My miscarriage was diagnosed in January 2021, just under three weeks before my wedding. I had no bleeding so it was picked up on an early scan that the dates might not match. Unfortunately I had to have three scans over three weeks to confirm the miscarriage. This time was a horrible limbo of hope, despair, tears and constant analysis of every sensation that went on in my body, wondering whether the symptoms were lessening. It was confirmed at 10 weeks that the baby had stopped developing at approx. 6 weeks. A midwife broke the news to me coldly and swiftly left the scan room.
I spoke to the doctor and opted to go with the medical route as my wedding was coming up. Over the next four days, I took the different tablets that would induce the miscarriage. I sobbed bitterly as I took the ones that would start the bleeding. My worst recollections are the few hours after this when I lay on the bathroom floor, rolling around in pain, thinking that this must be what labour feels like; and also seeing the pregnancy sac fall out, shaped like a flattened lemon, wondering whether the remnants of my baby was in there. I had no complications after the worst of the bleeding so I went straight back to work and got married two weeks later. I thought I was fine, but then, a few days after the wedding, I realised that I wasn’t.
One very difficult thing to deal with was the continuing pregnancy symptoms - I had them for 6 weeks after the miscarriage, right up until my period came back. Constant cramping and sore boobs - an ongoing reminder of what had happened. My GP was no help to me and it almost felt like I was inconveniencing her by questioning what had happened.
Emotionally, it hit me properly a few days after the wedding buzz faded. Feelings ranged from devastation, emptiness, depression and anger. The feeling of loss was acute and also the utter depression at having nothing at the end of it, and being back to square one. I felt naive and embarrassed for having told so many people and for being excited. Of course we had started talking about names and thinking about how things would be different after August (my due date). At times I couldn’t believe that others’ lives went on and they weren’t stopping because of what had happened to me. I also felt shame at some points as if I should have felt better - I hadn’t been so far along and it’s not like I had a second trimester miscarriage, recurrent loss or stillbirth. I didn’t care how “normal” my feelings were or how common it was; I just didn’t want this to be what had happened. On the other hand, I felt like I didn’t want to forget about it ever, because what if this was the only time I would ever be pregnant, the only time I would ever be close to motherhood. The loss wasn’t just a bundle of cells, it was the loss of a future I imagined and had already started planning.
This experience was hard on my husband also. The whole thing was very abstract as he never set foot in the hospital. The only physical evidence he ever had that I was pregnant was the pregnancy test. He never saw a scan, never met the doctor and only experienced my tears. I wonder if it was ever truly real for him. He has been able to accept what has happened more easily than me and is more optimistic for the future. A lot of his concern has been for me and how I’ve dealt with it, physically and emotionally. I had a lot of guilt and fear that it was my fault or that there is something wrong with my body. I got upset when I thought of what a good father he would have been and that this was taken away.
In the weeks after the miscarriage, I frantically sought out factual information on the topic as well as stories online of others who had been through a similar thing. I simultaneously found comfort in the information I found, and also became terrified. It was so helpful to read the words of others who had felt how I felt, but also distressing to read that maybe this would happen again. When I read of other women who had had 5, 6, 7, 8 miscarriages, I wondered how I could ever be strong enough to go through this and feel this pain multiplied by 5, 6,7, 8. I was in awe of some women’s ability to push through their struggles and for kindly sharing those struggles, but also very scared. Reading online forums and Instagram pages and hearing podcasts such as The Worst Girl Gang Ever has shown me how amazing and supportive women really are.
