For months now, I have been contemplating writing about and sharing my experience. I have been feeling a burning urge to open up about a topic that is not often discussed for one reason or another. I have spoken to my husband about the prospect of sharing our story and he cheered me on. I then told my sister, over and over again of my desire to divulge the details of my horrible experience; she too encouraged me to go ahead. Yet months later, I still sat heavy hearted, not really knowing what was stopping me- I still don’t, yet in this Baby Loss Awareness Week, I feel compelled to do what I have been putting off.
Today I share with you, my own personal experience with losing what would have been our first born child- my miscarriage.
We had planned this pregnancy and decided to have a child after years of waiting till the right time. To be honest, having a child was a dream of mine but my husband was way more broody than I was. Believe me when I say he asked me to have his child almost weekly for months, and even though I wanted one, I just felt the time was not right. Eventually, I came around and we decided to “try”. Being a very determined person and very much afraid of failure, I downloaded multiple fertility apps on my phone, bought vitamins and folic acid; I basically went on a self-imposed fertility course.
Within a month, we were expecting a baby. We were so excited. We were overjoyed. We were ecstatic. Our prayers had been answered. My husband seemed so proud of me. I can’t explain this feeling but I felt like I had or was about to give him something he had pined for- his very own child. I started to experience morning sickness and the general early pregnancy symptoms (larger breasts, food aversions, strong sense of smell, no menstruation…the works!). I felt ill but I felt amazing! I was pregnant!
This period of my life was so special. My younger sister was also expecting (approximately 8 weeks ahead of me). My boyfriend (now husband) threw me the most amazing surprise proposal and engagement party that was witnessed by my friends and family from near and far. Everything felt amazing. My GP, who had performed a Positive Urine Pregnancy test, advised me to see my Obstetrician/Gynaecologist at 10 weeks of pregnancy. I had made the appointment and at the time it seemed so special that the appointment date fell on the Monday after the weekend of the Engagement Party.
We arrived at the doctor’s office, dealt with all the bureaucracy and pee’ing in a cup admin, and finally the male doctor was ready to see us. He was very impersonal and rather off towards us but we were so excited we didn’t really care. He ushered us into his examination room and proceeded to do an Ultrasound. As he applied the cold gel on my barely swollen belly, I looked at my brand new fiancé and he smiled deeply; we were about to “see” our little one for the first time.
Listen- we were rookies- I mean we all are at some point, but we had not really read up on this part. So when the Doctor blurted out “There’s nothing”, we did not know what he was saying. In fact, I thought he meant “there’s nothing wrong there”; I guess this is what they mean when they say one goes into shock. As he repeated himself I started to rationalise with myself internally. As my husband asked the doctor some questions that I couldn’t even hear, I tried to understand what was happening. Where was our baby? What did he mean? Nothing where? Where did it go? Am I dreaming? What have I done? My world came crashing down in that moment. I felt ill. I wanted to faint and vomit and cry and scream and die all at the same time. I came to when I felt the Doctor about to perform a Transvaginal ultrasound, I asked my husband what was happening and he advised me that the doctor wanted to make sure.
Okay. Okay… So there was hope.
“There’s nothing there”, he repeated for what felt like the millionth time.
My husband looked torn. I was shattered. As I gathered my clothes, I wept. But I wept an empty cry. After all there was nothing in me. The doctor, who was just a Muppet with no feelings, eventually informed us that I had suffered what is medically referred to as a Blighted Ovum. In essence at some point after the fertilisation, the embryo had failed to survive. What’s sad is that the body carries on like it is pregnant and this can go on for a while as the body produces the hormones like a normal pregnancy. I was scheduled for a D&C surgery (the process of removing the debris from my womb).
We shared our news with our family and friends that knew of our situation. It was very hard to say the least. The night before the D&C, I was in excruciating pain as the pills I had taken caused my cervix dilate. I did not know what to expect and I was shocked when I began to bleed heavily. I just wanted to die. The surgery was successful and a few weeks later, we would find out that we would have had a boy.
This has by far been one of the hardest situations that I have had to deal with. My husband picked himself up a few days later, but me, I just cried. I remember one day, a few days after, we were invited over to a friend’s place. I declined the offer but I think the hubby needed some air and true to his positive personality, he put on a brave face and went out. I decided to stay home. I wanted to be alone. I needed time to grieve. To weep. Alone. Without being told to be strong. Without being told everything would be fine, or that it happens, or that its God’s plan. I just wanted to cry because for crying out loud “THERE WAS NOTHING!!!” My baby was gone. Gone. Gone.
So I wept and wept and wept all day and night. I just wept. From the depths of my soul, I wept like I had never done before. I lost my voice. And went to sleep. The next morning, my hubby looked at me and he was filled with so much pity. I looked at myself in the mirror and realised my eyes were barely visible because the crying had created puffiness all around them.
I was sad for a long time. But after that day, I picked myself up and decided that after the doctor gave us the go ahead, we would try again. And we did.
People have different stories, some end well, like mine, but some don’t. Some people live life forever grieving over babies lost. Some people are currently “trying” and feel like they are failing. I have even heard stories of people trying for years and years, failing IVF and then eventually conceiving when they stopped trying. I have no solution but I think it is time we stopped stigmatising baby loss in whatever form. This is a real topic, and the one thing I learnt is that many women are going through this daily. Let’s open up and support each other.