Double Trouble: why do people have more than one child? I feel like I’m preparing for war. I may as well be building a bunker (to hide in) and stocking up the cupboards with tins (because god knows how I’m going to get round a supermarket). I am expecting No.2. I should be going gooey eyed at newborns, lurking around babygros in shops and becoming one with my uterus at pregnancy yoga. But, in reality, I’m in denial. Instead of excitement, I’m filled with fear.
As you can see, I’ve been scratching my head for a few weeks now. For some reason, I can’t find the words for my next post. I assumed a healthy 20-week scan of our second baby (or ‘Bop’ as we like to call him) would lead to an outpouring of posts. I could relax a bit and write about expecting No.2.
But I’ve gone blank. Everything I write sounds wrong. Ungrateful. Negative. I put it down to nerves at having No.2 – I know it’s not going to be easy.
But then, last night, I read this beautifully-written, brave blog post about miscarriage by Grenglish: http://grenglish.co.uk/need-talk-m-word/ And it all became clear.
We lost our first baby. There was no heartbeat at the 12-week scan. And so sadly, I’m not sure I’m capable of having an anxiety-free pregnancy. Being pregnant makes me feel uneasy. I seem to look for things to worry about – real, imagined, anything.
So, I thought I should be brave like ‘Grenglish’ and revisit a couple of posts I wrote (but didn’t publish) when I lost my first baby. I never quite managed to finish them, or polish them up – they remain raw, rough round the edges. As they should be.
23 October 2011
“I lost a baby in May.
There, I said it.
I’ve made a couple of attempts to write about it but it’s been too difficult.
But I promised myself I would. And I think it’s going to make me feel better.
I’ve got another good reason to do it too. But I’ll tell you more about that another time.
Starting from the beginning, I didn’t know what a missed miscarriage was. We skipped into the waiting room for our scan. I had dinner booked with my girlfriends the following night so I could finally spill the beans. That’s how clueless I was.
I hadn’t had any signs that anything was wrong. So I naively assumed that was it. If we got to 12 weeks without any bleeding, how could there be anything wrong?
The scan scene played out in my mind as if I was in a film. How many times have we all seen that moment in films or on TV when you first see your baby? Moving, bouncing. That’s what I thought it would be like.
But it wasn’t. We could see something was wrong. It was too small and too still.
And then the bad news. ‘I’m sorry’. And the silence. And then the second opinion and vague hope maybe they were wrong. And then the print out saying ‘9 weeks, 2 days’.
It had been inside me for more than three weeks, with no heartbeat, and I had no idea.”
15 May 2012
“I just read over my last post, and it made me weep. Brought it all back. But boy was it good to write it down. I should have used the blog more in those awful months. But I remember it felt too raw to articulate, especially in something as superficial as a blog.
But here I am again.
Part of me thought I’d just leave that post as it was. A little blip in cyberspace dedicated to that horrible time. But it seems unfair to leave it floating there.
I’m 34 weeks pregnant. When I wrote the last post, I knew I was pregnant but I couldn’t even bear to write it down in case it tempted fate, jinxed it somehow. But here I am – with a bulging belly that wriggles and squirms – visibly. ‘Bubba’ might be tucked away, cosy inside me but he/she is very much with us, every minute of the day.
It’s been an interesting eight months so far. Anyone who’s lost a baby will know that you don’t take a second for granted with the next pregnancy. For the first 20 weeks I struggled to control the anxiety – swinging between joy and gratitude, and then terror that it could all be taken away from me again. Or the sinking feeling that I just wasn’t able to have a healthy pregnancy.
But So Far, So Good. Once I got past the 20 week scan and started feeling Bubba very much alive and kicking, I started to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. Now, if I’m worried, I just need to prod Bubba, or wake him/her up with food (chocolate is a fave) or a drink and I’ve got that reassurance – I swear sometimes Bubba senses it and gives me a hearty kick, as if to say ‘Chill out, mum’.”
So there we go
I didn’t write about the unfeeling GP who refused to book me an early scan for my next pregnancy, even though I was crippled with anxiety. She told me that everyone reacts in a different way to having a miscarriage. It doesn’t bother some people at all. True. I respect that. But I left feeling like there was something wrong with me for feeling sad. That I was weak. Self-indulgent.
Or the guy at the wedding we went to a couple of months after the miscarriage – fake smile plastered on my face – who quizzed me on why I didn’t have any children yet. I just laughed it off.
Or about how so many occasions – birthdays, weddings, my original due date – reminded me of my loss because I’d imagined them with a bump, or even a baby.
Or my colleague who was pregnant at the same time and how I watched her grow and glow, while my tummy stayed flat and empty.
I ended up going back to work after a couple of days of having the ERPC (operation to remove the foetus), put on a brave face and tried to carry on as normal, going to dinner parties, hen dos – not cancelling anything. There was nothing physically wrong with me after all.
What I needed was to crawl into bed and let myself cry, give myself time to grieve the little baby that was never to be.
I was terrified of my grief because I almost felt like it wasn’t justified. After all, ‘it’s nature’s way’, ‘I could try again’, ‘it’s so common.’ Or so I was told.
In the end anxiety got the better of me and I decided to have some counselling sessions (privately – the NHS waiting list was so long it probably wasn’t worth the wait, the GP said).
These sessions finally gave me a space to grieve. They helped me accept my miscarriage for what it was: losing my first baby. Not ‘just’ a miscarriage that no-one ever talks about. The therapist asked me to say the words I hadn’t ever dared utter, ‘I lost my baby.’
I’ve always tried to make a point of being open about what happened – so that maybe someone else won’t feel so alone.
And, every day I feel grateful for my little Curly Boy and hopeful for Bop in my belly.
24 November 2015
I wrote this blog post a while back (Mar 28 2014) and have revisited it for the #misCOURAGE campaign. The stats on Tommy’s website, taken from a study of 6,000 women, don’t surprise me at all.
- 70% of women said that they felt guilty about miscarriage
- 79% said they felt like a failure after losing a pregnancy
- Two thirds of women said they found it hard to talk about their miscarriage
- 85% said that they didn’t think people understood what they had gone through
- 67% felt that they couldn’t talk to their best friend
- 35% didn’t feel like they could talk to the father about their experience.
And that’s why it’s important to share our stories and break the silence.
I also supported the Mumsnet Miscarriage Care Campaign earlier in the year. #miscarriagecare