#misCOURAGE story, 24/02/2017, by Melanie Mackie
In November 2015 we lost our very much longed for baby, who we named Grace Rose to a missed miscarriage.
My pregnancy took us by surprise and being in our 40’s our new arrival was going to change our lives dramatically. From the moment I had my pregnancy confirmed I felt only love and a deep bond with Grace. It was instantaneous and a connection I continue to feel on a spiritual level between us today.
There are different types of miscarriage, some are over quickly and others are not. With a missed miscarriage your body is still full of pregnancy hormones as if everything is ticking along nicely.
In our case I started to bleed slightly coming up to ten weeks, fortunately we had an ultrasound scan booked in the next day. It was only then we were told our longed for baby Grace did not have a heartbeat.
For a moment time stood still as we held hands and gazed at our little one on the screen in front of us. We will always be grateful to the sonographer who was so kind and helped us understand what needed to happen next.
We left with our scan picture of Grace, which I treasure and it’s a reminder that however short our time was together, she was right there with us.
We were booked in for another scan for ten days later to make absolutely sure that there wasn’t a heartbeat. I had asked the doctor and nursing staff what to expect and they explained that everyone is different and we headed home to let nature take its course.
Five days later the miscarriage started with a vengeance. It was brutal and horrific with painful contractions and extreme blood loss that lasted on and off for days, with little respite. It was frightening and no one can prepare you for what may come. I had no choice but to surrender and allow my body to do what it needed to do.
Several days after the miscarriage began I birthed Grace at home. Our physical journey ended. And looking back this is when our spiritual journey began.
So with the next scan a couple of days away I was hopeful that this ordeal would be over. But the scan showed there was still tissue remaining which had to be removed immediately and I was booked in for emergency surgery.
At this point I was heartbroken, totally depleted and exhausted. And my pregnancy hormones were still high as if everything was still OK. Once out of surgery I felt relief that finally this ordeal was over and I could begin to heal. But little did I realise it was just the beginning, whilst the physical recovery may be swift, the emotional trauma was not.
What do I do now?
In all the posts online and information I was given, it focuses on the facts, procedures and what is likely to happen during your miscarriage. What I struggled to find was any sound advice on how to heal your body, mind and spirit in the coming days afterwards.
The Tommy’s #miscourage campaign launched the weekend we had our first scan. It was a lifeline in the days and weeks afterwards.
What I found was a lack of information, guidance and support available to women and couples who are traumatised by loss, overwhelmed with grief and have no idea how to accept what has happened and rebuild their lives.
There is nothing we can do to bring our Grace Rose back to us, but we have always felt strongly about being honest and open about our loss, there is no shame in saying your baby died.
We decided very early on that we will do whatever we can to raise awareness and offer our support to others. My husband and brother-in-law took part in the Ride London bike ride last year to raise funds for Tommy’s and for me what has helped me grieve and heal is to write.
So over the last year or so I have been writing our story, along with what I have learned about grief and ways to help heal after miscarriage. I have also been able to connect with others who have faced a similar loss to ours which is invaluable.
Whilst researching and learning more about the impact of early miscarriage there is a recurrent theme, we all want acknowledgement that our precious babies matter. Every pregnancy is a potential brand new life, regardless if the pregnancy lasted hours, days or weeks.
Our culture is very much to get on with things and keep on going. Miscarriage is deemed just one of those things, but actually many can be prevented. And in my experience and for those that I have spoken to, there isn’t a time limit on when things will get better. Or a day when you’re finally over it. For me I know I will never be over my loss, it is something I am learning to live with day-by-day.
People often don’t know what to say or do.
We will always remember those who expressed their sorrow for our loss and acknowledged our grief and sadly those who did not. My whole life and outlook has changed since, it has made me question everything.
Miscarriage is lonely and isolating so it is imperative to choose trusted people who will be there for you. Who will show up, allow you to talk when you need to, get you out of the house and do nice soulful things to take care of you. And to hold the space so you can grieve in your own way and find your way forward without judgement.
If you are trying to support a loved one suffering the loss of their miscarriage in our experience and from talking to others this is what they need from you:
Say: I am so sorry for your loss
Do: Give them a heartfelt hug
Acknowledge: Their grief and their baby
Respect: How they feel
Talk: When they want to talk about everything that has happened
Wait: Patiently for them to grieve and heal
Be Mindful: Remember their due date and that special occasions and celebratory announcements are going to be tough and emotional times
Our Grace Rose was due on Father’s Day and will forever be in our hearts and never forgotten. She continues to be the light in our lives as we learn to live with her albeit in a very different way than we would ever have chosen.
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