08 Oct Miscarriage
**Trigger warning – My Miscarriage Story **
I wasn’t sure whether to share this or not. I’ve typed and deleted it so many times. Ultimately I’m sharing because the idea of someone else going through this alone, not knowing how common it is, is heartbreaking. Plus changing the stigma put on miscarriage. It’s not “nothing”. It was a life.
This is my story.
From the outset, Mother’s Day might look like flowers and chocolates and smiling faces on social media, but, it can be a heartbreaking day for many too. I woke up and cried for the baby that I lost.
We found out I was pregnant in early November. Six days before my period was due, exactly the same way we found out with our two year old Bjorn. We were so excited. A sibling for Bjorn to run around with, to be protective over. We made a little sign for him to hold in front of the Xmas tree, and we announced it to our friends and family. I didn’t get a chance to go to the doctors; I just contacted a midwife and made plans to see her when she got back from the Christmas/New Year holiday, as everyone was quite busy around then. Everything seemed normal. I was pretty sick from the outset, which was the same with Bjorn—vomiting randomly and feeling like shit. We went to Whangamata with my best friends, intending to spend New Year’s eve there, bringing in 2021 with excitement for what was to come.
I had chronic morning sickness. Like head in the toilet, not coping kind of sick. So we called the doctors, and they prescribed me some anti-nausea pills. It didn’t help a whole heap, and we carried on with the holiday anyway. (So to those who say, “Oh, if you are sick, that’s a sign of a healthy baby.” That’s bullshit.)
I woke up on New Year’s Eve to blood when I wiped. I called out to Aaron straight away. We headed straight to the clinic in Whanga. Because of Covid, everyone was still a bit panicky. We couldn’t go in, so we spoke to an elderly lady at the door. She asked if we had an appointment, to which I responded, “No, I’m 7.5 weeks pregnant and I’m bleeding.” Her response was, “Well, if you are miscarrying, you are miscarrying, and there is nothing we can do about it.” I immediately burst into tears. How cold and rude. I couldn’t fathom someone saying something like that to anyone. We got put on a waiting list to come back in an hour. I cried the entire time.
The doctor checked me internally; nothing seemed to be wrong so far. We were sent home to Hamilton for an emergency scan. We packed everything up and went home, not knowing what lay in store for my 7.5 week old baby or pregnancy (as they call it in the medical profession). No one refer’s to “It”, as a baby.
I had never been in the ultrasound place with a worried feeling before. I looked around to see smiling pregnant women, excited & happy. That was me, last time. I had a blood test to check my HCG levels and the scan showed a tiny yet strong heartbeat. The sonographer was happy, and we were sent away with a glimmer of hope. Just a little passing comment about the sac being smaller than usual, but that all should be fine. Google, however, said it could be a sign of miscarriage. I tried not to worry.
I texted my midwife to keep her in the loop, and she said she would follow up on the tests.
Never had I spent a New Years on the couch before. We drank fake Champagne and went to bed at 12.01 am.
On New Years Day, I got a call to say my HCG levels were on the lower side. 3900. I was asked to get in touch with my midwife to see when I needed more bloods/scans. I got no reply from her.
Another day passed with no news. No answer from anyone. I tried to touch base with my midwife, but again heard nothing. I started to feel some pain, and the bleeding resumed. I called Healthline in tears, unaware of what I should do. They advised us to go straight to emergency.
In stark contrast to the other clinic, they rushed me right in. Another blood test. But still the same, “no information”. I was sent home with only my fingers googling what might be coming.
At 4 pm, whilst in bed alone, I got the call. I was told my HCG levels had dropped – meaning an inevitable miscarriage, even though we currently had a heartbeat. She said how sorry she was.
Why, why me? I wept. It was pouring with rain that day & I ran out in it with my two-year-old son. He thought it was a game; I just didn’t want him to see me crying endlessly. I took some photos of the droplets falling on our tree outside to capture the moment we lost him.
We were hardly given any advice. No ‘what to expect’ pamphlets. Just wait and see. Someone might call you, but the call never came. By this point, I had received no support from anyone in the health system. My midwife never got back to me. I was going through this alone. Nothing happened; I just kept bleeding. No one could tell us what to do or what came next. Was I miscarrying? Was there any hope at all? So many questions. There were hopeful answers online, but were they our fate? I emailed a few other midwives in urgency to try and get clarity. I felt like this was quite an urgent matter and finally someone thought the same – Midwife Fiona Goldfinch replied, and from here I finally got some advise, she was SO goddamn great!!
I didn’t know you could find out you were going to miscarry before you did. Waiting to farewell your unborn baby, knowing they will never be. We went to Bunnings and bought a beautiful plant that blooms in August (my due month), for we knew we would soon need to bury our little one somewhere safe.
Fiona referred us for a scan. Walking into the room, 70% of me knew it wasn’t going to be good news; 30% of me had hope. The sonographer put the probe on my tummy, moved it around a few times. He quietly said, “sadly, there is no heartbeat”. It was numbing. Tears streamed down my face, but no sound came out. What’s next?, I asked. Medication and a D&C are the last resort if it doesn’t happen naturally. But I was sent to have more blood tests to confirm the results from the scan. At this point, I broke down in the waiting room. I cried and cried and cried into Aaron’s arms. Why do I need to do this? Our baby was gone.
Google became an hourly thing as I waited for something, anything to happen. At this point, I came across the stat that a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. How did I not know this?
