October is Baby Loss Awareness Month and many people across the country are sharing their stories of baby loss, stillbirth & miscarriage. Way too many people in fact, because these heartbreaking events touch so many families.
Chances are you know at least one person who has experienced a miscarriage. You may even know someone who has faced the devastation of stillbirth. And, vitally, you may not even know you know them.
Miscarriage is still somewhat of a taboo subject. It’s something we find ourselves whispering about, hiding or feeling unable to share since it happened before anyone knew we were pregnant. I’m obviously very open about sharing my thoughts on these issues on this blog and social media, but when the topic arises in real life, and I want to share the fact that I experienced a miscarriage nearly 18 months ago, I still find myself lowering my voice and leaning in close to explain. Why?
Is it because I’m ashamed? Embarrassed somehow that my body wasn’t able to keep that little seed alive. Maybe because I feel like it’s my fault – I’m too fat or not fit enough and that’s why my pregnancy didn’t continue. Maybe we feel uncomfortable because of the general consensus that “if you didn’t carry to term there must have been something wrong with it.” Is it because by sharing my miscarriage I may invite heartbreaking questions like are we still trying and do we want another baby and I wonder why you haven’t become pregnant again since (yes we are, yes we do and I’ve no bloody idea).
Or maybe the reason we lower our voice is simply because we live in a society where it’s just not the norm to discuss miscarriage over coffee. I honestly don’t know but I’ll always talk about it because, just like with mental health, if you keep painful or difficult things inside you they only eat you up.
I miscarried my second ever pregnancy at 11 weeks and 6 days on 6th May 2016. Second only to the devastation of Postnatal Depression & Anxiety, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced in my life. I didn’t truly understand the expression “broken-hearted” until the days that followed where my emotions left me with a physical pain in my chest and a unique emptiness inside that I believe can only be experienced by women who have lost a baby.
That pain dulls with time, of course. I no longer think about the baby we didn’t get to have every single day, but I still think about them often. And when I do allow myself to think of them the longing, anger and sadness rises up so quickly I realise it wasn’t buried quite as far down as I thought.
My gratitude for my son knows no bounds and I dare not think how much more difficult facing miscarriage is for those who don’t already have children. But this in itself brings its own unique emotions; I have my beautiful son so why do I still find miscarriage and failing to have another baby so upsetting? I have feelings of guilt that others are so much worse off than me and I should be over it by now.
Mostly I am “over it.” Or as over it as I can be. Like any loss or bereavement, I suspect the grief of miscarriage never really disappears, we simply learn to deal with it and lead happy lives alongside it. And, sadly, families who experience miscarriage aren’t always given the same time and understanding they may be given following another bereavement.
Miscarriage is a horribly unique experience that includes emotions in addition to the shock, anger and sadness usually associated with grieving – such as shame, embarrassment & a sense of letting people down. Plus, without the social formalities that accompany other losses families can be left feeling unsure how to process their feelings or how to move forward.
Will I ever forget about my miscarriage? No, I’m fairly certain I’ll always vividly remember the heartbreak and the longing. Do I really want to forget it? One of the saddest things about miscarriage is that when it’s over it almost feels like your pregnancy never happened. As that memory fades, I find it hard to believe I was ever really growing a baby at all. So if that remaining pain is what I need to suffer in order to keep the memory of those few joy-filled weeks alive then I suppose it’s a price I’m willing to pay.