** TRIGGER WARNING – THIS POST IS ABOUT MISCARRIAGE AND BABY LOSS **
When I lost my baby in August 2014 I knew miscarriage was common, but I only knew one person who’d had one. Of course, that was rubbish – I knew loads, I just didn’t know that they’d lost their babies.
Around 1 in 4 pregnancies end with miscarriage, around one in every 200 births is a stillbirth, and around 1 in every 400 babies die within the first 4 weeks of life. That’s a huge number of us affected, and yet we don’t talk about it. We’re encouraged not to even tell people we’re pregnant until after the 12 weeks scan, until we know everything is OK. But surely sometimes it’s when things aren’t OK that we need people to be able to support us?
I had a missed miscarriage at 9 weeks. We’d already had two scans because I had some early spotting, and having seen a strong little heartbeat at 7 weeks we were reassured that things would almost certainly be fine now. Except they weren’t. We went back for another scan just to check, and after an excruciatingly long time we heard those words no one wants to hear when they’re pregnant: “I’m sorry, but…”
I couldn’t take it in, I sat in silence while the lovely midwife explained our options to “manage” the miscarriage. It felt like a surreal, slow collapse of everything that mattered. I chose to have surgery to complete the miscarriage – the idea of taking medication to induce contractions and having to endure the bleeding, mindful of what I would be losing, was just too much for me. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up with – hopefully – the worst of it over.
Thankfully because I’d had previous scans I didn’t have to wait to be able to confirm the foetus had died, and I was booked in for the procedure two days later. It was fine, strange but fine, and the only time I cried was when the anaesthetist explained in detail what they were going to do and why. I know she had to, but hearing the details shattered my carefully constructed denial of what was really happening.
Two months later I totally fell to bits – howling, burning grief and rage completely blindsided me and I got sucked into a quicksand of sadness which I couldn’t manage alone. Thankfully I found a wonderful counsellor through Mind who help my hand while I cried and cried, and helped me surface again a few months later feeling like I’d allowed myself to process what had happened, even if I hadn’t fully come to terms with it.
It wasn’t until I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with Nate that I started talking, albeit obliquely, about the baby we’d lost. I posted about our “rainbow baby” and finally, when enough people asked, I clarified that a rainbow baby was the one you had after a loss. The beautiful rainbow after the storm. As I became bolder with talking about our loss, so people started talking back and it became clear that so, so many of my friends and family have been in the same situation and not said anything. Some posted publicly for the first time, some sent me private messages of thanks – and I felt so glad to have taken that deep breath and started that conversation.
October is pregnancy & infant loss awareness month, and at 7pm on the 15th of October we will create a wave of light – thousands of candles all over the world to remember all those babies we never met or had a chance to bring home. Please join me in remembering Nate’s big brother, his uncle, his guide-siblings, and all the others. There’s a lot of little stars shining down on us.