By Lianne Williams
A waiting room full of apprehensive, excited couples and families, called through one at a time to reappear ten minutes later clutching a black and white image that confirms a healthy baby nestled snug and warm in the womb.
This has never been my experience; though I've never experienced the same thing twice.
“Are you sure of your dates, only it's measuring much smaller than it should?”
“I’m unable to see a pregnancy I'm afraid”.
“I’m sorry, this is not a viable pregnancy”
“Sorry, I just need to get a second opinion”
And the most recent, heard only three days ago... “I'm sorry, your womb is empty and your pregnancy is growing in your Fallopian tube.”
This time had been different. Every part of my body screamed “you are pregnant!”. Sore, painful boobs, running to the toilet every 30 minutes, and a tiredness that I could only describe as someone pulling a plug inside me and letting every ounce of energy seep away.
I KNEW that after a miscarriage at 10 weeks, and a 'pregnancy of unknown location', this was our time. So those words knocked the wind right out of me.
Of course I felt pregnant. There was a tiny baby, measuring right, yolk sac visible, just days away from showing the flutter of a heartbeat on a scan - we were so close to joining the others. With my green pregnancy folder and my oittle picture - the proud parents.
But not this time. Our sesame seed had lost its way and would have to be removed.
And so begins this journey again. The journey from unbelievable joy at seeing a positive line on a test… to the heartbreaking reality that again, it isn't our time.
I could make a list of all the well-meaning things that people say when you've experienced the loss of a pregnancy, and I could point out exactly why every single one cuts through my heart and makes me want to rip that person's eyes out - but I'm afraid it might make me sound bitter and ungrateful.
The truth is, people don't know what to say - unless they've experienced it themselves.
Those that have say things like “there are no words - just know that I'm here.” Perfect. Because there are no words.
My favourite words of comfort were these: “Your baby is just waiting for the right bus to come along.” I found great comfort in thinking that each loss wasn't the loss of another baby, just the loss of their body - their soul living on strong in me, waiting for their time. Waiting for the right bus.
It's happened. Days of feeling numb and almost guilty for not being more sad are over. I was beginning to think that maybe I knew how to cope with it third time round, that my mind was getting used to dealing with the loss and the emptiness that happens after a miscarriage. Maybe I could go back to work next week.
No. Here it is again. That feeling that someone has wrapped their hands around my throat, knocked the wind out of my stomach, I can't catch my breath...it hurts so much.
The tears come from nowhere, seemingly brought on by nothing. They come from deep, deep inside, from the emptiness that is creeping up on me as the hormones that made me feel so full and so happy just a week ago slowly start to drop, taking with them the hope I had of being a mum.
“How are you feeling today?” they ask. I have absolutely no idea how to answer them.
I take the easy option... “getting there” I reply.
“Let me know if I can do anything.”
I know people are showing they care. I'm not angry at them. I'm angry that I even have to have these conversations again, that I have to lie about how I am because how can I tell the truth?
How do you describe to someone the pain and emptiness of losing a baby?
How do you explain the absolute terror that you might never be able to carry a baby full term?
How do describe the disgust and hatred you have towards your own body for letting you down?
What about the jealousy you have of those around you who are having babies, or the irrational fear that somehow you've caused your miscarriages, that it's all your fault?
I can't verbalise any of these feelings. They go round and round and round my head but I'm too scared to say them aloud. For now, “getting there” will have to do.
Marty Hayes wrote about his experience of miscarriage after not knowing where else to turn; 'miscarriage isn’t really the thing you chat about down the pub, or with your mates.'
We need to break the silence around men and miscarriage so fathers do not feel guilty for showing their grief.
Several studies have shown that the womb may not work as well in older women. This may be because the muscle produces less energy so that contractions are less effective, so labour isn't triggered in the same way as in younger women.
We are trying to find out if a simple procedure before conception could help prevent miscarriage. If so, this could be an easy way to encourage healthy pregnancy.
Tommy’s are helping to train the carers of the future, so that we can continue giving women the best pregnancy care possible.
We want to understand the different ways that women and their partners cope with miscarriage, so that we can better train doctors, nurses and midwives to provide the emotional support that is so important following loss.