By Anna Trevelyan
A thin veil of sadness covers the happy event I am at today. Like all others taking place in the next few months, my happiness is tinged with unease. I should have had a little plus one in my tummy with me, who sadly isn’t there.
I had a miscarriage recently. And I know I’m not alone in that. Apparently around 500,000 women a year are affected by this, and unfortunately two very dear friends are also going through the very same experience as I am. Many other loved ones have been through it before, and those are just the ones I know about.
It isn’t something people talk about much. I myself am guilty of not speaking about it, so it came as a bit of a shock when it happened to me the first time, and even more the second time. It seems the sort of silent suffering that more people than you would ever realise have had to endure. I feel we should be able to talk about it, if we want to, as it’s a very real tragedy that happens all too often. The fact that it happens frequently though does not make it any less painful.
I am fortunate, as I have a gorgeous little boy already, and a loving family to support me. Compared to some of the experiences of friends and family I know of, mine wasn’t even that bad. It was early, it was uncomplicated and it was physically over very quickly. If my mental scars stay with me I dread to think how similar or very different fertility problems have affected other people less fortunate than me.
Sometimes you just know something isn’t quite right. After a few weeks I began to dread any trip to the bathroom, wondering just what it might bring. I think my husband thought I was slowly going mad – elated 6.30am starts with the exciting news of two pink lines on the plastic test, followed by frantic internet searches and finally the sombre realisation of what might be happening. I did some things that seem odd to me now. Lingering outside by the festering bins as the smell made me gag slightly – a reminder of the comforting waves of pregnancy nausea. Sadly, morning sickness turned to mourning sickness as a trip to the hospital confirmed what I already knew.
It’s funny the things that you remember. The toilet door with the broken lock at the hospital. The small puddle of my tears collecting on the floor, as I couldn’t quite see to tie my shoes up. The Bad News Room full of posters about every possible problem that could occur with a pregnancy: unexpected pregnancy, abortion, a bad test result connected to the baby. I wondered how many women had been in here, sitting just where I was and feeling close to devastated about what they had just learned. The different scenarios, some ironic to my situation, flowed through my mind. The minefield of pregnancy many of us must navigate through, I suppose.
The very weather seemed to mock my situation that day. In a tragic novel, nature would empathise with the event and send dark clouds, or sympathetic rain to symbolically wash my old self away. Instead, it was radiant sunshine. One of the oddest things I remember was that there was no bin in the Bad News Room of the hospital. My balled up white tissues had to stay in my tightly clenched hand, and come back out to the car park with me through the blazing sunshine. I held onto those tissues tightly until I got home. The only thing left to show for my brief but significant (to me, at least) pregnancy.
It must be difficult for partners, too. They don’t have to suffer the same physical pain but it must feel strange to know how to deal with this very abstract concept of pregnancy that is now passed, sometimes with not even a bump (let alone a baby) to come out of all this suddenly shattered joy.
For me, I was not only sad and exhausted with what was happening, but I also mourned the loss of my old self. A part of my happiness had been taken away, and I worried I wouldn’t be the same after. It’s true that is has changed me, but I hope not for the bad. I am resisting the temptation to become over-protective of my little boy, or to start withdrawing myself from other people with babies. I have decided I will never do that, as many of the very people I would be avoiding have been through exactly the same thing. I am more grateful, and hopefully more aware. We should always try to be kind, as you never know what others have been through. They may very well have also suffered with the loss of the babies who just weren’t to be.
Thank you to my wonderful family who have supported me so much over the last few weeks and months, especially my superstar Mum. Special thanks to Frimley Park Hospital’s EPU, who were both kind and caring in a very difficult situation that they unfortunately have to deal with all too often. I am happy to speak about this to anyone who wishes to talk about it, or if you’d rather someone better to talk to this is a fantastic organisation that has helped other friends of mine: http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/.