I’m sitting here in my undies, a dull period-y type pain aching in my belly and eating chocolate. This is not the post I was meant to be writing. 2 pages before in my note book I have listed all the reasons I knew I was pregnant. They are funny and were supposed to make you laugh. Instead I’m writing this.
Miscarriage affects 1 in 4 women. I never thought I’d be that 1, it never really occurred to me. Even though women close to me have experienced it. I bought into the lie that is if you have really bad morning sickness the baby is well and truly stuck in there.
What I’ve come to realise is that every woman’s miscarriage story is different. I guess birth is like that too. We all have different feelings about it, different approaches and different reactions.
Now I have a story to add. I wish I didn’t, but I do. And I’m not telling it for attention or sympathy, I’m telling it so that maybe someone else has to go through this and wants to read another’s story. I’m telling it so that I can maybe release some of the grief, process it just that little bit more.
It was on our holiday at Coolangatta in December 2018 that we realised. We had been ‘trying’ for almost 2 years. 9 months of ‘just seeing what happened’, a few months of taking temperatures and timing everything, then heading off to the doctor to see if there were any issues. Turned out I had an underactive thyroid and I was put on medication.
After I was put on the medication in October 2018 we decided to wait until January to start properly trying and probably see a fertility specialist. So we just had fun for a bit. Stopped thinking about it.
I was in the pool at the hotel in December when I realised the water was making me feel yuck. My tummy felt weird. I knew my period was late but that didn’t really concern me because I have a long-ish cycle and it is often ‘late’ (which has lead to many false ‘thinking I’m pregnant’ thoughts). Then later I snapped at my husband and he said ‘Are you premenstrual?’ and I said ‘hmmmm’ and he said ‘um…are you pregnant?’. We were 90% sure that I was, especially as I started to feel a little nauseous and hungry all the time.
We came home and I did a test. Positive. I was happy but shit-scared. This is the time I lost my marbles last pregnancy. The realisation that this was actually happening and that I would have to be pregnant for 9 months and then give birth. I don’t like change, I don’t like a lack of control and I had also taken a redundancy package from my job literally a week before. I had a couple of panicky mornings but I breathed through them. I told myself it was just a feeling and it would pass. And you know what? It did.
Then…..the dreaded morning sickness hit properly. It had just been teasing me for a few days. ‘Hey Belinda, maybe I won’t be as bad this pregnancy? Maybe you’ll just feel sick in the mornings, but eat something and you’ll be fine. Maybe I’ll just hang around for an hour and then go visit some other poor schmuck………BANG. NOPE. Here I am again!’ I don’t even have it as bad as some women. But it’s so debilitating carrying around little biscuits everywhere you go, thinking something works then it doesn’t, going over speed bumps in the car and wanting to hurl……constant nausea. It’s every couple of minutes saying to yourself ‘this too shall pass’. I felt like I couldn’t give my 4 year old daughter what she needed and she spent a lot of time looking at screens. So also, cue #mumguilt. Yay. Christmas Day was especially bad for some reason.
We decided to tell Miss 4 the news and she reacted with a long drawn out ‘rrreaaallllyyyy?’ and then proceeded to break our hearts with cute little pictures of all of us holding the new baby, and naming it names that she had chosen (we didn’t like them, but hey, we had a few months to change her mind). Her and I lay in bed one night and talked about how we could be a family of ladybugs so we nicknamed the baby ‘ladybug’. She repeated quite a lot over the few days ‘are you REALLY having a baby mummy?’
New Year’s Day. Nothing exciting. We all went to bed at 8:30pm on New Years Eve so no late night. The sickness was especially bad that night, and I do remember saying to my husband that I ‘felt weird’. There was a tiny bit of blood – like a tiny tiny spot – before I went to bed, but I knew it was normal to spot lightly. I’d googled that.
11:30pm – I woke up and went to the toilet. Blood. Woke up my husband. I was upset. Put on a pad. Didn’t want to go back to bed in the big bed with him – felt like I needed space, just wanted to be alone, went to Miss 4’s room. Maybe it would go away. Fell asleep.
2am – Woke up. Went to the toilet, turned on the light but the lightbulb died, so turned on a light in another room so could just see a tiny bit in the toilet. Blood everywhere. Pad soaked through. Sat down and felt something ‘fall out’. Changed pad, went back to bed crying. Sat up feeling so hot, dripping with sweat. Couldn’t breathe, almost falling over raced into the main room and hit my husband and said ‘call an ambulance’. After telling me to lie down and breathe and me saying again ‘call an ambulance’, he did. I have never felt like this. Apparently it was my blood pressure dropping, I hope I never experience it again.
The ambulance officers took one look at me and asked me a few questions, at which point I said ‘I’m sorry for wasting your time’. The male officer laughed nicely and said ‘Sweetie, this isn’t a waste of time, we’re taking you straight into the Mater Mother’s now. You should see what else we’ve seen tonight – then you’d know what a waste of time is’.
The ambulance ride was weird – apparently because my blood pressure was dropping over and over on the ride. I burst into tears as they removed me from the ambulance because I saw all the Mater Mother’s signs…..I’d seen these signs the day I gave birth to my daughter. I thought I’d see these signs again coming in for midwife appointments and ultimately the birth of this child……but not now. Not this way. The female ambulance officer went running off and returned with a wad of tissues.
