The Black Dog
That’s what they call it, right?
I had a brief meeting with this a few years ago after a shitty relationship break up, someone who I can only describe as a narcissist. Someone who made me believe everything he said, then spat me out with one hell of a hoik. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take me that long to send that black dog on its way. A bit of CBT and I was back on my feet. At the time, it was very raw and seemed to last for ever but, in hindsight, it was a puppy.
This time, however. This time I met with a ferocious beast. Foaming at the mouth and growling, ripping me to shreds at every opportunity.
It came the day Stuart told me he no longer wanted to try again. The day I excitedly told him that I didn’t have anything wrong with me. The day I felt empowered and confident that we likely wouldn’t lose another child, that we had just been unlucky. I was armed with my arsenal – a prescription for Progesterone and baby Aspirin, I was ready! I’d get that healing that everyone else seemed to be getting.
But I wouldn’t.
The bottom of my world completely gave way. I was hit like a bolt of lightning.
To be fair, he had a point, in a practical sense. Not to mention the fact that our year had been pretty challenging…
- Stuart had ongoing Labrynthitis, which had begun in September 2015.
- We both contracted mumps after our second loss. Stuart suffered more than I did but I had the face of a hamster. I looked like a cartoon character!
- Charlie got shingles earlier in the year (just after we lost Emily).
- We were sorting out my divorce, trying to buy our dream house and sell my flat, as well as dealing with our losses.
Actually “Challenging” is a probably a massive understatement.
But, despite all this, despite everything Stuart was doing for me and for the boys, I so desperately wanted to fill that void that my two babies had left behind.
Suddenly, everywhere I looked, on the street, on the telly, on social media, people were excitedly announcing their pregnancies and proudly showing off their bumps and scan photos.
I had a text from my children’s father to say that his girlfriend was pregnant and he couldn’t wait to tell the boys.
Are you fucking kidding me!?
Go away. Go away now. Stop. I wanted to throw my phone far far away. Tell me this is a sick joke. But no. It was real. The salt was well and truly being gouged into my very open wound. He did not deserve this. That was my joy, my wish. How fucking dare he. This was never his dream. Would he like to steal my soul too? Live my life? The acid bubbled up inside me. I felt sick.
Then a close member of Stuart’s family announced her pregnancy, something I desperately wanted to be happy about. I felt horrible. Like a bitter horrid jealous bitch. I couldn’t stop the painful jealousy, it was like a knife being twisted. Why wasn’t I excited? What the hell was wrong with me!? The tears flowed even more. Was I losing my mind? It just seem so cruel that this happened to us. Not that I’d ever want it to happen to anyone, but why us? Why did everyone appear to have healthy pregnancies but we were dealt this cruel hand? Twice in the same year!
I went running one day with friends. The one thing that helped me escape the darkness. I came back and Stuart told me that his friends had just announced their pregnancy.
“Ok…” I said
“Good, they deserve it” I said with a forced smile, trying so hard to fight.
But underneath I was dying.
I started googling, why was I reacting like this? There has to be a way to stop it. I found hundreds of articles, all explaining that my feelings were completely normal, that thousands of loss parents feel the same. I spoke to others on online forums. I was normal. My feelings were normal.
Ok… Great. But who was I? I didn’t like this new person. I wanted this person to go away forever, disappear for good. Where had ‘me’ gone? The truth is, life would never be the same again. I was a new me. I have to get to know this new person, a complete stranger. Or was I? Maybe this person had been buried inside me the whole time and it took major trauma to bring it out. I don’t know. All I know is that I felt very different and I didn’t like it.
Time went on and Stuart became incredibly frustrated with my pain. It must be terribly hard being around someone who keeps crying. To him, he was stopping the woman he loved being truly happy and he couldn’t cope with it. With me sobbing every time I saw a pregnant woman. Telling him I didn’t know how to get better without the healing of another child. That everyone I spoke to has had another child after loss and that healed them.
Telling him I wanted to die…
I was a 3000 watt cattle prod, poking him and antagonising him with my pain, tears, and obsession.
He can’t help how he feels. He never even wanted his own children and I knew this from the start. I was taking everything from the relationship, while he was giving everything. We’d moved into our dream house and he’d turned his life upside-down for us. Became a father to my boys. A perfect role model for them. Also, our outgoings were rather a lot more than we had really thought about. We both work full time (and have to). How could we afford full time childcare for a baby? Could I find a job working from home? Go back to Childminding perhaps…
I couldn’t control my desperation though and the tears carried on. I went to the GP desperate for some kind of normality. The first GP told me he didn’t know what to do with me, that I should Google ‘Miscarriage support in Sevenoaks’. That my baby was “just a bunch of cells”. I went away crying, thinking there was just no hope for me.
I decided to get a second opinion. I’m so glad I did because this time around I got compassion and the help I needed. This GP put me in touch with a psychiatric nurse at the surgery who was brilliant. She kept telling me “You are not depressed, you are grieving!”
But the “grieving” continued, despite her help. I started taking Prozac which, amazingly, stopped me crying for an entire week. It was like a breath of fresh air! But it soon picked up again, and Stuart and I were hanging on by a thread. We still loved each other dearly, but grief is such a personal thing and we were not on the same page at all. I was scared I would lose him too. Started to be scared that I would lose all the people I loved.
