I always found it strange when people said ‘I/we lost the baby’. As if it were misplaced somewhere like a set of car keys or your favourite jacket.
So when it was my turn to use that phrase, I just couldn’t. I also struggled with the idea that I had miscarried. For me, a miscarriage was attached to images of women bleeding and experiencing a huge physical loss. I didn’t have these things.
My baby’s heartbeat had stopped. My body was not going to release me of my foetus, so sadly, I was left to continue carrying it until I could be admitted for a D&C. I hated my body at that point. I thought it was so cruel that I was made to wait and see if I passed it. That I had to go to work, and walk around knowing in my belly was that beautiful little baby my husband and I had loved from the first positive line on the pregnancy test, and it was gone. So what did I tell people?
I found myself simply saying my baby had died. Because that is what had happened. It was probably quite blunt and too forward for some people to react to, but it was how it was being processed in my head. I was 10 weeks along (or so I had thought) when I had my first appointment with my OB. Usually he sees his patients at 9 weeks, though he wasn’t available, and the following week coincided with my husbands 30th birthday so we thought that could only mean good things, right?! We booked in and expected everything to be routine. We already had a beautiful daughter with absolutely no problems falling pregnant and a textbook pregnancy and labour.
Our car was packed for a weekend away to celebrate a milestone birthday and this appointment was just an exciting errand to do before we were to head off. Then all I remember hearing was a sentence beginning with ‘Unfortunately…’ and my heart ached. My baby had passed away at roughly 8.5 weeks based on its size. Due to the lack of symptoms of a miscarriage, I had thought all was ok. My husband and I cried in the doctors office and listened to him explain very professionally what was to happen next. We got our admittance paperwork and left in a fog. The rest of the day was spent in tears and it’s so hard to be present at that moment, but when your infant child has no idea of whats going on or why mummy and daddy are so sad, you need to pull it together a little. Our weekend birthday plans were cancelled and we started the process of informing family and figuring out what to do next. That’s where I struggled a little. What did I do?
My baby was still inside me. Did I have options as to what happens with the removal? Are there remains? Is there a way of mourning our child? Was this something we could mourn without a name or a sex to it? Part of me found it difficult to think of it as a child of ours without anything attached to its life, and the other part thought maybe that was a good thing and it would help me move on more easily. I spent the weekend on Google with so many questions going through my head. What was a D&C exactly? What happens afterwards? I asked our OB if there were any remains and was told that it’s not actually a ‘baby’ at that point and is purely tissue matter that will go to the lab for processing. That hurt and made me feel like we shouldn’t be that upset over something that never existed. But again, perhaps it helped me heal and process it in my head instead of holding onto something with a name and a death.
My pregnancy was never a secret. I don’t believe in waiting for the magic 12 weeks to tell the public. I believe that everyone should share in the joy from the start. 12 weeks isn’t a magic number. Anything can happen at any point throughout those 40 weeks and should the worst happen, then those around you are aware and can support. I am such a strong believer in making a pregnancy known. I don’t feel it should be kept a secret – it’s not a taboo thing. It just doesn’t make sense to me from a rational point of view. It makes it feel like the fewer people know, then when a miscarriage happens, the woman should just deal with it privately and get on with life. When what we should be doing is the opposite.
Support the women dealing with such a loss. The one thing I wasn’t really prepared for was how other people deal with loss. It makes some people awkward. They don’t know what to say around you or how to sympathise. Sorry is enough. I was grateful most people in my circle were there to offer a hug and say sorry. Unfortunately, those people I can’t quite remember because the one negative comment has stuck. It only takes one to hurt so badly that it will always be remembered. ‘Practice makes perfect’. In that moment I cried for my baby. I cried because to me, that baby was perfect. A miscarriage to me means it was sick. It did the best it could do for itself and that was to give its life up rather than live to a lesser quality. But that didn’t make me think any less of my baby. My baby was perfect. It will always be perfect and should never be something that requires a replacement. I still don’t know if there is something we should have done to hold a memory for our baby. I will never forget February 12 – the day it was due to become the newest member of our family. It saddens me that it will always be an ‘it’ and not a he or a she.
I wish I had the scan from the OB office that day, but these things you just don’t think of when you’re flooded with unexpected grief. I’m one of the lucky ones though. As hard as my struggle was, we were fortunate enough to fall pregnant soon after and have since welcomed a beautiful little boy into our loving family. Some woman continue to struggle with miscarriage after miscarriage. The inner strength those women possess to continue trying is nothing short of admirable. I only suffered once, and for me once was enough. My last pregnancy was difficult and painful so we are complete with our two children now. Sometimes I’ve wondered to myself if things had been different would we have ever meet our new little man? Maybe, maybe not. Things do happen for a reason, and we got Jack. It was his turn and his brother or sister gave him that life.