Everything the hospital did was calm and they treated me with dignity and respect. I can’t fault them. But when this is happening the last thing you actually want is people poking and prodding down there. Which is exactly what they had to do, to determine what was happening. After a lovely young doctor performed a pap smear type examination complete with some scraping actions and very long tweezers, she sat down next to me and said ‘From what I can see, you are having a miscarriage. Your cervix is open’. She was very gentle and spoke quietly. She kept getting phone calls from other nurses in delivery rooms right at that time, asking her questions about women giving birth. I found it ironic that she was picking pieces out of me at the end of my pregnancy and then she would go out the door and deliver a baby in a few minutes.
I slept in a little room for a bit, and at 6am they told me they would really like to do scans while I was there, and that I could just stay in and get them done that day. I agreed, I might as well do it while I was there – get it all over and done with. What I forgot was that I had been there overnight – complete with no bra, tiny pyjama shorts, unshaven legs. My husband had been thoughtful enough to pack a large jumper with me in the ambulance because ‘hospitals are always cold’. But the ladies arriving at 8am were coming in for appointments – they had time to shower, put make up on – hell, they even got to put on deodorant! I was a stinking, teary mess. It was like a bad dream, the one where you go to school naked. This one was the adult version though – you’re in a birthing hospital surrounded by pregnant women and you just lost yours. And to boot, you look and smell disgusting.
There was no point in my husband coming in with Miss 4 I decided, I didn’t want the added stress of having to entertain and worry about her too. Plus I didn’t want to explain to her what had happened yet. I was still processing it. After an internal scan another lovely doctor took me into a room and explained that there was no signs of a baby and I had indeed suffered a miscarriage. As I cried, she teared up. She gave me the nice little booklets about ‘early pregnancy loss’, as she is required to do. But her empathy for me was the thing that made the difference. She understood, she felt my pain. Maybe she had been through it too.
As I slipped out of the hospital to wait for my husband, I watched a few families come out with their newborns. A couple exited with a newborn and a little girl. That’s when the anger hit me. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to walk out of there with my daughter and her new sibling. That’s what I wanted to give her – a sibling. Why had I had to struggle through almost 2 years of not falling pregnant, a few weeks of disgusting nausea and controlling my mental health and…for what? Nothing. What was the point to all this. I had imagined a future. A future where I gave birth and then could fully connect to the new baby because I wouldn’t feel nauseous anymore. I had imagined my daughter meeting her sibling, I’d even thought of who I’d ask to look after our dog when I went into labour, I’d thought about how snuggly and nice it would be to have a winter baby. I’d thought how nice it will be to send Miss 4 off to Prep, knowing that this wasn’t the end, I had another one coming who would need me just as much as she had needed me.
I still don’t know what the point of it was. It’s been 4 days. I’m still bleeding. I get angry. My husband lies down and rubs my back and says he doesn’t have any answers. After we left the hospital he asked me where I wanted to go. I hadn’t eaten properly for a couple of weeks, and what I wanted was food. He drove to the felafal kebab place we love, went in and got some takeaway ones and we went down to the river. I was still in my stinky clothes. But I ate that food and it felt good. Then I felt bad – how could I be enjoying the fact that I didn’t feel nauseous anymore? Because if I still felt nauseous I would still have been pregnant. Cue guilt. It keeps coming – did I do something? I know everyone and everything will say I didn’t…..but secretly, did I?
I feel like I can’t do any of this again. My husband says don’t make any decisions now – I don’t have to do that. Right now I just have to ‘be’. But I’m 35 this year. I have to make decisions. I don’t have the time not to. I can’t go through month after month again seeing my period. I don’t want to go through weeks of nausea again. I don’t want to stress everytime I go to the toilet that I’m going to see blood. And I don’t want the guilt of the days when the nausea is so bad and I inwardly cry out ‘please just make this go away!’. See? More guilt. I did that. I’d told myself ‘you will NEVER have to do this again – every day is one less day you ever have to be pregnant again – just get through each day one by one. Then you will have everything you want at the end’.
You come home from the hospital and there’s a bag of biscuits in every corner. Folate on the bench. You realise that literally nothing has changed, except the future. What was a dream – it will not happen in August now. You have to ask your husband to go to August in the diary and scribble out a little love heart you’d put on one of the dates. Bills still have to be paid, floors still need to be mopped. You have to tell the love of both of your lives that there will be no brother or sister this time – it’s not in mummy’s tummy anymore.
If there is one positive, I suppose I would say it has made my marriage stronger. My husband said that to me the other day and I admit he is right. I think I should try and focus on things like that. But I can’t see any other positives right now.
Maybe one day in hindsight I will be able to see the point. That was my experience of miscarriage – I am sure that many, many women have got a different story to tell. Some will have ‘sadder’ stories – maybe a pregnancy further along. I was just under 9 weeks. I feel silly sometimes grieving because it was early. Sometimes I don’t think it’s the actual baby I am grieving for – it’s the future that will now no longer happen. I didn’t know the baby….but my mind had created a whole life for us including this new member of the family that we all loved. It’s the fact that I thought I had achieved the pregnancy – finally, it had happened and I didn’t have to worry about not being able to fall pregnant again. It’s getting through a few weeks of feeling shit….telling yourself you never have to do them again. You’re a few weeks closer to the end. I don’t enjoy pregnancy. But I adore the end result that you get handed. Maybe there will be another go, maybe there won’t. Right now I don’t think so. But maybe it will change.