by Emma McGarry
We were going through the process of buying our first house when I found out I was pregnant. The first person I phoned was my best friend. Then my partner - we didn't yet live together. I was shocked as it was a complete accident, but I've always wanted to be a mum ever since I was a little girl. My partner's reaction was definitely not what I expected, with words along the lines "We can't do this" , "We will have to get rid" "We can't afford a baby".
Devastated I went downstairs to talk to my mum. She too was less than thrilled but told me I should make an appointment to see the doctor and get signed up with the midwife.
I received my green notes and a letter arrived for a dating scan. I had to tell the headteacher and teachers I worked with I was pregnant due to having to work with some quite volatile children. Within a week the whole school knew....I was so angry!
The 6th June 2013 was looming, I was so excited to see my baby. My mum and partner came to the hospital, as we waited I was on pins...I was going to feel that gush of love of seeing my baby!
Instead I got told there was no heartbeat. The foetus was dead. NO...THIS IS A BABY!!! I was 12 weeks pregnant, I've had no symptoms...they must have it wrong!
My mum was brought in to the room. I was ushered out the room to a room upstairs in the hospital, I don't remember getting there, I was met by a nurse who sat me down, gave me some leaflets and booked me in for procedure. I chose the induction. My mum phoned my headteacher while we sat in the room to explain I won't be in the next day. I got home...to my new home, my home I'd lived in for a week or two. A fish tank had cracked and had leaked all over the floor. We sorted it, we then went to the pet shop to complain!
My wait began. I was carrying a dead baby inside of me. I felt like a walking coffin. Why did I have to wait. Why was I in so much pain over a baby I hadn't even held! Why was my baby still inside of me, I just wanted to stop hurting.
When I was back at hospital 3 days later, it was just like a giant waiting game, still not knowing how to feel. I felt my waters pop, the actual feeling you have when it actually happens, and waters coming out. I started to bleed after the second tablet, each time my body released more of what should have been keeping my baby alive. I wasn't allowed home that night as my temperature had risen and blood pressure a little low.
My future in-laws came to see me, my future sister in law crying. Why was she crying, she had no right, this was my baby. I hadn't allowed myself to cry that day...or I simply couldn't. I didn't understand it. I was angry, so angry...I wasn't some poor helpless dying person. I felt like I was on show and so exposed. They didn't even know I was pregnant until we had to tell them I'd lost it. I know they meant well but at the time I didn't want pity, I wanted to be pregnant.
When my other half left for the night, the thing we had been sat all day waiting to happen, happened. My baby arrived. I was alone.
While I took it all in, I looked at my baby, hands, feet, legs arms. Skin so see-through I could see baby's little veins. A little bump for a nose, lips. I'd been told to expect baby to be disintegrated, and a baby would not come out.
But there in the dish I'd been given to catch whatever I could, was my baby.
My poor little baby. Never knowing a cuddle or a kiss. Never seeing the world, or holding my finger. I stroked my baby's arm terrified I would see it move, they'd made a mistake. No. Baby lay there asleep, perfection.What could possibly be wrong, all the pictures of development and my baby looked as it should have done. My one regret is not saying I wanted to see baby again when they offered, just to give its first and last cuddle. I thought they would think it strange.
They next morning the chaplain came to visit, she'd blessed my baby and gave me a rememberance certificate. I was given details of a service being held and that my baby was to be buried if I wished in a local cemetery. When we watched a couple of weeks later the tiny little box lowered into the ground it broke my heart. In that box wasn't just my baby, but six other women's babies. At least the babies weren't alone.
Life went on. Three weeks later I returned to work...I felt people would expect me back...it wasn't as if it was a 'real' baby I'd lost, it hadn't moved...how wrong could I have been. I was not ready. I turned out quite a few people I'd worked with had been through the same thing...I wasn't as alone anymore.
But as a few more weeks passed I felt so lonely, people wouldn't talk about pregnancy or babies. My best friend was pregnant and about to pop, she was the only one who carried on as normal with me! When her son was born in August, she respected how I was feeling and didn't hate me for keeping my distance to start. When he was 4 weeks old I met him and held him...for four hours in a sling, feeling his every breath, longing for my baby back.
Come November 2013 I'd started smelling the leather of the kids shoes I worked with, felt drained by evening...the dog had stopped wrestling me. I waited and took a test and it was positive. "What on earth am I meant to feel?!" I spoke again to the teacher I worked with...unable to choke it out. Luckily a friend explained all as she was new to school and didn't know my loss. I was so grateful and worked with an amazing team of people...I wanted to keep it all quiet though. But it leaked! I was 8 weeks and had banged my head and it had been overheard.
