Part of the Sisterhood Series.
“I will always wonder who you would have been.”
Before I begin this topic, I would like to once again state that although this is part of the “Sisterhood Series”, I am more than aware how much this topic can affect everyone involved in pregnancy loss. This is a topic that affects millions of women yearly and this is why I am making it a part of this series but mean absolutely no exclusion for any of the guys or female partners out there who are feeling it too, who are dealing with their grief and trying to be understanding and supportive of their partners.
This wasn’t going to be my next instalment of the “Sisterhood Series” but with seeing more about miscarriage recently on social media, from both celebrities such as “The Hills” alumni, Whitney Port who has bravely and poignantly told of her recent pregnancy loss through her YouTube and Instagram and sadly singer Jessie J confirming her heartbreak and devastation about her loss yesterday (Wednesday 24th Nov) to people on my friends sharing their story of past or recent loss and it really got me thinking. I have talked about my own pregnancies and miscarriages in the past but having done a lot of work on my mental health and healing overall in the past two years and now I feel it is time to tackle it again with a new perspective.
23 million miscarriages occur each year worldwide. Twenty-three million women each year feel the emotional, mental and physical pain of miscarriage and health professionals still can’t tell them why it has happened because research into miscarriage is so underfunded. That’s twenty-three million women each year, who are sitting with their grief and wondering ‘Why?’ and probably will for the rest of their lives.
An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and most miscarriages happen within the first 12 weeks, the first trimester of pregnancy. Sadly, 1 in 100 women will go on to experience recurrent miscarriage, which is the term used for 3 or more miscarriages in a row. Although the statistics from Tommy’s are of course important and heart breaking, I don’t want to focus too much of this post on the statistics because for the women and families behind them, they are not just statistics, they are reality and they are trauma.
I think this is a good time for a listicle.
Listicle: 8 tips on supporting someone who has had a miscarriage, past or present.
- Acknowledge their loss. You may worry you don’t know what to say or feel it’s best not to say anything but many women and couples feel quite isolated and some even feel they don’t have a right to grieve. Acknowledging can really help.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of checking in. You mean feel that giving time and space is best or that they may not want to talk but the simple act of sending a quick message to ask “How are you doing?” can actually mean the world.
- Choose your words C A R E F U L L Y! There are a few common things that are said to women and couples facing miscarriage that are said to try to be supportive but trust me, they aren’t. Please do stay away from the phrases: “Everything happens for a reason”, “At least you weren’t too far along”, “You can always try again” and “At least you know you can get pregnant”.
- Send flowers, a gift or a closed message. If you’re not sure of what to say or don’t want to call or visit at a bad time, let them know you are thinking of them by sending flowers, a card, a gift or even a message to say they don’t need to reply you just wanted to let them know you are thinking of them and send your love.
- Sit and Listen. Nobody can do much to fix the situation or take away the pain, when someone you care for is hurting you want to offer encouraging words but just sitting and listening without saying a word and a hold of a hand can really help them know they aren’t alone.
- Remember the physical side. Miscarriage comes with a lot of emotional and mental aspects but the physical side is extremely demanding too. Offer your help to do grocery shopping, to drive them to any appointments, cook some easy meals or even just offer your company.
- Be sensitive about pregnancy. Miscarriage stays with you the rest of your life so if you are someone who knows someone who has had a miscarriage and is now expecting, of course you should announce it and relish in the joy without guilt but just try to be sensitive to your friend and family members feelings. They will probably struggle to be sensitive to yours too!
- Remember significant dates. Many women and couples remember the dates they found out they were pregnant and when they lost their baby. These dates can be very difficult no matter how long has past. It might be useful to remember these dates and check in to ask how they are or even offer distraction. Pain doesn’t stop at the miscarriage, it stays with you.