Sleep was an escape. If I was asleep, this wasn’t happening, right? I woke up many times in the night asking Aaron if it was all just a bad dream. But it wasn’t. We cried together.
Aaron asked a couple of my friends over for support and they came to cry with me that night. I talked about everything that had happened, going over and over it probably 1000 times. They just listened to me. I’ve never appreciated them more than at that moment.
The emotional pain is one thing, but the physical pain on top is absolutely awful. Google told me it was like a bad period at 7.5 weeks. Every time I went to the toilet, I wondered if now was the time. Is this it? Maybe next time?
No way in hell was that a period. Even in early pregnancy, it felt like early labour pains. It finally happened after a week of bleeding. I knew it was happening when the pains got stronger and stronger.
He was beautiful. He had eyes, arms and legs. We held him in our palms for a while, cuddling together. Then we buried him under the plant.
And then, the world kept spinning.
These are some photos Aaron took of me during the morning It happened.
I wrote a lot of this when I first miscarried. I thought that would be the end of the story.
Not by a long shot. The grief and sorrow you feel are out of this world. The hopes and dreams you had for this child go unnoticed if you don’t say anything.
The government announced this year that New Zealand was to give anyone with pregnancy loss three days off work to “deal” with miscarriage. Influencers around the country praised this on social media. All I could do was feel sick and disgusted. I would have taken 2-3 weeks minimum if I worked for someone else. Not to mention the emotional turmoil that lingers. You feel alone. You feel like people may think you are overreacting. So many comments are thrown around too. “At least you weren’t further along.”, “At least you already have one child.”, “It just wasn’t meant to be.”, “It’s just like a period that early anyway.”.
You want to be alone—a lot. I felt like being around others and talking about day to day things only invalidated my baby boy. He was gone, and life just moved on without him. I ended up speaking to a councillor which helped.
After three months, we decided to name him.
You’ll see I’ve started referring to him as ‘him’. We didn’t know what we were having, but I just have this feeling he was a little boy.
I searched high and low for grief coping strategies. Quotes, books, any way I could validate that he did live. I went to a spiritual meditation which helped silence all my thoughts and let me grieve. It’s such a numbing experience to go through. How can such a small thing hold such a big piece of my heart?
We had a memorial box made, and inside I put the dried flowers friends had bought me. Pregnancy tests, pictures of the sky when we lost him. It made the process easier for me, knowing he wasn’t forgotten.
Since I posted my story on my personal social media, I’ve had at least five women message me saying they too have miscarried. Many never told a soul except their partners. While I understand that is OK for some, it’s heartbreaking for others to go through such a life-changing event alone and without support. Talking helped me heal; I could not have gone through what I did without my husband and friends. They cooked, took our son, let me cry on their shoulders (many times!). So please ask for help if you need it. Miscarriage is such a common trauma; there is no reason to be alone.
It didn’t just end there either. I saw pregnant women and wept. I couldn’t see newborn babies that I was meant to meet. I cried all day long and couldn’t get out of bed one day; then, the next day, I was completely fine. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. One thing I read about grief was, it feels like the world keeps spinning, but you are no longer on it. I resonated with this so fucking much. I took one weekend off weddings (I’m a wedding photographer), but that was it. The rest of the summer season, I pretended as if nothing had happened. Professionally – no one knew. I didn’t want to put a negative on anyone’s best day ever, so I sat in silence. I smiled when people asked if I would have a sibling for Bjorn, “One day”, I kindly said – and died on the inside.
Now that I’ve been through what I have, with the research I have done, I realize that I have miscarried before. When I first met Aaron, I was 21 years old, I found a ball of blood in my underwear. I didn’t know what It was at the time, and since It had already happened the doctors never told me what It was either. I would have been four or five weeks but I didn’t know It.
Farewell my little loveS.
During my experience, I counted seven times I could have been given a pamphlet on “miscarriage”. Not once was I given it. I found one online after searching high and low. I have linked It below for you – this was SO HELPFUL.
Sands.org.nz – Sands New Zealand is a network of parent-run, non-profit groups supporting families who have experienced the death of a baby.
Our Rainbow Baby..
Today my period is due. I’ve taken countless pregnancy tests, all negative. Bjorn bought me the T-Shirt that we announced Augusts’ pregnancy with, It said “I’m going to be a big brother.” He wanted to wear It today and I just cried and cried. I should be 16 weeks pregnant, but I’m not. Later that day I took a pregnancy test and It showed a very faint positive. I really didn’t think It was going to happen. I was shocked, so happy & yet so scared. It’s been completely different, I am constantly worried that I might miscarry.
Today I am 19 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby girl. I am so incredibly thankful that I get to have another beautiful baby. This pregnancy has been so hard, feeling sadness for August but happiness for this wee girl. Feeling guilty for being pregnant when I know so many other women are struggling at this very moment. Feeling lost worrying If this will end the same way; will our girl make it? With August, I wasn’t going to have any photoshoots done, but you realise how bloody precious life is after a loss. I booked a family shoot and a bump shoot straight away for a celebration of the life inside me. It really is something worth celebrating.
To those currently going through this, I feel so much heartache for you. I hope your rainbow baby comes soon too. XXX Sending you all of the hugs in the world. If you would like to, please leave a comment below with your stories. I know many would love to hear them too.
Some Miscarriage Quotes that helped me…