If you are reading this section because you have suffered the tragedy of miscarriage. Then I am truly sorry. Miscarriage is one of the cruelest and most heart breaking things that can happen to a woman. Dr’s don’t normally even investigate the reasons as to why it may have happened, until you have had 3 in a row!
I myself have suffered from two. One very early at about 5/6 weeks and the other, which totally destroyed me and ripped my heart out, happened at almost 6 months.
If you google, you will find all sorts of varying statistics about the prevalence of miscarriage. Ranging from 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 pregnancies. For the sake of this blog, I’ll use the statistic that the Dr gave me. He told me 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and in most cases the cause is never known as to why.
Why! That was the single most question I asked myself every day and 3 years on I still don’t know why.
After 12 years of infertility and 3 failed attempts at IVF, to discover that I was pregnant was the most overwhelming and thrilling thing that had ever happened to me. I almost began planning our baby’s life straight away. I was imagining all sorts of exciting times ahead. I think that is one of the most powerful emotions of miscarriage and one that someone who has never suffered from one can never understand. It is not just the loss of a pregnancy that we mourn, it is the lost hopes, dreams and plans for the future. It’s the little face that you already can picture in your mind, the little voice asking mummy for sweets. All of that is snatched away from you too.
I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, in many ways it was very easy. Apart from a little sickness, I had bags of energy and was very calm and contented. During a routine ante natal appointment at 22 weeks, the Dr decided to have a listen to our baby’s heartbeat. I had felt him wriggling about that morning, so had no reason to be concerned. She put the doppler onto my stomach and moved around. I realised quite quickly that what we were hearing was not the normal sounds. There was just static, no rushing blood sound, no pulsing placenta sound a bit like the wind blowing through the trees and worst of all no galloping horse heartbeat.
She tried hard to make light of the situation, by saying that her doppler wasn’t very good and that at this stage the baby may have turned over and that was making it difficult to pick up. She decided to send me for a scan to be certain. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was not going to end well.
All the way to the hospital, my husband tried to reassure me that everything was ok. I barely spoke a word. I knew. I knew that our baby was gone. I remember lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling, almost holding my breath. The nurse began the scan and the moment I looked at the screen, I began to sob. At every scan our little baby had been facing out towards us moving and waving. Now he had his back to us and was still. She tried to calm me down, saying she hadn’t checked properly and that she wanted the Dr to check too, but I was howling by this stage, barely registering what she was saying.
The Dr entered the room and turned the screen away and began to scan, he was silent for what felt like a lifetime. Then I felt him rest his hand on my knee and my worst nightmare was confirmed. That gentle hand on my kneecap told me it was over. He didn’t even have to speak. I wouldn’t have heard his words anyway, all I could hear was the sound of my own wailing.
When I eventually calmed a little, they then broke the dreadful news that I would have to be induced and deliver our baby. They sent us home for some alone time, some time to try and get our heads around what had happened and what lay ahead.
We returned to hospital two days later and they admitted me to the gynaecology ward rather than sending me into maternity. I had been worrying myself sick about the thought of being confronted by all those pregnant women in labour, all those healthy newborn babies, but the Dr made sure I didn’t have to deal with any of that. Gynaecology was so far away from maternity, I couldn’t even hear a baby cry. I shall always be grateful for that small mercy.
The Dr agreed to give me one final scan. One last opportunity to see our baby “safe” in my womb before I was induced. He took a few scan pictures and gave them to me in a little envelope. I was then given the drugs to induce labour. Now it was just a waiting game. I swear the world stood still that day.
My labour was hard and very painful. They had warned me in advance that the drugs they used almost always cause much stronger, harder contractions, than regular labour pains. I was climbing the walls in agony. I was terrified and devastated all at once. I took as many forms of pain relief as they would give me – after all my little baby was gone, the drugs were not going to harm him,
Seventeen horrific hours later, I gave birth to our tiny, perfect son. The nurses took him away immediately and I was in so much pain and still trying to deliver the placenta, that I didn’t even ask what was happening to him. Anyway to cut a very long story short, I was losing so much blood and had become dreadfully sick. The placenta was stuck and my blood pressure had dropped so rapidly that I was taken to theatre, knocked out and my placenta was manually removed.
When I returned to the ward the nurses brought a little memory book into us. My husband had a look first, he was almost censoring it, shielding me from what might be inside it. I was determined though to have a look. The book had our sons details, weight, length and time of birth. Little imprints of his hands and feet and six Polaroid photos of our little boy. At that moment, I just wanted to see him and hold him. The nurses had been holding off, hoping that I would make that decision. They brought him to me in a tiny little Moses Basket. I thought my heart was actually going to shatter. There he was, our baby, our son, our tiny boy. He was perfect, just very tiny with little closed eyes. All I could do was gaze at his face and cry. Looking at him, I knew there and then that my life had changed forever. Nothing would ever be the same again. A piece of me, of us, would always be missing. Like a lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle, we would forevermore be incomplete.
I then got really anxious about the fact that he was naked. It didn’t seem right that he had no clothes. I had lost too much blood, was too exhausted and just not physically capable of leaving the hospital, so my husband went out to buy something for him to wear. He was so tiny, that he ended up buying a blue babygro meant for a doll. It was the only thing that would of fitted him. Putting dolls clothing onto my little baby was a truly heart breaking moment in my life.
