MISCARRIAGE: 6 MONTHS ON

Lifestyle

The 18th of May will mark 6 months – 181 days since we lost our first baby. I thought I’d write a little update post on how we’re feeling and how we’ve coped so far. Also – I wanted to share the things we’ve done, and steps we’ve taken that have helped us the most.

A real turning point was when I wrote my first blog post, sharing our story about the losses we’ve experienced after trying to conceive for almost two years. Prior to that, even though I’d spoken to close family and friends, I’d been in a really dark place. I was up and down like a yo-yo, some days I felt I could have conquered anything and the others were just a complete battle. It felt like everybody around me was getting pregnant, having healthy babies, and I started to feel resentful. Whilst this is somewhat normal whilst you’re dealing with this kind of grief, it’s not a healthy mindset to have by any stretch… and something has to give in order to begin the healing process. Not everybody agreed with me sharing my story. Some people believe that it should be kept ‘private’ but my response to that quite literally is fuck what anybody else thinks. You should do whatever helps YOU. Miscarriage is something that unless people have been through it themselves, as much as they like to think that they understand it, they really don’t. It is a loss, and loss causes grief and pain. Think about what you need as a person. Counselling is a great option if you do want to keep it private – I didn’t go down this route myself but I would absolutely recommend if you are feeling alone and don’t have the confidence to share something so upsetting with the world. For me, sharing our story, and getting the response that it did… and all of the women (and men actually) that I connected with who shared their stories with me was absolutely incredible and really helped me feel that 1) I had helped others in the process and 2) I wasn’t alone.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that grief and healing does not have a timescale, and everybody will handle miscarriage differently. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a lot of different women who have similar feelings to what I have (and some days, still do!) but they all have their own little way of coping on the tough days. It’s very easy to get sucked into thinking things like ‘why am I still upset? I should be over this by now’ ABSOLUTELY not true. The problem is, this is not spoken about enough, so as a women when this happens to you, you really have no idea what to do. Don’t tell yourself that you ‘should’ be better. You’re human, and you know you better than anybody else. Give yourself time.. and be kind to yourself.

When we experienced our two back to back losses, I was working from home and running my own business… and found that being alone with my thoughts, without an office environment and having to pull myself together to go to ‘work’ each day made it even harder. Some days, I couldn’t even get out of bed because I was so depressed. I took the decision to apply for normal full time jobs, and secured myself a Recruitment Resourcing job only 20 minutes from home. I was actually a Resourcer prior to starting my own business so I knew that it was a role I enjoyed. This was by far one of the best decisions I could have made. Whilst it can feel like a back step after being your own boss, having a 9-5 style routine, and having to put your makeup on and show up for something 5 days a week really has pushed me out of the depressive, demotivated phase that I was stuck in. Luckily, I have an amazing employer, and an absolutely fantastic team. Everybody is so kind, and just being around them has played a massive part in my healing over the past few months… and they probably don’t even know it! To the Amiqus guys, if you do read this, I owe you so much for the support you’ve given to me! You’re all hilarious, and laughter is definitely the best medicine for this sort of thing.

Another thing that I had to do was really focus on my relationship with my partner. Whilst he was unbelievably supportive, I think it’s easy to forget that men grieve too, and they do it in a very different way to us. Gaz’s positive attitude and outlook on this whole situation has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me – he is amazing. We decided to really enjoy and appreciate the time we have left together as a two, and this has been so powerful. We’ve connected in an even deeper way than we had before, and did little things like buy a pack of date night cards – they’re so cute! There’s 52, so a date night idea for every week of the year, both going out and staying in. The link is here for anybody who wants to have a look at them. Having a date night to look forward to each week has been a great distraction, plus… its quality time too!

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/thispaperbook/product/52-date-night-cards

Keeping a diary. This isn’t for everybody, but on the more down days, I really like to write. Writing your feelings on paper or on a blog is another thing that can be really empowering – and it’s amazing to be able to look back on how far you’ve come mentally every now and again. I also decided that I was going to remember the babies each year on the date that we lost them, but in a loving and positive way rather than a sad way. Despite only being pregnant for a short time, I still loved being pregnant! Regardless of the sickness and the tiredness. It was so special, and we should be able to hold onto that feeling of happiness no matter what. An idea is to have a little keepsake box with any special items that you can look through when you’re feeling a little sad. I haven’t done this, but I know I’ve spoken to ladies who have and it’s helped them a great deal.

Trying to think about the loss in a spiritual way has been quite comforting too. I like to think that the babies that we lost are always watching down on us, and are saving an extra special one for when the time is just right… and this is such a lovely thought to have. Trusting your body is important. As difficult as it is to swallow, especially when all of this is so raw, our bodies know best, and it’s very, very good at dispelling a pregnancy that isn’t viable. It’s taken me a long time to come to accept this, but when you can… it really is a weight lifted off your shoulders. It’s so easy to blame yourself for the loss, or feel that there is something wrong with you… and there’s not! Mother Nature is amazing, and she’ll always do her thing to protect you.

