You know, before you experience your first miscarriage, you cannot imagine it happening to you. Cannot begin to put your feet in the shoes of those who have been through such pain.
Heartache like you’ve never felt. Those boys who broke me? Pah, bring me 100 more.
When I was trying to conceive my living children, my wonderful conception support group talked about multiple losses and I thought, how they hell are they still even breathing themselves? How on earth can I ever find the words to make them feel better, to show my support? How? When I can’t even get my head around what that would feel like?
When my two were newborns and I thought about them having not survived pregnancy or birth (we may have lost both 100 years ago) it filled me with absolute terror. I wiped that thought from my mind.
Fast forward to now and I have found myself in those shoes. Those shoes that send pain all the way up through your feet, legs, body, arms, head, and straight back through your soul and back around again. All day. Every single day of your life.
Even in your dreams. There is no escape.
When you’re told that babyloss happens to one in four, you wonder what the chances of it happening twice are. In the four people at that time who were pregnant. The couple buying my flat, the couple who sold their house to us, the colleague at work, and us.
In those four couples, WE were that one in four.Why us? I thought.
But why NOT us?
Then that one in four came around again. But it wasn’t just four this time, it was five. The close family member, the ex husband, two other couples in our circle of friends. For the second time WE were that ‘one in four’. But five this time around.
Again, why us? I thought.
But, again, why NOT us?
The chances of a second babyloss is just 5%, they say. Yet it happened to us. How do you even begin to get your head around that?
I’ll tell you how I tried.
I say tried. I still can’t get my head around it and I am not sure if I ever will, but I need to live with it and this is how I try…
- By acknowledging those losses as REAL. They WERE real. Both of those babies, despite our second child passing away on the day we received our good news. That little person inside me was still real. Both of them. As real as you or I. As real as any baby and JUST as important.
- By keeping hold of memories. Emily has a babygrow, a breastfeeding pillow, a scan picture. There are three shelves just outside of Emily’s bedroom which we have dedicated to her and her baby brother or sister. Stuart and I had matching tattoos done for Emily and I am considering one for our second loss, my fourth baby.
- By learning to knit. I knitted a little hat for my babies. Something to keep their little heads warm and to remind me of them. I also have plans to knit a lot more little hats for the local neo-natal unit. For all those tiny babies clinging onto life.
- TALKING. Being able to talk about my daughter, and about my fourth baby, has really helped me to heal. I have a loooooooong way to go. To me, there is no better healing than a Rainbow baby, but talking is probably the best start. I have talked to friends, to relatives, to strangers. I have become close to people I never thought I would. I won’t lie, I have been utterly gobsmacked by the few hurtful comments I have received (which I will discuss later), but I have, and you will too, found the people who keep me from drowning.
- Make sure you talk to those who have your back. Those who want to support you. Those who are happy to talk about your pain and are there to listen and not judge. Those who reach out an arm when you cannot physically swim any longer and just want to give up and sink. I have, to my horror, been shut down a couple of times and it damaged me further. A lot further. I never imagined anyone would want to stamp on someone while they are so deep down they can barely breathe. Just understand that, whether they wanted to or not, those people are just not ready to even try to understand. They may have had a tough life themselves so compare their hurt to yours. The age-old ‘Grief olympics’ which I will talk about later. It may be that they just do not get it, and perhaps they don’t want to. Sadly, babyloss makes a few people very uncomfortable, and these people can be those you never expected. This is where the taboo issue comes in which I will also talk about in a minute.
- Don’t force yourself to do anything. Take things very slowly. If you want to accept social invitations then go for it! If you don’t, then politely decline. No one worth your friendship will judge you. If you cannot bring yourself to be around pregnant friends then, again, politely decline. Those people will not judge you. They can only try to imagine the pain you are going through, so will be able to give you time and space and as much support as you need.
