Story of #miscourage by Kate,
After 6 years of trying to conceive, my husband and I managed to get pregnant with the assistance of Clomid. We were beyond excited as this was the furthest we'd got so far in our attempt to have a family.
The 6 weeks spent after finding out I was pregnant was a thrilled mix of revealing our precious secret to close friends and family, and coming up with excuses for why I wasn’t having a drink at all the Christmas parties happening around me at the time... However, even though we were only 10 weeks along by the time Christmas rolled around, we felt confident enough to share our news a bit further, and by Boxing Day, we'd told most of the people around us.
When I woke up on the 28th and found I was bleeding, that excitement was instantly replaced by fear. I rang my community midwife who said not to panic, and recommended managing it like a period until I could get to the hospital the next day for assessment, when the Early Pregnancy Unit reopened after the bank holiday. And so began one of the longest days I can remember, and one of the loneliest periods I’ve ever experienced.
When the sonographer confirmed the next day that the little heartbeat we’d seen thudding away only three weeks earlier was no longer there, and that our baby had stopped growing almost two weeks ago, I fell apart. Her kindness and sympathy almost made it worse as we sat in the little dark room, my husband and I shocked by, but already resigned to, this sad step in our life together.
The next few days, as we went through GP appointments and a New Year’s Eve trip to hospital for a D&C to remove what was left in my body of our child, were vile and empty; neither of us knowing how to react to each other’s grief, how to grieve for someone we’d never met and a future that wouldn’t happen, or how to tell all those people who’d been so excited for us. It was a steep learning curve and one that even now, two years on, we are still negotiating.
What you don’t know until you’ve experienced this awful trauma, is how hard it is to feel like you’re allowed to grieve for your baby. From the moment you discover you’re pregnant, you’re having a baby. Everyone talks about ‘the baby’. When the baby dies, it becomes a miscarriage, or a stillbirth; suddenly medical, clinical, distant, dehumanised. I found this made justifying my sadness (even to myself) so much harder. Even worse was when I plucked up the courage to share it with friends, and they revealed that they’d experienced it too, but I’d never seen or heard them talk about it, which reinforced my feelings that I shouldn’t be talking about it and my grief was ‘over the top’.
It took discovering the Miscarriage Association’s online forum on Mother’s Day, a few months later, to realise that the feelings I was having were normal, justified, and a healthy response to losing a child, no matter their age or gestational age.
Over the next 13 months, I experienced another two miscarriages at 6 weeks, each different to the first. In both of these later pregnancies, I became colder and less emotionally attached – in case they didn’t progress – and sometimes I wonder if this had any impact on the outcome (my rational brain tells me of course it didn’t, but the emotional brain niggles away).
In June this year, we took the next step in our journey and started IVF, and I had to do an awful lot of work in the lead up to be in a healthy enough frame of mind to try and trust my body to carry a pregnancy. While we were really lucky and were successful after only one round, I have spent the last 28 weeks struggling to connect to our unborn child, to relax, and to trust that my body is able to sustain the wriggling little life inside me. It’s a daily battle – one that won’t be done until he’s safely on the outside.
We’re now coming up to two years since our first pregnancy loss, and I can hand-on-heart say that I am a very different person to who I was then. I still get teary thinking about it, I relive the experience of finding blood every morning when I get up to go to the loo, and I worry constantly, but I also think I’m stronger than I was, or maybe stronger than I thought I was.
Our sad, lonely, and frightening experiences have given my husband and I the resources to be there for friends when they’ve had miscarriages, to know helpful things to say (and what not to say), and to have the courage to speak out about our story without the shame and embarrassment that plagued our first encounter with this type of loss. I would never wish this on anyone, but I also wouldn’t change our story for anything.
Please note that the opinions expressed by users in Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE are solely those of the user, who is unlikely to have had medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Tommy’s and are not advice from Tommy's. Reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. We strongly advise readers not to take drugs that are not prescribed by your qualified healthcare provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately. Read full disclaimer