Writing this post has been more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I’ve written, re-written, deleted, started again, edited and refreshed… I’ve been on the verge of crying pretty much throughout, all while battling with myself… Why is talking about our miscarriage still so difficult for me? After 5 years and 3 beautiful kids, why are all my emotions still so close to the surface? Why do I still feel guilty? Why is making sense of miscarriage such a struggle? Maybe sharing everything as honestly as I can will help me (and maybe someone reading this) find comfort in our loss.
I am one in four.
That in itself should bring me some kind of comfort, right? Knowing that such a huge number of woman have gone through this loss, should give me the piece of mind that miscarriage is a common occurrence. Yes, shared experiences eases the blow but my head can’t stop my heart from breaking into a million pieces every time I think back to the day we lost our baby.
Lets start at the beginning…
We fell pregnant with Eliana 28 days after I stopped using birth control. She came as such a wonderful surprise but we knew we wanted to wait before having a second child so when she turned 6 months I began using oral contraceptive again. Almost a year later, settled into our new home we decided it might be time for baby number 2. Once again I ditched “the pill”, eagerly anticipating another quick pregnancy.
28 Days later I started bleeding, nothing much, more like spotting. I wondered if I could be pregnant and took a test. It was negative. I felt disappointed but only for a moment because the following week was my birthday and not being pregnant meant I could enjoy a glass of bubbly and anything I wanted to eat. We could try again next month.
My birthday came and we had the best time spending the night in a fancy hotel, going out for cocktails with friends, enjoying a bottle of our favourite wine with dinner and ending the evening with a night cap. It was amazing.
The next morning I got the strangest phone call from my grandmother wanting to know exactly what I had done the night before. She was phoning to inform me that I needed to take a pregnancy test because she just knew I was pregnant. I told her I had already tested the week before and that it was negative but maybe next month. We went about our day and I never gave my gran’s warning a second thought.
A week later I felt sick. I was cramping, feeling uncomfortable and bloated. Another few days later I noticed a few drops of blood in my underwear. I knew something wasn’t right and phoned my doctor. I made an appointment to see her as soon as possible – being a Friday, as soon as possible meant the next week Tuesday. In the meantime I was told to take a pregnancy test and that if it came out positive to get my blood drawn as well.
I was really nervous. We wanted another baby but what if I was pregnant and had missed it somehow.
Taking the test.
I bought the first and best pregnancy test I could find and took the test in the public bathroom of the shopping centre. I had to know. It was positive.
My first reaction was happiness but it was closely followed by fear and uncertainty. Something felt different, something felt wrong. I drove to the hospital to have my blood work done – Little 18 month old Eliana right next to me not knowing what I was doing. The test result would be sent to my doctor, I would find out more on Tuesday. The nurse helping me – bless her heart – she must have seen how unnerved I was. She tried explaining that mild spotting was totally normal during early pregnancy and could be a sign of the baby implanting. Still, I couldn’t shake the feelings of anxiety that kept overwhelming me.
On the way home I realised I hadn’t told Alec anything. I had been dealing with all of this on my own. You see, Mr. Perfect had been going through his own “issues” – work related – the last thing I wanted to do was add extra stress. I would tell him the good news, keeping my worries to myself. His reaction was exactly what I expected. Joy, excitement and of course he was ready to share the news with the entire world.
I begged him not to and explained that I would prefer seeing our doctor first. We came to a compromise – we would tell our parents and siblings. The rest of the world would have to wait.
After the longest weekend and Monday of my life, the day finally arrived. We were going to meet our baby. Mr. Perfect was so excited and I had been feeling well so we expected a routine 1st scan.
What we didn’t see.
The doctor had already checked my blood work and wanted to have a look at our baby before she said anything. There it was, our little baby bean. My heart skipped a beat and for a moment I completely forgot about any of my fears. If only that moment could have last.
I got dressed and as soon as we sat back down the doctor explained that something wasn’t quite right. My last period, the size of our baby and my blood results showed inconsistencies. The baby also didn’t have a heartbeat but she assured us all of this could just be because I was still very early in our pregnancy (We had the same conversation when we found out about Eliana). She wanted us to do more blood tests in a couple of days and be back for a second scan the next week.
Mr. Perfect was so positive, I however still felt uncertain…
A week later we were back. I felt good. No more cramps, no more bleeding. My fear had begun to disappear and today would be the day we hear our little baby’s heartbeat!
And then there was nothing…
My hCG count didn’t increase and our baby bean hadn’t grown. The doctor explained that this wasn’t a viable pregnancy. We had a difficult decision to make but I couldn’t. We needed to be back in the doctors office on Monday.
The drive home was quiet. I felt sad, guilty, angry, confused and I didn’t want to have to make the choice to terminate a pregnancy – even if it’s not “viable”… I didn’t want to talk to anyone. My breasts were sore, I felt tiredness, nauseous, pregnant… How was this not “viable”?
