I first wrote this piece 3 months ago…for some reason I haven’t been able to publish it until now. October is actually a month to raise awareness about the topic I touch upon below so perhaps I was simply waiting for the right time. A part of me feels like keeping this close to my heart and pretending everything is ok, when it isn’t. Two very close people to me have given me the courage to share my thoughts and in so doing, helping me let go of some of the pain. Not all of it, that will never happen but I will take what I can get.
There is no right way to start a piece on an aching heart. There is no right way to be eloquent about it. In part because the pain is never far away, in part because it is so personal…but my experience with it has clearly shown that we must speak openly. And in my own small way this is my contribution. It is also my personal story which means that someone who has gone through a similar experience may have completely different thoughts and feelings to me. My intention is not to hurt or offend anyone, I am simply speaking from my own truth.
Growing up we are led to believe that certain rites of passage are supposed to happen quite naturally…we are led to believe that it’s easy. The joy of becoming pregnant is one such thing but in January I suffered a miscarriage. Though it has gone almost 6 months (9 months as of publishing) from that heart-breaking experience, every month since that time is a brutal reminder of hopes and dreams dashed to the point where I feel a small part of me dies forever… and it’s one of the loneliest feelings in the world. It’s lonely because it’s not spoken about, it’s lonely because even if you’re in a loving partnership with someone it’s still you and your body going through it. I make no distinction between man or woman in this case since women who have been spared this experience will never truly understand either. I see it in the closest people around me…they just don’t know and so it becomes too easy for them to say the words those of us who have been through it have a really hard time hearing: “it’ll be ok, you got pregnant once”, “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “it’ll happen when the time is right”. This is not an attack on those who say these things…I know these words come from a place of love and concern but they hurt nonetheless and mean little to me. I probably would have said the same things myself.
Writing this is proving harder than I thought and the tears come unbegged…but I feel I need to write it for myself and for all those yearning for a little one to love and hold. I still consider myself lucky for only having experienced one miscarriage but it’s still one too many. Both physically and emotionally it is one of the most gruelling journeys I have ever unwillingly made and the emotional aftermath still lingers. I’m still picking up pieces of myself from January. Below are some of the thoughts and feelings that I know many of us carry within. Good or bad, it is what it is:
Bitterness – when I miscarried my sister was in her second trimester. For two weeks I couldn’t talk to her. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her pregnant form, of hearing how tired she was, how heavy she was feeling…in my world she should be happy to be feeling those things! It broke my heart distancing myself from my beloved sister whom I love so fiercely but I knew that if I didn’t the bitterness would consume me. I did what I had to do to protect myself and my sistership from going to a place where I would have regretted many things. Such are the strong irrational feelings brought on by a miscarriage. I wanted so much to continue being happy for her but there was no room for it in my heart. Needless to say there was a fair amount of self-pitying going on. I’m still finding it hard to strike an emotional balance when I hear about friends who are pregnant…I’d be lying if I said there isn’t an angel vs demon aspect to it. It is what it is.
Unkindness – to myself. My biggest challenge in getting through each month emotionally unscathed is being kind and loving to myself. Can someone drench me in Lotus Wei Infinite Love, please? And I know I must be. There is no other way forward. I must choose to love myself, my body, my uterus but there are days during the month when all I can feel is hate and despair. Add to that some blame and we have a lovely cocktail going on. None of it serves me but if I don’t allow myself to feel these demons I know there will only be more pent-up negativity and blockage. I haven’t found a way that works yet…some months are harder than others but there is always sadness shadowing me. In my worst moments I want nothing more than to simply disappear and let the deep sadness and loss consume me.
Loneliness – as mentioned above it’s a lonely experience, even when you speak with those who have gone through it. My fiancé has urged me to see someone after seeing me break down month after month…I still haven’t made up my mind about it. What was most shocking to me in this whole experience was realising that you don’t get any help, advice or support from the people who must meet countless of us. I was scheduled to see my midwife the same week the miscarriage happened and was told to simply cancel our appointment…I mean, no point meeting me if I wasn’t pregnant right? There is still very much bitterness attached to that part of the experience and even if miscarriages happen way more than people realise (in fact, did you know that there’s only a 25% chance to get pregnant each month even for those who don’t have complications? And that 50% of pregnancies may result in miscarriage with many not even knowing they were pregnant in the first place? Where were these facts in biology class growing up?) the pain, heartbreak and emotional damage is no less there and it’s no less heart wrenching. Even if my body has bounced back I can’t say the same about my emotional well-being.
Despair – 6 months is both short and long. Short in terms of physically trying to conceive again after a miscarriage but long in terms of where my head is at. For each month that goes by some more hope dies, you can’t help feeling like you’re failing and a part of me thinks this is how it will be. I will be childless. I’ve been a good girl and avoided the typical things one should avoid (alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc) even after the miscarriage. When that wasn’t helping I went back to eating and drinking whatever I liked because hey, I wasn’t being careful about it the first time when we weren’t even trying. And I got sick and tired of living my life in a what-if state. I do believe it’s a healthier way to go about it and if I have a glass of wine too many some days then so be it. Perhaps it’s me giving up…either way, not knowing what is going on is the most frustrating place to be at. The silver lining is knowing that I will have a happy life with my amazing fiancé regardless of what the future holds.
There is so much more I could write about this topic and there is so much more that needs to be done for those of us who have suffered miscarriages and for whom becoming pregnant isn’t as easy, not least in the emotional department. The experience has forever changed me and my heart goes out to all those trying to conceive. My journey has been short so far, I know there are many who have tried for years and years and I deeply respect and admire your strength to keep moving forward. This post is for all you mamas – I share in your heartbreak, your pain, your emotions, your tears, your loneliness and your hopes.
Let there be more dialogue about miscarriage, about the challenges of conceiving. Let’s teach our young women about the facts so that they don’t arrive and stand there not knowing what hit them. For those wondering what they should say to a friend/sister/daughter/mother who goes through the loss of an unborn child and/or faces challenges in getting pregnant…hold space for us. There is no need for your well-intentioned comments and questions that, although said with the best of intentions, land flatly in our hearts. Just hold space and listen when we need to talk through feelings that sometimes make no sense, but are helping to heal our way forward in ways we only know how.