I wasn't ready. I wasn't excited...I was pregnant and not thrilled! What was wrong with me?
I bumbled along throughout the next 9 months, daren't letting myself get excited or attached. Yes I planned everything...but that's who I am....but not that love feeling, I couldn't...not yet.
I had a few scares, baby hadn't moved, all I could think "well here we go" and the hospital was great, hooked me up immediately and if there was no monitor available took me straight to scan...and baby moved.
July 22nd 2014, 9 months and one week and the day had arrived, my waters broke at 7 am, just as my partner left for work.I was calm. I was getting little cramps but thought these are practce ones...they were every three minutes apart. I got to hospital at 9am to be told waters were intact...well actually there was a puddle on the floor that said otherwise.
I was sent home and then a huge contraction happened. Every three minutes without fail. I held on until 5pm and went to hospital, I was 4cm and baby was having difficulty, the heart rate kept dropping, twice the emergency bar was pressed, there was talks of caesarean, baby was in trouble. All I wanted was gas and air. I was in excruciating pain and I'd been in triage for an hour without any pain relief! I didn't get any let up from the pain, no breaks in-between where we sat and laughed, I'd had a day of constant pain, physical and mental...and now...was my baby dying, was my pain the baby's pain?
I was wheeled to delivery by 6.45pm, again doctors were called, baby recovered, but I was told one more time and it was down to theatre. At 8cm my body told me to push, baby's head was just turned slightly and was touching a nerve. I managed to stop myself and I got to 10cm, they arrived again to use a vontouse and baby was born. 8:07 at 8lb3oz.
Baby was taken away to be rubbed and a blast of oxygen and we heard a cry and I was handed a bundle of towels! We had a boy! But I didn't feel that gush everyone said about. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME! Maybe it was shock I thought.
After 20 minutes I had to go to theatre, I had a third degree tear, it was internal and going to my back passage, I was taken away from my partner, my mum and my baby to be put back together again. "It will only take 40 minutes" a faceless nurse told me "I'll talk to you the whole time" Three hours later, one failed epidural, one successful, a man telling me next pregnancy to have an epidural as I tried to push too soon (I'd like to see him try!), not one conversation held and I was wheeled back to delivery where there was one worried looking daddy!
I held my baby as we said goodbye to my mum and my partner. I lay awake all night watching him, he needed a nappy change after an hour and I couldn't move due to catheter and still no feeling. Helpless I called for help and a midwife arrived and watched as I struggled to clean that first poo, not through inexperience...I had plenty of experience changing nappies...I couldn't blooming move. The next time a different midwife came and she sorted it for me, by then the pain from surgery had been creeping in....but still not that rush of love.
Eventually at home and still not sure what was wrong with me. I wouldn't let certain people hold him, because I knew they loved him more than I did, I carried him in a sling when possible...waiting. Waiting for the overwhelming feeling...nope.
Then one night he wouldn't settle 10pm he started screaming, he was only three weeks old, nonstop for four hours, then the next night the same thing...it hit me, this concern, the pain, the worry....that's it, that's love. Turns out he had colic and had to be different and have it so late!
But I now know it was because I was so anxious of losing him, I was afraid to love him...even when he arrived. It's normal, weather you have one miscarriage or five, you have still lost a baby.
I still wonder if I'd have had a boy or girl. I certainly wouldn't have my son, which I'm so glad I met him, I would swap him for the world. He is almost 2.
Its been almost 3 years, I'm still not over it, I still get upset and think I don't know why! But deep down its because I've lost something.
Grieve. That was my mistake I felt I had no right to. I had every right to grieve. I was grieving for a future taken away. Grieving because my arms were empty, but my heart was not. I had no memories and no baby.
Talk about it. I always talk about it, people are more curious than you'd think, even if it's to put some facts across that it is a common thing, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. I loved my baby....I love both my babies. I always drop in the fact that it's one in four. It's such a taboo subject. No one should feel as lonely as I did....even now.
A baby is a baby. No matter what stage. People mean well by saying "it wasn't to be" , "you can always try again" but it really isn't the best thing to say.
One day I'll be brave enough to go to my baby's grave and give him or her a teddy...I'm not there yet...but one day and that's a promise.
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