We had to tell those friends and family who knew we were expecting about the miscarriage. I also shared it with some more friends over time. Most people said the right thing - “I’m so sorry, I’m thinking of you, I’m here for you” and some friends were great listeners. Only a couple of people had “at least” comments that stung a little, but I didn’t hold it against them as I recall saying this myself when younger about someone else’s miscarriage. I know people just want to takeaway your pain. But I also know now that it doesn’t matter to me that “at leastI got pregnant”. It’s not a comfort because I still have the fear it’ll never happen again. I didn’t like hearing “it will happen for you” because I wanted to scream at them that they didn’t know if it would happen or not. When you have had just one loss, the reaction of some people can be unintentionally diminishing - they are openly optimistic that I will have children and surprised that this has been such a difficult time for me. They don’t realise that the anxiety I have that maybe I’ll never be a parent. I found it hard when friends and family stopped asking how I was as I took that to mean that I should be over it or that they had forgotten and moved on. I concluded that no one can really understand the experience unless they’ve had it themselves, and there isn’t just one way to experience it. I found that talking to a small handful of friends who had also had miscarriages the most helpful of all. There was no need to explain how I felt because they knew, and they were always thereto listen and with a few kind words. I will be forever grateful to them for this.
Miscarriage can bring complex feelings to the fore. Seeing pregnant strangers, celebrities, colleagues and friends, as well as dealing with happy news announcements can be tough. It’s a bittersweet mix of happiness for your friend but deep sadness for yourself. It’s also unpredictable - you can feel joy at someone else’s pregnancy at one time but pain at another, often followed by guilt that you’re not 100% happy. People with similar due dates to me were always the hardest. Hearing about pregnancy symptoms was like a punch in the stomach at the start, but I got used to it, and the punch became more of a little pang of sadness, which learned to cope with better. I also realised that I would probably think about my ‘baby that would have been’ every day, regardless of whether a friend or colleague was also pregnant, and it wasn’t really about them. It’s just unfortunate that sometimes these friends’ or colleagues’ happiness served as an extra reminder of where I should have been. Of course, it’s not their fault, and they don’t deserve to feel any guilt about their happiness. Unfortunately that’s life - people get pregnant all the time, and not everyone’s pregnancy has a happy ending. Mother Nature was cruel to me while kind to others at the same time. To complicate it, I remember thinking that I would be more upset with friends if I wasn’t kept in the loop about their pregnancies and shielded from it, so apparently I couldn’t win with my emotions. I consciously decided to do the best that I could at being a good friend, while still protecting myself when I needed to.
Another outcome of the miscarriage has been an intense desire to become pregnant again. While I wondered about fertility before, I now have an all-consuming need to conceive again. Maybe it’s an attempt to erase what happened or maybe it’s just ignited a need that was always there under the surface.
Life now has another layer simmering in the background - the waiting, ovulation sticks, fertility diets, acupuncture, vitamins, etc. Along with this need, however, is huge fear. My innocence around pregnancy is gone and I know myself and my husband will never feel carefree excitement at a positive pregnancy test again.
It will be tinged with sadness and I can already predict how anxious I will be. It’s like I have equal fear of being pregnant and not being pregnant. The fear of miscarrying again will be overwhelming if we do conceive again, and I currently feel like I never want to have another scan. Sometimes I think a second miscarriage is inevitable as I can’t imagine being in that dark ultrasound room and not getting bad news. “Scanxiety” is definitely real.
I don’t feel likeI’ll ever “get over” the miscarriage as I feel like it’s changed my emotional landscape. However I know that I won’t feel this intense sadness forever. If Ido have successful pregnancy/pregnancies, this may go some way towards healing what happened, but I know that I cannot count on this as the only solution.Allowing myself to grieve has been helpful - we found a couple of ways to mark the loss (a tree and birthstone) and this made me feel like what happened mattered. The due date and the anniversary of the miscarriage will be hard but again this is likely part of the grieving process. The sadness can come in waves - I can think I’m doing well; and then suddenly a song, a memory, an online pregnancy announcement or a throwaway comment, for example, will bring it all rushing back. On those days, I want to fast forward to a time where the miscarriage is just something that happened to me and doesn’t consume me so much. Until then, I live in a strange limbo of hope, fear and waiting for my period, all the while trying to enjoy life outside of trying to start a family at the same time. For now, I will be grateful for what I have (which is a lot) and will hang on to hope - on a good day I’m grateful for that too.