This isn’t a post I thought I would be writing today but I recently found out that it is Baby Loss Awareness Week this week so thought it was a perfect time to share my story. There are millions of people, like me, around the world that have lost a baby at some point in their life, whether that be through miscarriage, still birth or one of the many other ways that a tiny life can be taken away. I actually consider myself pretty lucky that it only happened once as so many couples suffer loss multiple times.
It will be 10 years this month that I fell pregnant with, what would have been baby number two. It really wasn’t great timing, it wasn’t a mistake, it just happened a lot quicker than we had anticipated! We had just moved up to Northamptonshire and were temporarily renting a house while we found somewhere to buy, as our recent house purchase had fallen through at the last minute. I had just started a new, pretty stressful, job and so wouldn’t have qualified for maternity pay, however, we were happy all the same and excited at what the future would hold.
I’m not going to go into lots of detail about what happened to me, however, there are some things that I didn’t know about that might have been useful at the time. I started to lose the baby on the day before New Year’s Eve. I had no pain at all and just a tiny bit of bleeding. I tried to convince myself it was nothing and that it would go away. Trying to get a doctor’s appointment in the holidays is not easy! I was fobbed off over the phone and told to wait until January when they opened again. I ended up driving to the surgery and walking in, sobbing and snotting all over the place so they would have to get someone to see me…funnily enough that worked! No one really tells you, early on in pregnancy, what the procedure is for this sort of thing. It had never occurred to me to find out and when I needed help I had no idea which way to turn.
The early pregnancy unit, where I got sent for a scan, had no idea why I was there. This is something I wasn’t prepared for. Andrew wasn’t comfortable coming to the scan with me so my Mum came instead and waited outside. When they called me in the lady was bubbly and happy and asked me if I was excited to be seeing my baby for the first time. I did feel so sorry for her when I had to explain why I was there and to be honest she was so lovely and sat me down and explained what would happen next. It would have been a whole lot better if she had already known though!
After I got the news that my baby had stopped growing at around 6 weeks everything else was a bit of a blur. I remember crying a lot and then calling my Mum to come and meet me. I opted for an operation as so far I still had no pain and thought it would be better for it to stay that way. My appointment was for two days later, 4th January. I was surprised that still, 6 days after it all started I was still in no pain – when you read about these things or see miscarriages happen in TV dramas women are doubled over in pain straight away, I didn’t really understand why that wasn’t happening to me (although I was very relieved it wasn’t).
Once I had come to terms with what had happened I felt I just had to get on with things. I called and messaged people that needed to know and life seemed to just carry on. The op was over very quickly and life around me went back to normal. It’s so weird that such a massive thing can happen to you but as so few people know that you’re even pregnant at that early stage it kind of just goes by without people even noticing. People that do know struggle to find the right words to say or to understand how you’re feeling and to be honest I wasn’t sure I even knew how to feel. I didn’t know if I was allowed to be upset or in mourning for a baby that I’d only known existed for 10 weeks. In the end I just threw myself back into work and decided to treat it as ‘one of those things’.
In hind site this probably wasn’t the best way to deal with the situation and thereafter followed one of the worst years of my life. I was emotional and confused, I couldn’t do my job properly and was bullied by my boss. I ended up having to leave my job and it was only then, when I had time to just stop and rest and think about things that I really come to terms with what had happened. It occurred to me that this happens to so many people so why didn’t I know how to cope with it? Why hadn’t someone told me how I would feel or what I should do?
Baby loss is something that, 10 years ago, was really never talked about, even now it’s only just starting to become something people are happy to open up about. Once I told people it had happened to me suddenly friends were telling me their experiences and I couldn’t believe how many people had suffered but I never knew. It’s like a special secret club that nobody wants to be part of but once you’re in it you realise all these other people are in it with you and you never knew. Baby Loss Awareness Week is so important as it gives people the opportunity to learn about other people’s experiences so that if the worst ever happens to them they would have more of an idea of what to do, who to speak to, who can help and how they might feel. Every person is different and deals with things in their own way but the most important thing is to know that there are people out there that can help and that you’re not alone.
In the end life does have to go on and, if you’re lucky like us, a little Phoebe arrives to help turn things around. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that it was just the wrong time for us. We went through a pretty tough time but it’s those times that make you appreciate the good stuff so much more.
As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week and International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th there will be a ‘Wave of Light’ to remember all the babies who lit up our lives for such a short time. Light a candle at 7pm local time and join with others in helping break the silence of baby loss.