It’s taken a few goes to write this. Quite often I type a few lines and backspace it. Close the laptop and try again, creating continuous drafts in my head during the day. This will be a tough one to publish and at this point, I don’t even know if I will.
I’ve talked about this with ease to some people, I sort of go on auto pilot and just talk matter-of-factly through it. But I’ve never written it before. I’m a little frightened at this point of how I’ll feel at the end of this. Will I stir it all up? Will I be in a bad mood for a few hours or days? Will I be worried everyone reading this will think I’ve just published for attention?
So, why am I writing this? For the same reason most of us who have been through a miscarriage or some form of infant loss do. In the hope we can do something useful with the pain and help others. Let’s be honest. Using the pain for good makes it a little easier to bear.
Well. Let’s do this.
It was the middle of July in 2015. I was busily preparing for our daughters first birthday, happening on the first day of August. We had just found out our very best friend was going to be a Dad, with he and his partner’s baby due in March. Over the next few days, I had this weird feeling, exactly the same as I felt right before I found out I was pregnant with Jaxxi. I knew. I knew I was pregnant again. I had no symptoms besides a slightly late period which was common. It just kind of occurred to me I hadn’t had my period on time and it was actually entirely possible I could be pregnant. I bought a test and it was positive. And I was scared. I felt like I had just gotten my body back. Jaxxi wasn’t even 12 months old, which meant there would be a newborn before she was two, and to me, that just spelled crazy times! I sat down and swore and even felt slight regret. It wasn’t that I didn’t want it. I just didn’t want one that soon. But, that’s the card we were dealt so we embraced it. We were given the gift of another child, so after the initial shock, we got excited! I was due a week after our best friend. I was so excited to go through a pregnancy with someone else! We also found out another close friend was expecting and due in March too! So there was going to be three March babies, born one week apart from each other, with my due date being the last one, on the 26th.
A few days before my first appointment with the obstetrician, I woke up with this really weird sickly feeling in my tummy. It felt like it was folding in half. I suffered wave after wave of anxiety. I do suffer from anxiety normally, but this was different. It was like I was on the verge of a panic attack without ever fully going into it. I went back to bed and my husband looked after Jaxxi. A few hours later, I felt better. Looking back, I think this is where the pregnancy slipped away.
The day came for my OB appointment. I was 9 weeks along by now. My biggest regret was telling Steve he didn’t have to come so he could stay home with Jaxxi. Oh god. How I wish I had him next to me at the appointment. Firstly, my OB was horrendous at time management and I sat in the waiting room for THREE hours. The other soon-to-be Mum’s in the waiting room were all starting to boil with frustration. We were hangry! We were just waiting and waiting! Someone would come out and it would be 10-15 mins before another would go in!
So, FINALLY, my time came. She asked me all the usual questions. She asked if I had another child and I said ‘Yes, she just tuned one.’ My OB picked up how close the pregnancies were and asked if it was planned. I admitted it was a little sooner than we had liked, but we’re excited just the same.
It was now time for the scan! My favourite part! Seeing the little being! I already had a dating scan at 7 weeks. At 9 weeks, it still isn’t much, but you see the precious flutter of the heart and it’s beautiful. I couldn’t wait for that feeling to engulf me once again. But, my OB was having trouble picking anything up, so she suggested an internal ultrasound. ‘Sure!’ I said. Not worried at all. Just keen to see the heart beat. And then, my world crashed. I could see the sac, but I couldn’t see the flutter. I don’t even remember the exact words she used. But that’s where she told me, while holding a rod in my vagina, that I had suffered a missed miscarriage. A missed miscarriage is when the heartbeat stops and the baby dies, but your body hasn’t yet tried to discard it.
You know what the weird thing is? Through blurry eyes, I APOLOGISED to her!
I felt bad for her because I was too scared to feel bad for myself. I said ‘I’m sorry, it must be so hard to tell women this.’ I have no idea what logic I was using thinking SHE was the one who needed consoling? She didn’t care. And she really didn’t because do you want to hear how she tried to make me feel better? She said ‘It’s ok, you said you weren’t ready for this baby anyway.’ I was too out of it to register how wrong it was of her to say that. In a blur, she talked me through my options. I could wait and pass the sac naturally, or have surgery to remove it in a procedure called a D&C. I wanted the surgery. It was a clear choice for me. I wasn’t going to wait to bleed it all out an suffer the physical and emotional pain of seeing it all. I was booked in for the following Monday. It was currently Thursday. I left the room and paid my appointment fee through quiet tears. I didn’t want to scare any other Mum’s in the waiting room. I left.
On the way home, Steve called me. I couldn’t tell him over the phone what had happened. So I pretended everything was fine. It was SO hard. I got home, walked inside, threw myself into his arms and burst into tears. His Mum was in our kitchen, so I walked in there, my face a pink and puffy mess. And she just knew and scooped me into a huge hug. I gave Jaxxi a huge hug too. Already having one soul on earth with me took the edge off just a little. I did ask Steve’s Mum to have Jaxxi stay at her house that night. Just because I didn’t want her to see me in pain and I didn’t want to try hide it either. I wanted to wallow. I wanted to sit on the couch and cry and contemplate and replay everything. This was how I was going to process it. I felt so much guilt for my initial feelings of regret and fear when I first looked at the positive pregnancy test. Had I wished my baby away?
