Just last night, I was having a very rare adult conversation with one of my core mum friends. We managed to get the kids to bed by 8pm and she made us both a cake in a mug. Everyone needs a friend that can knock up a cake in a mug.
The subject of miscarriage came up and something she said to me really struck a chord. “It’s just a line on a stick, but you would fight to the death for that line on a stick.”
Many women opt out of informing those around them that they are expecting just in case the pregnancy doesn’t work out. I opted for telling the whole world when I was approximately 37 seconds pregnant. I can remember saying to my boss, “I’m going to feel like a complete dick if this doesn’t work out.”
It didn’t work out and I did feel like a dick.
This is a story I received in my inbox today and it mirrors so perfectly why I’m glad everyone knew about my failed pregnancy. Let me share it with you and hopefully you will want to share it too:
One of the most startling things I’ve discovered since miscarrying twice this year is how many other women have been through the same thing. Women I know, women I care about. It’s not until they think it might be of some comfort to another woman that they talk about it. Blimey, women are hardcore.
So, I thought I’d write about my experience in case it helps.
Two weeks ago I miscarried (a missed miscarriage. Cheers, body, for that double whammy.) I was shocked and completely heartbroken.
We have a brilliant, hilarious, exasperating 3 year old daughter and my partner has a 14 year old son from a previous relationship who I adore. Even after a difficult pregnancy with my daughter – extreme morning sickness, SPD (google it) and prematurity (born at 34 weeks) I thought – ‘you know, I really fancy doing that again!’
Blimey. Women are HARDCORE.
My first miscarriage this year was only 5 ish weeks in, hardly anyone knew. I had been getting very sharp pains and knew it wasn’t quite right. I was sad but bounced back quite quickly. In the second pregnancy I was throwing up from the beginning, starting to show, feeling knackered but thrilled. Then at 10 weeks my symptoms dropped off suddenly and I bled a little. Never mind, I thought. I bled with my first and the scan showed all was well. This time – not so lucky.
The cry that instantly burst from me when told there was no heartbeat was so visceral I expect people in the hospital thought I was giving birth. If only. I felt so bereft. There was this little bean that no-one else would ever know, who didn’t even have a name and I loved it so much. It’s hard to grieve for a person you’ll never meet, but you do it anyway, your hormones surging.
The first few days after the ERPC I just wept uncontrollably. My partner solidified his place as the perfect man for me by making me soup, making me laugh and cuddling me in all the right quantities. My amazing family were on hand to do brilliant, practical things. Through the physical and emotional pain some pretty amazing stuff was happening around me. A whole group of people got together and made us meals for a week; fantastic friends took our daughter out or baked us cakes. I got messages of support and empathy in texts, emails, cards and Facebook. My lifelong buddy, though in the middle of moving house, came down from London and looked after me. It was hard to feel 100% miserable when I also felt so loved.
But miserable I felt for quite some time. I felt like I’d failed at my job. I felt guilty and useless and very, very sorry for myself. I realise that that is exactly what I needed to do. Let it all out, feel how I felt and not bottle it up. I am naturally a glass half full person (even though the glass is actually always full- half water, half air. God, sorry, I’m such a geek) and being down felt horrible, but it was so necessary and right.
A few weeks and a double course of antibiotics (post-op infection) later and I’m no longer constantly hit in the face by the sadness of it. There are still pregnant women at every corner. (I swear it’s like a maternal Truman Show out there. They are waiting for me to come out of the house so their waters can break at my feet.)
I saw a heavily pregnant woman smoking the day after my op and it was all I could do not to punch her in the face. I’m still raging that I did every bloody thing I was supposed to and still miscarried when seemingly others sail through their pregnancies without a care.
But I’m ok. I’m smiling politely at the ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ comments and the ‘you can try again’ platitudes. They’re well meant and actually – what do you say to people in that position?
Well, in a rambling, incoherent way, what I’m trying to say is this – just my experience – laid bare. In case it might help. I’m joining that band of hardcore women, one of whom said to me – “I don’t know how you’re feeling, but I’ve been where you are.”
I have to write all this down before I move into that phase of wanting to pretend it never happened. Maybe that’s why people don’t talk about it – after the initial excruciating pain – however long that lasts – you just want to leave it alone and never remember it. But I know that, for me, knowing this was a well trodden path by women I cared about, trusted and could see had survived was really important when I felt most bleak.
If any good comes out of this, it must be that I know, more than ever, what incredible support I have around me. I want to be that support for someone else. It’s not taboo. It happens A LOT unfortunately – and it’s more than likely happened to a hardcore woman near you.
UPDATE April 2014:
Less than a year on, here is my brilliant big girl with her lovely little brother. It was a tricky pregnancy- numerous physical complaints, prematurity and the worry that it might be taken from us again.
Lying here, with him clamped to my boob, my unwashed hair cleansed only with a posset of baby vom; my eye bags so big they double as breast pads- I am as happy as I have ever been in my life. I would like to pretend that I believed there was a master plan that lead us to this point, making all that sadness worthwhile. I don’t believe that. I believe that shit happens and then, if you’re really lucky, that shit turns out to be meconium.