In reference to number 8, 2nd May 2009 and 8th May 2009. Even twelve years later, I can still remember and feel everything as if it were right now. The physical pain with every movement, the bleeding and passing the pregnancy, the shock that lead to anger that lead to relief which swiftly spiralled to guilt and grieving. I should also be the mother of an 11-year-old as well as my two sons who are currently five and three and it is something I often think about. I lost my baby at 7-8 weeks pregnant, I don’t know what gender the baby was. I didn’t know I was pregnant until the last minute, I was severely stressed about finances, I was in a long term, very toxic relationship and working a physically demanding job in a veterinary surgery at the time. I was taking painkillers for migraines. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant and was still taking my birth control and didn’t take one folic acid tablet at all.
The guilt of it all is still within me every day, more so now as I can look at it as a Mother and I truly feel like it was the best thing for both my baby and for me. I can’t comment on the person my ex is now, I’ve not had a conversation with him in ten years, I do know he is married and has two sons of his own now also but the person he was to me in our relationship wasn’t deserving enough of the gift and responsibility of being their father. I can’t imagine the toxicity there would have been had I tried to get out of the relationship like I did with a child as well. He was an absolute a**hole to me about my dog at the time of the break-up, so I can only assume it would’ve gotten way nastier. I know from the way he reacted at the time that he now won’t even think of the experience and that is one of the most hurtful and saddest things but it’s on him not me.
The only saving grace I would’ve had is that, that child would’ve finally gotten a dad they deserved in their step-dad, my now husband. As much as I know all of this rings true, it doesn’t remove the memories, the feelings and more importantly the love that I feel towards my child I never got to meet.
I had another suspected miscarriage later on in that relationship and it was the straw that broke the camels back, my ex left me crying and bleeding on the floor to go shopping with his mother who was over from Belgium to visit, after probably our worst argument in our relationship and with the amount we had that really does speak volumes. As far as I am aware, he told his mother I wasn’t able to attend because I was feeling a ‘little under the weather’ as when they missed their bus home he called me to pick them up and she asked if I was feeling any better but really that’s neither here or there. I will talk about toxic relationships in a future post and I was absolutely no angel, especially in this particular argument, I slapped him which again has plagued me with guilt for years as it’s absolutely not okay. All I know is that at the time I had gone through seven years of being ground down bit by bit, told I was worthless, told that I would never amount to anything, that I was a crazy bitch, told that nobody cared about me because they all knew he was right, told me and my family were c**ts and something just told me to get out, I should have decided this way before I did but hey, hindsight is 20/20.
I was terrified when I got into my relationship I have now with my husband, he had had a great upbringing but also just before we met he had lost his father who was and, still very much is, his hero. We had talked about marriage and a family but he was very aware of my past situations and I was so scared I wasn’t going to be able to give him a family, especially after I was diagnosed chronically ill and have endometriosis. We had a chemical pregnancy in early 2015 and I was absolutely crushed, as was my husband, but he in true Daniel style, only cared about making sure I was taken care of. We then decided not to actively try and booked one of our ‘Bucket List’ trips to Finland after the disappointment for February 2016. Three months later we found out I was pregnant with our eldest son Macen, who was our rainbow baby, and after our 12-week scan had to then cancel our trip as I was due when we were supposed to travel.
I’m one of the lucky ones, in fact I’m beyond lucky with all the odds that were against me and I managed to have two successful pregnancies, there were troubles during pregnancy with cervical bleeding and other small complications that made the hospital our second home but the babies were always healthy and growing well. I was advised though, after my second son was born that any further pregnancies would have a high risk to myself and the baby. My husband and I then decided that vasectomy was the best way to go. I am more than grateful that I have my sons, they are absolutely my world but there are times where I would like another baby, especially now they are growing up so fast and that I have worked on myself and now feel I’d be a great mum to a little girl. I often feel that maybe the baby I lost was a little girl and I just wasn’t the person I needed to be for her at the time.
To anyone who has lost a baby my love is with you, it’s one of the hardest things to go through and it really has you questioning yourself time and time again. Know that you are badass, you’re worthy and you deserve happiness and love in life and I wish you all of that and more. You get through every day with the loss not very far from your thoughts and to keep going like that takes a strength that’s unexplainable. I salute you all.
Love hard. Be fierce. Horns high.