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Losing a baby – things I’ve learned about miscarriage

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1. You may not realise anything is wrong. You may not bleed, nor feel cramps. In fact, you may be blissfully unaware that there is a problem at all until a scan, when instead of a kicking happy baby, you see a lifeless thing floating asleep, or you see nothing at all.

2. A scan will forever be a hateful thing – rather than excitement at looking at the screen, you will always wish the screen to be turned away from you, expecting a “sorry, there’s no heartbeat”.

3. And while I’m at it, sonographers have the best poker faces in the world. Fact.

4. After the scan, there is a lot of waiting. Waiting for further scans, waiting for tests. Waiting to miscarry naturally or waiting for pills to make you miscarry. Then there is waiting for appointments, waiting for operations to remove tissue. Finally there is waiting for your period to start and waiting for a cycle to try again. There is only waiting, the endless tick tocking of the passing of time the only thing that reminds you that your life is carrying on.

5. It is hard to describe the pain of losing a baby to those who haven’t experienced it. Yes, it was only a ball of cells, it may not have had any distinguishable human features, and by medical definition it wasn’t a baby but a “product of conception”. But it was a baby to me. It had hair and eyes, and a big belly and a smile and it played with its brother and went to school. In fact, I dreamed its whole life played out in my imagination, and I loved it with all my heart. I miss it with a grief I experienced when I lost my father. And like then, I can’t imagine life will be the same again.

6. Because we are women, because we feel shame, because we feel like failures, we keep miscarriages to ourselves and we don’t talk about it. You’d be amazed at how many people you know – even some of your closest girlfriends – who will have suffered miscarriages in silence. I’ve decided I’d like to speak out about mine if it can help others in any way, although it’s completely nerve-wracking to do so.

7. If you take the NHS route, there is little privacy, no dignity. Scan images are left on the screen while you get changed, or face up on desks. Scan results are discussed loudly at the reception, you are told openly that if you bleed heavily you should go to A&E – leaving no doubt to those in the waiting room that you’ve lost your baby. There is no private room to grieve, only a busy waiting room with watching faces. Pregnant women with successful scans celebrate next to women being wheeled out for operations to remove pregnancy tissue, alongside women having voluntary abortions. I know the NHS has no money, and the staff in Early Pregnancy Units (EPUs) do a wonderful job for the most part – but it’s the small things at a devastating time that would make all the difference.

8. Working in an EPU must be one of the worst jobs in the world. All that pain, all that misery. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that miscarriage becomes matter-of-fact. Your baby is not your baby any more, it is that awful phrase, a “product of conception”. Your hopes and dreams boil down to three options – natural miscarriage, medical management or an ERPC operation. Words like “extreme pain” are bandied about as if discussing washing powder. It all ends with two little words: “bad luck”.

9. One miscarriage you can explain away as bad luck. Two is harder to bear. How on earth could you be unlucky twice? Surely the universe is being especially cruel and unfair for a reason? Why is it so easy for other women? What is wrong with me? The answer is they just don’t know – partly because making a baby is a magical mystical thing which just sometimes doesn’t work, and because they won’t do any tests for “only” two miscarriages. You are left wailing at an unfair world, without any knowledge of why. If this happened to men, would there be more outrage? Would there be more research and support? Possibly. Often, there aren’t any answers to be found. But it is ironic that the one comfort of suffering a third miscarriage would be that finally I would be tested to see if anything is wrong.

10. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that as soon as you miscarry, everyone you know will announce their pregnancy, there will be a spate of celebrity babies, and every stranger on the street will be sporting a bump. Also: Kate Middleton. Poker faces, ladies.

11. But at the same time, you are happy for your friends, and there is nothing better than cuddling a newborn. You don’t want friends to feel awkward trying to protect you from baby news. But best to announce by text or email so we have time to have a pity-party cry, and recover before offering our congratulations – which are heartfelt. Humans are remarkable things – we can still feel happy for friends while feeling sad for ourselves.

12. British people are dreadful for acknowledging loss, we’re so awkward with emotion. “I’m so sorry, how are you doing?” with an arm on your shoulder would be perfect. Instead, there is often a cryptic comment or a pitying nod. Or it isn’t mentioned at all. Acknowledge it if you can, and we can move on.

13. It wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t the right time, you will have your family one day. All true, perhaps, but all these consolations don’t heal the incredible pain you feel when you discover the loss. In time, these words do help. To be honest, they are all you have.

