The emptiness of early miscarriage

I did not ‘lose’ the baby. I hate that term. That implies they have been misplaced when the brutal truth is that we have to accept that they have died.

#misCOURAGE story, 08/03/2017, by Lisa Sell

Yesterday (at the time of writing), at nearly five weeks, our baby died.

I never, ever thought that I would write words like this. I just need to write it; to see it in black and white and let out some of the pain through written words.

I know there are so many women who have a miscarriage later in pregnancy. I am not negating their pain. I feel only empathy. 

Five days ago a test told us we were pregnant. 

My husband and I were stunned. We hadn’t been using contraception but we also hadn’t been actively trying to conceive. We both decided as soon as we were married that we would see what happens and let fate, God, the spirit in the sky, the little man on a cloud or whatever is out there, decide. Decide it did.

We both realised that day that we wanted this. What had been a hypothetical, a thing to make jokes about, was real and now we knew why people do it.

We reigned in our excitement, fears and making plans. We knew that we needed to be cautious because of the miscarriage statistics and, if I’m honest, because we just don’t ever seem to get that lucky.

We did another test four hours later. It was negative. Crushing disappointment hit my heart like an iron fist. We looked at each other and tried to read each other’s eyes for any traces of confusion, hope or certainty the other could give. There was none.

We re-tested two hours later. Still negative.

Heartbroken and bewildered we decided that we had to play with the odds and not give up. One test said that we were pregnant. We had to hold on to that.

We decided to wait two days and re-test. Maybe my urine was too diluted on the later tests. Maybe the first test was that freaky false positive that barely ever happens but maybe it did happen to us.

I have now learned that right from the beginning, pregnancy is all about waiting. I knew there were nine months involved, of course. What I didn’t know about is all that waiting at the beginning.

I thought you just took a test and you knew either way. Oh how I wish I could be that naïve once again.

Waiting for two days is agony. Your mind plays games with you. One minute you’re daring to think of baby names. The next, you’re preparing yourself to accept that it didn’t happen.

On the day of the re-testing, we both woke up early. The early bird catches the pee with the strongest levels of HCG in it. Again, I didn’t know these things. I didn’t need to know them.

Now, knowing that the morning pee is the best in the early stages (no matter what the pregnancy tests tell you) felt like the key to all pregnancy knowledge.

The test confirmed we were 1-2 weeks pregnant.

Did we dance and jump and celebrate? No. we didn’t. Two other tests at the same time of a much cheaper and basic nature (yes, we really did do three tests at the same time) showed faint second lines. We didn’t wish them there. We could see them, but still we doubted.

What I now know far too well from far too many Google searches started; the spotting. It started the day after the first test. I didn’t panic. I thought this was implantation bleeding. I saw it as another pregnancy sign along with the very heavy and painful sore boobs, accompanied by the achy lower back.

But the bleeding was getting worse.Nature dictates we see blood as a warning sign. Therefore on that day when we had our second positive test, we went to see my GP.

She declared us pregnant. She set a due date of 23rd September 2017. She alleviated my concerns about the bleeding (it's very common) but was realistic about seeing it as a warning sign of early miscarriage if it got heavier. 

We dared to believe for just one day that we were going to be parents.

My heart breaks as I recount how we were still cautious but we made an evening of buying a pregnancy book and having a low key celebratory dinner.

We decided that from there, we were going to try to be optimistic and positive about this pregnancy and give it the chance it deserved.

My husband jokingly called it ‘Tarquin’. We knew that was most certainly not a name we would call our child if it was a boy but it was like our silly little secret name.

I don’t think I will ever be able to hear that name again without my insides wrenching. Thankfully it’s not a common name!

The next day I begged my child to stay with me every time I went to the toilet and saw even the smallest amounts of blood. 

I went from trying to be optimistic by talking to this unborn entity, making a pregnancy playlist and daydreaming about the future, to feeling near the end of the day a crushing sense of dread.

I don’t know if intuition is true. I don’t know if you can just ‘feel’ something is happening. I do know that on that evening I felt that something was not right. I had also started to bleed more. 

I sobbed and my husband tried to help me to see we still had a chance. He rightfully told me to stop looking up things on the internet.

If I can give any advice to a woman in a similar situation it is that if you cannot keep away from searching your symptoms, at least be careful about what you read. You will become more stressed and drive yourself around the bend.

My husband was trying to placate me and help me. I know he was doing his best and I think upon reflection he was scared too. I just knew though, as I went to bed and my boobs didn’t hurt anymore that I was no longer pregnant.

