I thought getting pregnant would be the tricky part. I’d heard of so many women who had struggled with PCOS, endometriosis and IVF so when I fell pregnant almost immediately, I felt victorious, elated, like I had succeeded and any potential difficulties had been overcome.
The thought that I wouldn’t be holding a healthy baby eight months on from those two little lines never once entered my head. Not once. Oh silly, silly me.
Looking back I realise how incredibly ignorant I was. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of miscarriage. I had filed that into the back of my brain as something that happened if you abused alcohol or drugs during pregnancy. Stupid, ignorant me.
Everything was going great with my first pregnancy until around 6 weeks in, when I started to bleed. Nothing much at first but enough to burst the little naive bubble of joy I was in. I visited a couple of GPs and the Early Pregnancy Clinic over the course of that week and received a range of advice from ‘well if you are miscarrying there’s nothing we can do’ to a more helpful ‘we’ll book you in for a scan next week and will have a better idea what’s going on then.’
Scan day arrived, by which stage I was no longer a happy, optimistic pregnant woman. I was shaken and nervy and corrupted, for I had been dealt the harsh lesson that life doesn’t always work out the way we want, even if we really really want.
Even though I was still bleeding at the time of that scan, they were able to find a foetus measuring the correct size for my dates and…..a heartbeat
That image of the little flicker on the screen will never leave me. It remains profound in my memory. I can still remember the face of the doctor who scanned me, the smell of the room, the words they said…everything. It’s strange to say but I actually remember that little flicker on the screen more acutely and vividly than I do any of the times I saw the heartbeat of my other children for the first time.
A glimmer of hope had been restored in me following that scan, but it was to be short-lived.
The following Monday the bleeding became very heavy. By this stage I had resigned myself that I was miscarrying and it was perhaps reaching that stage of ‘knowing’ that buoyed me to go to work that morning and sit an exam in the afternoon. (That day taught me to never judge anyone who appears ‘off’, fractious or sullen. You really don’t know what someone is dealing with behind the scenes.) Once home, my desperate husband took one look at my pale and drained complexion and rang the hospital. They told me to come in, they scanned me, confirmed my first baby’s heart was no longer beating and, as soon as they realised how heavy the bleeding was, admitted me and I underwent an emergency D&C.
The couple of days I spent in hospital were a blur. I would never be the same person again, something had been taken from me that I would never get back and I don’t just mean my first baby, but also a little piece of my sense of hope, optimism, joy.
They initially thought I’d had a partial molar pregnancy and the relief of finding out that that was not the case did make a bad situation ever so slightly better in a ‘well it could’ve been worse’ kind of way.
The days and weeks following my miscarriage were strange. I told very few people, my husband wasn’t sure how to deal with it all and my mum worried I wasn’t dealing with it at all. But I had already shifted my entire focus to having the healthy baby I so desperately wanted…needed. Looking back, that was my way of coping but I realise that it had only served to lock away my grief and sadness, only for it all to resurface years later in the form of the anxiety I battled for years without telling a soul.
My second pregnancy resulted in my beautiful, inquisitive, strong-willed daughter. My third and fourth pregnancies pregnancies both ended in miscarriage and my fifth pregnancy resulted in my brave, handsome boy. My sixth (and last) pregnancy completed our family with a darling little blue-eyed girl.
My children are my world. I write a lot of light-hearted, ‘funny’ posts about parenting etc but underpinning everything I do in my life is the strong foundation of the love I have for my kids.
Miscarriage, however, changed me in some way. It robbed me of my very first baby and two other babies. The feeling of loss was made much worse by finding out that the problem had been with me and not my babies. I’ve gone through feelings of guilt that I couldn’t protect my babies the way a Mum should, that I’d let them down, failed them.
My miscarriages are the reason I suffer anxiety and are the reason I am a fiercely over-protective parent. My first pregnancy instilled in me the realisation that bad things can happen that are beyond our control and that thought has never left me. That’s why I hate the term ‘helicopter parent.’ I don’t necessarily want to be constantly hovering close by my children, I just can’t really help it.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the babies I lost. What colour their eyes would’ve been, what their laugh would’ve sounded like, what they would’ve loved to eat for dinner. What their little warm, soft baby cheek would’ve felt like against mine.
Please talk about miscarriage. It’s so much more common than people think and it is devastating to think of women suffering in silence when there is a very real grief involved in miscarriage. The effect on a woman’s (and her partner’s) mental health can be catastrophic if she is led to believe that she shouldn’t feel sad because ‘it wasn’t really a baby‘ or ‘it was for the best’ or ‘the baby would’ve probably been born with problems.‘ Ultimately it was a baby to her. It was a wobbly toddler learning to walk, a raucous 5 year old learning to ride a bike without stabilisers, a daughter trying on her wedding dress, a son bringing the grandkids over.
So talk about it, talk openly and please don’t forget the babies.