14. So what does help? Temporary measures include caffeine, wine, gin, and holidays. Sharing with friends. Allowing yourself to be loved.  Longer term it may help to let go, to calm down and not stress about age gaps or the endless passing of time, to try to concentrate on life for a bit, to get healthy, eat well and do exercise. Reflexology, counselling and acupuncture are all meant to help. I say “may” help because I’m not there yet. But 2015 is a new year, and a new start. The yoga class is booked, the exercise kit dusted off, and for now I have mulled wine and mince pies.

One day I hope women won’t feel ashamed to say they lost a baby, and that the world will care enough to pour money into EPUs to give us the privacy and care we deserve. That enough research will be done to understand why this happens, and what we can do to stop it happening.

Until then, life goes on, you pick yourself up, and you try again. You haven’t any choice really.

————————————

Update May 2015: To my surprise (and probably thanks to the fact that I’ve been writing about miscarriage recently rather than what to pack in your hospital bag) I’ve been nominated for the Best Baby Blog category at the MAD blog awards. I suspect I’ve got as much chance of winning as I have regaining my pre-baby weight, but what the hey, if you did want to nominate me then please feel free. Click on the link below and thank you.

Tots100 MAD Blog Awards
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413 thoughts on “Losing a baby – things I’ve learned about miscarriage

  1. It fucking sucks! You are so right when you say that because we’re woman we feel shame and like failures, we say nothing! How sad and wrong that is.
    I suffered one…my feelings were/are yours, as are so many other woman’s.
    I found some comfort and some solace 2 years after my miscarriage and after having my daughter who was 1.5. I was at a work convention on mental health and in a work shop about how native people view death and suicide. We were encouraged to get comfy and close our eyes and just be and listen. They believe a certain mother is picked for each child and only at the right moment on earth, will that child reach their mother. If that child is here but things are not right, great spirit calls that child back to wait until the moment is right. That child never leaves the spirit of the mother and both spirits are now intertwined. I saw my daughters spirit that day and I finally “got it”. I didn’t lose my baby…she just needed to wait to come to me…and 2 years later she came back.
    I would have never believed anyone who said that shit to me but I believe it and felt it. Your baby is waiting. She/he knows you and you will connect one day.
    And that’s not supposed to fix your pain or make you feel better…I just want to share my experience and wish you the same peace and comfort and solace one day.

  2. This is so accurate! It’s easy to forget that you’re not alone in that kind of loss!

  3. Wednesday marked 1 year for me. Prior to this happening to be, I had no idea miscarriages were so common. Everyone came out of the woodwork. Everything you said is on point, and I thank you for being so candid about it. I resolved to be as open as possible so that I could do my part to do away with the stigma, and have, with a strong support system, been able to heal. My “blueberry” will always be in a corner of my heart.

  4. I just felt that this was me talking. I had two miscarriages and I felt exactly the same. I even wrote a blog post but somehow never have the courage to post it. I still read it when I sometimes become most nostalgic. I loved this.

  5. Reblogged this on Unleash the Millennial and commented:
    A topic that should have more light shed on it.

  6. I have lost 6 babies since 2007 I know the greif and pain on loosing them.

  7. My daughter last her baby at 5 months and she was crushed and many of the things you said sound so familiar. There was no warnings, no indications that anything was wrong she had been to the doctor the day before she lost her baby.

  8. Reblogged this on The Little Things By Jo and commented:
    Sorry for your loss, thanks for sharing!

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. Your words brought me back thirty some years ago when I miscarried at thirteen weeks. After a week of bleeding and pelvic exams by three different doctors (and three different opinions!) I finally had to undergo a D&C. I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. Guilt: what did I do wrong? Shame: inexplicable because I know I didn’t do anything wrong! Failure: I cannot even get this right (childhood baggage!). The doc had the personality of a rock saying it was “….probably a genetic abnormality ….it’s an act of God.” He then turned on his heel and left the hospital room. I, in my mid twenties, was stunned, devastated….an emotional wreck. Would I ever be able to have a child….and what do you mean, “genetic abnormality!” My mother, unfortunately a woman without a nurturing bone, simply shrugged my pain and loss off with a flippant “it wasn’t even a baby; you’ll have another chance.” She, mercifully, had never suffered a miscarriage so I suppose I should forgive her for such callousness. When I became pregnant again a year later, I spent most of my pregnancy wrapped in complete fear. Fortunately, all was well and I did have a healthy baby boy….and four years later, a daughter ( a pregnancy I was able to relax through and actually enjoy). Thank you for sharing your story. Sending hugs through the cosmos to you.

