Family & Home

The Truth about Miscarriage

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Silence. It had to be a mistake. Only minutes before the doctor had assured us that a miscarriage was unlikely as there was only light spotting. Having miscarried years earlier, I knew it to be a painful and bloody experience which this wasn’t. Maybe I was misreading him after all. 

The Taboo of Miscarriage

To announce one’s pregnancy before 12 weeks is considered a social taboo leaving the trauma of miscarriage a lonely experience. Maybe it was weeks hiding nausea and exhaustion. Perhaps you had to find novel ways to turn down the glass of wine or pretended not to notice the overpowering lunch time smells wafting through the office. It could be that you and your partner had been trying for a while and you were both super excited you were finally pregnant. You kept your secret and now there’s one more to keep: your miscarriage. 

The Physical Pain

When the body expels an embryo or fetus, the uterus contracts similarly to labour to push everything out – blood, clots, and possibly the faint form of a baby. The first time I miscarried I had been feeling unwell, but I put that down to having my monthly period. Suddenly a surge of pain forced me down in a crouching position. Then, I felt the wetness of a large lump which I soon discovered to be an embryo. There was a head with black dots, a slit where a mouth would have eventually formed, and a tiny body with little limbs. I was in shock. Carefully, I placed it in a ziploc bag to show my then-husband, mother, and doctor. The doctor had me do a pregnancy test as the pregnancy hormones remain in the body for some weeks after. It was positive. Following this, I had a scan to ensure that I had had a complete miscarriage. By the size of my uterus and the embryo, the medical professionals guessed it would have been somewhere between 8-12 weeks old. 

The second miscarriage was over a decade later. My husband and I discovered I was pregnant on a trip to Paris, a wonderful way to start our new journey together. Due to my medical history, endometriosis and the previous miscarriage, we decided to get an early check up at eight weeks. The doctor found the sac but no heartbeat which she explained away as it being early.  Four weeks later and only a few days prior to our twelve week scan we went to A&E due to light spotting. The doctor took some time looking at the screen as he contemplated how to tell us that I had had a missed miscarriage. 

After two doctors confirmed it, we sat back down at the first doctors desk to discuss options: let it pass naturally or get a medical abortion. The first one could take a couple of weeks of waiting. The second one gave up any hope of a miracle. I ended up choosing the medical abortion and asked the doctor to place the medication inside me. Grief had begun its journey and I needed it to be over with so we could start again.

That night the pain set it. My body was tormented as the uterus acted to empty itself. Hour after relentless hour the pain sucked me in and my body thrashed around uncontrollably. My husband held me and I cried. I cried through the physical pain and the emotional. I cried until morning came and the physical pain had passed. I cried until I could cry no more, then sleep came.

The Emotional Pain

My first miscarriage I had been in shock that I had even been pregnant. There was joy that endometriosis hadn’t stolen away my ability to get pregnant, and sadness that I had carried without even knowing. But, it was my second miscarriage where I felt full blown grief. Now in my thirties and happily married, I felt so ready for this child. My husband and I had faithfully taken weekly photographs of my belly, we adapted our social calendar around “morning” sickness and fatigue, and we started planning for a baby and a new journey together that wasn’t meant to be at that time. Our loss was hard.

It took months to process. At times we tried to talk about it, but how could we, we hardly understood its magnitude. It was a lost dream, not a one time dream but a forever one. Cuddles and conversations that wouldn’t be, books unread, and activities left undone. We had lost our future family before it even began. And even though this may sound too much for a miscarriage, I want you to know that the pain of one is tangible. Those of us who go through it, our grief is real and oh so lonely in our society where talking about miscarriage is uncommon.

The Pain in Relationships

Our relationship had a set back. My husband tried to hold me in my grief and lend me his hope but essentially we were on two separate journeys; his grief was fresh, mine had been simmering for years of being betrayed by my body. The more I befriended melancholy, the more I unintentionally pushed him away. Finally he called me out on one of my bad jokes and that night we cried together as we tried to understand how it still hurt months later. It was the start of piecing us back together.

Grieving and Trying Again

Seven months after the miscarriage I got pregnant again. We had waited a couple of months before trying to conceive once more  This time round, there were few photos of my belly, announcements were kept to a minimum, and I didn’t even allow myself to start dreaming and planning away until after the 24 week scan.  It wasn’t until my little girl was in my arms that I really knew that everything was okay. 

It’s Time to Talk Miscarriage

It’s time we started talking openly and honestly about miscarriage. It’s time we allowed parents to grieve their loss, not just the embryo but what could have been. It’s time we said more than, “you’re not alone, it’s common” and instead, “you’re not alone, it hurts, let me sit with you in your grief”. It’s okay to allow those going through such loss their right to sadness, anger, and fear. It’s okay to gently guide them to hope, but it’s not okay to force it on them. It’s time to stop the silence around miscarriage. It’s time to talk about miscarriage.

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