A word that is so hard to say.
‘I’ve had a miscarriage’ – it never comes out easily. Even though I’m not new at this game.
This was my third miscarriage, but my first since having Eve. I know I’m very lucky to have had a successful pregnancy that produced my darling rainbow girl. But once you’ve had that child, you kind of expect it to just happen again. Without the struggle. Without the loss. Without the feelings of inadequacy, again.
It only took me 4 years of convincing and cajoling to get my husband on board with having anohter child. Which was not suprising given all the anxiety that can bubble up when your wife has already suffered PND. However, I felt like we were going to be better prepared for everything a baby brings this time.
“We have more friends with kids around us. We know how to look after a child. We know what to expect.” was my argument.
At the time I had also gone back to part-time paid employment to build our financial reserves. This helped him realise how serious I was. I was already laying down the plan. This time I was going to be ready for the worst, hoping for the best. I just didn’t think the worst would happen straight away, again.
He finally opened up to the idea of becoming a family of four.
By now I knew all the tricks to get pregnant. When the best time to have sex was in my cycle, what to eat, what he needed to eat. Having been through miscarriages before and fertility help with Traditional Chinese Medicine I had already known my cycle was pretty regular, and had the food tips at my disposal. And certainly since Eve, everything seemed fine.
I felt like it would happen.
And it did. First time, for once. I was so happy.
It felt easy this time
I was a full week late before I confirmed it just in case I jinxed it. We had just come back from holiday and I was so thrilled to have a little tropical bub in there. It was just like a movie.
I had the full plethora of pregnancy symptoms. My nipples were tingly, I was physically sensitive all over – which made sex so much more fun. Though I was also bloated and nauseous – which wasn’t so fun. As the weeks went on I started feeling more hungry, thirsty and tired. All of these were amazing signs and symptoms. I felt like it was so right. For once it was going to work out, this was it!
Then the doubts set in.
My anxiety started to get the better of me
I began to get anxious about the birth. I worried about going through the public system. I felt guilty for the financial burden we would have to carry if I went private again. I stressed that I would fall apart and get sick after having the baby. I started to re-live everything that was wrong with Eve’s birth. I started to fear that I would miscarry and in the same breath I’d panic that we weren’t making preparations.
One day I woke up with dread. Something told me I was going to miscarry.
I needed reassurance everything was alright
I had to know everything was ok with the pregnancy. I went to see my GP to explain how worried I was. I was referred for an early scan, but it was too early to see anything that could tell me either way. I was only 5 weeks so I had to come back in a few weeks.
I didn’t want to come back.
I convinced myself everything was fine. And to be honest, I felt fine, as one can when pregnant. It was my husband who urged me to go back for another scan.
This time I was 7 weeks and there should have been a heartbeat. There wasn’t. I couldn’t accept it. I refused to accept it.
I asked my GP to take bloods over a few days to check my HCG levels. It didn’t go up, but it also didn’t go down. I was referred to the big public hospital early pregnancy unit. They said it wasn’t progressing. I had a ‘Missed Miscarriage’.
What was a ‘missed miscarriage’?
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t understand how it could be happening again. I shrunk into myself.
My first pregnancy came with blood at 5 weeks, and again my second at 7 weeks. This time my body fooled me. I still felt pregnant, there were no other symptoms, no cramping, no pain. This was a ‘missed miscarriage’, which is where your body still thinks it’s pregnant but the baby is no longer growing. I spent hours researching delayed development of fetuses, hoping that my baby would ‘catch up’, or suddenly develop that all important heart-beat. It didn’t.
I was given the option of a chemical abortion, D&C or to let it pass naturally, which could take weeks. I chose to have a D&C, I couldn’t bear feeling pregnant and having all the symptoms yet knowing it was all a lie. My baby never grew, I was no longer pregnant. I wanted it to be over as quickly as possible so I could continue pretending nothing was wrong to the world. Yet a D&C is no little thing they make out. You are in and out in a day but it’s not like popping in to get some stitches removed.
