I spent ages debating whether to add to the conversation for Baby Loss Awareness Week. I thought perhaps it’s too personal but I keep coming back to how important it is to speak openly about issues many of us face, often in silence.
You see, for me and millions of other women and their partners, baby loss, miscarriage or premature infant death is something we live with every day.
My own pregnancy came as a complete surprise to us both but after the initial shock wore off we tentatively felt… excited.
I was in my first trimester when I woke from a bad dream about drowning. I was confused and it took a moment to register the dull ache in my tummy.
I knew what was happening. I thought: ‘Please don’t go. Come back.’ An intense emptiness overwhelmed me.
Later, a hospital scan told me everything I needed to know.
I was surprised by how grief-stricken I felt. The avalanche of emotion was harder to bear than the physical discomfort. I’m uncomfortable with grief. I said things like: “It wasn’t a fully-formed baby at that stage, just a small collection of cells.’
So what was I grieving for if it was ‘just a collection of cells?’ I realised I was invested in it physically and emotionally. I mourned for the human it may have become.
I felt like I’ve failed the ultimate female test – the one our bodies are built for – and the not knowing why gnawed away at me. What does this say about me? Why did this happened?
Unfortunately in the vast majority of early miscarriages a cause isn’t found and answers don’t exist. I wished I could have done more. But what more could I have done?
It’s such a massive thing to ‘lose’ knowing there’s nothing you can do. You can’t ask it to stay. It won’t come back. There’s no stop, pause or rewind button. I worked hard to reach acceptance through the fog of the unknown.
The assumptions I’d previously held about my physical capabilities were seriously challenged. I believed I was a strong, resilient woman but felt weak, vulnerable.
It took a while to recognise I/we are ALL those things: strong/resilient and weak/vulnerable. It’s not either/or. It’s what makes us human. Being human means not being in control a lot of the time, too.
Recovery is tough. It took a couple more trips to the hospital before I felt like my old self physically. Emotionally, it was much longer.
But alongside the darkness and despair there’s hope and humility. There are people who love you and will support you. I spoke with other women who shared my private grief. I leant heavily on family and friends. I talked. I cried. I raged. In time I felt soothed.
Miscarriage and stillbirths are a common trauma. Statistics show one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and nine babies are stillborn every day in the UK. While each experience is different, we can unite in offering compassion and support.
If you are struggling right now then remember you are not alone. You can feel many things, or nothing. There’s no right or wrong. You can speak out if you need to and ask for help from those who care. Go easy on yourself. You’re only human, after all.