- Accept you will never be the same person again. You are a new person. Getting to know this new person is not easy. You assume you will grieve and then bounce back again. You won’t. Enjoy getting to know this new person, find out their deepest fears and what makes them happy. This person was always inside you, but you didn’t know they were there. This is the inner you. Let this person out and don’t be afraid of them. This is you. Embrace it. Love it.
- I started running again. Running is a wonderful therapy for me. I found it impossible in the months following the deaths of our babies. I could barely get myself out of bed. But once I started running again I got the bug. The bug I once had before. I signed up for a 10km race in April, and a half marathon in September. I have also helped get a local running group going. We don’t go every week but, when we do, it is like a therapy session. We run, we talk, we laugh, we cry.
Am I sharing too much? Am I reacting too much? Why do I feel like the only woman who has lost a child? Where is everyone?
You go from publicly sharing your excitement to privately crying away tears in the bathroom because society has made you feel that’s the only acceptable place to grieve.
Miscarriage happens to 1 in 4 women. It’s likely you know someone who has suffered a loss, or that you know someone like me who suffers recurrent pregnancy loss. Miscarriage happens and it needs to be talked about. Yes it is awkward and there are no perfect words- but women, and men alike, need to know they have support. They need to know they are not forgotten and that their baby, no matter how small, is not forgotten either. Society has forced women, and men, to grieve miscarriage in a “hush hush” fashion. Don’t be one of those people, be a light. You may hear the same thoughts, or questions, a hundred times- but imagine how many more times a person has asked themselves those questions? Miscarriage is real and it’s painful—in more ways than just one. Just because you don’t “see” it, doesn’t mean it disappears.
Babyloss is taboo. It’s a fact that I had never thought about previously.
As I read through my blog posts, then think about all of my thoughts I’ve shared on social media, I do wonder about those who have not been through this. I wonder if I am over sharing. Do these people just want to look the other way? Do they think like I did? “This only happens to other people”. Are they rolling their eyes whenever I share something? Do they think I am attention seeking? Looking for sympathy? Do people think I am over-reacting? Do people think my behaviour is odd, bewildering?
I think maybe in the beginning, yes I might have been attention seeking. My baby had died. I didn’t understand. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone, that people had my back, that they understood my pain, or at least tried to. I wanted people to stop talking about their new babies, like mine didn’t matter. I wanted people to stop talking about their pregnancies, like mine didn’t matter. All feelings that are perfectly normal, I’ve since learnt. It is important not to fight those feelings, because you can’t. Just accept them. Breath them in, breath them out, watch them pass you by and come back again. Breath them, watch them..
Grief Olympics. Yes, this is a thing. I’d not heard of it either. It is a very sad and emotional thing to be thrust into unwillingly. I have been called offensive for calling my babies ‘my children’ by a couple of people. They said they were ‘bewildered’ by my behaviour. Luckily, these were complete strangers. It hurt. A lot. But, ultimately, I felt sorry for them. One of them lost a baby at full term, the other, I’m not sure. This is the way they are dealing with it. They are hurting too, but they view their hurt as worse than anyone else’s. I think we all do to some extent as we only feel our own pain. A pain that cannot possibly be any worse for anyone else. There is no need for grief olympics. Nobody wants to participate in this, nobody wants that gold medal. If you lost your baby at five weeks, nine weeks, 20 weeks, or full term, your pain is your pain and you can acknowledge your loss however you like. No one should tell you otherwise. No one worth your time. Don’t let those people pull you down.
Those wonderful friends from my support group I spoke about earlier? I wondered how they were still breathing. I now know they have no choice. You keep going. You fight and you fight and you become stronger with each and every day. You have set backs, you think you cannot possibly carry on, but you wake up each morning still, and the support from friends and family is your fuel.
It’s been just over a year since Emily slipped away from us. Our darling little girl and her younger brother or sister, who still have two loving big brothers, a mummy, and a daddy who will love them forever.
I no longer worry about people thinking I’m attention seeking, looking for sympathy, over-reacting… My feelings are valid and so are yours. My babies were real and so were yours.
Babyloss should not ever be taboo.
One in Four ♥