It’s taken me a week to write this in between the tears and the stopping and starting. I’ve been trying to find the right words to say, but there aren’t any. I’ve been wanting to talk about it, but it’s so difficult and I don’t know how. I’m not looking for your sympathy. I just want to help break the silence surrounding baby loss and raise awareness of it. I’m sharing this so that others know you are not alone.
Miscarriage. I really don’t like that word.
1 in 4 pregnancies are estimated to end in miscarriage (Tommy’s). That’s devastatingly high, but yet you always think it won’t happen to you. But I’m the 1 in 4, and I’m sorry if you are too. Just know that we are so much more than just a statistic.
So why is baby loss still so taboo? Why do we feel a stigma attached? Why do we feel that we can’t talk about it? Why is it so hard to tell people? It’s all so hush hush and surrounded in gossip when you find out someone is pregnant, and then the devastating news that someone has experienced the heartache of baby loss. It’s still so misunderstood.
It’s so hard to tell family and friends. It’s hard to just say “by the way” as it makes people feel uncomfortable. People don’t know what to say. People don’t know how to respond. They can’t empathise, not really. People try to say “I’m sorry for your loss”, but that doesn’t really cut it. There’s nothing like that raw emotion that you feel. You don’t know when you might just burst into tears. So I’m sorry if you’re reading this and finding out for the first time, but I couldn’t find the right words to say.
You might feel insensitive telling people who you know have experienced it too, it’s not like a game of top trumps. I’ve seen friends go through fertility struggles, IVF, early miscarriage, late miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. It’s all loss. It’s all pain. I’ve admired friends who have appeared so strong. And I’ve always thought I was quite a compassionate person, but nothing really prepares you for that heartache yourself. The reality that you haven’t made it to the 12 week scan. The pressure that hangs over you until this point. I know it’s not my fault, but I can’t help but wonder if there was something that I did wrong, or something that could have made this different. The emotional, physical and mental toll it has on your body. It’s all baby loss.
I’ve been supporting the #butnotmaternity campaign as a birth professional and now I’ve experienced the impact of Covid-19 first hand. Being told on the phone that I had to attend appointments and ultrasounds “alone”. Hearing the sonographer say the words “there’s nothing there”, all alone with my husband sat waiting in the car park. Then being told that it was inconclusive and I had to go for blood tests and wait for a Doctor to call to confirm if I had miscarried or not (which I waited 3 days for). I was not given any counselling or information about what to expect. I was not signposted to any organisations or told where to go for support. I felt utterly alone. I then had another call 2 days later, following more inconclusive blood results so they said there were either concerns that it could be an ectopic pregnancy or that I still had another fertilised egg. You can imagine the confusion, a glimmer of hope mixed with fear. I had to endure another ultrasound alone, all the while I was fairly sure I’d miscarried and explained this to them. I felt completely confused. And the glimmer of hope was completely shattered when there was still an empty ultrasound. I’m just thankful that I work in the birth world and I know the amazing organisations and charities out there that are full of wonderful support to families going through this so I’ll tag some so that others know where to turn. I am thankful that in the U.K. the NHS do an amazing job (I’m currently based overseas), and I know this is not most people’s experience. But I feel I need to share it to raise awareness and I know that sometimes navigating through these difficult times can be made harder by a lack of support. Just know that you are not alone.
I have always said that everything happens for a reason. But I can’t understand the reason why baby loss affects so many of us. Is it to make you appreciate what you do have? Is it to teach us a lesson that we shouldn’t take things for granted and we should practice gratitude? I don’t know. But what I do know is that next month when I light a candle for Baby Loss Awareness Week (9th-15th October 2020) as I always have, this is now even closer to my heart. In fact, there will always be a little missing piece of my heart.
Grief. Shame. Embarrassment. Judgement. Just know it’s ok to feel however you feel. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to feel angry that it’s happened. It’s ok to talk about it. It’s ok to not know how you’re feeling and to feel a mixture of emotions. That feeling of emptiness. We all grieve differently, there’s no right or wrong way to feel or deal with it. It’s ok to feel any of this. It’s all ok.
Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to the brilliant organisations below who support parents through baby loss.
And I’m here if you ever want to chat.
Tommy's - Offer information about premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. https://www.tommys.org/
SANDS - The stillbirth and neonatal death charity, support anyone affected by the death of a baby.
The Miscarriage Association - Supporting anyone who has been affected by a pregnancy loss.