Covid lockdown and Caribbean stigma make miscarriage even harder

26-year-old Tah’nee works to support vulnerable young people and lives in South London but is currently on sabbatical leave in Carriacou, Grenada. Although her pregnancy wasn’t planned, she was determined to do her best for her little ‘nutmeg’, but sadly lost her baby.

Miscarriage is not widely spoken about – and being of Grenadian and Trinidadian heritage I’ve seen the taboo is especially strong within the Caribbean community. On the rare occasions baby loss is discussed, it’s heavily focused on people in committed relationships and how they have dealt with their loss; my situation is completely different.

Pregnancy and loss as a single black woman

I’d tried for a baby with a previous partner but never got pregnant, and my plans to have a baby ended when that relationship did – so when I fell pregnant, it wasn’t deliberate or even with someone who I actually wanted to have children with. However, I knew I was going to do the best I could for my new little nutmeg.

I went through so many different emotions as I came to terms with the fact that I would be doing this on my own, which scared me a lot. 

I kept second guessing myself: could I really do this? I was crying to one of my best friends, asking this question, and when she said “Tah’nee you will never regret having your child” my mind was made up. I just decided that, alone or not, I could and I would make this happen.

I prepared myself with research, reading lots of books and keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings about the whole situation. Reading what I wrote now, it was so focused on worrying about something going wrong and trying to stay optimistic; I had never experienced such intense anxiety before, and sometimes I worry about falling pregnant again and having to deal with that fear. 

Miscarriage during coronavirus lockdown

Because the country was in lockdown when I miscarried last spring, I went through it alone. I had to attend the early pregnancy unit on my own and speak to the nurse on my own, then leave the hospital on my own and drive home on my own to an empty house. I fought tears from the nurse’s room until I opened my front door; it was the longest journey ever. 

I couldn’t understand why such a blessing was taken away from me, and desperately wanted it not to be real. I was so angry at the universe, blaming myself and my body.

I sent the handful of people that knew I was pregnant a message to break the news, then I closed my door and phone.  It felt as though someone had ripped out my heart and I really thought I was never going to get through the pain – but I didn’t speak to anyone about how I was feeling. I isolated myself for about a month, barely eating, wishing it was all not real.

Help and support after baby loss

Some people tried to reach out but I found it difficult to speak to my loved ones about my miscarriage, and it felt like that was down to shame even though I had nothing to be ashamed of. I took to social media in search of support designed by black women for black women – but there didn’t seem to be any, and this made coping with my experience even more challenging.

I wanted to hear from other women who looked like me about how they found the courage to speak to their loved ones about losing their babies.

At the time, I didn’t feel like anyone could have answered the questions that I wanted answers to. I didn’t feel supported or get the answers I needed until I decided to speak to one of my best friends and allowed myself to be completely vulnerable with another person. I believe there should’ve been a bigger focus on supporting women experiencing pregnancy and baby loss during the pandemic; it’s an isolating experience even without lockdown, a time where you can’t get the hugs you need.

My advice to other women going through something similar would be to take time for yourself – as much as you need. Your mind and body are going through a lot so other things can wait. Feel your feelings, do what you need to do and don’t worry about anyone else, because if they love and want the best for you then they will understand.

Ask the people around you for whatever you need from them; I didn’t and it made things so much more difficult. Just because one day people saw you having a good time, it doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to be sad the next day. It’s no one else’s business how you deal with your trauma.