You are sore, you are disoriented and you have just lost your baby. I woke up from the anaesthetic sobbing. I cried for my husband, for someone to hold my hand. The nurse in the recovery room kept apologising, saying no one was allowed back there while I was under observation. They then moved me to the general recovery area, where I continued to cry for another 40 minutes before one nurse took notice of my request and brought my husband to me from the waiting room. I felt so lost, I just needed him with me, to hold my hand, to cuddle me. He helped me get dressed and ready to leave. I was bereft.
While technically you can’t call them babies at that gestation – to me it was a whole new world opening up. An expansion of our family that I had never imagined would happen. And now it wasn’t happening.
With that lost baby I felt the loss of another love, the loss of plans, hopes and dreams. It was so unfair.
My lifestyle was the best it had ever been. Why did the right choices not even help? I practice yoga regularly, I have a strong connection with my body. I knew I was pregnant before any test could tell me, yet I felt like my body lied to me. It let me down. It couldn’t keep that little love alive.
My strongest emotions were humiliation and inadequacy
Some of the strongest emotions I experienced with my miscarriage were humiliation and inadequacy.
I felt humiliated I couldn’t keep my baby alive.
I felt inadequate as a woman.
I felt I had been deemed insufficient to be able to carry my baby.
I had only told a few people about the pregnancy and the shame I felt having to tell every one of them was unbearable. I made my husband tell my dad, I couldn’t bear the disappointment. I knew he wouldn’t be disappointed in me, but I was. I was a disappointment as a woman.
There are so many strong emotions associated with miscarriage and similar stories to tell, yet we hardly ever share them.
These are stories we don’t share
I personally know of only two friends who have miscarried and that’s because they are my best friends. We keep this grief private, we bear this loss with shame and in hiding it we let that shame breed. We drop off the radar for a few weeks to suffer in silence.
It takes time to recover. To face the hurt. To process what has happened. It can be challenging to think of just getting back on the horse and trying again. Could I cope with losing another baby?
I needed to take some time to acknowledge my loss. To own my experience and say I had a miscarriage to all my friends. To share what we have been through. I wanted to share my sad story because I didn’t want to feel alone and inadequate and I don’t want other women to feel alone and isolated in their sad stories.
I want to start a movement where we share our wounds, we carry our scars on the outside. A movement where we are #honestaboutmiscarriage
If you have miscarried, or lost a baby, you are not alone. Together we can help each other feel better through connection. I acknowledge your pain and your loss. Day by day we will get through it.
All throughout my period of loss, and even now as I recover, I use essential oils to help me carry on. To help soften the blow.
I made a blend that helped me to recover physically, emotionally and mentally. It didn’t take the pain away (nothing can) but it makes me feel like someone’s supporting me. That I’m getting a hug to the soul. I wish I had it when I went into the operating theatre, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone when I woke up. Maybe it will help you, or help a friend going through a similar loss.
The ‘Hug in a Bottle’ blend is a limited edition essential oil blend that can be used by women who need some extra support during the grieving process. The blend I created uses essential oils to give a fragrance that envelopes the mind, body and soul. Hug in a Bottle holds your hand at the worst possible time.
Stumbling through my grief I came across The Pink Elephant Support Network, an Australian charity that offer support packs and peer-to-peer support for women during miscarriage and pregnancy loss. They are one of the few charities doing something practical to help women walk through their grief.
I became a member of their Facebook groups and wanted to actively support what they are doing, as I know how it feels to walk alone down this path.
In partnership with The Pink Elephant Support Network I have developed a special gift pack that combines Hug in a Bottle with Healing Bath Salts to soothe and nurture your body. The Healing Hug Pack will be available only via The Pink Elephant Support Network, and Honestly Store directly, with 25% of proceeds going directly to The Pink Elephant Support Network.
If you need some extra support during the bad times, the dark nights, or know someone who does, I hope that Hug in a Bottle or the Healing Hug Gift Pack can be the best friend to help them through it. #miscarriagematters #theymattertoo #honestaboutmiscarriage
Honestly. good. clean. fun