The Silent Pains of Recurrent Miscarriage
For as long as I can remember, I had longed for a baby. As a little girl I imagined my wedding day and dreamt about my ‘knight in shining armour’. Minus the armour (and Knight status if I’m honest) I had found him 21 years after my first daydream. We had a beautiful wedding, both had good jobs and some years after we were ready to become a family. That’s a normal feeling isn’t it?
I’ll tell you now – ‘sexing-to-conceive’ is not the same as just plain ‘sexing’, but I digress! So in my mind, I expected to try and try and try but it just happened! My two lines appeared some two weeks later and that was it. We were shocked. And extremely excited.
We marched into the ultrasound clinic on our designated date, like two proud children when they master a life skill. Looking smug and wearing a look on our faces which boasted ‘yeah we made a baby’ (because we had and were so excited to see it on the screen) we sat down. The lady spread the jelly on my belly and looked at the screen as she swivelled her ultrasound joystick around. She pushed hard. A little part of me wanted to tell her to chill but I caught a glimpse of her face. Squinting at the screen, she pushed harder. All the time not saying anything. Before long l knew she didn’t have to. The expression on her face spoke a thousand words. The lady herself, just said six: I’m sorry there isn’t a heartbeat. Six slicing words that left me speechless. I broke down.
For a good few months Joe and I hurt, and there was just an uneasy air around us both. I can’t quite remember how the conversation went, but some time later we both just decided to try again. The two lines appeared, and we found ourselves at the clinic, once more.
And again, and again; seven times to be exact. Occasionally with a heartbeat at first, then nothing the next time.
What’s wrong with me? Why do I fall pregnant so easily, but lose each baby before long? I racked my brain (and Google) to try and find some explanation. I was desperate. We had undergone a little over two years of tests – womb scans, countless blood tests, thyroid surveys, hormone checks, blood compatibility and even sperm testing! Everything came back normal – except for my testosterone levels being a little high (but I don’t have a beard or ‘tache so I was ok with that) so no explanation. I had gone from seeing pregnancy as joyous and exciting to a scientific misfortune. That is, after all what the doctors kept telling us. They were quite frank in declaring that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So I accepted it.
Some part of me was not willing to accept defeat. I was in denial. And if I’m honest, I was slowly slipping further down my emotional scale. I had secretly considered adoption, but felt frightened to talk. Even to my husband – who was still my best friend. I’d watch him catch a glimpse of a passing pregnant woman occasionally on our trips out, and I didn’t recognise the look on his face. Was it longing? Perhaps worry? Fear (like me) of our issue driving us apart? Throughout the losses, I’d maintained resilience and didn’t really let it consume me emotionally. I’d learnt to cope with loss. But the thought of losing Joe pulled on my heart strings.
One night, we’d had a few glasses (ok, we’re British it was bottles) of wine and I broke down. I told him my fears and we spoke about the inevitable. This was the very much needed platform to discuss it in a more serious manner; and to my relief he confirmed he loved me and would be sticking around. Oh, and that he would find a way to create a family with me.
We got a cat. Said cat flooded my social media like other people’s children did and definitely filled a gap. He saved me, and my emotional well-being, and I finally had the courage to discuss adoption.
We decided we would both consider it, but not quite give up on our own just yet. But we hadn’t set a date to start trying again, we kind of just ‘lived’ for a bit and agreed we would bring it up when we felt we were able to deal with the possibility of yet another loss. A year had passed. Joe had carried on [to me seemingly] happily. Me, not so much.
Every day chipped away at me. Why? I just wanted a reason. I began to question life and myself. Desperate to understand what I had done wrong or how I could behave differently in a future pregnancy, I devoted hours daily to surfing the internet, seeking similar stories, scouring through various medical research PDFs and statistics at ungodly hours of the night. I couldn’t sleep and it had totally consumed me. I started to hate myself. Then one day, I read an article about a lady who had endured 6 miscarriages. Not as much as me, but I suddenly stopped feeling so alone. And it hit me. This is not my fault. How can it be? I was coming up with all kinds of things I had done ‘wrong’ whilst pregnant – like not sleeping enough, or walking too fast, or even things like being too cold and shivering (borderline crazy) but realised others were doing the same kinds of activities and not losing their babies. It wasn’t my fault, it just wasn’t possible.
My heart ached a little still whenever an announcement of an expected baby was made by friends, or when they were finally born. I was happy but simultaneously angry at our friends for having the one thing I longed for more than anything. I was beginning to not only lose my sanity, but myself. How could I be angry at new life? It just wasn’t me. Then I thought of the lady who I had never met but had read of her story online. She calmed me. I wished so much that I could stumble across her story again and just message her, to thank her. She rescued me. She gave me the confidence to not feel so alone, and the courage to talk about it. So I did. I told some close friends; I spoke to family and shared my story with people suffering in similar ways. The talking not only helped my emotional state, it made me feel like me again. I wasn’t the isolated individual suffering alone – I was supported by those around me. Of course there were men who understood, but the women I came across amazed me. They were not only helpful but extremely empowering. I listened to others’ similar stories in awe of their strength. I was reassured by the consistent care and worry that these women showed. It’s often said that women compete in areas of life, and are even called rivals. But on this occasion, I was able to witness unguarded versions of women, and it was this unique feminine bond that felt stronger than a ton of bricks which raised me up from my deep and dingy place. And for the first time, I saw the true nature and colossal power of women.
Since then, I’ve been on a mission to share my story in hope that someone somewhere will take solace in it, and might just not feel so alone. I don’t want pity nor do I wish for sympathy. I just want to share my number. Seven. I fell pregnant seven times. I lost seven babies. I broke seven times. I feared that my husband would leave me for someone who can give him what I failed to give him, on seven occasions. What I didn’t mention is that after our chat, Joe and I decided we would adopt no matter what. Then I couldn’t help but think that maybe everything happens for a reason, because from that point on I had the same longing feeling for an adopted child as for a biological one. And one day, when I hold my child that could’ve otherwise grown up in a children’s care centre, I’ll be thankful for my past pains, because without it, I might have never considered adoption.
We have not started the process for adoption just yet, but it’s without question a plan of ours. We bought our first house a couple of years ago, and we did try to conceive naturally one more time.
I thank God every day, for my beautiful little girl – the miracle that I am blessed with; and for those who kept me strong, I’m eternally grateful.
About the author:
Vivian Rose is a new member of the Reflection family as a “mummy blogger” From the UK. She covers personal topics for family fun time and food to the serious. She gives the dish on “The raw, honest and (often) comic realities of motherhood”.
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