I’ve been trying to write this blog for a few weeks, but it’s been hard: partly because I just don’t have the time (you might have noticed how few and far between my blogs are these days!) and partly because it’s a tough and crappy subject to write about. I’m about to get pretty personal. But I think there are great benefits in doing so… not just for me, but for others who have been in the same place or might be in my shoes in the future.
I apologise for the length of this blog too – if you stick with me to the end, thank you. If you don’t, that’s ok – we all have busy lives.
Back at the end of October I was super excited to see two little lines on a pregnancy test, for the second separate occasion in my life (the last time resulted in Little Miss Z of course).
It was about 5.30am and I literally ran to find Mr OC who was in the other bathroom… I should also add that he was sat on the loo. Personal space issues don’t really exist in our household, the way we see it we change nappies, clear up cat and dog poop, we all fart, we all go to the bathroom. Mr OC has seen me in the throws of labour (not to mention post labour – equally confronting) and I have seen him in the throws of bad gastro bugs.
So yes, hubby got the news we were expecting baby two while taking a number two.
Roughly two weeks later he was disturbed again, around the same time but this time he was about to get in the shower. And this time I wasn’t joyous, this time I was crying and telling him I was bleeding.
About 4 days later it was confirmed, our baby was gone. I was in that early pregnancy window – the one where I had almost made it to 6 weeks where the probability of loss decreases a little more. Nearly, but not quite…
So, what do I tell you about this? I mean, really what is there to say about it? What’s done is done, what the anatomy decides it does because the pregnancy was no longer viable.
Better earlier than later.
At least we already have a daughter.
It happens to 1 in 5 women.
Many women don’t even realise they’re pregnant and just think they’re period is late.
At least we can try again.
It’s nothing I did – it just happens.
Yeah, all the above: 100% true.
All the above: about 80% unhelpful.
Over the course of that week where I was bleeding out my uterus and my embryo, I felt everything from sheer loss, despondency, guilt, sadness, ungrateful, anxiety and out of control.
So out of control.
That first week was basically a rollercoaster of emotions. I always had utmost respect for anyone who had had to go through it, and prayed I’d never have to. I remember when I was pregnant with Miss Z that I worried my way through that first trimester as most women do. But we made it… and here she is. So, when I got pregnant fairly easily the second time I had the nagging feeling that it might be I wouldn’t get to be so lucky as to keep this little bub. And, if that sounds really negative, I can’t really argue with that, but we cannot help those thoughts that pop up in the back of our mind, can we? And stats tell us it happens to 1 in 5 pregnancies. So, with odds like that you know that the likelihood of being one of those 1 in 5 is high.
During that first week, I missed my pregnancy. More even than I thought I would in the short time I’d been pregnant. And also, bearing in mind that I had also had moments of worrying about having two children, about making ends meet when on parental leave and how I was going to fit into a bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding etc. – even with those concerns, of course, my overwhelming perspective was of happiness not doubt or anxiety.
I realised that I had been enjoying experiencing those early symptoms, swelling boobs, bloated tummy (no first timers, that is not a bump… it’s bloating. You baby is the size of a very tiny poppy seed). And feeling so blessed to remember those things you so easily forget – the inexplicable breathlessness and maybe even a bit of nausea.
And then… bam. Gone. No symptoms, no pregnancy, no baby.
It’s hard. And whilst it’s hard for everyone it’s got to be much harder for those further down the line and it’s almost definitely harder for those still waiting for their first child.
I was grateful at least to be distracted by losing myself in a moment watching Miss Z play. I never stopped being aware of my blessings.
The first day I had to go to the doctors and get blood tests, I couldn’t stop crying anyway so I just took the day off and for the first time since I can’t even remember when, I told everyone at work I was not available. I did no work that day. Unheard of!
I worked from home the following day and then went into the office for the following two days. But it wasn’t without its challenges, and during that first day in the office, I said to my manager that I would need a personal leave day to end the week.
I also made the decision to tell her what was happening. And I am so glad I did. That level of transparency means that your manager gets to understand why you need some time off or time out. I mean, if you have a good level of trust with your boss then it is possible you can just leave it as saying it’s a personal trauma or something (trauma sounds so dramatic though). It’s hard to know what’s best to do in these situations. But I just followed my instincts.
By the end of the week we went away camping – we had planned to go anyway, but went a bit earlier than planned. When we first arrived at our destination in the beautiful region of Port Stephens we walked along the beach at dusk, and there was a group of dolphins darting around in the shallows. It was a beautiful moment, one I won’t forget.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough to transport me out of the small black hole I was still trying to clamber out of.
Things eventually came to a head when hubby and I had a fight over something silly that he said that I took really personally. We were just driving off from the campsite for a day of exploring and as we had slowed to pull out onto the road I jumped out the car and stormed off. I went and found a quiet bench by the water and just cried. I was desperately trying to get some control back over my emotions – even tried to put my meditating app on… but in doing so I dropped my (brand new) phone and smashed the screen. At this point I think I wailed. Then I called Mr OC. That in itself shows where I was at – we are both so stubborn and I usually hold out way longer in the “not speaking” stakes. He drove back and picked me up and the crying continued for a bit longer until he made me feel better – which, thankfully he aced on this occasion. I just felt useless and a mess of emotions.
From there, it did start to get better. We were about a month or so away from Christmas and there was too much happening to dwell on it any longer, and really, I didn’t want to.
Something I did notice was that by Christmas, with the busy-ness that comes with the end of the year but also, a very full-on year coming to an end, I was feeling so burnt out. I wasn’t sleeping well, my skin was a nightmare – all the typical signs that your body (and mind) is in need of a break. By Christmas Eve, inevitably I was sick and ended up spending Christmas day feeling basically, completely rubbish.
Beach dog walks, a major slow down in the pace of life and lots of rest have been a simple yet effective combination for rejuvenation. I started 2019 feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the year. Most importantly I feel positive, and when I feel like that, I can keep my head screwed on. Bad mornings, evenings… or days… they come and go but keeping my head above water, keeping my outlook one of acceptance and gratitude for the most part is much easier than wading through the knee-high crap. It’s not always that simple but most times I can hit the reset button and get back there.
So, why did I decide to share this story? Well, in truth, I’m still nervous about it. I feel weird that people I work with and others I know will read this. But since my miscarriage, two close friends have also had the same thing happen. Of all the friends I have pregnant or trying to conceive it just goes to show that the statistics are not far wrong. And sadly, because of that, so many of us will personally have this experience. And on the flip side of that – many of us happily won’t!!
And yet, despite the vast numbers of us it happens to, it’s not the “done” thing to talk about it – and I just can’t understand why (except if you don’t want people to know you’re trying for a baby)! Grief, on any level should be dealt with in the way that is going to help that person process the loss. For me, writing it down, sharing my burden, and hoping I help someone else going through the same are my reasons for putting this blog out there.
If you’re still here and read to the end – thank you!! And, if you’re reading this because you’re going through (or maybe have been through) pregnancy loss, baby loss, any loss – I send my love and prayers and encourage you to reach out to your support network (or to me!) if you need a chat. It’s ok not to be ok… and one day you will feel better.