Taking time off the hospital appointments. This may not apply to everybody, but I was offered quite a few different tests, scans, and investigations into why we had miscarried twice in a row… particularly as it had taken a while for us to conceive. At first, I didn’t feel mentally strong enough to face a hospital, a scan, a blood test… or an examination. And that’s perfectly ok! There is no rush, this is a process… and you have to take those steps when you feel strong and ready. Holding off on these tests gave me time to really build up the strength, courage and positive mindset that I needed to face it all again. I’ve now had an ultrasound, and internal scans and everything looks to be as it should be, which is a huge positive. They also took blood on day 2, and 21 of my cycle this month to monitor hormone levels… so every single step is a step in the right direction right now. Rather than dreading the hospital like I did last time, now, I feel ready… and every appointment is just another tick off our list. And that’s really important. We shouldn’t put ourselves through this stuff if it’s only going to cause more pain. Take some time off!

Lastly – if you can, try and get away somewhere together, whether that’s a spa day, or a short break, or even a full blown holiday. I’m currently sat writing this on the plane to Tenerife for a rare few days away with Gaz (he’s snoozing next to me, no surprise there). It’s been a whirlwind six months, and I think it’s very easy for people to forget how much these sorts of things can affect you at work, and at home. Down time, and removing any pressure can do incredible things for your body and your mind.

Lmao… told you…

Try to remember that negative thoughts don’t and will never serve you. Gratitude for the here and now will be the most important part of your healing process. You’ll never forget, but you can find a loving way to remember your little ones. Somebody said to me ‘the day that you conceived, you became a mother and nobody can take that away from you’. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Every day, you’re getting stronger – even if you don’t feel like it.

Love Chloé x

Helpful websites

https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/afterwards/

https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/after-miscarriage/

“A PERSON’S A PERSON, NO MATTER HOW SMALL”

Lifestyle

At the end of 2018, something happened to us which for the past 3-4 months I’ve constantly struggled to process, and move on from. In light of recent events in the media, I feel it’s important to share our demons and talk openly. It’s important to ask for help and support when you need it the most. People are constantly keeping things to themselves and fighting battles alone for fear of burdening other people, which I’ve been semi-guilty of since November. I’m writing this to reach out to anybody else who has gone through a similar situation, because it actually affects 1 in 4 women. I’m talking about miscarriage, and how it’s completely turned my life upside down.

When I met my partner, we quickly realised that we were soulmates. A few months into our relationship, we discussed ditching birth control… which sounds crazy but we just KNEW. We were stuck together like glue, and didn’t want to delay having children. I’ve always wanted to become a Mother and he’s very family orientated. I threw out my Cerazette, and felt super excited at the thought that I could potentially fall pregnant… soon!

12 months passed. I wasn’t pregnant and started to wonder if something was wrong. All of my research pointed towards contacting your GP if you hadn’t conceived within a year, but I wanted to be patient. I wanted to give my body time to return to normal after years of birth control. By July 2018, it had been a year and a half since I took any form of birth control… and STILL no positive pregnancy test. I bit the bullet and went to my GP, who handed me a blood test form. I was terrified – not only do I hate needles, but all of a sudden I was scared of what they may find. What if I can’t ever get pregnant? All sorts of thoughts ran through my head, and I actually put off this blood test for 4 months. We decided that, when we returned from our annual holiday to Mexico, we were going to commit to finding out why we hadn’t conceived. After the test, I couldn’t believe I’d put it off for SO long! It made me feel amazing – I did my best to let go of my fear and left the hospital that day thinking “I’m one step closer to being a Mum. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually excited!”

The next day – a withheld number calls me as I’m working. I ignored it – they said my results would take 2-3 weeks to come back – so it must be a spammy call right? Within minutes of it ringing off, a voicemail notification. It was my doctors surgery asking me to phone in for my test results. I got that horrible, tight knotted feeling in my stomach and thought “something’s wrong, they’ve definitely found something wrong. Otherwise, why would they be calling me the next day?”

With baited breath, I called back and spoke to my GP. He sounded confused. “This blood test was for infertility, wasn’t it?” as much as I hated that word, I agreed. “Your HCG is really high…” he paused. “You’re pregnant”.

I literally went numb, with joy, but also with fear. I was actually pregnant?! I could not believe it. After all of this time worrying, telling myself I couldn’t conceive, he confirmed it. My HCG was up, and he scheduled a follow up test to make sure my levels were rising. I’d been feeling off colour for a couple of weeks, but just brushed it off as me coming down with something or not getting enough sleep. That night, I told my partner, and we both cried so, so many happy tears. I downloaded a pregnancy tracking app. I looked at how big my baby was. We talked about how to tell our families. I joined forums where I could connect with other Mums to be… and went to bed that night holding my tummy. It felt so special to know that our little baby was in there.

For the few days that followed, I felt grateful to be pregnant every single day. It was a surreal feeling… and something we had wanted so much! The timing of the whole situation was crazy, the way I just happened to go for my bloods on the exact month we’d finally caught out… it just felt like fate.

