Life is funny sometimes – like when you learn a new word and then for weeks after you read and hear it everywhere and are sure it wasn’t so ubiquitous before – after all, you would have known what it meant already, wouldn’t you? Or like the first time I miscarried – I watched Downton Abbey while I was at home recuperating and there was a miscarriage scene, then the book I was reading at the time had a very graphic description of miscarriage, it was like I couldn’t escape it.
This time my miscarriage coincided with the launch of Mumsnet’s miscarriage care campaign (you can read more about that here) and the day I miscarried I came home to a book which had been posted to me courtesy of BritMums book club and whose write up describes how one of the leading characters is struggling to deal with the aftermath of a miscarriage.
So yes, life is funny. Miscarriage is not, of course and now, two of my three pregnancies have ended that way. Thankfully the miscarriages sandwiched a healthy pregnancy, which saw Tibbons come into our life and it is hard to stay down when you have a cheeky, engaging and funny 19 month old to run around with, but it is hard to find space to grieve too.
The main thing that has struck me so far in this process is how different our two experiences of miscarriage have been. The first time we didn’t have any children; there was no bleeding, no sign of anything amiss. We only found out that our baby had died at the 12 week scan. And then I waited, for a miscarriage that never happened, and had to go into hospital for an operation to remove our baby. For 8 long weeks we had shared our hopes and dreams about that baby, pondered names, guessed the gender, started to plan. All that was made a mockery of when we were told there was no heartbeat and the baby was measuring 9 weeks. We were distraught, and I found it very hard to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t able to miscarry naturally. I had wanted my body to do what it needed to, but it didn’t and so, about four weeks after our baby died, the surgeon did it for me.
This time was very different – as I mentioned, we are parents now, that is a big difference. And this time there was blood – the first sign that we might need to worry. And so, where before we had 8 weeks to get excited, this time around we had about 3 days where all seemed fine and then five where they got progressively more worrying, until I knew that my baby was no longer on the inside. A scan where nothing could be found and the endometrial lining of my womb was classified as “thin” confirmed the experience. I don’t have the same worries this time about whether I can have a healthy pregnancy. I don’t fear never having child. I didn’t have this baby with me for as long as the first, but I still mourn and grieve. I don’t feel broken like I did before but I do feel a bit hopeless. Above all I feel tired, physically and emotionally and I feel flat.
It is strange to me, that the loss of a baby before you have known it should be so different each time. Around the edges there is a tinge of guilt that I am not as cut up this time. I am still profoundly sad but the upset does not feel of the same magnitude, though the more I write, the closer the tears get to the surface. That was my third baby and another one I have had to say goodbye to. I hope I don’t have to say goodbye to any more. I also hope that Mumsnet’s campaign is successful.
In my first miscarriage I had to stand in tears as they waited to find a room where we could sit and speak to a doctor, all around me were women with healthy pregnancies – it felt humiliating. This time too, there was an insensitive woman who spoke loudly and repeatedly about her “fat” baby that kept getting bigger every time – this just after I had been told that my baby was gone. When we had a healthy pregnancy confirmed at 6 weeks with Tibbons in the early pregnant unit after some spotting, we were given a picture but told not to look at it in the waiting room as not everyone there was receiving good news, and we were only too aware of that – we didn’t come out grinning like fools, even though we were giddy with relief. We knew how it felt to receive bad news too.
Some things need to change. Some things are done very well and of course the best care in the world won’t change the grief of finding out that all your dreams for your little one have been snuffed out, but you are so vulnerable at that point and what you don’t need is another hurdle or anything to add to your upset and heartbreak. So please, take a look at the campaign and, if you agree with its aims, please get behind it.