It’s taken me a long time to sit down and write this blog. Every time I think “today I’ll write that post”, suddenly washing windows seems like the most desirable activity possible, and cleaning the ovens is irresistible.
But, today I’m making myself do it.
We lost our first baby. It was a horrendous, heartwrenching time and I still think about it (some 7 years later) with a sense of sadness. I was revelling in pregnancy – celebrating every little flutter and even getting excited about morning sickness. My husband had moved down to Blenheim for work and I was finishing up in Auckland and heading down to join him, so he’d get nightly updates of every tiny pregnancy-related thought. Then one morning I woke up and it was over. I had had no signs that anything was amiss…I just woke up one morning and I was bleeding, heavily.
I called the midwife I had diligently lined up in Blenheim, and she was pretty ruthless about it – ‘one of those things…happens in one in four pregnancies….usually a sign that there was something wrong…” Stab. I made an appointment with my GP who was amazing through the whole ordeal and sent me along for a scan. I have to sing the praises of my GP here – he let me bawl my eyes out in his office, assured me that I had done nothing wrong, called me after hours to make sure I was ok because he knew I was home alone, and just went out of his way in a way that I still remember as a shining spot in a dark time.
The radiologist who did my scan was brutal. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I hope that she has since left the profession – she was heartless. I had a friend come with me for the scan, and even she was taken aback by how thoughtless the radiologist was. She scanned me, then switched the machine off and told me there was no heartbeat. I cried, and she said “it’s normal to be emotional because you’ve still got pregnancy hormones, even though you’re not pregnant anymore”. Stab.
I went online. BIG MISTAKE! I came across story after story of women who were told that they had miscarried, only to find out months later that their baby was growing happily. I decided I was going to be one of those women and refused a D&C, which was a really silly decision because the physical side of my miscarriage was messy, painful, and drawn out. It went on for 8 weeks, and I had scans weekly during that time. 2 weeks after my miscarriage started, I was walking out of the radiology office when the receptionist called me back in and handed me a bill for $180. Apparently, as I was no longer pregnant I had to pay full price for my ‘elective’ scans. Stab.
It was tough ordeal to get over physically, but emotionally I was devastated. We were the first couple in our circle of friends to get pregnant, and no one really knew how to deal with the loss – it just was never really acknowledged. Our families had been so excited about the new grandchild, and I felt so guilty letting them down.
I think though, the worst was the way I felt towards myself. I felt like the language of miscarriage was either directed at blaming me (“I lost the baby”), or overly medical (referring to my baby as ‘retained products of conception’). I truly felt that I had done something wrong and harmed my baby, and that I would never be able to carry a child to term. The miscarriage completely shook my belief in myself, and my confidence that I would become a mother.
For my husband, the grief was more about seeing his wife so broken – the baby was more of an ‘idea’ in his head, whereas I had grown her and felt her little bubbly wriggles. All he could see was that I was turning further and further inside myself and he couldn’t help.
The oldest adages prove true though – I just needed time, and eventually we did have babies…3 of them, and they are perfect. Every year though, when we put up a Christmas tree, all 4 of our babies have their own special decoration.