When I was younger (and by younger I mean early twenties), I naively assumed that I would meet the love of my life, get married and have children. I had no idea that pain would be possible during the happiest period of my life. I’d heard of miscarriages, sure. My mum had had one when I was 12 years old, colleagues, and the odd person I’d known had had one, but still, you were just told it was a miscarriage and that was it. End of conversation. Nobody talked about it. I honestly thought that it would never happen to me.
At 24 years old and not married, I stared down at my positive pregnancy test in the toilets at work. I had never felt such a mixture of emotions. This wasn’t a planned pregnancy, so panic set in, but also happiness and excitement and then more panic at the thought of telling my partner and my parents. I knew one thing for absolute certainty though…no question needed to be asked – I would have my baby and we would be fine because I already felt so much love and protection for it.
Over the weeks, I did the usual things that excited mums-to-be do. I would Google the progress of my little seed every day. I’d talk about whether it would be a boy or girl (I was convinced it was a boy). We talked about baby names. I looked on the Mothercare website for all the necessaries I would have to purchase. I was happy to be pregnant. Really fucking happy.
People tell you not to tell anyone until after 12 weeks as it’s considered bad luck. I couldn’t help myself. I was too excited. We may not have been married or even living together at the time but I wanted everyone to know. I was pregnant and proud.
At 10 weeks I began to spot. I didn’t have any pains and I’d read it was fairly common during pregnancy so I wasn’t overly concerned. My doctor sent me for an earlier than planned scan. Taking with me my money for the scan pictures as I was certain everything would be fine, we arrived at the hospital. We waited on the pregnancy/maternity ward for our scan where lots of pregnant women waited to see their little bundles of joy.
The words I were about to hear would change me for the rest of my life.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t find a heartbeat. The foetus has stopped growing; it’s looking like a non viable pregnancy.” The words spun around my head but wouldn’t absorb the information I was being told. It couldn’t, otherwise that would make it true and I’d have to make decisions of moving forward. Without my baby. I couldn’t even begin to think how I would do that.
The most crushing times in my life has been deciding how I’d like to remove my babies (I refuse to call them foetuses). I opted for the D&C so that I didn’t have to see anything and prolong the pain. It’s a weird feeling going down to theatre to have something removed from inside you that you’ve grown so attached to and loved so much. As upset as I was, I also felt angry that someone was about to do that and I had no say in the matter. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to part ways.
The year that follows after losing your baby is very, very difficult. Every milestone, every scan date, your due date, seeing babies, seeing pregnant mothers, dreaming you’re still pregnant to wake up and remember that you’re not. Nothing prepares you for the moments you will break down. You may think you’re having a good day, until you see that advert on the telly about milk formula and sob uncontrollably into the night. Or, other people in your life announce their pregnancy and as much as you’re extremely happy for them, you feel as if your heart is going to tear through your chest because you want so badly to still be pregnant. I’ve had so many break downs, publicly too. I’ve had to get out of shops, queues, walk out of staff meetings, turn the car around on the way to gatherings, rush to the toilets at work because I’ve let myself stop for a moment and think. Think about how far gone I would be at that moment. Think about that awful moment when I was told the news. Think about how I won’t be buying a pram or a car seat or buying that cute outfit I’ve just seen in the shops. The list is endless.
Six years on, a big move to the land Down Under, meeting the love of my life and seven months of trying for a baby, we were desperate to see a positive test reading. It was our turn, we felt ready. We had everything in place to be a little family. We were so excited the night we found out I was pregnant. We told the first people an hour after we’d read the test- I’m so bad at keeping secrets.
This time around I mentally prepared myself for the worst. I wasn’t walking in blind like the first time. I fully understood the pain of a miscarriage, and of the statistics that 1 in 4 women lose their babies. My best friend had lost her first baby two years prior. We’d been open with each other, talked about the pain and the heartache. We hadn’t just pushed it to the back of our minds to never be spoken about again. I’d been open with my current partner too about my first pregnancy and as much as I’d like to say it helped him understand and prepare for the worst, I don’t think you can until you’ve experienced it.
