pregnancy

What no one tells you about the painful weeks and months after a miscarriage.

There’s a woman at my gym who became pregnant at the same time as me. I now see her every morning with her beautiful, blooming belly, and it doesn’t make me sad. It doesn’t make me bitter, or even jealous. Which surprises me, because when I first lost the baby, I thought I would hate seeing pregnant bellies – such a physical reminder of what I no longer have.

But that’s not what I hate. I’ve discovered that I am always awed and overjoyed by the miracle of pregnancy, even in the midst or aftermath of mine ending.

The things I do hate are still unfurling…

I hate that the grief continues to hit me out of nowhere.

I hate that I still keep count of how many weeks I “should” be.

I hate that that will probably never go away. I will always count the “shoulds”.

sarah
Sarah and her family over Christmas. Image: Supplied.

I hate that the day after I was told my baby no longer had a heartbeat at my nine week scan, my mobile rang with a number I didn’t recognise – and my heart exploded with pathetic, fragile hope. Hope that it would be the sonographer saying, “We made a mistake! Your baby is alive.” It was my dentist, confirming a routine clean.

I hate that when we lost the baby, I recounted all the things I did wrong before I knew I was pregnant – the tuna sushi I ate, the sparkling wines I drank, the cardio workouts I did – and drove myself crazy wondering if I caused this?

I hate that this happens to women every hour of every day, ending one in four pregnancies.

I hate that I felt guilty about my grief, so I downplayed it. I told myself I didn’t deserve to be as heartbroken as women who have awful infertility stories, or who have had miscarriages and don’t have any surviving children. As many loved ones reminded me in an effort to be helpful, I have three healthy children to be grateful for. I am grateful, endlessly grateful, for my precious ones… but I am also devastated to have lost the sibling they’ll never meet.

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I hate that I had to do grocery shopping and show up at work and drop the kids to school and carry on with life for two whole weeks with my no-longer-growing baby inside me.

I hate that in the hospital, when the two nurses who were prepping me for my D&C were so kind to me, I started crying.

sarah
Sarah and her son Jesse. Image: Supplied.

I hate that once I started crying, I couldn’t stop, even after they wheeled me into surgery.

I hate that I had to sign a form confirming my procedure: Suction Evacuation of Uterine Contents. It doesn’t get much more raw, real, brutal or final than that. Any lingering, impossible flame of hope gets extinguished when you sign that bad boy.

I hate that I had no idea what a D&C involved – we should talk more about this. It’s a safe, straightforward but significant procedure and you have to fast before it, and then go under a general anaesthetic. The experience itself is lonely and sad and scary but like many hard things in life, it’s surmountable.

I hate that I can still unexpectedly burst into tears while I’m in the middle of doing something completely routine. I’m not even thinking about the baby or the pregnancy, and then, suddenly, BOOM – a thought creeps in, and tears fall onto chopped veggies or the steering wheel.

I hate that this happened. Hate, hate, hate it.

There is a flip side to that ‘hate’ coin, though.

After I lost the baby, we had to go through the painful experience of sharing the sad news with everyone we’d told. How ashamed I felt, at how presumptuous I’d been – that I’d just assumed my baby would be fine, and therefore confidently told my mum, my siblings, my family, my best friends that I’m “up the duff again!”

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Women reveal the insensitive comments they often receive from others after suffering a miscarriage. Post continues below...

It’s such a heartbreaking experience, mentally calculating who you have told… and then working up the courage and the energy to tell them you’re no longer expecting.

When we did update people, we were flooded with love. So many friends shared their grief about their own little babes, who were not destined for this world. Two friends dropped around food – meals, snacks and chocolate, enough to keep me on the bench in the kitchen for a week. (Both of them had had miscarriages). Others offered to babysit the kids while I did what needed to be done. My best friend in New Zealand sent flowers. My sister drove me to the hospital. Another friend just texted me: “What do you need right now?”

It was a love bomb of epic proportions and it helped to comfort me during a really, really sad few weeks. It didn’t extinguish the pain, but it made it bearable.

To the mamas going through this right now, I’m so sorry. My only advice is: feel all the feels. Talk to people about it if you want to; retreat, if that makes you feel better. I did both, at different times. Don’t put a timeframe around the grief or bow down to expectations of when you “should” feel better. Forgive the well-meaning loved ones who don’t know how to comfort you, so they say things that make you feel worse.

And if it helps, send this to your partner. I shared this with my husband and he was a little shocked; he didn’t realise I was still grieving for him. For him, we were pregnant, then we weren’t, then life just kind of moved on… Which it does. Life moves on. But when it does, we’re allowed to be sad if it moves in a direction that we weren’t expecting.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

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