I believe that everybody has a story to tell, and I also believe it’s the act of sharing our story that enables us to connect with others. But, in order for a story to be told, we need the voice to tell it and the ears to hear it. My experience starts with a small voice, barely audible, swallowed up by the silence that followed it.
I was alone, on a train when I had my first miscarriage
My husband picked me up at the station, we saw a doctor, came home and went to work the next day. We told close friends and family, they said sorry and we rarely spoke about it again. I didn’t own the vocabulary to talk about what had happened, no one did.
I don’t know when I had my second miscarriage; it happened, I saw the baby disappear as I flushed the toilet, but I can’t remember when this was. Back then I believed silence was the only way to heal your wounds.
A few months later I had a third miscarriage, sharing the bare facts with those same close friends and family members. After seeing the two lines on each pregnancy test again, I’d learnt not to get my hopes up. I was reluctant to share any pregnancy news, making the sharing of yet another miscarriage even more difficult, having to then break the news that a baby they never knew existed had now been lost.
With each miscarriage I believed my story was becoming even less palatable
In a world filled with friends rejoicing in their pregnancy, I believed my story didn’t belong. I felt isolated and alone, my losses highlighted by the abundance of life surrounding me. I remember telling my husband that we were social outcasts, our life and our story had no place in the world as I saw it. Two years passed, families grew and we remained just two. But how I longed for a child to help me feel included, to make the pain worthwhile, to be able to inhabit the experience of motherhood, rather than just hear about it from others.
On a very unremarkable day, sat in a living room, eating cake with a group of trainee vicar’s wives of whom I was one, I shared my story. Not in a controlled, measured, sorted kind of way, more of an ugly, shaking, mascara smudged, snotty nosed kind of way. Words tumbling from my mouth, lip trembling, unsure of how these women, who were all mothers themselves, would respond to what I told them. We talked, I continued to cry and they asked if they could be part of my story, sharing in the journey I was on. That’s when life really started to change.
Six months later I discovered I was pregnant and I told people. I miscarried, and I told people and they had the courage to listen, to sit with me and cry with me. They also helped me find someone to talk to and I started seeing a counsellor through a charity called Petals. That’s the first time someone told me I was grieving. You see, I’d always assumed that grief only came when you lost someone you knew or a child you’d held. But, I learnt that my grief was justified and that the only way I could move on was to talk about and grieve the children I had lost.
A friend, who I’d spent hours sat on the sofa and drinking tea with decided she wanted to help women in my position feel less alone. She gathered other women she knew who were childless through miscarriage or infertility
We began to meet, to eat together and share our stories. We cried a lot, but we also laughed a lot. We would meet around a table, laden with food and flickering candles and we would talk, stuttering at first, afraid our words would shock others, or that we would once again find ourselves alone with no one to understand us, but this never happened. The more we shared, the more we connected, the more we found we had in common and the stronger our voices grew. We found words to describe the emotions we felt. We talked about grief, loneliness, and the guilt of struggling to celebrate when pregnancy news is shared. Then I found out I was pregnant again.
My fifth pregnancy was frightening, each day dominated by the fear that I would start bleeding. And sure enough after ten weeks, a scan and a heartbeat, there was blood. The pain became unbearable and we found ourselves in A&E once again, but this time it was different. Two of my friends; two of the bravest women I know came to the hospital. They waited with us, they cried with us, they called out for help when I was too sick, they brought clean clothes and food. I could see the shock on their faces, telling me that miscarriage is a terrible thing to experience, telling me that I have suffered, that my heartbreak is justified. Their presence on that awful night brought authority to my experience of miscarriage. My pain was validated. My story was no longer silent. I had witnesses.
A couple of months later I found out I was pregnant again. My friends walked with me through each frightening day filled with the very present fear of loss. We had a healthy scan at eight weeks and went back for another at ten weeks only to be told once again, that our baby had died. We were sent home with some drugs, some leaflets and a date for me to return in a few days to have a medically managed miscarriage. That night our house was full of people and food and tears, our loss was no longer private, it was shared.
A week later, our little group decided we wanted to share our stories further than just around a dinner table and we we started a blog. I wrote a blog post about my sixth miscarriage, I wanted to speak into the silence of miscarriage, I wanted to help people feel less alone.
Two years have passed and my story is increasingly becoming more public. I continue to write on our blog www.saltwaterandhoney.org and I have spoken about miscarriage and childlessness to different groups. I am also now writing a book about my story.
I have learnt that the only way to move through pain, suffering and grief is to speak about it
Sharing your story is messy. It’s not easy, it’s scary and you’re most likely going to cry at some point, but in speaking out I promise, you will find new life. Numb, controlled, silent people will not move forward, but those who grieve and express their grief and the snotty nosed beauty that comes with it will receive new beginnings.
Everyone has a story to tell, but some stories are never told and this is often the case with the story of miscarriage. Sharing your story requires bravery, not just for the person learning to speak but for the person listening as well. I was given my voice by the people who first listened to me. Imagine the stories that could be told and the new beginnings that could be embraced if we had the courage to embrace each other’s stories. #misCOURAGE is a challenge to those with a story to tell and, those with the ears to hear. Let’s be brave, let’s change the experience of miscarriage one story at a time.
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
By Anonymous (not verified) on 25 Apr 2016 - 20:01
Lizzie, thank you, everything stated so true. I am still sadly isolated as I feel I have avoidance going on around me,no-one knows what to say I'm the miscarriage woman, the pitiful looks are palatable. Your story brought a tear to my eye and I wanted to say thank you for sharing it. It helps women like me.