I’m going to be bold and share something very personal with you all, in the hopes that it encourages others to speak up, seek help, or know that they’re not alone. Some of the darkest moments of my life happened this year, and I want to put it out there. Not to frighten you. But to raise awareness.
In January 2020, we discovered we were expecting baby number 3. A total surprise, and if I’m honest, a real shock. BUT, we soon came to the conclusion that there was a new plan for us this year. Pretty quickly, we got over it and began planning. We started thinking about moving to a bigger house to accommodate our little ones, on getting a bigger car.
We started dreaming of a new and unexpected future. We got excited about what this year was going to look like. I imagined looking into this baby’s little face and holding its perfect weight in my arms. I imagined the joy on our girl’s faces when they met their brother or sister. I saw a baby smiling, laughing, pooing all over me. I could see a tiny child learning to crawl, stand, walk and then ride a bike. I saw 3 excited children a Christmas. I saw 3 sets of school uniform. I pictured mad family trips away.
We even had our names picked out (something we had fiercely argued about during the other pregnancies) and we were looking forward to meeting our summer baby.
And then it all went wrong!
After suffering with severe pain and going into hospital for scans, we were told our little one wouldn’t survive. It was an ectopic pregnancy and there was fear that it was about to rupture. Our tiny baby had started growing in the fallopian tube, and there was no way to save it. The focus was on making sure I survived. I can’t explain the pain and sadness I felt in that moment. It was like being underwater, all the sound muffled around me, and I just felt like I was dying.
One of the most heartbreaking decisions I made was to manage my loss at home. I don’t regret this decision at all, but what followed was nearly 4 weeks of horrific and severe pain as I slowly lost my baby.
Weeks of bleeding, but suffering with morning sickness.
Weeks of pain and darkness, but my body still fighting to be pregnant.
Hormones and heartbreak. Life’s cruelest trick!
Going back and forth to hospital to check how it was going. Being told my baby was fighting to survive. Finally being told “It’s over! It’s gone!” The outpouring of grief when my body finally admitted defeat. The emptiness that followed. The feeling of being totally closed off from the world. If I’m being totally honest, even I was shocked how much it broke me. For weeks I just couldn’t function. People came to cook, clean and help me with my children. I didn’t look after my girls on my own for weeks. I couldn’t! The only way to stop the tears was to watch nasty horror movies, just to feel something other than grief. When a friend asked me how I was feeling, there were no words to explain. Then I remember my littest daughter was watching Frozen 2 one morning, and I heard one of the songs, which struck a chord. I sobbed.
“I’ve seen dark before, but not like this. This is cold, this is empty, this is numb. The life I knew is over, the lights are out! Hello darkness, I’m ready to succumb……this grief has a gravity, it pulls me down. You are lost. Hope is gone. But you must go on. And do the next right thing. Just take a step. Step again.“
THAT RIGHT THERE! That was grief for me. That was what it looked like.
It was a nasty, lonely, scary place to be. Everyone has a different experience, and everyone deals with grief differently. But for me, there was just darkness. And it’s the thought of others down there, on there own, feeling like there’s no way out, feeling total despair, having no hope, or believing they have nowhere to go and share, that pushes me to speak out. THAT is why I’m talking about this, even though it makes me sob to relive it. Because it can happen to anyone. At any time. 1 in 3 of us to be precise.
I remember genuinely feeling shocked that it could ever happen to me after I’d had 2 healthy pregnancies. Why would my body do this? But that’s not how it works. No one is exempt. It doesn’t matter your age, race, or life experiences. It’s just one of those cruel experiences we are all open to. It’s just NOT that easy having a baby.
And this is just my experience. I have heard hundreds of stories in the past 6 months. Some that have haunted me. What some families have gone through, over and over again. The harrowing experiences I can’t bear to imagine. Some that are just so horrific, I honestly don’t know how people get through it. Some don’t! That’s the point! The grief that has been shared since I started telling my own story has been overwhelming.