The next morning (yesterday) my husband woke me to see if I wanted him to stay off work as he was concerned about me. I told him that we needed to carry on as normal.

I am glad that he asked me to go to the bathroom before he left so we could see what the bleeding situation was like.

We are not an over-sharing couple. We do not go to the toilet in front of each other. This time I had to sit on the loo and wipe, to show us both what was happening; cruel vivid red blood came. 

I knew that our unborn child had gone. He knew it too. We did go to see the GP as well. The pregnancy test was negative. Our baby was gone.

Now I know some people wouldn’t call this being at just under five weeks all the things that I have: baby, child… I know medically it would be seen as a cluster of cells.

I know that many women wouldn’t even know they were pregnant at this stage and that the bleeding would be construed as a period and no-one would be any the wiser but here’s the thing…

We knew we were pregnant.

Both of us created a life.

Neither of us has ever been through pregnancy before.

We see that being as our child, no matter how early it was in its formation. 

We are grieving that child; what it was then and what it could have been.

We are in bereavement because our baby died. We knew it existed, it died and therefore we are grieving.

I did not ‘lose’ the baby. I hate that term. I refuse to say about someone dying that the bereaved have lost them. That implies they have been misplaced when the brutal truth is that we have to accept that they have died. 

Our baby was not ‘lost’ by me. I did not misplace it. I also have to accept that nothing I did made it die. If you tell me I’ve ‘lost’ a baby, I feel you are telling me that I am responsible for the loss. 

Of course, I questioned if anything I did or didn’t do meant that this child died. I have to listen to the GP who tells me this is not my fault. The baby just wasn’t able to see it through. It wasn’t able to be created because it just wasn’t the right combination of all the things that make it all come together.

For the first time in years of knowing him, I saw my husband really cry. He sobbed his heart out when we got home from seeing the GP. It helped. I needed to know that he was hurting immensely too, not that I would ever wish such pain upon him. I just needed to know that my breaking heart was still fused strongly to his.

Yesterday was a day of weeping, regrets, sorrow and grieving. We had to tell the husband’s parents it hadn’t worked out. You may ask why we told them so early. My husband needed them to support him from the beginning just like I needed my best friend.

There is something achingly beautiful about telling your best friend your baby has died and hearing her sobbing her heart out on the telephone. I could feel her empathy reaching through.

She is a mother twice over. She has never lost a child but I know that she loves me so intensely and shared my hopes and dreams for this child.

The hardest part was phoning my terminally ill mum to tell her that I couldn’t go to see her at the weekend because that was when I was going to tell her about our pregnancy; the pregnancy that was no longer. 

She cried. I cried. I couldn’t bear it when we spoke of how this child could have given her something to try to keep living for. My heart is breaking as I write this. I cannot bear all this death, both real and in the future.

Today I am numb. I don’t know who I am anymore. A few days ago I was a mother-to-be. Today I am a woman who has had a miscarriage. I never thought I’d ever say that about me. I thought that happened to other women.

I now know how real it is. I also know that the chances of early miscarriage are high.

Today it is still dark but more foggy. I can see some patches in between. It’s too early to call them light seeping through. I still cannot feel optimistic about the future.

I fear that we have had our one and only chance to get pregnant and it’s gone. I fear having more miscarriages. I fear that now I know that I, that we, want a child, it will not come easy for us, if at all.

So what does the future hold? None of us know right?

Do I dare to dream that we will be pregnant again and that this time our child will live? 

Do I hope that one day I will be able to tell this child just how precious they are because there was a child before them that didn’t make it?

Are my husband and I going to have to endure endless monthly disappointments or future miscarriages? 

Will we have to give up knowing that we are now older and time is running out? 

Will we run on false hope that we could get pregnant once so we must be able to again? 

Will we have to accept that we had a chance but that was it and now the dream is over?

No one knows. I don’t know how much strength I have in waiting to see how it all unfolds. 

I miss my deceased baby. I was just starting to get to know him/her. I started talking to them. I willed him/her to stay. I told them that if the depth of love its father and I had for it was enough, then they must stick around to get it in abundance. I guess love alone doesn’t make a person stay.

I feel lost. I am scared. I am a woman who had an early miscarriage. My child died. I, my husband and that baby matter. We created life. We are now mourning it no more or less than a living human being. All that is left is emptiness.

Our ‘Tarquin’ will never be forgotten. Sleep well little one.

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