The loss of my first child - Miscarriage Taboo

Sunday, July 22, 2018

*Trigger warning for baby loss/graphic description of miscarriage

Miscarriage, also known as pregnancy loss is the natural death of the fetus before it has fully developed. It usually happens before the 20th week of pregnancy after which the death is known as 'still-birth'. - BabyGaga

Why this is still such a taboo subject is completely beyond me.
1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Approximately every 2 minutes, a baby is lost in the UK from miscarriage (250,000 a year) this should absolutely not be a taboo subject. Let's keep talking about it and break the silence. Every baby matters. Every baby has an everlasting impact. The impact your baby has on you really makes you emotional and takes time for you to recover. I was one of the millions that suffered in silence, nobody should ever have to grieve for their babies in silence.
I'm learning to deal with the grief and it still takes time and it's very emotionally draining.

This blog post is very detailed - why shouldn't it be? There are people out there, people you may well know, your neighbours, colleagues, family who are going through or have been through an experience like this. Yes, it's difficult to explain, it's difficult to understand but It's not something that can be shrugged off, nor is it something that can be dealt with overnight. It leaves a hole in your heart and it leaves you wanting to talk about it, not having any clue about where to start or bring up the topic.

They say your chance of miscarriage lowers after 12 weeks. It LOWERS. It doesn't just vanish. Your chances have lowered, there's still a small chance you can miscarry. Not as uncommon as you may think either. Let's not go into detail of all the missed miscarriages/ chemical pregnancies too.

At the end of this blog post, there are some useful links which may help anyone who is going through or has been through pregnancy loss. Whether you're a mum, dad, aunt or grandparent. Support is out there, I wish someone had pointed this out 6 years ago for me because it would have been an absolute lifeline. They offer hope for those who have had to say goodbye before they were ready, they offer guidance to those who feel lost, they offer their services for free, 24 hours a day 7 days a week there's information on those websites which will help you get through those tough times. Let's speak out about miscarriage. 

Miscarriage is such an incredibly popular subject nobody wishes to discuss. But why? Why should we feel ashamed? Why do we feel ashamed? Why do we feel guilty? Should we feel guilty?

Here's why... When you find out you're expecting, you know you have a responsibility, way before the baby is even born. You have to watch what you're eating and drinking, make sure you're getting enough rest, make sure you aren't overdoing it. If you are one of them that falls into the statistics of miscarriage then you instantly feel like you've failed. You feel guilty for not being able to pursue your role of being a parent. You feel like you failed your child before you got to hold them in your arms. That guilt doesn't just leave you, that empty feeling, that numb outer shell doesn't just harden back up again and allow you to carry on with your life like nothing happened.

It's taken me years to come to terms with the loss of my first child. I still haven't fully come to terms with it. I have, however, accepted it and no longer feel guilty as I know I have nothing to feel guilty about. I've decided to break the silence and blog about my experience in hope that more people will understand the struggles I've kept to myself and understand that not everyone can be so open about what they are going through. It's shaken me a little this year, 6 years ago yesterday I started the whole process of delivering my child. Tomorrow will be 6 years to the day I said goodbye to my little girl. It started on a Friday evening and I delivered my baby early hours Monday. It was the longest 47 hours of my life. I've had 5 miscarriages in total each one hurting inside. My first hit me the hardest, here I'll tell you why.

For a start, I didn't even know I was pregnant. Friday 20th July 2012 I started getting period type cramps quite late into the evening. This is where it started and boy if I'd have known I'm not so sure I'd have been able to deal with it the way I did. I've never suffered from bad period pains so I shrugged it off, took some painkillers and went to bed, tossing and turning all night. Saturday my pains got worse. I took a trip around town and then tried to carry on my day as normal. I thought these pains would subside and eventually my period would make a show. I had absolutely no bleeding at this point. I didn't feel sick, I wasn't anxious, I was just uncomfortable. 

