Trigger warning: This article describes a personal and emotional journey with miscarriage.
I had a miscarriage at ten weeks.
For some people that means that a bunch of cells were not viable. For medical professionals, they describe it as an unsuccessful pregnancy. For me, I had lost my baby.
I had considered the emotional impact of what it would be like to lose a baby, I’m sure every pregnant woman has. But you underestimate the loss of the dream. It’s not just the loss of the baby in the present it’s the loss of the future. You have planned and prepared and hoped and dreamed of the future with this new person in it, imagined what that will look like and created a space in your life, your head and your heart. How you process and deal with that loss is different for every woman and I’m lucky to have had support, but my heart breaks for any woman who goes through this alone as it is already a lonely process.
The most shocking part for me was the physical side. I had no idea it was like this. I have had friends go through losses but I never knew the extent of the physical trauma. I felt confused and blindsided, why did no one tell me? Why do we not talk about it?
I know every case is different but the more I talk the more I find women who had similar and worse experiences. I had previously thought that when you miscarry that you bleed for a day or two and then it’s over, I couldn't have been more wrong. I bled for over six weeks. I had six internal vaginal scans confirming each time that I ‘still had product of pregnancy’. I underwent two sets of ‘medical intervention’ where pessaries are used to trigger contractions. Both times extremely painful, physically, and emotionally, when you ‘pass’ your ‘product of pregnancy’. There was more tissue and blood than I was prepared for and passing the ‘sac’ can only be described as a horrific and isolating experience.
Both times I thought it was over but still, I remained technically pregnant. I then developed an infection in my womb and was admitted to hospital for intravenous drugs. Once discharged I was booked in for surgery to do a surgical removal of the remaining ‘product’. This is done under general anaesthetic, something that we should never take lightly and something I was scared to undergo. I have spoken to several women since that had to have the surgery more than once as it was unsuccessful the first time. I am grateful I didn't have to endure a repeat and that was the end of the intervention for me. Once the bleeding stopped I took a pregnancy test which came back negative (a strange thing to be hoping for) and then you’re told it’s all over. Physically at least.
As my loss was under 12 weeks I was not offered any further support, advice or care. An unhelpful male GP’s only comment to me was to insist I take folic acid whilst ‘trying again’ despite the fact I had made no reference that I was going to and at that point was still miscarrying. This sums up the way society treats miscarriage though. It’s very common and many women have children post-miscarriage so that is the message we are given, that we have to shake it off, move on.
Just because something is common doesn’t mean people don’t need support to deal with it.
As I said I am lucky personally with my support network but there are many women out there feeling alone and unable to ask for help. For a lot of women because of the convention not to tell people you are pregnant until after 12 weeks, it can be even more lonely.
I do believe this convention needs to change. If no one knows you are pregnant then you feel unable to share the miscarriage and find the support that might be there from those around you.
It becomes a secret for women to keep, like so much women have to deal with, we are meant to do it quietly and spare the gory details as with menstruation and childbirth.
Women are made to feel embarrassed, and ashamed of these life experiences and we simply have to be allowed to talk about it. I’m sorry if you find this unsavoury, but I am sick of the silence and watching other women be silenced.
How can we expect women to be prepared for these things if it is kept under wraps like a secret society? I don't want to be part of a secret club, I want to be part of a movement that allows women to share and ask for help without judgement or discrimination.
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