I knew what I was looking for; a tiny human shaped being, maybe rolling around or blowing bubbles or maybe just having a sleep. But instead there was nothing. Nothing but a small black space staring back at me from the monitor opposite. I’d had a missed miscarriage. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
My baby had stopped developing at around 6 weeks but I hadn’t visibly miscarried. My body had absorbed most of the pregnancy tissue but there was still some remaining and therefore my body still thought it was pregnant. My bump was still growing, my boobs were still sore. My baby was now just ‘pregnancy tissue’. The words reverberated around my head.
My initial thoughts? How could I still be pregnant but there be no baby? How did I have a small bump but there was no baby? What a stupid body I had to think there was a baby when there was no baby. How on earth do I explain that to the few people who knew I was pregnant, least of all my Mother in Law who was at my house waiting for us to come bounding through the door with photos of our second child? And then there was my own Mom. Words seemed to fail me.
It’s a hard time. A hard time for you and a hard time for the people around you. I never realised what an outward impact something like this has on your family as a whole.
I deal with things quite internally. I don’t often share my worries, or I certainly don’t share them easily if I do. I went through all the logical steps in my brain; there must have been something wrong with the baby for it to stop growing etc. I’d later learn that this is no time for logic. I think it was more shock really. I didn’t cry for quite some time.
I told the few people who knew about my pregnancy. People are lovely and they want to reassure you and they want to support you, try to make you feel better and so they mainly tell you that ‘it’s ok because you’ve got Leo and you know you can carry a baby’, or ‘It’s ok because you’re young and there’s loads of time for you to try again for another one’. And yes, whilst those things are true, and I sincerely appreciated the support, in that moment those things don’t actually matter. The miscarriage wasn’t about what I already had or what I might have again in the future, it was about the baby I’d just lost. The baby I loved from the second I knew it was in my tummy. The baby that I’d pondered about for 9 weeks so excited to see it for the first time, thinking about the times we’d share together, about how he or she would fit into our family, the baby that had left my heart in a thousand pieces.
I had to wait two weeks to see if my body would miscarry the remaining pregnancy tissue. It didn’t. This was a really low time for me. I mean, what a crap body I had. So crap in fact that not only could it not hold on to my baby but it couldn’t even miscarry it properly. What a failure.
I will NEVER be that awful to myself ever again.
Two weeks passed and I went for an ultrasound. The remaining tissue had decreased in size but it was still there. That left me with two options; medical management or a minor operation. I couldn’t grieve. As far as I was concerned my baby was still with me. I hadn’t lost it yet. I hoped a million times that they were wrong and that suddenly it would appear to them on the scan.
Long story short, I opted to stay in hospital and take the medical management route, I thought it might help to start grieving if there was some physical sense of loss too. Two failed attempts later I ended up having to have the minor surgery anyway. So four days after I was admitted, I was sent home. I feel I need to state at this point that the care I received from our wonderful NHS Nurses and Doctors was very good. I was so very well looked after, but not only that, I was understood. They understood what was happening, they were patient and they were more supportive than I could ever imagine them to be.
It was a frustrating ‘process’. Weeks after my operation I was still receiving positive pregnancy tests because my hormones still hadn’t returned to normal so I was back in for a further scan to make sure everything was clear. My hormones eventually went back to normal and it was at that point that it really sunk in. I pulled on my work to keep me busy and occupied, only taking one day off during the whole ordeal, even working whilst in hospital. It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling upset, distraught, completely numb, but I sort of felt a bit in limbo. It was almost like until I got that negative pregnancy test I was still holding onto something and then the moment I saw that test was negative, I let go. And I cried. A lot. I finally let myself grieve for what I’d lost, for all the hope I’d had, for all the beautiful moments that were to come but I knew now I’d never see.
When these things are sent to test us, it is very easy to internalise everything (something I’m guilty of), very easy to feel sorry for ourselves but we must make sure we don’t lose sight of those around us as well. In these situations, there is mainly another half to the story. A husband, a partner… Someone. Someone else who has also lost a baby. Someone who is walking on eggshells around you because they are petrified of making you cry, someone who knows that they can’t possibly imagine what you are going through. If you are one of those people I feel for you. It’s an impossible time for you too. But let me tell you this. Don’t be afraid to ask if she is ok. Don’t be afraid that by asking how she’s feeling you will remind her of what’s happened and cause her pain. I can guarantee that she thinks about her baby at least every minute of the day and so your questioning won’t be a reminder of what’s happened, but a reminder that you care. It will be a reminder that you’re concerned for her. That you feel pain too. She doesn’t want to deal with this alone. She wants you to be there and she needs to know you care. Her heart is breaking for you too even if she forgets to tell you.
It has now been a year, almost to the date that I found out I was pregnant. I miss my baby with everything I have. I love it as much now as I did on the day I found out I was pregnant. It is still always on my mind.
It has taken a long time for my body to feel ‘normal’ again and it’s only this month that things seem back on track. I’m positive about the future and I hope one day we are lucky enough to have another baby. But I will never forget this little one. It will forever hold a place in my heart and I will love it for all of my life.
One thing I have taken from the whole experience is that I need to open up more. I need to talk more, I need to share more. We all do. It can be hard, and hard to find a place to talk about this sort of thing. It’s hard for friends to understand and it can be a lonely time but your friend hasn’t asked how you are for a couple of days because she’s scared of hurting you, it’s not because she doesn’t care.
The only way we can make sure that we aren’t alone is by sharing. It’s by talking to our loved ones or medical professionals and trying to make them understand how you feel. It’s up to us to be open and honest and to help each other. I couldn’t believe once I started sharing how many other women had experienced a miscarriage in one form or another and that’s women I knew but I’d seemed to miss this part of their lives. Miscarriage is often very overlooked because outwardly, there are no signs and very few people probably know about the pregnancy to start with. We must start opening up and making it something that is ok to talk about.
If you want to share your story, maybe you never have before, please do so in the comments box below. And thank you for reading mine. It has been truly cathartic writing it down like this.