Warning: This piece includes graphic descriptions of miscarriage, which may be triggering for some readers
To go through a miscarriage is one of the worst things a person can go through. To go through the agonising loss of miscarriage repeatedly is like discovering your womb is a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode and shatter you to your very core.
One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet somehow grief for a lost unborn child sits low down on society’s list of ‘acceptable’ grief, making a devastating situation feel all the more isolating and confusing.
I should know. I have experienced miscarriage three times: at six weeks, at twelve weeks, and at nine weeks pregnant.
A few months after my first miscarriage I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and told I may never be able to have children. I was just 20, and had never really given much thought to when I would have children. I’d just accepted it as my ‘right’ and had never considered it a gift. Having both of these devastating blows happen at the same time left me feeling so confused. At just 20, I had yet to learn to cope with what felt like a part of me being taken away.
Six months later, my partner and I had just gotten engaged and were moving into our first home. Though we hadn’t been trying, we were elated to see those two glorious lines appear on the home pregnancy test. On 28 September 2016, after a tough and complicated pregnancy, we welcomed our perfect daughter, who has provided so much light through our dark times.
“Losing our child ruined the memories of our wedding, honeymoon and first family holiday.”
Fast forward to our wedding in Sept 2017 and I was once again feeling permanently exhausted and sick.
The week after our wedding, my husband and I flew to Austria for a Rolling Stones concert and I couldn’t even finish a beer or a burger, which, as anyone who knows me will tell you is… not really like me. The next morning we saw those two lines again and excitedly rang our parents, beginning to plan our future as a family of four.
The next month, I miscarried at twelve weeks and we were absolutely crushed. The feeling of devastation turned the sunny skies of recent events into dark clouds constantly hanging over us. Losing our child ruined the memories of our wedding, honeymoon and first family holiday.
It was only a few months later, in January 2018, that I fell pregnant once again. This time, however, the typical feelings of overwhelming joy were replaced with an overwhelming sense of doom, that big dark cloud still looming over us.
Fear of what might happen set in immediately and pregnancy no longer meant waiting for a new baby to love and cherish. It meant waiting for the ticking time bomb again.
I started bleeding again a few weeks later and knew instantly how this was going to end. I became detached emotionally from the pregnancy, feeling like I was just waiting for an unwelcome visitor to leave.
Though the scans, blood tests and doctors all assured me there was nothing wrong, the reason I was bleeding was still unknown. All I knew was that something wasn’t right and all I wanted more than anything was not to be pregnant anymore, not if it was like this.
“Though the physical pain was almost over, the emotional strain was only beginning.”
On 22 Feb 2018 I miscarried at nine weeks.
This time I knew the drill, it was almost routine. The ripping feeling of the baby detaching from my body and the sudden pain, it was time. I went to the toilet and collected what I could from it, called downstairs to my husband and went to hospital.
Though the physical pain was almost over, the emotional strain was only beginning. The emotional strain took its toll on our marriage, relationships with friends and family, causing me to become very distant from just about everything. I couldn’t talk about it but I didn’t want to talk about anything else. I wanted to scream at everybody and whenever someone asked me when we were going to try again I had to hold back the tears and the urge to shout our story at them. Night terrors, uncontrollable fear and tears, mood swings and more were all taking over.
I think this time I was so detached because the empty feeling inside felt all too familiar. I was barely beginning to get over the previous miscarriage, and yet here I was happening again. Having two in such a short period was an indescribable agony with intense emotional and physical tolls. Imagine a constant migraine and punches to the gut that feel as though they will never stop. It feels like your own body is punishing you.
The hormonal and mental effects of recurrent miscarriage can be incredibly dark and challenging, I felt so lost and unsure of everything; it was like living in purgatory. The emptiness I felt in my stomach was like a giant gaping hole, and these feelings just wouldn’t go away. I knew my husband felt them too.
“I have hope that one day soon my husband and I will be able to try again. But right now we are so cynical and paranoid about pregnancy”
I had counselling and started taking antidepressants again, eventually I started to feel more like myself but then I would suddenly think of our angel babies and internally crumble, losing any motivation I had clawed back.
Though I am still trying to find myself through the loss and grief, I have hope that one day soon my husband and I will be able to try again. But right now we are so cynical and paranoid about pregnancy, neither of us are mentally ready yet for another ticking time bomb after the emotional battering that is miscarriage.
To this day I still get flashbacks and nightmares, I have to constantly take pregnancy tests to reassure myself I am not pregnant even though I know I am not. I can’t relax until I have seen that lonesome little line.
Every pregnancy announcement that isn’t ours brings painful memories and longing with an ugly pang of jealousy despite being happy for those making the announcements. Selfishly, it only reminds us of our grief.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Charities like Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association are doing great work encouraging women to share their stories, and funding research into miscarriages, stillbirths and premature births. But more needs to be done to take away the shame of talking about pregnancy loss, and help the women like me who have been through recurrent miscarriage.
Taking the stigma away from opening up about miscarriage matters. Women just like me fighting a constant battle against their own bodies – and as long as we live in a world where pregnancy doesn’t always end with a happily ever, aftercare and support is essential. After all, we could all easily fall into that one in four statistic.
“Losses that are invisible or unreal to others can be hard to bear. There are no ritual releases. No funeral rites, no mourning garb.”
- The Passion of Mary Magdalen: A Novel by Elizabeth Cummings
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