Trigger warning: This post discusses the two miscarriages I have suffered since 2009.
Even as I know I'm about to hit the "publish" button, I am a little worried about putting up this post. It has taken me months to fully write it. I have cried buckets worth of tears trying to put my thoughts into words. I just hope that whilst reading this, there will be a little help and comfort found for those who have been - or are going through - the pain of losing their baby. Despite them being a very regular occurrence, miscarriage seems to be a discussion taboo. Early miscarriages happen in approximately 17% of known pregnancies¹ and a total of one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or still birth.
Due to the seeming silence surrounding the topic of miscarriage, it's easy to keep your peace, and in doing so, become yet another statistic. Know this, you are not a statistic. You are not alone.
The story of my first miscarriage
I lost our first child during the first trimester, in 2009. Although the pain becomes less raw, it never really goes away.
I was broken.
I was broken for a very long time. I was hurting, but I stayed silent. I grieved for the loss of a baby I knew I would have been the best mother to. I cried at the thought that in the future it could happen to me again. I spent sleepless nights, tossing and turning trying to figure out why it had happened. The nights I fell asleep, I had nightmares.
Most of all, I blamed myself.
Even when my husband (then, boyfriend) told me that I had done nothing wrong. Even when the doctors told me it was, "just one of those things". I still thought it had to be me. Once the fertilisation happens, it's my body that is responsible for nurturing that egg and creating a baby.
My body had failed. So I felt like I had failed.
It took a long time, a lot of grieving, a lot of prayer, and a conversation with a family member - who had been through the same loss - for me start to heal. For me to finally stop being jealous of every pregnant lady I saw; and crying when I walked past baby clothes; and running away when I saw a pushchair heading my way.
My first pregnancy after loss
In the days leading up to the due date of our beautiful daughter, Squidgy, I was a little apprehensive. Actually that's an understatement, I was a LOT apprehensive. Maybe even scared. I had two reasons for this.
With all the bleeding, and trips into hospital, and problems I'd had during my pregnancy, I was terrified I was going to lose her.
After having lost our first child through miscarriage, I was scared I would not love her as much as I should, because I would be thinking there could have been an older sibling.
I wrote a more in depth post about this here.
The day I gave birth, it was like she plugged a little hole I had been carrying around in my heart. I will never forget that we lost our first baby, but there is a great healing found in every moment spent with your beautiful rainbow baby.
The story of my second miscarriage
Then I lost our third child during the first trimester, in December 2015. Four days after I had taken a positive home pregnancy test.
This time, I was not alone. This time - as I curled up in a ball, shuddering in pain - I had a little, worried, not-yet-two year old at home with me. I shut her on the other side of the baby safety gate when I needed to go to the loo. She didn't see the hardest part; as I lost the baby.
After it happened, the pain was just as bad. I lay on the sofa with a hot water bottle and closed my eyes, willing the pain away and trying to stop the silent tears that were uncontrollably pouring down my face. Then, an amazing thing happened. A little hand stroked my face, and wiped away the tears. A tiny voice whispered, "it's ok mummy, you'll be ok." Squidgy climbed up on to the sofa with me, and lay with one hand on my face, and one hand on my chest, repeating those words over and over.
Despite the pain, and the grief, an incredible peace came over me.
I spent a few weeks avoiding the world. I didn't see friends, and I didn't go out unless it was to work. At work, I spoke to my boss, and he allowed me to stay out back doing stockroom jobs.
When I was around Squidgy, my mind felt at peace, and my heart didn't feel like it was torn into a thousand shreds.
Christmas came along, and to begin with, I found it really hard. I kept thinking about the fact that we could have been celebrating a whole different kind of gift. Then I saw the joy on Squidgy's face. I laughed at her hesitation at meeting Santa, and smiled at her excitement of getting her first salon haircut. I enjoyed the moments of boundless energy as she tore the paper off her new role play kitchen and proceeded to make us tea and cake.
I didn't forget what had happened, but I was able to slowly recover.
Life after loss
I will continue to remember that we have two Angel babies, however I will also enjoy my children. Each day I will be thankful for my two girls.
Our two losses make both of our daughters rainbow babies. A rainbow baby is a baby conceived and carried after a loss.
I love the symbolism of rainbows. After every rain storm, a rainbow appears. From something that can be destructive and devastating, one of the most beautiful occurrences in nature comes forth. I love that I can say this about Squidgy & Pickle.
Stay strong, there's a rainbow after every storm.
A message to those who have suffered through a miscarriage
Everyone needs a little support every now and again. There is many different avenues through which you can get the help and support you need to survive and move forward after the loss of a child during pregnancy. Here are a few of the places where you can find support and refuge during the period following your loss.
Tommy's are a charity who invest in research with the aim to reduce the number of losses during pregnancy and birth from the current 1 in 4 to 1 in 8 by 2023. They are the first to set up a national research centre looking into the prevention of miscarriage.
The Miscarriage Association is a purpose built charity to support those who suffer this terrible loss. They have a helpline, email address and an online forum from which you can get the support you need.
SANDs is a charity that works to support parents who lose their baby due to still birth and neonatal deaths, often those that remain unexplained. They have a helpline and an email address through which you can get the support you need.
¹ Figures estimated in the NHS are that 1 in 6 known pregnancies will end in miscarriage.