The next day Mr. Perfect spent some time with Eliana while I rested. We had to go say goodbye to friends visiting from overseas. On our way there I suddenly felt a warm flood of fluid running down my legs followed a blinding pain in my abdomen and lower back. I knew this was it, the moment I had been dreading. Our baby was gone.
I wanted to cry, scream and disappear.
Eliana was in the car so I kept calm.
I didn’t want to go to the hospital so we went home. Sitting in our bathtub I cried as I was cramping, hurting and knowing this was the end of our second pregnancy. So many thoughts went rushing through my head.
Was it my fault? Maybe if I hadn’t had a drink while pregnant or taken birth control or maybe if I simply listened to my grandmother when she phoned all those weeks ago? If I had known earlier I could have taken better care of myself and our baby. This had to have been my fault somehow.
My body had let me down. Why? I was mad and heartbroken all at once.
It was the worst weekend of my life and Monday the doctor confirmed that our baby was gone. I had bled out and didn’t need any other procedures. This was suppose to be a silver-lining but it felt horrible. There was nothing left of the tiny life that had begun to grow inside of me.
I hated my body!
The worst part was that I still felt pregnant for a while after our miscarriage. Tired, bloated and sore but for no reason. It was all normal but I felt anything but normal. For the 1st time in my life I never wanted to be pregnant ever again. The risk of feeling this shattered again was too much.
Our doctor explained that my progesterone levels were low and we needed to give my body time to adjust. Waiting 6 months before trying to conceive again would be wise. I had no problem with this seeing as trying for another baby was the furthest thing from my mind.
It was a lonely time because I didn’t want to tell anyone. For some reason I felt ashamed – I sill don’t know why.
Eliana was my saving grace.
It’s hard to explain but she had a way of knowing exactly when to come and sit with me, when I needed a kiss or a cuddle. She healed my heart and was there for me without even trying (or knowing).
Then Lia happened.
A few months later, while trying our best not to fall pregnant I missed my period. I was terrified. We hadn’t reached the 6 month mark yet and I wasn’t even sure if I was ready to start trying again…
This time I took a pregnancy test at home, a Clear Blue digital one that could give me a YES or NO, not just a line.
There is was. PREGNANT 3+ WEEKS. I phoned the doctor right away and the next day we were in her office. I had my blood drawn the previous day and this time we didn’t just check for pregnancy. They also checked my hormone levels and more.
I was put on medication to help sustain the pregnancy, just as a precaution. Everything looked good and “normal”. I had to draw blood again every couple of days to make sure my hCG count was increasing and the doctor wanted to see us again in 2 weeks.
2 Weeks later everything was still on track and we even heard Lia’s perfect, little heart beating. For a flighting moment I felt relief but I would have to check myself regularly during the course of this pregnancy. Negative thoughts, doubts and fear was constantly waiting to take hold of me, stealing the joy of our 3rd pregnancy.
At 11 weeks pregnant I had the most vivid dream of our new baby girl. I knew she was the sister I had been praying for, for Eliana and that she would be safe and protected during this pregnancy. We had to name her Lia – “the bearer of good news”. She would be our good news after all the bad we had just experienced. Even though I knew this and even after the doctor confirmed the sex of our baby – I still struggled to keep the faith, feeling nervous ever so often.
The 26 and 36 week scare
At 26 weeks I developed the strangest rash all over my arms, legs and belly. The itchiness drove me insane. No one knew why and finally it was concluded that I might have a severe case of PUPP (A serious bouts of itchiness, hives or rashes experienced by 1 in 150 pregnant woman) thankfully this wasn’t risky to the baby.
Then at 36 weeks I went into pre-term labour. I had unknowingly contracted a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) but thankfully I was admitted to hospital and successfully treated. A few weeks later at 39 weeks and 4 day Lia would be born, a happy, healthy gorgeous baby girl.
Carrying her for 9 month made me realise how incredibly blessed and lucky we were to have gotten to experience pregnancy. Our miscarriage tested my faith and I felt broken down to my core. Eliana helped me pick up the pieces while Lia made me into someone new. I wish I could say Mr. Perfect and I was stronger than ever during this time but that would be a lie.
For us, it’s been our biggest marital struggle to date. We didn’t know how to find comfort with one another and neither understood what the other was going through. Life was busy and kept us away from each other. Expecting Lia and holding her for the 1st time healed our relationship too. Lia brought us back together and made our family whole and new again.
To this day she’s the bright, shining light in our home.
If it wasn’t for the #MayaliefRainbows campaign I still wouldn’t have shared our story but in doing so it has helped me make sense of our miscarriage all these years later. Maybe it can do the same for you too?
Help Mayalief, help others that have also suffered a loss…
Mayalief is passionate about helping others and raising awareness around important topic just like this one. They are asking parents to share their experience, but only if and when you are ready. Maybe you suffered a loss recently or maybe you are already holding your rainbow baby. Use the #lovemoreZA and #mayaliefrainbows
Together we can be better, kinder and stronger. Supporting one another.
PHOTO CREDIT | Rainbow crochet blanket images courtesy of Mayalief.