Despite miscarriage being relatively commonplace, there is still so much silence surrounding it – for so many reasons, no doubt. Families are therefore often left without the support and outlet that they need. When miscarriage follows miscarriage, that isolation is no doubt an even greater strain on an already challenging process. In this post, Sammy beautifully expresses all that recurrent miscarriage has taught her and led her to feel, together with the support that the increasing online community has provided her.
Please welcome Sammy, and her very much wanted babies, to the Diversity in Loss series…
I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.
I’m sorry, you’ve lost the baby.
I’m sorry, you’ve had a miscarriage.
All phrases we’ve heard many times, and I hope I never have to hear again. We’ve had four miscarriages and several chemical pregnancies.
Chris and I started trying for a baby pretty soon after starting our relationship. I knew he was the one, and I knew I wanted a big family. Growing up with brothers, sisters, cousins and lots of family friends with children my house was always full and busy, exactly the way I envisioned my future would be. I always told Chris I wanted ten children, he wasn’t as keen on our football team but said children would always be part of the plan.
Fast forwards seven years, five years married and we seem to be no closer to having a baby as we did in the beginning.
I have polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis so I always knew our journey may be a little harder than some, but I never thought we would have numerous miscarriages and need medical help for it to happen.
After each miscarriage I threw myself into whatever could hold my attention for longer than five minutes, wedding planning, a new job, decorating the little flat we moved into. Anything to distract me and occupy my mind, I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to relive things. When I was on my own the silence was deafening, all I could hear was the noise I made in the hospital, and I don’t think you could say it was crying, I sounded like a tortured animal. When I didn’t have something in front of me all I could see was Chris’ face when we were told we had lost the one thing we wanted more than anything. I would watch TV just to stop the images of the ultrasound flash across my eyes.
After each miscarriage I withdrew more from family and friends, no one knew what I was going through. I told them, and they tried to be supportive, but unless it was something they had experienced I felt like they were saying all the wrong things.
It was meant to be, don’t worry you can try again, at least it was early, your only young, at least you got pregnant. All of these were some of the less than helpful comments we received. I knew people meant well, and I knew lots of them were hurting for us, but I needed more. I needed someone I could cry, rant and at times even laugh with who would just ‘get it’!
Luckily our best friends are amazing and they have the cutest children, our honorary nieces and nephew that we can spoil rotten. Days out and holidays with them have definitely helped my heart heal. I can’t say it’s always easy, leaving them is difficult, the quietness hits in and it makes me realise what we don’t have and what we want.
I turned to Instagram and started to search for blogs, posts and people I could relate to. I found lots of accounts, couples who had lost their babies to sids, tfmr, stillborn, ladies whose babies had been born but never made it home. Couples who were suffering with secondary infertility. Ladies who had recurrent miscarriages. Some of these things I hadn’t heard of before, my eyes were really opened as I joined this ‘club’ that I didn’t sign up for.
I remember messaging some of them, saying I don’t know how you are so strong! Every single one of them said the only choice they had was to be strong, and I never realised what they meant until a friend said it to me. There was no alternative except to get up and get on with life, even if it took a while to put one foot in front of the other.
After our last loss last year, I felt more isolated from everyone than ever, we were 12 weeks pregnant and everything felt different, we were sure this time would be fourth time lucky. So much so I had bought a little rainbow vest ready to announce our news. I remember my mum ringing and saying she had a dream that we were having a baby girl, we hadn’t told her we were pregnant yet, but we face timed her and showed her the baby vest to tell her. I remember me and Chris sitting in bed grinning like Cheshire cats, oblivious to the heartache that was about to come. We were so happy, so blissful, so excited in that moment. We had seen four magpies several times, and considering everything thought we must be having a girl, for weeks she was nicknamed Peggy.
Unfortunately we had another miscarriage and are still waiting for our rainbow baby.
Leaving the hospital last time after lots of scans, blood tests, arms full of letters and leaflets I felt the strongest I had felt after any of the other miscarriages, because I knew I had a support network I could turn to.
When I had left the hospital previously with leaflets with giant titles such as early miscarriage, pregnancy of an unknown location and recurrent miscarriage was hard. I felt such shame walking out of the hospital with them, desperately trying to hide the leaflets and not make eye contact with anyone. But, after our last miscarriage something changed in me, the ladies I had connected with gave me such strength.
Everyone was speaking out more, more about infertility, more about their journey to parenthood, more about loss. It gave me the strength to talk more about my journey and I decided to start a public Instagram and blog.
Sometimes I can’t stop typing and the words flow freely, other times I’m scared to type in case I say the wrong thing.
There have been times in my darkest moments that I wished I had birthed a baby, even if they died so that I had a ‘reason’ to grieve. I felt like a fraud, I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt like everyone would be thinking of so and so whose story is so much worse. But I was wrong, so wrong; everyone has open arms and an inbox or email ready to support you if you need it.
There have been times I wished we could go back to the naive bubble I was in where babies always came home healthy.
There was always a story that someone insisted on telling you, that your mum’s friends, hairdresser’s neighbour couldn’t have a baby but as soon as they relaxed, as soon as they adopted, as soon as they went on holiday they got pregnant. Again all well meaning, but not what I wanted to hear.
When Jess said she was looking for people to write a post for baby loss awareness week to cover diversity in loss, I offered to write from the recurrent miscarriage aspect, now that I’m writing I’m not really sure that I have a point to my post.
Recurrent miscarriage, and now infertility is bloody hard to deal with!
Every day I struggle with the thought that someone else has a baby and I don’t. That I didn’t get to keep my baby safe, the one job that I should be able to do. The one thing that I failed to do. There have been times that I’ve told Chris to leave and find someone who can give him a baby. Thankfully he knows me more than I know myself. He wipes away the tears and is my rock, the only positive that has come from this journey so far is that we are so solid and I know with or without children we’ll be a little old couple still making each other laugh in the future.
There have been times that I have felt broken and think I can’t get through another day not being able to have a family. Apart from that there have been good days. Days where I smile and laugh, days where everything is a little bit lighter and days I hope and dream again.
So if you are reading and struggling, reach out to someone, my inbox is always open. I may not be able to stop the storm but I’m sending a big hug through this little device and will hold your hand while it rains. So many ladies have done the same for me.
For now I’m sending so much strength and baby dust to those that are wishing for a baby to bring home soon, and our little rainbow vest is staying tucked safely in the drawer in the hops that next time we get it out its not to cry over what we’ve lost, but to celebrate what is going to come.
For support following miscarriage, please visit Tommy’s, the Baby Charity and the Miscarriage Association.