I had to stay in hospital for two days because my blood levels had dropped so much. My husband arranged for the undertaker to come and collect our son once I had left. We had decided not to have a postmortem carried out. I couldn’t stomach the thought of anyone “interfering with him”, I didn’t want to put his little body through something that would more than likely provide no answers. Part of me also didn’t want them to tell me that my “perfect” son had a defect.
Leaving hospital was horrendous. Walking down the corridor knowing I was leaving our baby behind and that the only way I’d ever see him again was from a few photographs destroyed me.
I remember walking into the house and just switching on the television. It was almost Christmas and every year around this time Pampers have an advert with lots of choral voices singing happy birthday and images of little babies around the world who have benefited from their sponsor a vaccination programme. That was the very first thing that confronted me. All those voices singing Happy Birthday to all those babies. I actually just dropped onto my knees and sobbed, it felt that even the television was taunting me.
To this day I cannot watch that advert, I have to turn it over.
His cremation was booked for the following Thursday, it was almost Christmas and I was just in a daze of grief. 2008 will go down in my history as the worst Christmas I have ever faced. I just wanted it all to go away. I remember having to go into town and breaking down completely at a group of 6 year old school children singing Away in a Manager in the town bandstand. I almost ran back to the car, tears streaming down my face.
The weeks and months afterwards were full of anguish, questions and tears. I cried more tears than I ever thought I had inside me. I never thought I’d ever be able to view life “normally” again. I was simply existing, not living.
One day I looked at myself in the mirror, actually properly looked and what I saw shocked me. I looked dreadful, my skin was pale, almost grey, my hair was straggly and unkempt. I was thin and gaunt. My eyes were swollen and lifeless. That day, I decided I had to try and put myself back together again.
The first thing I did was get my hair cut and coloured and then I started to eat properly again. Slowly, I began to come back to life. I was a very different person, but I was a person again. I still missed our baby terribly, I still cried for him. Not a single day went past without me thinking of him. He was and still is to this day the last person I whisper goodnight to every night.
I guess, I just wanted to share my experience with you. I know that hearing other peoples experiences helped me a little. It helped me to feel less alone, less desperate. I felt that I could pour my heart out and the people I was telling it to understood exactly what I was feeling.
The one thing to remember is that there is no time frame for grief. You will grieve for as long as you feel necessary and not when others think you should be “over it”.
People will say all kinds of insensitive things to you. You will hear comments like these below – I have put my response beside them
1. It wasn’t meant to be! – my response – Oh yes it was, it just wasn’t meant to be any longer than … weeks, months etc.
2. At least you know you can get pregnant…… No, all I know is that I managed to get pregnant once, there is no guarantee that it can or will happen again.
3. It will get easier with time…..No, it doesn’t get easier, but I have learnt how to live with it.
4. There must have been something wrong with “it”………”it” was my baby and he or she was perfect.
There are so many more of these “kind” phrases that will be thrust upon you. Predominantly by people who have never experienced a miscarriage and therefore have absolutely no idea of the grief and turmoil you are facing every moment of every day. Try and rise above it, try and remind yourself that they are attempting to ironically say the right thing.
Most people feel awkward about death and loss and always feel they need to say more in an attempt to “cheer” you up or make you feel better. They don’t realise that simply saying “I’m sorry” is more than enough, they don’t think they’ve said enough and that’s why they blurt out these other unintentionally hurtful sentences.
If you can talk about your loss with someone then do so. Talking really does help your recovery. I joined a few online baby loss forums and really used them as a crutch in the early few weeks. They in many ways were my saviour. I didn’t feel quite so lost and alone. Because you can be surrounded by family, friends and other loved ones, but after a miscarriage you can feel like the loneliest person in the world.
If you think it might help you, get a little memento to remember your baby. We chose to buy a star and name it after our son. We got a fantastic certificate and star map with his name on it and the coordinates for where exactly in the sky it lies. On clear nights I often go out into the garden and look up at him and just say hello. There are lots of websites and companies who make bespoke memorial keepsakes. Little pieces of jewellery or key rings and candles. Some people choose to plant something, a rose bush or tree. Others have tattoos done. You do what feels right for you.
Cry about it, scream about it, talk about it. Just let it out, you need to let it out. You need to let the hurt, anger and sadness out. Don’t feel as if you should bottle it up and pretend to be ok. You are not ok and it’s perfectly alright to not be ok.
One piece of advice, I would give is this. I know how desperate you will feel to be pregnant again. But give yourself some time to grieve and mend a little. I know for me, being pregnant again was a terrifying experience. I worried myself sick almost from the moment I got the positive test. I would have been a complete mess if I had still also been raw with grief. I gave myself 6 months before I felt ready to try again. You will know when the time is right for you. It might be straight away, but I still feel you should rest for just a little while.
My biggest piece of advice though is don’t give up hope. Hold onto hope, hold onto the belief that you will have a baby. Look at me. Years of infertility 2 miscarriages and now 2 miracle daughters. My grief is still there, always in the background and some days it storms into the foreground and I will just cry. But I held onto hope, even in my darkest days, I tried to keep a little hope a little glimmer of what may be.
As heart broken as I am about the loss of our son, he is still very precious and special because he was my first ever positive pregnancy test after 12 years of peeing on plastic sticks! He was my first ever ultrasound scan that I wasn’t staring at a black & white empty space. I was staring in awe at a tiny little life. He was my only vaginal birth as my daughters both had to be born by C Section. He is my son.