Saturday afternoon the pains got so bad we went to the walk-in centre but we just missed it and it was already closed. I was having thoughts of maybe it was my appendix or something at this point. Back home to lay down with a hot water bottle, it eased the pain a lot. Moving triggered these intense sharp pains through my whole entire body, not just my stomach. I just lay there the remainder of the day and told myself if I didn't feel better by the morning or my period hadn't made an appearance I'd go to the hospital. Thankfully I remember the date of my last period, it was short and sweet as I was actually away in London working at the time. It wasn't until later that I remembered this and this enabled us to calculate how far along I was with the EPU.

Saturday night I relied heavily on painkillers, hot water bottles and rocking back and forth on the floor. I felt a little better because I started spotting around 4am so in my eyes thought it was just a very painful period. I was uncomfortable but made myself a coffee and put the TV on in the bedroom to take my mind off the pain. My partner at the time set off to work at 7am. He was concerned and told me to ring him if I needed anything and he would come home from work. I told him I'd be fine and I think the worst has probably passed and told him I was just being a bit dramatic.

The worst wasn't over. Not by far. Twenty minutes after he had left for work I felt a gush of warm liquid and some intense cramps. I'd never experienced a period like this, instantly knew it wasn't a period which I was going through. After going to the bathroom I noticed I was bleeding quite heavily, it's almost like there was no stopping it. I'd never seen so much blood. I didn't know what to do, I didn't want to call anybody because I mean... what if I was wrong and it was just a very heavy period, what if they told me I was being dramatic? I still didn't know I was pregnant at this point. I googled my symptoms and miscarriage sprung up on every search for 3 pages. I couldn't really absorb the information, I was confused, felt incredibly week and was laid on the bedroom floor shaking from shock. Was I dying? Had an organ burst? I had every bizarre situation running through my head. The cramps started to intensify and left me curled up in a ball on the floor, I couldn't get comfortable, it had me feeling winded, clotting, still bleeding, I felt very weak. Each pain and cramp left me breathless and sweating. 

Something inside me told me what was happening. I don't know what came over me but I knew I had to calm down and breathe through the pain and I stopped panicking so much. The contractions lasted for about 45 minutes before I started getting urges to push. I knew I had to but didn't want to. I was alone in the house and didn't know what to expect at all. Did I want to look, did I want to go through this on my own. I was 18 years old, I was scared but calm, it was a strange feeling. Numb but feeling every pain. What would I do after? I called my partner in between the contractions and told him he has to come home and take me to the hospital and quickly ended the phone call. I think he knew straight away something was wrong.

 I'd already delivered our baby girl by the time he got back. I sat in total shock but huge relief it was over. The bleeding continued for days after too. The pain didn't stop though. Having to go through labour and hold your child with it's perfectly formed limbs, 10 little fingers so delicately scrunched up, 10 little toes but knowing her little heart just couldn't continue beating like you wanted it to. She was perfectly formed but so tiny which hurt even more. Knowing this would be the first and last time I'd hold her precious little body hit me hard. I had such an intense rush of emotions I just didn't know how to handle it all. I wish I'd have had a real send off and that's my biggest regret. I embraced her presence momentarily but reality kicked in and I knew I didn't want to grieve. I wanted happy thoughts but we didn't get any. The happiest part of that whole situation was holding her cupped in my hands - because she was so small and feeling relief that she had gained her angel wings and was no longer suffering. I still sit on some days and just think about all the 'What ifs' and put my music on and shut off from the world.

 I've never gone into full detail of this experience, just like millions of other mothers and fathers out there, that taboo subject made me feel ashamed and made me feel silence was the only option. It's not. The pain still continues today. Every year, every birthday. People don't exactly know what happens with a miscarriage unless they've been through it, each ever so different. Different gestations, different situations, different levels of pain. I was in my 18th week when I delivered my baby girl. They think baby stopped growing weeks before. It's incredibly hard to support someone who has experienced a loss at any stage, not knowing what to say, what not to say. The websites I have linked below should help you and hopefully give you guidance on how to deal with your loss.

