This week is miscarriage awareness week and I have decided to share my personal journey to motherhood in the hope that it may help someone else the way that reading other women’s experiences helped me when I lost my babies.
There are 2 different stages of my life so far; who I was before miscarriage and who I became after miscarriage. No event in my life has changed me as much as my first miscarriage did and I’ve never been the same since.
I was naive when I first got pregnant and excitedly told everyone our news and bought a couple of cute white baby grows. I was young but didn’t care because I already loved the life inside me and was old enough to deal with a little one.
I believed miscarriage to be uncommon and never thought that it would happen to me. I was young, fit and healthy so the baby must be too. A week before my first scan I had some light bleeding so the GP referred me for a scan at an early pregnancy unit. I will never forget the sonographer telling me that the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks. I didn’t understand what she meant, how could a baby stop growing unless it had died? I remember crying and apologising to her, I felt silly for crying over a baby I had never even known.
Phoning my husband to tell him was the worse phone call of my life. I didn’t want him to know. I hoped if I got home fast enough and hid any evidence of me being pregnant I could spare him the pain I was feeling. It’s funny how the mind works in extreme situations but I really thought I could brush it off and act brave so he wouldn’t feel sad too. This didn’t work and when he got home we cried together for the longest time; both lost with just a small leaflet from the hospital and no answers why.
Then not only did I fail to carry the baby, I also failed to miscarry the baby and so had surgery 2 weeks after the scan to remove everything. They call it evacuation of retained products of conception (ERPC). There was no talk of a baby when I was having my surgery check list or consent form done, just talk of products and leftovers. They could have been removing a cyst for how they spoke to me, not my child.
The physical pain was very unexpected as I was just sent home with instructions to take paracetamol; it wasn’t enough and I was crippled with pain for days.
What followed was months and months of grief that I never expected I would feel. I felt stupid for feeling so upset and I should just get over it. Then when I started to heal and enjoy life again I would feel terribly guilty because I shouldn’t be allowed to feel happy because my baby had died. These were horrible times for me and I was often terribly angry at myself thinking I must have done something wrong for the baby to have died.
People told me that I was young and could try again, things happen for a reason and the baby must have had something wrong with it. They were trying to be comforting but I felt like the grief for my baby wasn’t being acknowledged. Why should I just try again? That was my baby and I was already completely in love, I didn’t want to just replace them, I wanted my baby back.
We did try again but went on to suffer unexplained recurrent miscarriage and got no answers from the Doctors as to why it kept happening, despite them performing tests. We began to believe that we were just not meant for parenthood and I felt like I was not a proper woman.
Reaching pregnancy milestones was always challenging. The babies due dates would come and go and only I would remember. Not because other people didn’t care but because they had moved on with their own lives. I remember every one of my children’s expected birthdays and mark it by lighting a candle for them. It would have been my first babies 3rd birthday next month. This was a way for me to heal and grieve by acknowledging the loss.
Most of the time I felt pathetic for how I felt; longing for stretch marks, leaky boobs and swollen ankles. Every time I heard of someone giving birth or announcing their pregnancy I would feel a twinge of pain and I felt terrible. Why couldn’t I just snap out of it? I was so sure I was a horrible person because I couldn’t be 100% happy for anybody and I didn’t know why. I felt so bitter inside sometimes and I hated myself for feeling that way but I couldn’t stop myself. I decided that I wasn’t meant for motherhood because I had bad karma for being a horrible person and that was why I kept losing the babies.
It wasn’t until I looked up websites and groups for miscarriage awareness and support that I realised I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t horrible for being jealous and bitter, that these were normal feelings of grief and they wouldn’t last forever. Reading other peoples experiences made me feel less alone and less of a failure. I did not truly realise that 1 in 4 pregnancies ended in miscarriage and that what happened to us wasn’t my fault. These things happened for many reasons and most of the time couldn’t be explained.
It took 9 months of grieving and us getting on with our lives before we spoke of trying again. We were getting married and we both agreed to try again one last time but if I miscarried again we wouldn’t try anymore. We fell pregnant straight away, before I felt mentally ready and spent the entire pregnancy riddled with anxiety.
Miscarrying had robbed me from being able to enjoy my pregnancy and I was sure that I was pregnant by mistake and I would lose the baby any minute. At my worse my anxiety about the baby dying transferred onto my husband and I didn’t want him going out sometimes in case he died too. Looking back I should have requested counselling but I didn’t speak out about how I was feeling mentally so no one knew.
I treasured all pregnancy milestones: the morning sickness, heart burn, stretch marks, however difficult they were to endure because to me they were signs of pregnancy. I still adore my stretch marks today and I was so excited when I noticed my first one I made my husband take a photo of it for my baby book.
Being pregnant after miscarriage is very difficult to cope with and I felt my mental health struggle most days with the anxiety and guilt at losing the other babies. I don’t think leaving more time before we got pregnant would have even helped due to me still having these thoughts at times now.
Despite all this worry, our beautiful little girl was born healthy and alive. I thought the anxiety would go once she was here but it remains to this day. Some days I feel she is so precious and was gifted to me by mistake and she will be taken away any day. But that is just where losing babies has changed me forever and it is something that I may always feel.
I am 29 weeks pregnant now with a little boy and I was so shocked when I had my first scan and a baby was wiggling on the screen. I expected him to have died. When people ask me if I am excited to be having a baby I’m not sure what to answer. I am so excited and so in love with him but also a small part of me isn’t sure if he will be born or not. Making future plans I will think that he will be a certain age by then, if he is alive of course. I still sometimes think that I am pregnant by mistake and I could lose him any day. Luckily I don’t feel like this every day, these are just intrusive thoughts that crop up sometimes due to the trauma of when I miscarried. Losing babies has changed me forever and I know I will always worry about my children in a different way than if I never had miscarried.
Talking to other women I know that I am not alone in my thoughts which is why I have decided to be open about my miscarriages and subsequent mental health. Losing babies really hurts and if we all speak up and share our experiences it could help another person through their journey to motherhood.
If you are reading this and have suffered a miscarriage do not give up. You need time to heal but then keep fighting for motherhood. I am so glad I kept fighting and tried again as my little girl is my world. There is plenty of support available and you are definitely not alone.
www.sayinggoodbye.org– which is also a great Facebook support group which I am part of.
Thank you for reading my story, please feel free to share your story with me – I’d love to hear from you.