We were over the moon to find out that we were expecting our first child. As soon as that home test had proved positive I was swapping my vino for fruit juice, chips for carrot sticks and late nights on the tiles for cosy curl ups on the sofa, all paving the way for a smooth and healthy pregnancy for me and baby.
Myself and partner Tristan followed the usual advice and restrained from telling everybody our news, besides a few close friends, and spent the next few weeks building up the excitement amongst ourselves, yet dying to tell the whole world. Our first twenty week scan was due a week before my Dad’s birthday and I couldn’t wait to pop a baby scan pic in his card and see the look on his and Mum’s faces when they found out the news. I’m the only one of my siblings sans child so the baby hints are always being fired my way.
At eighteen weeks I encountered some light spotting. Of course I was worried so contacted the midwife who reassured me that it could be nothing but to keep an eye on it. The bleeding resided along with my worries but unfortunately returned a week later.
The following morning I headed straight to the hospital maternity clinic alone, telling Tris to go to work and that everything would be fine. I was wrong. After the longest wait I was called in, internally examined by the doctor and told the worst that my baby’s heart wasn’t beating, and according to the scan size had probably stopped at around seventeen weeks. I was heartbroken and suddenly felt so alone. With my legs still up in stirrups, eyes flooded with tears all I could think to do was make small talk with the trainee doctor in the room, I don’t know who felt the most uncomfortable. I was told to go home and rest and let nature take its course, and sure enough I miscarried that afternoon. It was an unpleasant experience but Tris came home and remained calm and supportive for me, at my side to hold my hand the whole way. At the time and over the next few days I was so annoyed at his seeming lack of emotion; this was ‘our’ loss, where were his tears. He was of course just keeping strong for my benefit, my well needed rock.
The funny thing about sitting in that hospital waiting room, I was reading the Metro newspaper and came across an article on miscarriages, stating that most women will encounter one whether they realise it or not, and that one in four pregnancies end in one. Not the news that I particularly wanted to hear, but also data that I had never known of before, why is something so common kept so quiet. I also called my manager on leaving the hospital and explained in tears why I wouldn’t be in work over the next few days. She was so supportive and understanding and told me that she had experienced the same thing years ago herself.
The next few days were full of mixed emotions for me; so upset for our loss yet strangely logical about the whole issue, keeping calm and just accepting that ‘it wasn’t meant to be’. This feeling however was shot down occasionally with personal rants of ‘what’s wrong with me’, ‘why’s this happened’, ‘I’m a terrible mum’, ‘will this happen every time’, etc, etc, etc, a feeling of self-loathing and an incapability to become a mother. The other thing on my mind was that Dad wouldn’t get his special birthday present as planned; this bought me to tears every time. My immediate thought was to call my parents and tell them exactly what had happened yet at the same time why worry them with bad news having never heard the initial good news.
We eventually told our families of our loss and I’ve since continued to make other friends aware of what happened. The more I talk the more I hear of another friend, or friend of friend who has been through the same experience, hence why I feel the need to open up even more so about it now, to tell my story and let other couples know that they are not alone. There is a stigma attached to miscarriages whereby parents are reluctant to talk about them, address them, keeping that baby a secret for the first few months in case one occurs. To me I’ve realised that having that support net of family and friends around you if one does occur is far more important and less likely to feel like a shameful secret or a burden even.
Nearly one year on and I’m happy to say that I am eight months pregnant, expecting our little boy in October. Even more exciting is that he may arrive on my Dad’s 70th birthday!
This time round we told our family immediately, and friends as and when we saw them, no secrets, no awkward excuses as to why I’m not on the vino at yet another birthday party. That news of a new creation is so happy and special that it should be shared, and then if problems do occur along the way there is a bigger support network in place, more close friends and family to confide in and to give you a cuddle in your time of grief. A sufferer of a miscarriage should never have to feel alone, embarrassed, or that they have failed.
Second time round and my pregnancy has been a breeze. Initially I was anxious and half expecting a repeat of before, but with only a few weeks remaining now until due date we’re feeling positive and ready to face parenthood.