I woke up less than a week later to blood… and pain. Sorry, but I promised myself I’d be an open book on this post. I had an awful feeling that something was wrong – and whilst my partner was telling me to stay positive, I was terrified that my dream of us becoming parents was slipping away. As my symptoms worsened over the next day or two… We went to A&E where they took more blood. All I wanted was to be one of those women who have these symptoms and miraculously, baby is ok. Because that does happen! I was frantically reading success stories on forums, but the hospital confirmed the exact news that I didn’t want to hear. I’d miscarried, and HCG had plummeted back to near zero.

I was completely and utterly crushed, and to be honest, so was my partner. We didn’t really talk about what had happened for about a week, because I think we were just both in shock. When we did finally talk, we both just cried. Our happy tears had turned into absolute heartbreak. Within a week of finding out I was pregnant, I wasn’t pregnant anymore… and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it… and all the old feelings crept back again, this time mixed with some new ones… guilt included. There’s something wrong with my body, I’ve failed… I’ve let him down. He was SO excited to be a Dad and that’s been taken away. I tried desperately to see a silver lining, and my Mum reassured me that the great thing is, I CAN get pregnant. And she was right!

3 weeks later, I had a sudden sharp stabbing pain in my right side and thought “surely, I can’t be ovulating again yet?!” Really? So I dashed to the bathroom and grabbed an ovulation test. Positive! I couldn’t believe it. My body was getting back to normal again already. This gave me SO much faith… and actually helped me relax a little.

Fast forward to Christmas Day. This was the very next cycle after our loss… I just had a suspicion that we had caught out again. I wasn’t feeling good at all… sick, tired… but surely it hasn’t happened for us again? Are we really that lucky? Feeling sick with nerves, I grabbed a pregnancy test and took it. 2 lines appeared. I almost fell off the loo in shock. The feelings of joy came flooding back all over again! I ran downstairs to my partner and said babe, you won’t believe this… and showed him the test. What a Christmas gift! I’ll never forget that feeling. Maybe this was going to be our time, after all, the doctors had told us that my chances of a healthy pregnancy next time around were good.

A week later, we’d gone away for the weekend with my best friend and her fiancé to the Lake District. The cramps started… but there was no blood. Although the pain wasn’t bad, I was worried after what had happened last time to say the least. I told myself over and over that it would be ok… until the same symptoms reared their ugly head. It felt exactly the same, and I just knew in my heart that the same thing was happening to me again.

I cannot even begin to describe that feeling. I mean, the first one was crushing, but to be going through this all over again in such a short space of time… Nothing I have ever been through can compare.

The upset and the pain that I felt was physical… I can honestly say my heart physically hurt and still does every day. I spent New Year’s Eve sobbing until 2am on the phone to my mum, asking her why this had to happen to us… and telling her that I couldn’t cope with the hurt. All of a sudden, all I saw on social media were scan pictures, pregnancy announcements, and babies. People tried to make me feel better by saying things like “it’s your body’s way of getting rid of something that may not have been healthy” or “at least you weren’t further along” but none of these things made it ANY better. It affected me in so many ways… I couldn’t get up in the morning. I lost all of my motivation. But the worst thing was the feeling of isolation, which is what’s led me to write this post.

Thankfully now, I have started to look at other ways to cope… and every day I’m trying my best to heal. A couple of months ago, I could never have written and shared this story. But it doesn’t take away the fact that I am still to this day absolutely heartbroken. Like I said before, my heart physically hurts EVERY day, and I’m struggling to move on. Had our first baby stuck, I would have been 22 weeks pregnant this week, I’d have felt movements, I might have a little bump… I may even have caved and found out whether we were having a little boy or a little girl. We’d be prepping our nursery, and buying things. Or, if the second baby had stuck, I’d be a little less further along, enjoying pregnancy after such a heartbreaking loss the first time around. These are things that I think about daily, and constantly ask myself why this had to happen.

Baby loss is something that people sometimes avoid talking about and today, I decided that I was fed up of keeping this inside. No matter how far along I was, no matter what anybody else says, I lost our babies… and there will be women across the world that feel my pain and ask all of the same questions I do. As much as I’m sad to say that I’m 1 in 4, I’m proud of myself for finding the strength and the courage to share this so openly, even when I can’t find the answers why. I’m 24, I’m healthy, my partner is healthy… so why us? Everything that I share is always in the hope that my experience can reassure somebody that they are not on their own. In what has probably been the most isolating experience of my entire life, I wanted to reach out to other women in my position and say:

It’s ok to be hurt, no matter how far along you were. This is a loss, and we need to grieve. Grief has no timeline, and we shouldn’t feel under pressure to move on, or not talk about our experience. I’ve felt all of the resentment, I’ve cried at pregnancy announcements and asked why that couldn’t be us… and I’ve felt like a failure. I wonder what our babies would have looked like, and feel heartbroken that I’ll never see who they could have grown up to be. But what I do know is that we’re fucking tough. I’m lucky to have a gorgeous, supportive partner going through this crazy emotional rollercoaster along with me.

If I can help anybody, even if it’s just for a coffee and a chat, or a phone call, please please reach out me. A huge part of my healing process is to help other people through their darker days.

Chloé xx