Suddenly, Emily’s birthday was approaching. 24th September she’d have been born, by elective c-section. I wonder if she’d have looked like the baby in my dream? Would she have been the ‘Wookiee’ Stuart had joked I was having? Another huge baby? I bought her a tree, a flowering cherry tree which we planted on her birthday. Stuart inscribed a beautiful quote from the Velveteen Rabbit onto a stone.
In all this time I received massive support from friends, but I also received some hateful words from an old friend. “You’re behaving like the only woman ever to have a miscarriage” she said. I tried not to let it get to me, but I can’t pretend it didn’t. I focused on the good stuff and the good people.
But it happened again. Someone else telling me our little girl was not real. Was not a real person. I couldn’t process these words. They felt so cruel. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to hurt a grieving mother like that.
My chest tightened, I couldn’t breath properly, pins and needles started all down my left arm, I was having my first panic attack. I heard Stuart in the background ask if he should call for an ambulance. I managed to reach for my phone and find an anxiety gif and, after what seemed like hours, I calmed down. I got up out of bed to go to the bathroom and my legs gave way beneath me. This was so surreal. I had to literally crawl to the bathroom.
I then tried to find comfort in an online forum that I’d used many times before. People, complete strangers, were amazing. They supported me and said all the right things, to someone they’ve never met. They gave me such faith in the human race, and the kindness that others are so willing to give was so touching.
But then the hateful comments began. “You didn’t lose a child”, “I find you insensitive and offensive”, “You’re delusional”, “You’ve got something mentally wrong with you”,”You didn’t lose a daughter, or a child, you lost a foetus”, “Stop behaving like you lost a child, you didn’t!”.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Was this true!? Was I being offensive and insensitive? I certainly hadn’t meant to be. I started to doubt myself. Wondering if all these cruel comments were true. Was I overreacting? Was I nuts? I plummeted further.
I realised that the people berating me just needed educating. They didn’t understand the pain. They were voicing their opinion, despite me not asking for it. Ignore them. It is their issue, their ignorance, not mine. Those comments, those people hiding behind a screen, just encouraged me to share more and talk about baby loss even more.
Society should not be shutting down grief. Should not be shutting down someone’s hopes and dreams.
Some even said I should be grateful for the children I already have (as if I am not already). I found this perfect quote which I have used often:
I often found myself in Emily’s bedroom, sobbing into the pregnancy pillow and baby grow we’d bought. Found myself staring at the bag of half worn maternity clothes and half empty box of pregnancy vitamins. What do I do with this stuff? I can’t get rid of it, I’m not ready. I don’t even want to be ready.
I decided at around this point I needed more than CBT and ‘happy pills’, so I looked into getting 1:1 counselling.
Christmas was on its way. I remembered Stuart told me his Step mum had been knitting for Emily before she died. I still wanted our little one to have something and didn’t want to ask if she had kept anything. So, I decided to make something for our daughter. A good friend of mine showed me the basics and I knitted Emily a hat which I wrapped up and put under our Christmas tree along with a cuddly bunny rabbit.
And I found a lovely bauble for the tree which I had personalised…
Christmas was fun, but very hard. Our daughter should have been with us opening her presents (with help obviously), gurgling, smiling, crying, feeding, wearing a ‘My First Christmas’ outfit. Christmas was missing someone and it felt very wrong. But, on the whole, we did have a lovely time together and Stuart did the most beautiful thing. There was one more present under the tree “for Mummy and Emily” A book called “I Love You Forever”. I cried tears of joy.
Christmas and New Year flew by and our relationship was clearly struggling. Stuart had forgotten how to support me and I was getting deeper and deeper into depression. I just did not know how to find that healing, when all I read was “I wouldn’t have healed without my baby” and “don’t give up hope”.
Baby loss support groups were packed full of women trying again.
I didn’t belong anywhere.
My arms ached with emptiness but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
We started Relate sessions which, a lot of the time, made me anxious and scared, wondering what would come out and how it would affect our relationship in the following days. I am not one for confrontation at the best of times and a great deal of conflict came out which was very hard.
Christmas and New Year also brought out a huge wave of pregnancy announcements on Facebook. It was one after the other and it was tearing me apart, so I came off for a few weeks. I didn’t miss it at all and I certainly didn’t need the triggers.
I’ll be honest and say that I have had some very dark days. Thankfully, I have the most supportive friends anyone could ask for. I don’t think I’d be here writing this without them. Also, The Miscarriage Association, have been very helpful. Which brings me to tell you that my darling Stuart will be running the The London Marathon for this wonderful charity on 23rd April 2017. This is his fundraising page. Please donate if you can.
I am very happy to report that Stuart and I are now back on track. He has become the supportive, loving, and compassionate man he was when we first lost Emily, and it has helped me like you would not believe. I know it is hard for him, but he has been amazing. My rock again, my hero ❤
In further positive news, my divorce finally came through a couple of weeks ago. Something to seriously celebrate! I have also started running again, training for a 10k race in April and a half marathon in September. Seriously cannot wait!
I still desperately want the healing of another child, triggers will always be everywhere and I still cry all the time but, ultimately, I want us all to be happy. I have to stop putting my needs first and try and find some other way of healing and making peace with Stuart’s decision. I’ve also started with a new Counsellor. She has picked up that I am displaying signs of Post Natal Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she has a technique which will hopefully help me. I will be talking about that soon so please stay tuned and thank you sooooo much for reading thus far! Your support has been utterly phenomenal and I couldn’t write any of this without you xx