Two weeks ago today I lost my first baby. At almost 9 weeks I suffered a miscarriage and my world fragmented. I found that writing about what happen was therapeutic and I’m hoping that writing can help again…
I feel like no one cares… no one remembers… or wants to remember… that we lost our baby and in the process a dream was shattered.
I was one of the “lucky” ones… my miscarriage was straightforward and complete. By the time I got a scan the baby had already come out (can I say born?). My bleeding and cramping only lasted for a week and was manageable with paracetamol.
I still had to put our tiny tiny baby in a box in the fridge to take into the hospital. I saw those little legs and tiny nose, the umbilical cord severed… my connection to my baby torn away from me.
I still dreamt about giving birth and holding our baby in my arms.
In all honesty I don’t know how to deal with the emotions running through me. Despair and raw sobbing grief of the first week have now been replaced with something else… something more nebulous…
In the first week people sent flowers, drove 100 miles to come and give me a hug, listened to me pour out my sorrows, sent cards of condolence, and strangers typed beautiful words of reassurance on my blog and twitter. We had told close family and we had all those awkward conversations to go through of explaining our loss. This wouldn’t be something I would change though… the people close to us needed to know what was going on in our lives… whether good or bad. So again I’m “lucky” to have lots of supportive people around me.
But… now what?
Now I feel that there is an empty void… no one is talking about it anymore… its old news.
Except me… everyday something or many somethings happen to remind me of my loss. Pregnancy tests where I’m looking for a negative… uncertainty over when my period will return (so many dashes to the loo for false alarms)… daily OPK testing to try to figure out where I am in my cycle… flowers and condolence cards on the sideboard… NHS maternity exemption card on the doormat… wool I bought to crochet a blanket for new baby… the list is endless…
And so… my brain feels like mush… thoughts slip away… words are hard to use… Never mind my world being fragmented… I’m fragmented… torn into pieces that don’t know which way to turn.
I can’t decide when to go on a very much needed holiday because I don’t want to be on my period on a swimming holiday. It’s not just the when to go… I don’t have a clue where to go… what I would like to see and do…
I can’t decide whether I want to have flowers around the house… yes, they are a nice bright thing… yes, they are showing that someone cares… but they are starting to wilt and die… and our baby died.
I can’t decide whether to try again… whether I could cope with another miscarriage. At the end of the first week I was desperate to try again… checking for that negative pregnancy test so that we could start having sex again. It seemed like the right thing to do to just “get back on the horse”… we’d already decided we wanted a child… that hadn’t changed.. had it… except now I have more doubts and anxiety about whether I could be a good mum… able to cope with all it entails.
I can’t decide what direction to take my work portfolio in… I don’t feel in any way motivated… I don’t know whether to pursue “baby friendly” avenues or throw myself into the international expeditions from one of my jobs… I don’t feel needed or worthwhile… I’m hating the isolation of working at home… alone… in the silence…
Silence… That is what is killing me. No one is talking about it… why?
Last night in an awkward attempt to understand what is going on in other people’s heads… I tried to ask Hubby whether he would rather just forget and if I was making it harder for him by trying to remember. Such as giving our baby a name… drawing Baby Allie’s name in the sand on the beach… visiting the garden of remembrance where Baby Allie is resting with other lost children…
It didn’t go so well because he thought I was attacking him for “not caring”… eventually I got enough words across to convey that I just wanted to know how he wanted to grieve. He said that he does think about what happened and has the “flashbacks” and things do remind him. He is a bit more pragmatic and has rationalised the realities of miscarriage being common and natural when a baby cannot survive. He does care and it does affect him, but that its not always while we are together and that he doesn’t tell me about it. Which got me right back to where I was to start with… I’m thinking no one cares… because no one is telling me about what they are feeling and thinking.
There are so many different ways of coping with miscarriage… silence is not one of them.
I’m terrible for internalising blame, conducting internal monologues and rerunning scenes to examine everything I could have done better. I’ve fallen down the dark rabbit hole before and I have to try super hard to get things out of my head. I have to work to talk out loud and show that vulnerable, insecure and uncertain side… the opposite side of the organised, logical and dependable personality I prefer to be.
So if I’ve managed to talk about something… I need to feel that I’ve been listened to and most importantly… taken seriously and believed. I naturally do a lot of listening to those close to me… sometimes I need that favour returned. I also need you to tell me what you are thinking and feeling…
So what do you do?
The most common response I get when telling people that I had a miscarriage was silence… awkward… people don’t know what to say… then they give you a hug… and that’s the start…
You may not know what a miscarriage is… it could be a shock to know we were trying… you might not know if you can touch me… you might be afraid to hurt my feelings by saying the wrong thing… you could worry that you’ll start me crying when I look “ok” at the moment. This is all normal.
We didn’t know anything about miscarriage until we were experiencing it first hand.
So be honest. Show that you care in any way that you can. Everyone is different.
Here are a few ideas that might help:-
- Be open and ready to listen… “Would you like to talk about it… don’t worry, you can tell me anything… even the squishy embarrassing bits if you need to”
- Bring supplies… “Is there anything you need me to get from the shops… you might need some sanitary towels, soft wet wipes, more tissues, tea, bread, chocolate…”
- Avoid trite reasoning, allow this to evolve naturally… “It’s not your fault, is there anything you need help to find out or ask a doctor about?”
- Pick up some of the difficult jobs… “Would you like me to delete your pregnancy apps and remove the auto emails?”, “Do you want me to make some of the phone calls?”.
- Bring an edge of normality, don’t stop inviting people… “Come out for a walk, drink at the pub, watch the latest film, dinner….”
- But equally respect the need for personal space… “I’d like to come and give you a hug but I don’t want to intrude, is this ok?” “Let me know when it is time for me to go, I won’t be at all offended”.
- Tell me how you feel and how its affecting you… “I saw a newborn in a pram today and it made me realise you’ve got an empty space in your life, I nearly burst into tears!”, “I’m sorry if this is too soon to ask… could we sow some seeds to remember the baby?” “We’ve been through this too and we still feel that loss!”
- Be aware that dates and events may bring things up again… “It’s ok to be emotional at any time; are there any dates that you might need a bit of extra support?”
- Accept that faux pas happen… “I’m sorry that I said something that upset you… can I do anything to help / please can you help me to understand”
- Keep talking regularly… “I can’t imagine how you are feeling… do you need to chat today?” “You can tell me over and over, as many times as you need”
If all else fails… Hugs! They make the world go around and can speak directly to our souls. Don’t fear the tears… they were ready to fall anyway.