I was 14 and a half weeks along in my second pregnancy when I experienced our miscarriage. Our hearts were broken and the tears were continual. Our world stopped spinning. What I didn’t really understand before this happened, was the shadow that extends beyond the miscarriage itself...
After miscarrying on the Friday, I was required to book in a time for a dilation and curettage and the earliest available appointment was the Monday afternoon. Spending that weekend pregnant, but not expecting was one of the hardest things I ever did. During those days I looked down at my stomach with such heartbreak. The shadow of my miscarriage was so dark.
The day arrived and the shadow loomed darker. I drove to the hospital in a haze. I was running on autopilot. I made my way through the hospital, I filled out the forms, I answered the questions. By numbness, I was overcome. My bed arrived, and as the orderly rolled me towards the theatre, my tears began to flow. My eyes met his, and he gave me permission to continue crying. “It’s okay”, he told me. “It is a sad thing”. This kindness meant so much to me as I lay immersed in my darkness. Little did I know, this darkness was about to get deeper.
There were complications during the surgery and I had haemorrhaged, losing 40% of my body’s blood. Fortunately, 4 blood transfusions had saved my life. My daughter would still have her mother, my husband would still have his wife. I came to, groggy and confused. The surgeons explained what had happened, and let me know my husband was on his way.
My poor husband had received a call simply advising him that there had been complications during the surgery and telling him to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. He drove the entire 20 minutes to the hospital believing I was going to die. A new grief had been born within him during that phone call. Even though he eventually learnt that I was going to be okay, this grief has stayed with him and it walks hand in hand with the grief of our loss.
Three long days later, I was finally able to come home to my daughter, who I had never even spent one night apart from, before that dark night. Thankfully the light of her love and the sunshine of her soul made the shadow that lingered lighter. It’s actually really hard to grieve as a mother of a one-year-old. They keep you so busy, they distract you from your heartache and you rarely get a moment to be alone in your own head. In so many ways, this is wonderful, however I wonder if in some ways it also hinders your ability to truly process your grief.
As much as I was unable to truly indulge my grief, it was also very hard to escape. It was determined that my miscarriage was caused by what is called a “partial molar pregnancy”, which is essentially a chromosomal mutation which meant that the baby was never viable and that your placenta had become dangerous. Because of this I was required to undergo intrusive testing on a weekly basis to determine whether the dangers caused by my placenta had been contained; needing to collect a whole day’s worth of urine every single week for testing. If my HCG levels did not drop to an acceptable level within 6 months, I would need to undergo chemotherapy to prevent any remaining placental material from turning cancerous. Looking back now, I’m sure this prolonged and intensified both of the types of grief my husband was carrying.
For just under six months I underwent these tests, each time praying for a big drop in my HCG levels, and each time feeling bitterly disappointed by how slowly my levels were falling. During this time we also had to put our plans of expanding our family on hold, as falling pregnant before my levels had normalised would make any abnormalities impossible to detect. You are advised that you need to take precautions to prevent falling pregnant, as it can be quite dangerous in a situation like mine. To me these tests acted as a constant reminder of our miscarriage, and the inability to start trying again just suspended us from moving through the stages of our grief, as we felt trapped in the fallout.
Just shy of the six month mark, I was finally cleared. It was just before the new year had commenced and we were so happy to get to start the year away from the darkness of the year that had proceeded it. We could invite back the sunshine. I was healthy and we were allowed to move towards creating the family that was to be ours.
We were lucky enough to fall pregnant during the second month of trying. Given we conceived about 2 weeks prior to what was meant to be our due date, a day when the shadow would have normally been overwhelmingly dark had became light again. Our baby was finally on its way to us.
A pregnancy after a miscarriage brings its own set of challenges. Being at the hospital again, passing that corridor and feeling that darkness run through me. The addition testing and ultrasounds were more than welcomed, the fear that we would miscarry again was not. However, week by week the pregnancy progressed as normal and our fears slowly faded away. Once I felt confident that our baby was going to make it this time, I did however feel anxious about the birth and worried that I may experience haemorrhaging again. This fear floated along with me and as it didn’t want to leave my mind I just prepared myself for the worst case scenario by continually discussing my fears with my obstetrician and by knowing that I’d advise the maternity ward to be ready for this possibility.
When my labour began, I kissed my daughter goodbye and we made our way to the hospital. The labour progressed quite well, aside from my feeling quite queasy and faint due to the extreme levels of adrenaline pulsing through my body. The midwives and doctor checked my progress regularly, and all was looking good. However, as the labour progressed further my monitor suddenly showed signs of distress. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that panic rippled through my being, and that the shadow suddenly resurfaced. However, I pushed past it and reassured myself that if the doctors deemed it necessary an emergency caesarean would prevent the worst. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. The midwives and doctor quickly responded and prepared me to push. Within about three pushes my beautiful son Ezra was welcomed into our world.
Every once in a while, the shadow of our miscarriage will come knocking. Whether we’ve passed a key date, had a friend who has fallen pregnant or miscarried, or even watched a movie or tv show which deals with miscarriage or grief, our feelings come rushing back.
However, we are so tremendously thankful and happy that our baby made it to us eventually. His light helps us to pass through these fears and feelings of loss quickly, and instead makes us truly appreciate how unbelievably lucky we are to have the incredible little family we do. I can not even began to fathom how women suffer this kind of loss over and over again, without the light of a child, let alone “the child” to help them survive it. My heart goes out to them and I have so much admiration for the strength they must possess.
As hard as my journey was, I am so incredibly fortunate to have two beautiful children who make me feel whole. For that, I am so grateful.
*Originally published on She is Sacred