If you’ve clicked on this I’m assuming it’s for one of two reasons –
You are not the one in four but are curious to see what it is all about.
Or you very sadly know too well what it feels like to be that statistic and want some kind of reassurance that you’re not alone in what can seem like the most lonely, painful, traumatic experience you’ll ever face.
I’m still not entirely sure what the point of this post is, I think just being able to have an outlet is helping and right now I’ll take every bit of help I can.
So I will openly admit that before I had been through it I was naive when it came to thinking and hearing about women who had gone through a miscarriage. While I appreciated that it was a tough time for them I didn’t realise the lingering after effects of this kind of trauma.
This I feel has something to do with the stigma attached to it. While 1 in 4 women will suffer a miscarriage and 1 in 4 pregnancies end this way it still seems that miscarriage is a subject which is taboo and not something which is discussed socially.
I had only ever been expose to miscarriage in what is portrayed in films – there’s some kind of stress, accident or injury followed by a clutching of the stomach and a pool of blood.
Things in reality can be very different.
So imagine my surprise when a scan showed that I in fact had miscarried and had no idea. None at all. No bleeding, no pain, no sudden accident or injury. Everything seemed perfectly normal until it didn’t.
They refer to this as a ‘Missed miscarriage’ the kind where your body does not acknowledge that your baby (Yes, I choose to use the term baby, because as soon as you find out your pregnant that’s what it is to you) has died and continues to trick you into thinking you are still very much pregnant. Morning sickness, sore boobs, sensitive to smell, all that jazz continued even though the baby growing inside me did not.
In these situations there are a number of options. i had 2 –
1: Wait for nature to take it’s course. Now while I’m all for that, I work in a school and the thought of miscarrying my baby while standing at the front of a classroom wasn’t something I felt I could handle.
So I went for option 2: Take the medication which will end your pregnancy (weird I know when it’s already ended) and ‘expel’ it from your body.
I began this process on a Friday – Friday the 17th November – and was told that anywhere between 2 and 5 days later I would feel ‘normal’ and could get back to work and my normal routines. After 2 days of being in bed in what I can only describe as the worst pain I have ever felt I finally felt ready to venture out. Turns out my body did not. Every time I tried to go out and feel like things were getting back to normal my body decided to remind me that I was far from ok. And I was back in bed for a further 2 days. By the following Friday I felt slightly better and with the help of painkillers and sheer determination I powered through and dragged myself into uni.
The pain is one of the hardest things to describe. It comes and goes in waves (obviously, your uterus is contracting exactly the same as it would during labour) and with that comes back ache, nausea, fatigue, heavy bleeding and a general desire to just make it all stop.
I wont go into the nitty gritty details of what happens for no other reason than it is completely different for every woman so I wouldn’t like to generalise.
So after the day in uni exactly one week from getting the worst news I have ever received there were so many thought and feelings going on in my head that I honestly, could not tell you what happened that day. All I do remember is a conversation with someone in which I blurted out why I had been off. And I think hearing that out loud shocked us both equally. I cannot ever begin to describe how much she helped me deal with this and she will never truly know that she is the only reason I’ve been able to manage this situation and see some light at the end of this overwhelming, lonely tunnel.
The Monday after – 27th November – I had to return to work and I was faced with the dilemma – how do I tell my colleagues I’ve been off due to having a miscarriage when they didn’t even know I was pregnant?! Do i even need to tell them? If I don’t tell them they wont understand if I’m having a particularly tough day. They wont give me that look that say “I understand you feel awful and I’m proud of you for carrying on”.
I think one of the issues here is that as women we are told constantly not to tell anyone our exciting baby news until we are 12 weeks in case anything ‘goes wrong’. But surely, when that something does, for one in four women, ‘go wrong’ you want your friends and family around you? And how can you expect them to share in your pain when they never shared in your joy?
I luckily had one amazing woman who helped me to realise that it’s ok to share it with people and that while the fear of making them uncomfortable is huge it’s nowhere near what you are feeling. And so that’s why I’m sitting here writing this, to encourage more women to be able to share their stories.
She is the sole reason I know things will get more manageable. And the source of inspiration that is giving me the courage to share my story.
And yes, it is difficult to tell people that you lost your baby and that your pregnancy was the happiest and most traumatic part of your life and ultimately you have nothing to show for it. But that’s why we need places where we can share out stories.
This is a huge, life changing event and it is ok to want to talk about it. People need to understand that while a mother is grieving the loss of her pregnancy and baby she is also grieving for the loss of everything she had hoped and dreamed for. The first words, the loose teeth, the photographs of the first day of school. As a mother without a child you are accepting all of the dreams have died too and that is huge. Where do you put all the love and hope you’ve been carrying around with you since you saw that positive test?!
There are several amazing charities available to mums who have gone through this. And yes, we are mums, we just don’t have our babies. And thats ok. It’s ok to accept that you are a mum. It is equally ok to accept that some days you’re just not ok and will need more help or support to get through those tough times.
I cannot tell you things will be sunshine and roses, I am now 7 1/2 weeks post miscarriage and if someone was to ask me “How do you feel” I honestly don’t think I could answer them in a way that would make any sense, but that’s ok. Because this is my grief to deal with and I shouldn’t have to speed it up to please anyone.
Please, if you are suffering and feel alone, drop me an email, comment on this post, get in touch with Tommy’s Charity, follow the Miscarriage Association on Twitter or Instagram. Anything so you feel less alone.
All the love in the world, L xxxx