There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
In the beginning I wasn’t going to write this story. Then I began to write it but stopped and started to move on. But I want to write it because I’m really starting to see and feel the benefit of sharing stories.
Sharing a story is firstly very therapeutic for me. Somehow releasing it into the world lightens the load and gives me perspective. Secondly I feel that sharing your story can be so beneficial to others. I’m writing this one because somewhere out there in the world there is a woman who has had a similar experience to me and who is feeling lost, alone or unheard. We can take such comfort from knowing we are not alone, that other women have travelled our path and survived.
On the 12th March this year I sat with my husband in a waiting room feeling a little excited and a little anxious. I was 12 weeks pregnant and waiting to be called in for my scan. This was my fourth pregnancy since my daughter was born almost 3 years ago. Finally we are called in, I get up on the table, the Dr gets ready and I stare at the roof. I’m too nervous to stare at the giant screen on my right. A matter of seconds after the Dr starts his examination he says “I have to let you know that things aren’t going as they should be“. I shift my gaze to look at him. “I’m sorry, but I think it’s best just to tell you straight away‘.
It takes a moment to click into my head that the baby has died. I finally look aver at the screen and see the perfect silhouette of a baby at 8 weeks gestation. A perfect round head, a perfect arm, a little round belly, a little leg and then that pointy little bottom.
The Doctor is empathetic, quickly takes some measurements and makes arrangements for me to see my GP immediately. My husband and I are taken into a private room while we wait. I am in shock, I really thought this time might be different. I threw up just two hours ago for goodness sake! I have been sick and tired for weeks on end, day and night. There is an awkward moment in reception while we pay for the appointment and I’m standing next to a heavily pregnant woman and I have to force myself to look away.
We go to the GP and discuss options for the future. Previously I’ve miscarried at home but I opt for a D&C this time. The baby has been dead for about 4 weeks and I’m showing no signs at all of miscarrying naturally. Added to this is that in four days we are heading off on a family holiday that has been planned for months. It will also be the first holiday we’ve had in two years.
Two days later at 8am I arrive at the local hospital. The plan is to be admitted and take some medication at around 9.30am that will basically help to get the process starting. It initiates uterine contractions and bleeding. It takes two hours to work, so the procedure is planned for midday. The day turns out to be a series of delays and I don’t get into theatre until 4pm. It’s an emotional day but thankfully there is a woman in the bed beside me waiting for a D&C as well. We strike up a conversation and pass the time telling stories about our children and grieving our lost babies.
At 4.30pm I wake from the deepest and most relaxed slumber I can ever remember. Amongst the sadness I feel some relief that it’s all over with. It has felt strange and disturbing walking around for two days knowing I’m carrying a baby inside me that is no longer alive.
Having had previous miscarriages I’ve gotten to know my emotional ‘timetable’. I know that the first day I’ll be in shock. The following 3-4 days I’ll feeling surprisingly at peace and accepting of the situation. The hard part comes later. I’ll get to the depression and the anger. I swing wildly between them. It’s hard not to compare yourself with other women and families. Hearing pregnancy and birth announcements are particularly difficult. Seeing a mother and her children at the park and imagining how old your babies would be now. And I get angry, so angry. And I don’t know what to do with that. The ‘good girl’ is so heavily ingrained in me that even admitting to myself that I’m angry and jealous is hard work, let alone admitting it to anyone else. It just feels so UNFAIR! But sometimes we travel down a path in life that we didn’t think we would. Sometimes we don’t find the man of our dreams, sometimes having children isn’t as easy as we thought it would be and sometimes relationships fail when we thought they’d last forever.
Those have been my biggest lessons. Learning first of all to acknowledge my thoughts and emotions and secondly to accept them without judgment. This is how it is and this is how I feel and that’s ok. My instincts have been to either avoid and ignore those feelings or to grip them tightly and hold them so close that I feel like I’m drowning. That I just want to curl up into a big deep dark hole and never see the outside world.
If this is you, just know that it’s ok. The best thing a friend ever said to me was “Go gently and with love“. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time and space and do whatever you need to do to make this time easier. I found I needed to back away from some lovely friends who are pregnant because it was so hard for me to see them. I wrote to them and explained why and they’ve been very understanding. It’s not forever, but for now it helps me get through the tough bit. You may have a few days where you start to feel like your old self and then the depression comes down again. It’s just a rollercoaster of a ride.
I highly recommend reading this post about infertility. And also this one about losing a child. They helped me to feel that what I’m feeling is ok, that I’m not the only one.
Go gently and with love…