Six weeks into my second pregnancy and I’d downloaded the app as I needed to know how I should’ve been feeling and what I should’ve been eating. This time around I was taking extreme measures to keep my baby safe. I wouldn’t have my hair dyed. I stopped exercising (I know you should continue throughout pregnancy but I was too scared to). I wouldn’t even lift a heavy bag. I was taking no risks. Again though, pregnant and proud we’d told a lot of people by six weeks. I wanted the world to know. (On a side note, I think it’s bullshit that you shouldn’t tell anyone until after 12 weeks because believe me, you need as much support as possible during the time of a miscarriage).
One morning I woke to a weird pain in my lower abdomen, it wasn’t a period-type pain. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was but I needed to check our baby was okay. So, off we went to the hospital. I was praying I was just being over-dramatic and hoping it was just trapped wind or something minor. After numerous scans I saw my baby on the screen. It was only tiny but I saw her (I was convinced this time it was a girl) but again we heard the words “we can’t find a heartbeat”. Another blow. This time, I was a bit early to hear a heartbeat with only being 6 weeks, so they reassured us everything was okay and booked us in for another scan 10 days later. The waiting. My God. Those felt like the longest 10 days of our lives. Again though, naively I assumed we would be okay.
The second scan we were told the same thing. “No heartbeat.” “Non viable pregnancy.” This time the words did hit me. They cut through my skin and I couldn’t control my emotions, I broke down. I shut down. How can this be happening again? Why is this happening again? What about my rainbow baby? What could possibly be the reason for this?
I am living in Australia now and have been for three years so I didn’t have the support network I had previously. My family and my best friends, the ones I can sob in front of weren’t here. I spoke to them every day on the phone but it’s just not the same. My partner was his usual amazing self but he was hurting too and I didn’t have the strength to support him. I felt like I’d let everyone down, I could no longer make my partner a father. My mum was no longer going to be a grandmother, I was no longer a mother-to-be. I hated life. I hated that one morning I was waking up holding my tummy, feeling like I was on top of the world, for 24 hours later to feel like someone had yet again ripped my heart into tiny shreds.
I went into denial. I refused to believe I’d miscarried again. Over the next week I researched misdiagnosed miscarriages. I may have had my dates wrong. My HCG levels were normal, what if it was still a viable pregnancy and I was about to have it removed? I had to be certain. After another week of numerous blood tests, scans, doctors appointments, it was confirmed at 8 weeks that I’d miscarried. I’d had three scans where the baby hadn’t grown, there was no heartbeat. Numbly, I agreed and I knew I had to make that heart wrenching decision again of how to move forward.
Time is the only thing that helps ease the pain (cliché, I know but it is) you don’t feel like it at the time but you start getting back into a routine and think ‘oh when did I start laughing again?’ ‘Should I be laughing? It’s a period of time when you NEED to talk about it. You need people to know that your babies did exist, If only for a short period of time.
People are amazing. And if it wasn’t for my amazing people, I probably wouldn’t have come through it all.
Miscarriage is an awful thing to experience. It happens to 1 in 4 women. If you know a woman going through this then reach out. There were people I hadn’t spoken to for years that sent Instagram messages of support or told me their stories and it helped. It makes you feel that you are not alone. It helps you realise that other people have been through this and gone on to have their rainbow babies. I’m still waiting for mine but I won’t give up hope that it will happen for us one day.
So, this was my story. Everyone’s experience is different but one thing is the same. A loss is a loss, and if you need to talk about it, you should. I have no idea why miscarriage is still a taboo topic but I’ll keep the memory of my babies alive by never pretending they didn’t exist.
To my amazing people…
I can’t put into words but my heart knows that I am forever indebted to you for seeing me through my darkest days.
To my babies…
An Angel in the book of life wrote down my babies birth, then whispered as she shut the book “too beautiful for earth”. ❤️
11th May 2013
26th January 2019