  10. I lost my baby in the 3rd trimester. It was possibly the most horrible loss I had ever experienced. He was a little boy, Sean Patrick we christened him right after he was born. He died shortly after he was born. The maternity hospital I was in was absolutely awful. I know what you mean about the scan’s. When I had mine, the technician who was doing it kept saying, “I can’t get the head.” I should’ve known right then there was a problem. Then all kind of dotor’s came in to see the ultrasound. I was a young woman of 25 years and I was just not thinking anything could be wrong. I mean I was 7 months along in my pregnancy.
    That was just the beginning of a long 3 days. They took me back to my room and then a doctor who I didn’t even know came in and told me that my baby was going to die after I delivered him. They didn’t even get my husband there to be with me when they told me. After that they induced me which took a long time to get me into labor. It was awful. Everyone was looking at me so sad. They kept asking me if I wanted the baby after he was born so I could say good-bye. I didn’t know what to do. I was like in a nightmare, but I was totally awake. The first night my husband stayed with me at the hospital. They would not give him a cot to sleep on or even a blanket. The next day, labor had still not started. I just kept walking around hoping that labor would start. When labor finally started, I could not have any pain management except for morphine, no epidural. I had to deliver him. Finally the time came for him to be born. My doctor did not make it to the delivery so a complete stranger was delivering our son.
    After he was born, there was such a hushed cry from the baby. You could barely hear him. Then everyone was running around asking me , do you want your baby. Tears were just rolling down the side of my face and I looked up at my loving husband who was standing over me with his scrubs and mask on shaking his head, “No.” He said he would go with the baby and make sure he was treated gently while he passed on to eternal life <3. One of the nurses came in and said, "He's gasping for air, so he'll be dead soon."
    These were just a few of the insensitive things that happened to me during this most difficult time. I guess I telling you this because it is very hard to go through the loss of a child. I talk about him all of the time. His birthday and the day he died is coming up. It is March 21, 1984. Prayer's to you and your family. Don't ever feel like it was your fault and you didn't fail. You will be with your babies again someday ❤

  11. Happen to me a couple of years ago and I still from time to time out of nowhere this pain takes me hostage and doesn’t let go Of me. Is hard to think that I will have a 2 year old running around and is hard to think that all I had left from that experience, is a fail relationship with someone that once was my best friend, lover and for a moment there the “love of my life”.
    I agree with not having privacy that was hard to deal cause you have all of this mom to be happy with there big bellys and you can’t help but wonder why I can’t be happy with a big belly? Why did I had to have the bad luck?
    I always think of the baby as a baby I grieve for it and if I ever have a baby I will tell her/him that once he/she had a little spark of a sibling.
    Hope you feeling better and thanks for sharing

  12. First let me express my sorrow. I have known it firsthand…..and I have lost 8 to miscarriage. I recently started my blog, I have posted one on my first miscarriage. I will type more as the emotions allow….you are right they are more than a ball of cells, they are a dream, a hope, a desire, an instant love……leaving behind a deep mourning no one shares but you! Hugs

  13. For what it’s worth, a miscarriage is not just a disaster for women. My (now ex) wife lost our second child after about 9 weeks. The pain of losing my daughter haunts me to this day, nearly 30 years later.
    By far the worst part of the whole experience was the “well meaning” but devastating comments by family and friends to stop grieving so much as it “wasn’t a baby….”
    She was to us. Still is. Will always be.
    Our family ended at one and a half children. That is, one to the outside world and two to us.
    My hope for you (and others walking this pathway) is that you can find or make peace with life. My experience is it never goes away, but becomes gentler with time. I can share your pain and hope to provide some solace.
    Thank you for sharing. I wish we had had something like this when we walked through the darkness. May your light shine for others as well.
    Phred the Elder

  14. Reblogged this on treasurebox94 and commented:
    Very touching 🙌🙌

  15. you are so brave! i admire your strength! you are amazing ❤

  16. It’s been almost 30 years since my miscarriage and four healthy children later – the pain is still real and the memories still difficult to recall. God bless you as you heal – physically and emotionally.

  17. beautifully written. thank you so much for sharing. as i read your words, my own memories came flooding back. as they say, “this too shall pass”, but… in that moment it hurts so very badly, the questions don’t seem to find answers, anger mixed with sorrow, as you so bravely and perfectly said, that horrible feeling of failure. but it is not the end. not yet. and at some point, one never quite remembers when exactly, one is able to stand up and walk on, though the wounds remain scars, the memories and emotions imprinted on one’s soul.

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