#misCOURAGE story, 08/03/2017, by Jo Tocher
My name is Jo Tocher and 20 years ago I lost my first baby at 24 weeks.
At the time I was working in Financial Marketing in the City with a team of great people. I was hard working but always happy-go-lucky and loved entertaining clients and burning the candle at both ends.
At the time, I lived in a small two bedroom flat with my boyfriend. We were very happy. Having moved to the UK some 10 years before, my family was back in New Zealand, so my London friends and boyfriend were my support.
We had only been together for a couple of years when we discovered I was pregnant. We hadn’t even talked about a long-term future together so it was a real shock. But after a long chat we decided to embrace the pregnancy.
After our 12 week scan we announced our news to friends, family and colleagues. Whilst it was a surprise we were thrilled about becoming parents.
“Something’s not right”
My 20-week scan took place a few weeks late, and I went alone because my boyfriend was busy at work. I was feeling excited at the prospect of hearing the tiny little heart beat again and seeing how much our baby’s little fingers and toes had grown.
We had decided not to find out if it was a boy or a girl.
At the clinic I lay down on the bed, staring intently at the screen. But there was something wrong. I’ll never forget that interminable silence from the stenographer, who got up and left the room to get a second opinion without telling me why.
I waited patiently to see the consultant and in that moment time slowed down. I felt sick with a sense of dread and panic. I was in total denial that anything could go wrong for my baby and me – everything would be fine, right?
Eventually the consultant took me into her office and calmly explained that there was amniotic fluid inside the baby and not enough in the sac.
The news was bad: our baby wouldn’t survive.
Either we had to have a termination or let things take their course naturally. We were told to go home over the weekend and decide.
All weekend I felt lost, numb and empty, like I was walking inside a bubble. Then on the Sunday I felt a searing pain in my abdomen - and then nothing. I immediately knew something was wrong.
When we returned on the Monday we were told that our baby boy had died. I was inconsolable. This little being I had carried inside me for 24 weeks was no longer – I just couldn’t get my head around it, and the tears flowed non-stop.
I was booked in for a termination but because I was over 25 weeks pregnant by this point I had to give birth to our little baby boy, which only added to my overwhelming distress.
Even though he was gone we named him John, as he’d been alive for all those weeks inside me.
When I went home I just felt dead inside.
My boyfriend tried to console me by buying in all my favourite foods. He didn’t know what to do or how to behave around me and I just wanted to be left alone.
It was awkward between us – I felt his sense of inadequacy over how to behave and I couldn’t stop crying.
My GP rang me to see how I was and friends were there for me, but my family was far away in New Zealand, which was really hard.
Eventually I returned to work, feeling lost and alone and different. But my heart was no longer it.
I had counselling, which helped a little, but not enough. I resigned a few weeks later. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but this wasn’t it! I was lost for a while trying to make sense of my loss, and what I could do with my future.
How I healed
My journey since then has taken me on a path of self-discovery. With no work and no direction I “found” my way into complementary therapy when a friend introduced me to aromatherapy.
As I read about hands-on healing and how aromatherapists use natural oils and massage to soothe and comfort, the hairs on my arms stood up.
There was a big ‘yes’ within me at the idea of something so good coming out of my own trauma. I instantly knew that this was my new vocation and booked myself onto a year’s full-time diploma at The Tisserand Institute.
And as I started the course the part of the diploma that surprised me the most and ultimately helped me to heal was the Energy Healing Module – it totally blew my socks off.
We learnt a variety of healing techniques that channel energy into you by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of your body. And these worked incredibly well for me, helping to release my hurt and trauma over losing our baby John.
I have learnt that the pain of losing a baby through miscarriage lessens over time, but you never forget (and why should you forget your beloved child who is still a part of your family?).
I’ve learnt that your friends and family become uncomfortable when you talk about it constantly, so you have to keep your feelings over your miscarriage to yourself.
I’ve learnt that it puts a strain on your relationships and that you can spiral downwards into depression, guilt and blame.
And I’ve learnt that it is possible to carry babies to term even after losing a baby to miscarriage - we now have two teenage daughters.
I have let go of all those difficult emotions and I’m happy to say that I’m now mostly a happy-go-lucky and calm person like I used to be!
In hindsight I realise that this was something that happened to me to get me on the right path. I find meaning in helping other people feel better and help them transform their pain after their baby loss.
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