The next day, we were going to visit friends who had just brought their newborn baby home. Steve asked if I would be ok, and I knew I would be. Seeing someone else’s baby wasn’t going to bring me down. I knew I would feel a little better by celebrating their happiness. And I did. I’m glad I went and I’m glad I held him. The hard bit was when my friend unknowingly asked me ‘So, are you going to have any more after Jaxxi?!’ Such an innocent question. It’s one I had asked others many times. I stumbled a little with my answer, but I managed to say, ‘Yes, we’ll have more,’ as I thought of the teeny tiny dead baby still inside me. I had to carry it just for a couple more days.
Monday came. I was booked in to be at the hospital for 11am. I had to fast. I was so hungry! Steve couldn’t stay, so I went through to my little cubicle and had my hospital gown on. Hours went by. Remember how I said my OB had terrible time management? Well, it wasn’t until 5pm I was finally taken through to surgery! I hadn’t eaten since 8am. I had nurse after nurse come and do my name badge check and ask me questions including ‘Is it possible you’re pregnant?’. To which I had to say, over and over, ‘Yes. That’s why I’m here.’ I don’t understand how it didn’t reflect on my notes? Maybe it just said D&C? Which can still be done without a baby being in there. It’s just a super-efficient clean of your uterus really. So, I was put to sleep. I had the 15 minute procedure, and then I woke up. Before going to hospital, a woman who knew what I going through, who had suffered two miscarriages, warned me there may be a point where it hits how final this procedure is. And it did. It was when I woke up. I groggily started crying to the nurse saying ‘It’s all so final now.’ Looking back, she probably had no fucking clue what I was on about and just thought it was the drugs. I remember wondering why she wasn’t holding my hand or trying to make me feel better?
It was final in the way that when I was awake earlier, the baby who was made of myself and my husband was there, inside me. And now, he or she was gone. Taken away in a little jar to be tested in a lab, and then cremated into what can only be described as a tiny sachet of ashes. I keep the box discretely on a shelf in our living room. No one really knows what they’re looking at. But it’s our baby I never got to meet or hold.
A week later, I had another appointment with my OB. I called ahead to check if she was on schedule. They said I could come in but once I arrived and had hearth them talking, I soon realised they had confused me with another ‘Jessica’ who was booked before me, and they thought they were letting her know it was a good time to come in! I wondered when they were going to tell me? They didn’t. So I got up and let them know I heard them talking and was aware of their mistake and how I would like to make another appointment because, as happy as I was for these other wonderful pregnant women in this room, I wasn’t ready to sit in there with them for over an hour. We re-booked. I saw my OB one final time, everything was fine. It was a ‘simple’ chromosome abnormality which meant the pregnancy would never be viable. She basically ‘told me off’ for not getting my pregnancy hormone levels checked more than once at the very start of the pregnancy, because I would’ve seen then they weren’t growing which would have clearly indicated the pregnancy would fail. I finished the appointment, left and vowed never to see her ever again.
March came and my two friends had their gorgeous little babies. It was so beautiful seeing them share their experience together. They even ended up in the same hospital at the same time, as they had them only one day apart in the end! And then March 26 came. No one remembered the date except me. I wouldn’t expect anyone to of course. But I just quietly went through the day, missing my child I didn’t get a little more. But, the pain was eased because I was 3 months pregnant. The start of that pregnancy was one of the most terrifying times of my life. Constantly fearing I would lose it. We were unable to be excited until 12 weeks. We were so scared to get our hopes up. I harassed my GP for the results of my pregnancy hormone and demanded I have one test every two days for a week to ensure adequate hormone growth because that stupid OB put the fear of God in me! I was forever on the phone, asking if the results were there and what they meant. Then my dating scan came back with a slightly slower than normal heartbeat and I was convinced it was going to end in loss! I had to wait a whole week for another scan to check if it had risen. I did what every silly, scared mother does. I googled it. BIG MISTAKE! And I knew it was, but I was desperate to find something to say it would be ok. But for every article that said it would be ok, 4 more said the risk of survival was low! It was TORTURE! But, he was fine. He stayed. He kicked. He was born. My rainbow child. We call them ‘rainbows’ because it becomes a grey area of giving them a number. He’s my second born child, but I consider him my third because there is one up there who’s unable to be with me.
If you haven’t experienced a miscarriage or infant loss of some kind, but know someone who has. Share this with them. Just knowing others relate to their private and sometimes secret experience is a huge comfort. And please, never tell them ‘it happens for a reason’ or ‘you can try again soon.’ Just hug them, buy them chocolate, cook them some meals and be there without any other words besides ‘I’m here and I’ve got you.’