Moving on from Miscarriage
18 year old me with my 3 day old baby girl
** EDIT: I originally wrote this post in Dec 2014 but never put it live.
Now is the time.**
Last November 2014 marked not one, but two significant dates in my life.
Wednesday November 19th was the due date for a baby I miscarried earlier in the year, and Saturday November 22nd was my 35th birthday.
Thankfully, both passed without too much emotional upheaval, but that’s not to say it was a year free of mental hurdles leading up to those events.
It took an entire seven months following the miscarriage before I even began to feel like myself again. First off, there was the physically traumatic experience. I’ve often heard that each pregnancy is as unique as each child. Well I guess this is true of miscarriage too. Mine was over a number of days, it began with light bleeding followed by a trip to the hospital where the heartbeat was described as “dying” (I don’t need to tell you what a devastating moment that was). The bleeding then progressed, eventually accompanied by excruciating pain the next day which brought us back into hospital where it was established that the heartbeat had stopped. I went immediately for a D&C procedure, followed by at least a week of total down time to physically recover.
Mentally, it’s something I won’t ever fully recover from. I remember very soon afterwards I was chatting with someone who was unaware of what I’d gone though. She came to tell me of an Aunt of hers who’d miscarried many years ago and had never been able to try for another baby because of the effects of the loss on herself and her husband. They never had any children and I can understand why.
It was actually unusual that I hadn’t blurted out about my own loss before she got to the story. It was definitely on the tip of my tongue. I was pretty free with the news and told many who crossed my path. Personally, I found it almost impossible not to tell people. I’ve always been a really open person, and I guess in some way I felt it made the baby’s life, well just that – a life!
Talking was one of the things that helped me heal. That, and the help of a truly supportive husband. He came through for me in every way, including ways I could never have known I needed.
The advice from people varied. Most tried telling me about their personal experience of miscarriage or of those they knew who’d been through it. Often people would tell me of someone who’d had up to three miscarriages before going on to have a healthy pregnancy. Of course encouragement was the sentiment behind the stories, but there lay little comfort in thinking we may go through it twice more before successfully carrying a baby full term. I did have two consoling factors though. My daughter Rebecca is 16, so I’ve done it before. That at least made me feel like it was possible (even though that pregnancy involved a lot of bleeding too). Secondly, we got pregnant as soon as we tried. That is such a gift considering the amount of people I know who have tried for months or years with no success.
So the months passed and many around us had babies or became pregnant during that time. I won’t pretend it didn’t affect me, it did a little, but less so as the months rolled by. We stopped trying for a baby at that time, we didn’t feel ready. Perhaps we somehow needed to pass the November 19th milestone, and then with Christmas approaching we kind of put if off until the new year. Although with the other pretty significant date that happened that week I felt pressure not to spend too much time thinking about it. We don’t have forever now do we?
It blew my mind how 16 years ago an unplanned pregnancy was such a world away from all this. I’m sure back then women who were struggling to conceive might have looked at 18 year old me with a little resentment, and yet there I was wondering would I ever have the strength to try again.
We always felt we wanted a bigger family though, and lets face it, is there ever a perfect time to do it? I certainly don’t think so. I mean I could have talked myself out of it month on month with a million different reasons, and now fear had been added to the pile. But regardless of all that I knew myself and my husband deserved a shot at parenting again. For me, it would be a first in terms of the support I’d have, the excitement, the maturity, and being able to enjoy the experience rather than defend it. As for my husband, well it’d be a first for him all round. I gradually felt excited again by the idea, I knew it was what we both wanted, and I felt there were definitely babies in our future.
So what to do next? Take a deep breath and to be brave was my only solution. Be inspired by those around us. Those who faced bigger hardships and took bigger leaps of faith. Fight the fear, while embracing it also. There’s no hiding from what happened but there is moving on from it. I continued to share, have no shame, and keep no secrets about the baby I lost and I knew only time would tell what was in store for us.