Advanced warning: personal post, and TW for pregnancy/miscarriage
I was prompted to write a post on this by my friend Ellen’s blog. October is pregnancy and infant loss month, and this week (9th-15th) seems to have been designated Infant Loss Awareness Week. You may have seen posts on social media saying this, adding ‘I am the one in four’ (1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage/stillbirth in their lives).
This has taken a fuck-load of courage to write, and even more to post.
I am the one in four.
I have had three miscarriages, one just before Christmas 2015 (that made for a fun Christmas…) and two in Spring/Summer 2016.
I think for many people, the strongest pain of a miscarriage is the potential: this could have been a child, this could have changed everything. But for me, to be honest, it wasn’t as devastating as the loss some people experience. My mother had two miscarriages, and so I was in some ways expecting it; I knew there was a family history, and knew it could happen. I took what precautions I could, and didn’t dare treat the pregnancies as real until 12 weeks – it wasn’t a child, it was just a tiny potential bundle of cells. And none of my pregnancies reached 12 weeks (two miscarried at 7 weeks and one at 5), and so… it was just a thing that didn’t happen.
For me, the worst pain was the uncertainty. Had I done something? Not done something? Somehow caused it? Could I have prevented it? I have been told, repeatedly, that there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. I accept that for the ones I have lost – it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t. Lifting things doesn’t cause it. Eating the wrong thing doesn’t cause it. Doing exercise doesn’t cause it. It wasn’t my fault.
But I can’t help take that burden of fear and guilt, and push it forward: if I try to get pregnant again at whatever future point, will I have another miscarriage? Another two? What’s wrong with me that means I can’t get past 7 weeks? Standard tests haven’t shown anything: there’s nothing immediately physically wrong, and blood levels etc were all standard. My body’s fine….it just couldn’t maintain any of the pregnancies. And I’m now past 30: what will that do to my chances?
The whole thing was compounded by a specialist at the local hospital, who quite bluntly (while trying not to offend me, she repeatedly insisted that she wasn’t trying to offend me) told me that essentially, I was lying. I had no medical proof that I had been pregnant, and therefore they weren’t miscarriages: I hadn’t got blood tests, scans, checks – this all prior to 12 weeks, on an already overburdened NHS, and when there’s nothing anyone can do to change a miscarriage at that stage if it did happen! I’m still deeply angry about her attitude and her accusations: I understand where she was coming from in that the best medical course was to assume that I wasn’t able to get pregnant and check that as well as the actual pregnancies, which is sensible, but she most certainly could have worded it a lot better, and been a lot less cruel and dismissive in her attitude to someone who was simply trying to get help and work out if there was anything wrong.
I did feel – and still do feel – incredibly alone and uncertain about it. It wasn’t something I could share at the time; I wasn’t going to tell anyone until at least 12 weeks anyway, and even the people I did tell couldn’t say anything that eased what is, at heart, a very personal pain. My partner at the time did his best to be supportive, but considering he wasn’t outwardly enthusiastic about children, it was hard for me to lean on him or share any of what I was feeling. And I didn’t want to try any of the resources or groups available – I struggle with interaction anyway, and I felt I had no place amongst people mourning for their child. I just carried on going with whatever the next step needed to be, be it doctor’s appointments or waiting or another try, and tried again and again until everything else broke around me.
Even putting this out now is hard. It isn’t the full story: I can’t process that yet, it’s too linked in with the divorce and emotions and all that. I don’t feel I have any right to support, and I don’t want sympathy. It’s something that happens: I don’t know why it happened, I did what I could, and I don’t have a medical explanation. It passed, it’s fine, and I want to try again someday. It’s all still a jumble, and I’m dealing with it all as it comes up.
But miscarriage happens, and it isn’t talked about. So – I’m talking about it.
I’m the one in four.