Each year in October a week is dedicated to those who’ve suffered from pregnancy and baby loss, during Baby Loss Awareness Week.
Having suffered multiple miscarriages, editor Suzie reflects on the experience.
I remember so clearly the moment I realised that I wanted a baby. I was stood in a supermarket and gently brushed my hand over a baby grow, something which I’d probably done a million times before as I walked past something for a baby. But in that moment it hit me like a thunderbolt. I wanted a baby. A baby of my own.
I was 30 at the time and, even though on reflection was in a terrible relationship, I was very much in love with my partner and wanted his baby. I went home and talked about it with him and he agreed yes, he wanted another baby too – having previously had two girls from his first marriage.
And so, started the initial excitement, telling my close girlfriends we were ‘trying’. I began to think of little else other than I wanted that baby. However, the months began to pass, and nothing happened. I told myself at first ‘it’s no big deal, it can take a while sometimes’, but deep down I didn’t believe it.
My mother had finished her periods at 27 and had an early menopause, so lingering in the back of my mind was the concern that what if something is wrong with me, what if I can’t have children?
And then I fell pregnant. I was ecstatic, finally we were having a baby. We told my parents, took them out of dinner and broke the news. I couldn’t have been happier. It was a bittersweet time as a neighbour and close friend had been trying for a baby with no success for a while, so we kept fairly tight lipped until the first scan.
At 11 weeks the first scan didn’t come as I’d hoped – with an excited trip to hospital. It came after a referral from my doctor because I’d started to spot bleed. When I got to hospital I just wanted them to tell me it was all okay, but no. “I’m sorry Suzie, there isn’t a heartbeat.”
I was offered the option of either having tablets to flush the foetus out in a period, but actually this was a ‘missed miscarriage’ where your body doesn’t realise it’s lost the baby and doesn’t expel it in a normal miscarriage. So, I opted for the same process as a termination.
“I just wanted the baby so much,” I sobbed to the nurse who told “you’ll get pregnant again.” I did get pregnant again, but in hindsight it was the last thing I wanted to hear at that moment.
It wasn’t just the loss of the baby, it was the loss of a dream, a future, a family. I was hating my work as there had been major structural changes and I also saw that this was my chance to take a year out and concentrate on my new little family. For months I had been thinking of that and only that as I went to work hating the days.
The trouble is with miscarriages is that often we don’t tell people we’re pregnant, until it’s ‘safe’ at 12 weeks to do so. I so wish we could scrap this societal norm. There’s little support there if you lose a baby, because no-one knew you were pregnant. So, then you have to explain, yes I was pregnant, but you didn’t know and now I’m not, and I’m devastated on so many levels that I can’t really face coming to work today or being a good friend.
Life had to go back to normal and I had to pretend everything was fine. We continued to try for a baby and a few months later I fell pregnant again. With huge apprehension I got through those first few weeks into the second month. And then again, a miscarriage, but this time it happened as a heavy period.
Devasted. Again. I just didn’t know how to overcome the feelings of grief and loss at my body failing me. I tried to tell myself it was for the best; the relationship had already started to change at this point and what if the child was sick or ill in some way. But nothing helped.
We went to the doctor to ask for help. Fast forward to multiple stressful tests at a fertility clinic and my worst fears were confirmed – it was me, I was at fault. I had premature ovarian failure, and had virtually no eggs left. Conceiving was going to be almost impossible naturally and most fertility treatments wouldn’t help either.
The despair I felt at that time was incomprehensible. I’d spent almost two years trying to have a baby, now two miscarriages later, I was told it may never happen.
Within months I discovered that my partner was actually sleeping with someone else behind my back, we broke up and again the waves of devastation hit me. I was 32, single, and I’d been told I might never have a child of my own.
During my time on fertility treatment, taking drugs to boost my ovulation so my ex and I could conceive, I’d piled on weight. So, I decided the only option now was to get myself in a fit and healthy state of mind and body.
After six months I met someone else, on one of our very first dates I told him my situation – that I might never be able to have a baby. He was okay with it, thankfully. Little did I know I was already pregnant, with the baby that would today be my eight-year-old daughter.
When I discovered I was pregnant I was dumbfounded. Inadvertently by stopping my endless stress and worry over getting pregnant, concentrating on eating, sleeping and exercising well, I’d created the perfect conditions to get pregnant. I didn’t think for a minute the pregnancy would be viable, but it was, and my baby girl was born.
Another miracle baby came along 23 months later – my son. I then decided it was best to start using contraception again, as I didn’t want any more miracle babies!
My story does have a happy ending, I did fall pregnant and have my children and I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis that it happened. But I never underestimate how much hurt, despair and pain is caused by losing a baby. A much-wanted life that you have imagined filling your life. Others aren’t lucky enough to go on and have successful pregnancies.
As I said, if I could ask for anything it’s that the societal norm of not telling people you’re pregnant would change. The we can break the silence of suffering alone if a miscarriage happens.
Bliss runs Baby Loss Awareness Week to help break this silence. You can read more about it on their website.