Jennie Agg

Author of The Uterus Monologues, and commissioning editor and features writer for the Daily Mail's weekly Good Health section. This is Jennie.

Jennie Agg

This is Jennie's story

'I started The Uterus Monologues after having three miscarriages because I wanted to write what I needed to read when it first happened to me.'

The first miscarriage happened a few days before my 12 weeks scan and I was stunned, not prepared in any way.

I’m a health journalist and thought I knew a lot about birth and pregnancy symptoms, even complications, but didn’t know anything about miscarriage until it happened to me.

I didn’t expect that full-on shock and grief, which can be quite hard to understand, particularly in early loss, because it’s not someone you’ve ever met but you still feel the same grief.

When you’ve just lost a baby there’s a heightened awareness of everything on social media.

The hardest was people posting about how hard parenthood is, I’m not saying it isn’t, but when you’re grieving and someone is complaining because they’re pregnant and their clothes don’t fit or their house is a mess because they’ve got a toddler, all you can think is, ‘You are so lucky’.

It’s not always a very nice combination of emotions and it doesn’t always make you feel good about yourself. I was jealous and angry because it doesn’t feel fair. Nobody says they were trying for eight months but had a miscarriage and now they’re pregnant again. You just get the happy headline and, without context, you feel it’s really easy for everyone else which is alienating and uncomfortable.

My advice is that it’s okay to un-follow someone if their post upsets you. You need to do whatever you need to feel okay. That might make me sound like a bad person but you’ve got to get through the day.

It also took me a while to work out that your Facebook adverts target you based on what you’ve searched for and the last thing you need when you’re back at work is logging on and a load of pram adverts coming up. You can go into settings and delete anything family related which was very helpful for me.

I started a blog after our second miscarriage just to try and make sense of my own thoughts and feelings.

I don’t know when I decided to share it, I think when I’d imagined we’d be announcing a second pregnancy but people didn’t know we’d been pregnant and lost that baby too.

I just felt compelled to tell people and the response was really positive so I carried on. I tried to write about the things I didn’t know would be an issue, how I looked, how I felt about trying again, the kind of thing that wasn’t in the mainstream.

I think talking about it has spared us a lot because people now think about how they’re going to break pregnancy news to us. Sometimes that makes you feel worse, that they’ve had to think about it, but it’s better than just receiving a text or scan picture which are the hardest ones. When you’ve only seen an ultrasound that is still and empty, it’s hard to see what you’d hoped for.

I don’t think I coped well with other announcements. I remember a family party where I should have been 13 weeks and someone announced they were pregnant. I spent a lot of that party in the car park crying.

I think we don’t really know how to talk about miscarriage.

I don’t know why it’s taboo because women are great at talking about uncomfortable things. It probably comes from the tradition of not talking about pregnancy before 12 weeks which is a strange rule and I’m not sure it helps.

There’s also this unspoken impression that it’s not really a loss. I think, before the first miscarriage, I might have felt I’d be more pragmatic, just move on. You’re just not sure whether you’re allowed to feel as low and upset as you do.

I wrote about my first miscarriage for a newspaper then started my blog when it happened again and I think it’s been helpful.

I admire people who can go through it and not confide but, for me, it helps to know you’re not the only one.

When it comes to breaking the silence it would be helpful if we realised how many pregnancies end.

You can be told endlessly that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss, but if you don’t hear about them you don’t know what it means for those people.

This cultural convention of not telling people before 12 weeks in case you miscarry means you don’t always hear about cases where a baby is lost.

I wouldn’t want anyone to feel pressured to talk, but why shouldn’t you? Not talking just adds to this feeling that you’ve done something wrong or that there’s some kind of shame attached. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re told it wasn’t your fault, it’s hard to really believe it. I wonder if that’s why people don’t talk about it, fear of judgement. Perhaps if more people talked about it, the stigma would start to go away.

After the third miscarriage we were referred for tests and they like to see you when you’re not pregnant so we needed to have a bit of a break.

That was hard because I just wanted to be pregnant again so I had to think of distractions, coping mechanisms, running and exercise was a big help.

It’s so hard to know how you should feel, friends would offer to come round and talk but I really needed to go and do something, to focus on something else.

My mum, who has had miscarriages herself, gave me a great piece of advice which was to do whatever makes you feel like YOU again.

I think when you’ve been pregnant, then you go through a loss, then try again, you have to think about what you eat, not drinking, not doing entirely what you’d otherwise be doing. It can be helpful to do things that remind you who you are whether that’s shopping, sewing or, in my case, running.

It’s going to be a very individual experience, from a practical, physical, medical point of view.

Miscarriage can be a dramatic overnight thing or no signs that anything is wrong then, at your scan, they tell you there’s no heartbeat.

Your emotions are very different and there is no right way to feel. Sometimes you’ll want to get out of your own head, go to the cinema and watch aliens invade the planet, other times you won’t want to see anybody or go anywhere for days and whatever you feel is right, that’s okay.

 

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