It was one of the most incredible but heart destroying things I've ever had to go through. We were both in massive amounts of shock and I think it was the shock that made us push the whole situation to the back of our minds. 

We attended hospital and arrived on the EPU (early pregnancy unit). Full of women who were in the same situation as myself. The corridor so eery and quiet nobody dared glance in anyone else's direction. I got called in, there weren't many smiles from the sonographer, no sympathy. She rolled some cold jelly onto my belly and confirmed that the scan showed I had successfully passed everything I needed to so didn't need surgical intervention to complete the miscarriage. What a relief. I didn't dare look at the screen. I didn't want to. I just wanted to go home and wake up from this nightmare. Everything was a blur, I didn't concentrate on much and couldn't absorb any of the information the doctors were giving me. Probably the reason they send you away with lots of leaflets and useful numbers to contact should you need to. I didn't look at any of the leaflets, I didn't want to grieve. I just wanted to forget and move on.
 I couldn't.

 My whole entire world had just come crashing down and I had no idea how to deal with it other than keeping myself busy after a few days bed rest. I desperately wanted someone to talk to but froze at the thought of having to open up the wound which I so desperately wanted to heal. I've never really been a talkative person, I try and deal with my problems on my own so the way I've dealt with this is to push it as far as I could to the back of my mind. It's definitely eaten away at me over the years. The anniversary haunts me and I still feel anger towards the whole situation. I don't want sympathy, I don't want a shoulder to cry on. I want others to open up and get some closure and help with dealing with these situations instead of feeling like they have to deal with it in silence.

It was an incredibly busy time of my life. I'd been back and forth to London and Birmingham working closely with The Prince's Trust, doing Radio interviews, I was working closely with Bite The Ballot in Parliament too and I was in the middle of a national campaign with Rankin - raising vital funds for The Prince's Trust. It was the peak of my career, I was in the middle of a collaboration with Bing, Microsoft's search engine, I was running my own business too and I then had this to deal with. 

I didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to be selfish and continue my life as I had been up until 3 days prior. I had been through enough pain and didn't feel I needed to grieve. I pushed it to the back of my mind as far as I could. Nobody knew I was pregnant, I didn't even know myself. How could I explain I'd just lost a child when people didn't know I was even in a relationship? I kept my life very 'work orientated' when I was 18. I discussed my work, goals and future... nothing else. Not been able to grieve for my child has set me back years. I've felt a huge gap since it happened. A gap I didn't think I'd ever find anything to fill, a gap I didn't even know how to fill. I felt so lost and so empty. I hadn't ever thought about having children until this happened. I loved working so much that I didn't even think about family life. 

Since this has happened I have craved to be a mum. I yearned to love another child so much. I had so much love to give and nobody to give it to. I felt a huge gap I felt only a child could fill. Endless, unconditional love and nothing less. My gap was filled when I fell pregnant with Rhun, it hasn't been fully filled and I don't think it ever will. My little girl can't be replaced, I know that. Rhun is my premature rainbow baby and I thank god so much for giving me the gift of life I never thought I'd experience. 

I have also attached links to some incredible women and their blog experiences - let's break the silence together. I hope by reading these blogs it brings you some comfort knowing you aren't alone and if you ever feel you need to reach out to someone I hope you know there are more people out there in a similar situation than you may initially think. These women, like millions of others out there, are incredibly brave for blogging their experiences in so much detail we can help each other out and relate to each other's experiences, helping us mourn the losses we have sadly had to experience. I thank these women, I thank everyone out there who speaks out about such a taboo subject.

Please visit the below links if you are looking for any help and/or guidance getting through pregnancy loss.

Miscarriage Association

And a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me pluck up the courage to blog about my experience, it's been a stepping stone in the grieving process, an essential one at that.
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