Recently, I joined a club that many women anticipate becoming members of but everyone dreads: the miscarriage club.
It was a very early miscarriage, I was about five weeks along, and the negative pregnancy test and bleeding came just a few hours after those positive pink lines. But already, within those five hours, I’d fallen in love.
I have been exposed to miscarriage all my life with many women around me experiencing at least one in her child-rearing journey. I knew that I would be very fortunate to not suffer a miscarriage. But the optimist in me still dreamed that things would be okay.
Adding to the difficulty was that there was a huge range of family events happening at the same time and then a week later, my grandmother passed away.
Deep down and with the beauty of hindsight, I know that wasn’t my baby.
When I wrote my last blog on miscarriage, I spoke to Janelle Moran from Sands Australia, and we discussed how while 1 in 4 women will have a miscarriage in her lifetime, the actual number is probably much higher as many who have an early miscarriage will believe it’s simply a late period.
I knew though.
Having had a child already, I knew the telltale signs. The last time I was late for my period was when I conceived my son. My breasts were hurting and very tender. My body was aching and my moods were flying all over the place. While the pure and utter exhaustion could have been put down to the flurry of activity happening around the same time, the other symptoms definitely could not be.
A rollercoaster of emotions
My dad knew what was going on from the moment those pink lines appeared. That’s just the kind of child I am – I can never keep a secret from my father. But because everything happened so quickly, we hadn’t had a chance to tell any other family members. My sister and my aunts found out as I was rushing back from the doctor who confirmed the miscarriage. I hastily told them. It wasn’t how I wanted to tell them but I had no choice. Rushing to and from doctors, kindy pick-ups and family events, there was no easy way to tell them. It was simply “I think I’m currently having a miscarriage. I have to have an ultrasound tomorrow to make sure it has all gone.”
As I drove home from the ultrasound that confirmed all traces of pregnancy had left my body, I called a friend, thanking my lucky stars that she had experienced this before me. She understood. She talked me through the tears that were welling up. She empathised. She didn’t try to diminish my pain. We talked about our different experiences. I’m so appreciative that I had her to talk to. I don’t know how I would have managed if I didn’t know she had suffered a miscarriage. I don’t know how I would have managed if I didn’t have anyone to talk to who had a unique, personal experience.
What I had to tackle next though, was a whole different ball game. A family wedding. My brother-in-law’s, no less, with family dinners, lunches, events and the wedding itself. Putting on a brave face, hosting family and friends, trying my hardest to celebrate when I was heartbroken inside. In fact, mere hours after the ultrasound, we headed off to dinner with 35 people who were none the wiser about what we were going through. We decided not to tell the bride and groom until after their wedding. No need to put a dampener on the week.
And then, seven days later, my grandmother passed away. A true rollercoaster of emotions, going from a miscarriage to a loss and a wedding; it really was extreme lows to extreme highs.
“I’m petrified now”
I’m petrified now. I’m scared to take a test. I’m scared to be happy and excited. I’m scared to think of names and to dream of nursery décor. I’m petrified to get attached.
When I do eventually get those positive lines, I know with utmost certainty that I’ll also be scared to go to the bathroom. Because who knows what can happen? No pregnancy is safe.
I remember my GP saying that I can’t think like that. That I can’t assume I’ll have a miscarriage just because of the statistics. I know what she was trying to do. I know she was trying to keep me positive and hopeful because every pregnancy is a blessing. But I also know, all too well, what can happen. My husband and I have been privy to premature births, stillbirths and countless miscarriages. We’ve never gone into this journey blind or naïve. My first pregnancy was classified as ‘risk’ because I had a couple of medical issues throughout, and my son was born on the small side at 38 weeks because it was just too dangerous to let us both go further.
We know what can happen. And while sometimes knowledge is power, other times it’s also the cause of trepidation and anxiety. Because let’s face it, even though it was an ‘early miscarriage’, it was still a loss. For me, the moment those positive lines appeared, that baby was loved and adored. That baby was mine. And I lost it.