trauma therapy.
After Rose became pregnant through IVF, we shifted away from the painful memories of her second miscarriage towards maintaining her strong, positive mindset.
When that pregnancy ended in a further miscarriage, the therapy continued to support her. Following a seven-month break as a result of Rose’s financial limitations, we resumed, focusing on helping her prepare for a new cycle of treatment. For Rose, the second miscarriage represented the greatest trauma. Our first six sessions dealt with the traumatic memory, whilst the remainder worked on emotions that Rose was finding difficult to cope with. After also devoting attention to the first trauma, we went on to prepare for the next IVF attempt.
A final review of Rose’s outcome measures and goals demonstrated the success of her trauma treatment. She subsequently shared in an email:
“For me, I’m feeling so much more positive about the situation surrounding my second miscarriage, if positive is the right word. I have never felt as anxious about my third miscarriage the pregnancy from last year following IVF treatment. It’s just terribly sad”.
Rose also shared this testimonial
“Focusing on our second miscarriage, I was able to identify where so many of my feelings of failure came from and not just failure to myself, but how I felt I had failed everyone around me. I realised that I had been numb for a long time and that when I did have flashes of emotion, it was normally anger, which came out to my partner or myself. Understanding the feelings helped me to manage my responses to little things, to manage my emotions. If something went wrong, it was not the end of the world. I started living more in the present, focusing on smaller things, and not worrying as much about the future. I started to feel like the old me—slightly different but still the same—and I started to like who I was becoming again. I can now speak of and remember this time without being taken to a very dark and quiet place.
As a solutions-based person, one of my most relied-upon tools from my therapy is “evidence”. If I find myself stuck on a negative thought, I trawl through my experience to provide evidence to support or rebut the thought that is causing me concern. I am not talking about facts or figures, but real experience that has happened to me, for example reminding myself of the exact words a doctor has said to me and not assuming the worst. I also became more confident in my voice again, sharing my opinions and having difficult conversations with family and friends. I’ve always been able to talk to my partner, but I feel now we can talk even more openly about how I’m feeling or what is worrying me and, in turn, he also is able to share with me how he is feeling without worrying about how I will respond.”
* Name changed for reasons of confidentiality