It’s four months today since I miscarried my baby at 14 weeks, and I finally feel like I’m back in a good place.
I’d been feeling fine – well horrendous actually – but reassured myself that constant morning sickness was the ‘sign of a healthy baby’. I left my 12-week scan a week late, and cannot even begin to recount the horror of seeing an empty bubble on the screen, hearing the words ‘silent miscarriage’ going home to wait for ‘nature to take its course’.
In all honesty, it’s been a long process. Longer than I expected. Longer than I imagined it took before it happened to me.
I didn’t think about the life admin required after you miscarry a baby – the cancelling of email subscriptions telling you how big your baby is in vegetable terms, the baby yoga class updates you subscribed to, the deleting of the baby apps, the un-following of the many million Instagram accounts of perfect, multi-sibling families and beautiful maternity clothing that only seem to pop up in your feed just as you’re having your first ‘good’ day.
I didn’t realise I’d suffer flashbacks, and nightmares, that leaving my daughter at nursery would be like having my heart torn out, and I’d need weeks of counselling to deal with these issues.
I didn’t consider that it would take many days – weeks even – before I stopped waking up in the night and instantly reaching for ‘the bump’ before remembering I was no longer pregnant.
I didn’t realise my body would take months to get back to normal, that my boobs would stay massive, my weight wouldn’t ‘drop off,’ that once a month I’d turn psycho – but wouldn’t have a clue when – as it would take at least three for my cycle to return.
I didn’t realise that every time I saw a pregnant friend or sibling children, a baby scan, or a new pram my breath would be taken away.
I didn’t realise I’d feel so guilty, so angry, so sad, so bitter, so hollow for so long….
But with good counselling, a good online support network (MOLOs I’m looking at you) great friends (REALLY great friends) a loving supportive husband, and the most beautiful, kind, amazing daughter I could ever wish for, I feel like I’m getting there. My boobs have finally shrunk (HURRAH) I’ve got the weight off (I must have grief-eaten a LOT of ice cream) and I’m feeling pretty positive, but it’s taken a while.
But there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think ‘what if?’ when I don’t think about my impending due date and how pregnant I ‘should’ be right now.
There isn’t a day when I don’t look at my little girl playing by herself and feel guilty, there’s isn’t a day when I don’t think ‘what did I do wrong’?
But now there also isn’t a day when I don’t think I’m also really f*cking awesome for recovering from something so physically and emotionally painful, for getting back to the gym, signing up to an online course, holding my hands up when I struggled and asking for professional help, for putting on a brave face and getting back to work, even when inside I was grieving.
There isn’t a day when I don’t look at my daughter and feel a bit guilty for not realising earlier that SHE IS ENOUGH, for remembering how goddamn lucky I am to have her in the first place.
There isn’t a day where I don’t laugh and smile with my awesome friends and know that the future is bright.
The hardest parts about recovering
* The lack of closure from the medical profession – being told “It’s just one of those things” and having to accept that, when you have a thousand questions about what you may or may not have done to cause it
* Not knowing how long your body will take to recover. When will I get my periods back? (a month later for me) What will they be like? (awful heavy painful – for me) When will I stop bleeding (at least another week – for me)
* The lack of support. When I was turfed out of hospital with a “we’re satisfied your miscarriage is complete, you can go now,” the day after going in through A&E, and after the night from hell, I wasn’t given a helpline/leaflet or anything. I went to my GP straight away and asked all the questions I needed to ask and got referred for counselling. I recommend this wholeheartedly.
* The lack of understanding from some people. Some people think you just quietly ‘have a period’ and go about your day. Maybe some women do. I did not. A week after the scan, after a week of bleeding, I started having contraction-like pain and the heaviest bleeding ever and had to go to A&E where they gave me a tonne of morphine and told me the ‘product’ was stuck and removed it. It was incredibly painful and harrowing to experience and I didn’t feel prepared for it. Most are NOT like this. But when you tell people you’ve miscarried, most people have no idea – and you’re not about to tell them.
* The fact it’s unacceptable to talk about. Being asked when I returned to work if I’d ‘had a nice holiday’ by a colleague who knew no better, and having to sit and nod and smile. Listening to someone talk about their wife taking weeks off with a broken arm, while you suffer in silence. It’s hard and frustrating.
* Seek help – tell people when you’re struggling. IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY!
* Go see your GP and talk it through so you know what to expect and get some counselling, it’s so helpful
* Seek the support of MOLOS. I posted on The Motherload® Facebook community, and the advice was priceless.
* Take the time you need to recover.
* Talk about it. This helps, honestly it does. This is not a dirty secret. It happens to 1 in 4 pregnancies, there are tonnes of women out there online happy to help and send love and advice. And there are plenty of support groups you can reach out to.
Things not to say to someone who’s had a miscarriage
* ‘It’s okay, you already have a child’. Yes I do, but I really loved that one too, and actually my daughter was as excited about being a sister as we were about being parents again. She helps us recover, but she doesn’t replace.
* ‘It’s okay, you can try again’. Really can I? I dunno about you – but after going through the most horrific experience ever, still feeling and looking pregnant, the first thing on my mind is not sex. The ‘baby’ I loved every second for three months cannot just be replaced that quickly, and I am TERRIFIED of being pregnant again. So yes, technically you can try again, but it’s the furthest thing from my mind right now, please don’t say this.
* ‘You weren’t THAT pregnant though were you?’ However pregnant you were, you have probably spent every second thinking about it. And that feels like a long time. My 13 weeks were spent in morning sickness hell and felt like a lifetime, don’t judge someone’s grief.
* ‘You’ll feel better if you go back to work’ I’ll let you know when I feel better, and it isn’t right now.
* ‘Everything happens for a reason’ GAH!! Maybe this is true, but right now I can’t think of a good reason why my baby died. This is tantamount to saying ‘you deserved it’ please don’t say this.
Instead offer support, say you’re sorry, say ‘I’m here for you’. Send flowers, send GIN (one friend did this – Charlotte you’re a legend) offer to babysit if they have a child/ren already – give them time to grieve. And ask if they’re okay or want to talk. Above all, just BE there!
Amy is mum to three-year-old (going on thirteen) Norah-may, and rescue dog Lebowski. She lives in Manchester with her husband and works as a digital content producer for the BBC. She loves living vicariously through Instagram and is attempting to blog