Again, this is in no way here to scare people, but to open up the conversation for those who have experienced, or are going through loss. Because I’m absolutely SICK of hearing the term ” people just don’t talk about it!” when it comes to early pregnancy and baby loss.
Why do parents feel like they shouldn’t talk about their conception journey?
Why is it expected that bereaved parents DON’T talk about their losses, their grief, their hopes and dreams being destroyed? Their pain, their darkness?
Why do we not encourage partners to open up about their loss? Or about how hard it is for them to go wade through their own sadness, whilst trying to support their partner, AND pick up the shattered pieces afterward?
Why do bereaved parents feel like they have no place to share their pain?
Because it makes other people feel uncomfortable?
Because it detracts from others positive journeys?
Because it’s ugly?
Because it’s inconvenient?
Well, guess what? It’s ugly. It’s brutal. It’s cruel. And most of all, IT’S UNFAIR!
SO NO MORE!!!
It’s time to stop silencing parents because the stories they have to share aren’t pretty, or because their tales are so harrowing, you may cry hot tears just imaging how someone could possibly survive that kind of trauma. Because it happens to so many of us. (1 in 3 remember!) That statistic is frightening. 70% of those women will go on to suffer with life long depression or anxiety, and 30% will suffer with long-term PTSD as a result. Not to mention the fatalities due to ruptured ectopics or the suicides that happen as a result of severe mental health issues. And what about the partners? How many families are torn apart after the trauma of a loss? How do you support someone going through such darkness? How do you keep your head above water?
I’ve spoken to so many women who have suffered with PTSD following a loss. Women who have nearly died in the process. They talk about the trauma that followed. How it affected them completely and consumed them. How they changed. How their partners struggled to support them. How they managed to see the signs and get them the help they needed before it was too late. In one of my own classes, 100% of the attendees had had, not one, but multiple miscarriages, missed miscarriages, ectopics, ectopic ruptures, molar or TFMR losses. Stories of stillbirth and neonatal deaths, before they had their little rainbow babies. So much pain in one room. So many broken hearts, so many dreams destroyed.
Some of the ladies told me about the “helpful” or cruel things people said to them at the time.
“You can always try again”
“You can’t grieve for something you never had”
“How can you missed someone you never met?”
“It was only the size of a …..”
“It’s not really a baby!”
“It’s just a blob!”
“This is just how it is!”
“There was probably something wrong with the baby. So really this is a blessing”
“It just wasn’t meant to be”
“It all happens for a reason”
“Go and get drunk and you’re bound to catch again!”
“Its an artifact of conception, nothing more!”
“Better this happened now rather than at full term”
“Better this happen now than further down the line”
“At least you have your other child/children”
“At least you know you can get pregnant”
“It will get easier”
“You’ll get over it”
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??? Every word stabs, and they were all spoken as someone was brought to their knees.
It makes me want to cry and scream, in equal measure.
And just think about all the bereaved parents who have gone through this during lockdown. Hospitalised whilst being seperated from their partners, their families or closest friends. Unable to bury their babies. Forced to stay at home and manage their losses without pain relief or support. Frightened, broken, grieving and alone. (This is where I start to sob again.)
No-one should ever feel like they are down in the depths of despair on their own.
No one should ever feel like their story should be muted for fear of making someone else uncomfortable.
No one should ever bury their grief and pain because “people just don’t talk about it.”
Your journey is important.
Your story is valid.
And your beautiful baby will leave its mark on you forever.
If you are going through this, please know that you are NOT alone.
Please know that there are so many of us holding your hand in the dark, even when you can’t see us.
There IS a place for you here.
Because every pregnancy matters.
And every loss is felt.
CRADLE Early Pregnancy & Baby Loss Support Group
LIGHTHOUSES THERAPY SERVICES
OUR ANGEL BEARS
NINE 4 NORAH (dads and lads network)