Who can say they have some experience with infertility or miscarriage, be it your own personal experience or a close friend? I am guessing the majority of you are nodding your heads in agreement.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS), you’d never guess it by looking at me. PCOS causes infertility problems and also leads to a higher risk or miscarriage – double whammy!
Having trouble conceiving is heartbreaking, each month you hope and wish only to be met with disappointment, again. Miscarriage is equally heartbreaking. Finally when you get that positive test you think you’ve crossed the infertility hurdle to be met with a devastating end to your happiness.
Everybody’s experience with miscarriage is different but what I imagine is similar is that once you get that positive test your heart and your life change forever. Everything is calculated in weeks. At 12 weeks we will have our first scan, the date goes into your diary and is burned into your memory. At 20 weeks we can possibly find out if we are having a boy or a girl. In 8 months time on one magical date we will meet our little, precious, tiny baby. The baby we have dreamed of, cried for and want more than anything in the world.
I remember the trip to the Early Pregnancy Unit in Dublin with my Mum. I was just over 7 weeks pregnant, Dave was in the UK with work. The Sonographer chatted to me, all smiles, while scanning my tummy and then just bluntly said ‘Sorry it’s not a good scan, it’s not good news’. I was shocked, this couldn’t be happening to us, she must be wrong?! I was sent home with medication to force a miscarriage as I had had a missed miscarriage but unfortunately the medication didn’t work. Over a week later I finally had a D&C under general anaesthetic. I felt like my body had failed me, it hadn’t sustained my baby and couldn’t even miscarry by itself.
I was truly devastated, as was Dave. I had never even considered miscarriage when we started trying to get pregnant. After that, I felt like we’d never have a baby. At the time, my sister spoke to me and used the phrase, ‘sometimes things happen for a reason’. I was angry at that phrase, what possible reason could there be? About a year later when Little A was born the phrase made sense to me. Without that miscarriage we wouldn’t have Little A, yes we would have had a different baby but it felt like she was meant to be part of our family. It’s only later, when you grieve and heal that you can look at the situation in that way.
When I had a miscarriage I knew in my heart I could only begin to heal when I got pregnant again. With that next pregnancy though comes more fear – will it happen again? Children bring worry though, from that day you get the positive test – even now at 35 I know my Mum still worries about me, but it’s because your children are your heart. They are everything to you.
I also learned along the way that miscarriage is all too common. They say 20-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage – I think the figure must be higher as through my friends and family I am aware of a lot of miscarriages. If you are unfortunate enough to have to go through it, try not to blame yourself – it didn’t happen because you coloured your hair or ate that cheese, but do allow yourself to grieve – you have lost something so important and special to you. Lean on your family and try to talk to your friends (you’ll be surprised how many of them have also been through a similar situation). Your hopes, dreams and that picture of your baby in your head are gone for now and that is devastating. Hold yourself tight and allow yourself to cry. You will heal in time and you will be able to move forward and hopefully you will be as lucky as we were to go on and have successful, healthy pregnancies.
Another thing to acknowledge is that loss is loss, whether loss happens early or late in your pregnancy it can still have a profound effect on you. I completely acknowledge though that a loss later in your pregnancy must be so much harder to come back from, to move on from. Sometimes I felt guilty because I was so upset and I’d only known about our baby for 3 weeks but I also think as it was our first and we faced challenges getting pregnant that I struggled to deal with it. No matter what your circumstances though, don’t feel guilty for your grief – I know it’s easy for me say now, unfortunately women generally feel guilty about most things!
That was 2009, here we are almost 7 years later and we have 3 wonderful, beautiful, loving daughters. It hasn’t been easy along the way, PCOS takes the spontaneity out of trying to get pregnant, sometimes it makes it all just downright hard but we kept going and I consider us to be very lucky.
Here is a letter I wanted to share with you that I wrote to my unborn baby back at Christmas 2009. I chose to write it to try to help myself to get past the grief. I found it healing and if you find yourself in a similar situation this idea may help you too….
“A tap on the nose from Daddy”
To our ‘Little Dave’, a tap on the nose between excited parents, a sly knowing wink between your mum and dad.
You changed our lives for 7 magical weeks, for the 3 weeks that we knew about you your mum and dad were so thrilled, so proud. You’ll never know how much we wanted you and how much we’ll miss you. For some reason faith stepped in and we weren’t meant to meet each other. I was so incredibly sad when I learned that you had died, I feel empty without you and find it hard to accept that you are gone. Today we mark the day that we say goodbye to you. The day that we try to move on and think about a younger brother or sister for you. We will never forget about you, how you touched our lives and made us parents for the first time in our lives.
Know that your mum and dad loved you so very much, you touched our lives by bringing us even closer together.
Thank you for how you made me feel. It was brief but a tremendous emotional experience.
You’re in our hearts forever,
Love Mum & Dad
I think it’s interesting that I added 5 kisses to the letter as it now turns out there are 5 of us, Dave, Me and our 3 girls.
I hope you got some insight about infertility and miscarriage from this post, it was a very personal thing to share. I know I found it helpful to talk to people when I had a miscarriage so if you know somebody that is going through the same thing – just tell them you are there and listen to how they feel.