Seven years ago, I was supposed to have my very first baby. The due date was 11 February 2012. But it never happened. I lost my baby to a missed miscarriage in July 2011 and nothing has been the same ever since. Today, I can’t help but reflect on this tumultuous time and how much it changed me.
The one thing that stuck with me
In May 2011, I found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t really planned but also not unwelcome. For me, it was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions. I swayed between fear and excitement. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. As it turned out, it didn’t matter because my pregnancy was cut short.
I remember these 8 weeks of pregnancy like they had just happened. It was so traumatic that these days and weeks are forever etched into my memory.
When I look back today, I am still flooded with this gut wrenching feeling of utter and complete loneliness and isolation. These emotions haven’t left me, even after all these years.
I remember how empty and drained I felt returning from hospital that cold Saturday in July 2011. To me, my entire world had just stopped turning. Not only was I recovering from an operation (called a D&C) and still bleeding but also I had also been discharged from hospital with a simple leaflet that was supposed to help but did little to do just that.
I had so many questions – why did my baby die? Why am I so sad? Will the bleeding stop? Does anyone care about my baby or my fragile mental state?
A unique kind of death
I am still looking for an answer for the first question. Science and medicine are not really interested in answering it. Unless there are several losses, doctors tend not to investigate early pregnancy loss. “It just happens’ or ‘it’s very common’ are the standard responses although no one knows WHY miscarriages occur.
By now, I know why I was so sad. In my first shock after my loss, I couldn’t make sense of what happened. In many ways, I still can’t today but I have come to realise over the years what a special kind of loss a miscarriage is.
Death happened inside of me.
It takes a lot of time to wrap your head around it. There is really nothing that compares to it. A baby that dies in its mother’s womb while she continues to live. Heartbreaking and soul-destroying don’t fully capture the experience.
Question three – will the bleeding stop – was answered the easiest. In due time, it did.
As for question number four – does anyone care about my baby or my fragile mental state? – The answer was also quickly obviously. No. No, no one cared or cares other than my husband and myself.
This is by far still the most devastating realization to date. No one remembers my baby. My loss was not important. It is long forgotten by everyone but myself.
I have never liked the fact that so much silence and misunderstanding cloaks the tragic loss of a life through miscarriage.
It’s messed up. It’s not right.
The loneliness isn’t right
This devastating feeling of being alone and isolated lead me to write my book ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’ (get your copy here).
I couldn’t shake that loneliness. It was so… deep. I received very little support straight after my loss. I am still baffled by it, even now, and it was also the trigger to start writing. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else having to go through such a devastating experience like miscarriage all by themselves like me. So that’s why I wrote the book. I sincerely hope it helps other women and families in their time of need.
NOT helpful at all. It’s up to mum to decide when her baby is a baby and here’s a hint – for her it was a baby from the moment she found out she was pregnant. So saying it wasn’t a baby yet is not only cruel but completely belittles the mother’s grief and sense of loss.
How to comfort a loved one properly
The book covers important areas of grieving and healing after a miscarriage. I felt it was important to talk about the stages of grief as well as including chapters aimed at partners and families.
When I started to talk to other miscarriagesurvivors, I realised that we share a lot of unpleasant experience, such as having been ‘comforted’ by a friend or family member and feeling worse afterwards.
Someone saying ‘It wasn’t a baby yet’ or ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ is only adding to the mother’s pain.
It’s up to mum to decide when her baby is a baby and here’s a hint – for her it was a baby from the moment she found out she was pregnant. So saying it wasn’t a baby yet is not only cruel but completely belittles the mother’s grief and sense of loss.
It is true, many people don’t know what to say to someone who lost a baby to a miscarriage. You know, the type that says ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ or ‘you’re lucky it wasn’t a baby yet’. Oh man.
‘At least you know you can get pregnant’ is awful to say. What does it matter if one can fall pregnant but can’t hold on to the pregnancy? Why should that be a good thing? That is like saying to someone diagnosed with cancer ‘Well, at least you know you can get really, really sick!’
Less ‘encouragement’ is often better
Knowing that one can fall pregnant is stating the obvious, so you don’t get points for that. Being able to fall pregnant is indeed a tremendous gift but in the face of loss, it is nothing to be thankful for. All that does is to remind us that our baby is no longer with us.
Oh, and by the way, falling pregnant again does not replace the baby we just lost. This is not a gift exchange facility! This little soul that didn’t make it meant the world to its parents. IT was special, one of a kind and forever lost. So, no, knowing that we can get pregnant does NOT help with grieving this loss in any way.
The feeling of failure that shouldn’t be
My book ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’ also covers how to rediscover your body after loss. For many women, this is a tricky situation to navigate.
How can we love a body that has just failed us?
We tend to be so harsh and unkind to ourselves as women. It is almost second nature and the game is strong after a loss like miscarriage. Our body couldn’t do the only thing it was supposed to do – carry life!
Of course, it is not as black and white like that and I talk about how we can start healing and how to choose a kinder approach to our bodies in the chapter ‘Rediscovering your body’.
What to do when you are pregnant after a loss
At last, I wrote about pregnancy after loss. Boy, that is a whole new level of worry and concerns!
I tried to address them all in my book as well. Pregnancy after loss is NOT easy but it can be done. The more information you have about it, the better.
As I sit here and reflect on my own loss all these years ago, I can’t help but feel sad. I guess that is the final lesson after suffering a miscarriage. Grief never leaves us because we will never stop loving our babies, no matter how short their stay with us was.
Get your copy of ‘How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families’ right here – bit.ly/HowtosurviveaMiscarriage