I am a statistic. The dreaded 1 in 4. I had a miscarriage.
It happened about six weeks ago. It was my first pregnancy. I was so unbelievably excited.
The miscarriage came as a shock, as you would expect. Not only did I naively think it wouldn’t happen to me, on reflection, I really knew nothing about miscarriage (if I knew nothing about it, how could it happen to me?). My only frame of reference was that Charlotte had one on Sex and The City, and seemed to get over it by watching Elizabeth Taylor documentaries and putting on her Sunday best. That’s it. That’s my miscarriage knowledge done.
As a society we like to think we are progressive and continuously evolving when it comes to talking about things like mental health and miscarriage. But I don’t think we are.
It’s not necessarily that miscarriage is taboo, but it’s such an odd thing to talk about because it makes people so sad. And I don’t want to make people sad. But I don’t want to accept that this is just another shitty thing in life I have to experience alone. So maybe by writing this, other women will feel less alone. Also, I know I’m not alone, I have an incredibly supportive and loving husband and family and friends, but I do feel alone in this grief at times. I know that women who’ve experienced loss can relate.
I was five and a half weeks along, so it was very early days. That being said, I had big plans for this baby. I knew what kind of crib it would sleep in. I knew how it would be raised. I knew it would make a perfect addition to my lovely little family. I knew its grandparents were so excited. I knew it was loved.
To have that taken away without warning or control was traumatic.
One night, while I was still pregnant I popped in to 7/11 after work to get a drink. As I stood in line to pay, the two women in front of me turned around to ask me if I had change for a $100 note. They were tourists and although English wasn’t their first language I could tell they were in a bit of a panic. They were trying to buy something but the cashier couldn’t change $100. I glanced and could see they were trying to buy sanitary pads. Stayfree overnights. The same ones I use from time-to-time. I didn’t have change as I rarely carry cash, but I put my drink on the counter and told them not to worry. I would buy them their pads (a modern-day Mother Teresa). They were lovely and giggly and grateful. I left with a silly smirk on my face and thought to myself, ‘that will be the last time I buy pads for a while!’ When I got home, I was bleeding. The universe is a really fucked up place.
From that moment on I’ve learnt more about miscarriage (and life afterwards) than I ever hoped. Here are a few other things I’ve learnt since losing my baby.
People carried on with life as normal which infuriated me
When I got back into the real world I saw people smiling, laughing, and enjoying the sunshine. I wanted to shout at them “HOW CAN YOU BE SO HAPPY WHEN I’VE JUST HAD A MISCARRIAGE? DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH!!???”
No Steph, they don’t. And that’s normal, and ok.
Internet algorithms are haunting me
All of my social media feeds are filled with advertising and sponsored content for baby clothes, breast pumps and maternity wear.
My phone knows I was pregnant and still thinks I am. And I have no way of telling it “Hey man, it’s not happening anymore, enough with the recommendations for prenatal vitamins.”
Triggers are everywhere
Things make me sad everyday and it’s not the things you would expect. I see pregnant women everyday in the city, and I see babies a lot too. That’s fine. That doesn’t upset me.
Here’s what has upset me:
-An ad on the television for Elevit, the pregnancy vitamin
-Busting for a wee and remembering it was because I drank a lot of water, not because I was pregnant
-Finding my copy of ‘What to Expect’ lying on the floor next to my bed
-Opening my dresser draw and seeing my positive pregnancy tests.
-Going back to work and thinking “the last time I was here I was pregnant”.
Am I a mum?
I still don’t know.
It’s my fault, right?
Of course it’s my fault. My brain needs a concrete reason as to why this happened, apart from scientific reasons that include words like “chromosomes” and “abnormalities.”
It must have been because I stood too close to the microwave, or because I drank too much caffeine. Maybe I looked at someone the wrong way. Or the wind changed.
My logical mind knows it’s not my fault. I would never tell a friend who had a miscarriage that they were at fault. But my brain is an ass-hat when it’s thinking specifically of me.
Learning new words and stuff
I must have Googled miscarriage a million times. And in the process of asking Google questions like “when should I stop grieving” and “when should I go back to work” I read about angel babies. And rainbow babies. And blighted ovums, missed miscarriage and dilation and curettage. I don’t like these words. I wish I didn’t know what any of them meant.
Well-meaning people will say things to offer comfort – but it won’t always help
My doctor told me that a lot of women don’t even know they are pregnant at 5 weeks, and when they miscarry they think it’s just a heavy period. They are none-the-wiser. They carry on. I said to her “yeah, but I did know I was pregnant, so that’s not really helpful.”
She meant well.
Other lines to expect: AT LEAST YOU CAN GET PREGNANT. IT’S BETTER TO LOSE IT NOW THAN FURTHER DOWN THE TRACK. IT’S SO COMMON. IT HAPPENED TO MY FRIEND. MY MUM HAD ONE.
All said from a place of love, but it doesn’t really help.
Here’s what I suggest you say to anyone who has had a miscarriage: THAT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT! HERE IS A BOTTLE OF WINE AND SOME CHOCOLATE CAKE.
Pregnancy symptoms still continued
This was probably the cruellest thing of all. During the days where I was still undergoing blood tests and wasn’t 100% sure what was happening, my pregnancy symptoms continued. My boobs were sore, I was still peeing a lot and bruising easily. Which gave me a glimmer of hope. I convinced myself that it must be a twin pregnancy, and that maybe it was just one of the babies that was leaving, and the other one would be ok. That was not the case. And that hurt my heart.
Do I have a right to grieve?
Some women have had multiple miscarriages, stillbirths, prem babies, or have had miscarriages much later in their pregnancies. On the scale of things, I don’t really have a right to be that sad. But I am.
What I would say to a friend experiencing the same thing: You have every right to grieve, you loved that baby like it was no one’s business, you had visualised the rest of your life with it, and had started planning how it would fit into your life. Grieve away darling!
I’ll probably never get pregnant again
My doctor reassured me that it wasn’t a matter of if I’ll get pregnant in the future, it was a matter of when.
What if I have another miscarriage?
My doctor also said the second you become pregnant you learn a lesson in control, one that will continue as your children grow up. You have very little of it, so it’s best you accept it.
Where to from here?
I don’t have a fun or meaningful sign-off for this post. Just know that I love you, and if you are going through this you are not alone.