So why write about my miscarriage?
Perhaps it is something to do with the cathartic nature of writing your troubles down. Maybe because my experience will help someone in some way.
Unfortunately, because miscarriage does happen to so many women, it is as if it takes away the enormity of what happens to each individual. It appears that people rarely talk in depth about pregnancy loss despite the statistics.
It is indeed a difficult topic to talk about, but I do not feel ashamed to discuss it and perhaps it will benefit others who have experienced this to feel less alone.
It happened on a Wednesday. I started to bleed and got that dreaded feeling of anxiety that there was something wrong. It was more complicated than all that, but I will spare you the details.
Nearing the end of my first trimester I had started to drift into what was clearly a false sense of security. After jumping through hoops to receive the care that I needed, I finally had the scan where I lay on the examination bed with my husband at my side.
The obstetrician started her sentence with, “I’m afraid…”, the words that started the unexpected series events and crushing disappointment that was to follow. That first evening was spent dealing with the shock and upset. Informing friends and family. Getting our heads around the switch that had been flipped in a nano second from joy and excitement to the reality of loss. I felt ‘wrong’. I feel ‘wrong’.
I sometimes forget for a moment that I do not have this little baby growing inside me, and then it hits me with a physical ache that I am ’empty’. I did not realize at this stage however that the obstetrician had infuriatingly not quite informed us of what to expect physically. It was in fact the physical pain that I was least prepared for.
Apparently everyone experiences a miscarriage in totally different ways. So, to add insult to injury I woke up the next day to excruciating pain. This pain became unbearable and agonizing. Through a stream of tears I thankfully made it to the toilet. What was to happen next is perhaps too upsetting and graphic to write here but I am sure you can picture the scene.
I had been told to expect “some bleeding”. This could not have been further from the truth. I was and still am rather traumatized by the situation. Eventually, as I sat exhausted, in shock and pain, crying on the floor under the shower, with my husband at a loss, I just did not know what to do with myself.
Unfortunately, I then had to endure a week of fluctuating agony until the following Wednesday (when ironically I was meant to be having my 3 month scan), I had the surgery to remove what was left in my sorry womb. I got myself all worked up about this also. It was the last straw. On top of everything, I had to go through the undignified and scary experience of general anaesthetic and the procedure. I knew it had to be done though. I told myself to ‘man up’ and some deep breathing and positive affirmations helped me get through it. In fact, this has helped me throughout.
Following this, and feeling rather sorry for myself I had the added complication of the side effects of the medication I was taking to help with the pain – which unbelievably did not even cut it anyway. I was again, in agony with terrible constipation and everything that comes with it.
Although I cried so much through this whole situation, I believed that I would be ok. Of course I will be ok.
The comforting purr from my cat also helped, as did the knowledge that my family and friends are there for me all the way, plus the support from my husband. I don’t know what I would do without him. We cannot underestimate however the impact this has on your partner. My husband sadly is also struggling with the loss and with seeing me in so much pain – both physically and emotionally.
Perhaps it is helpful to note here that it is best, at least it was in my case, to not disturb a person/couple going through this and that rest and privacy is required during these times. However, do make it clear that you are there for them. That you care deeply about their pain and discomfort.
It is enough.
I couldn’t help feeling bad about everyone worrying so much about me. I felt sorry. Sorry for everyone. But it is what it is. It will all be ok.
When not crying over the pain of a futile contraction or some other pain, the flood gates would open to the feeling of loss and despair.
Ok… You do not lose a person you know and love but a being that you have already grown an attachment to – that you have nourished and protected. My husband and I had to erase a future that we no longer need to plan.
Bring out the skinny jeans again; delete the pregnancy tracker app from my phone; cancel the appointment with the guy who was going to make adaptations in our home to accommodate our new addition to the family. To think that I used to joke about how ‘nun-like’ I was with my healthy eating and ban on all of the ‘sins’ – drinking alcohol etc. However, I do have comfort in the form of knowing that all of it is temporary. It is a process that needs to run its course.
It will all be ok.
People’s comments which although are said with such wonderful intention to try and help and to offer guidance unwittingly can make it worse, in admittedly a minor way. For example, statements such as, “Don’t blame yourself” were often made.
I did not blame myself. I always inform myself of matters as huge as having a baby and the literature also covers miscarriage. Another common response to the news has been, “Don’t worry- you will be able to try again”. I know this but it is the now I am fretting about. I am strong and emotionally stable – just processing a miscarriage.
This brings me on to the debate concerning the time to announce the pregnancy in the first place. Sometimes people would honestly physically grimace when they heard my response to their question of how far along I was in my pregnancy.
Wow. They clearly had a problem with the idea of me announcing my pregnancy in the first trimester. Each to their own, but that should also be reversed – do not make judgement on me either. Following the miscarriage, these unhelpful comments that have also been made – “you shouldn’t have told people before 3 months” and “you probably should tell people after 12 weeks if you get pregnant again”.
This is Gibraltar and it is difficult to keep anything a secret. When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I tried to keep it quiet for a few days so that I could ensure that I was the one to inform family before they heard it on the grapevine, but despite this, the word got out.
I went to register in the ICC that I was pregnant and of course I knew people at the counter. When asking for the registration form, the receptionist said at the top of her voice, “the pregnancy registration forms are there” whilst pointing to the very public pigeon holes in front of everyone waiting to be seen for their own personal matters.
Yet, besides the difficulty in keeping it a secret at the very beginning, I soon wanted to tell people that I was pregnant. I am an open, expressive and very excitable person. I decided that I wanted to tell everyone and share my joy. The way I saw it, if the worst was going to happen, I wanted people to know why I am being miserable. I took the advice to just enjoy my pregnancy and not worry about anything for obvious reasons. So of course I wanted to tell the world… not keep it quiet in case I had a miscarriage.
In addition, I have a job where you need to be risk assessed for being pregnant at work so it had to be known to colleagues. Also, a few people had guessed that I was pregnant before I had said anything.
As I am writing this I feel like I am justifying why I had told people that I was pregnant in my first (and very exciting) trimester. This is because people have made me feel this way. It is a shame. None of it is fair and ultimately there is no bad intention anywhere.
There is the concept that it helps recovery if people are not always asking how you are doing, whether they know if you have had the miscarriage or not. Perhaps I should have not told people so that now they do not feel awkward or uncomfortable when they see me next. My husband also feels that it makes it more difficult, as telling people that we are no longer having a baby sort of re-opens the wound. I do not know. This is the problem though. There is no right or wrong answer is there? It is just personal, but we are always open to criticism. Still, that certainly does not matter in the grand scheme of things.
On another note, other well-meant comments such as, “it wasn’t meant to be”; ” you can try again”; “well at least you know you can get pregnant”; only seem to offer comfort to the person saying it. Well-meaning questions and comments about a woman’s reproductive plans are rarely a good idea.
It is worth considering what we say. This is another reason why I wanted to share my experience.
Well, what can you say?
In my case, what helped me, was receiving a simple message telling me that they are thinking of me/ they are there for me etc. That is it. A message that does not have any expectation for an answer is also really helpful.
I know full well that I will look back on this and see my words as all doom and gloom. At this point I will be in a different place… stronger… joyous…. care free maybe. I am intrinsically a contented, optimistic, grateful person.
So I know I will get there. I am getting there. It is all just rather raw for now.
Ultimately, we are resilient creatures and I also have to put this into perspective. This could have been worse – a whole lot worse and people go through the worst tragedies imaginable. May we all be filled with light. In fact, I will light a candle for the child that I never knew. I also hope that in the future I will be lighting candles to take the time to appreciate the child I will one day be blessed to know.
It will all be ok..