OCTOBER is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month and this year more than ever I think it is a hard and tough topic to talk about.
Because around the fringes of this already harrowing experience for women, 2020 is a year where many will experience it alone. They are on their own in hospitals while partners wait outside, unable to squeeze a hand or give a hug to help ease the shock every women feels when they receive that heartbreaking news when a baby is lost.
Miscarriage is not a nice experience, I’ve gone through it twice; after my second lady I had two miscarriages in a row before my third lady was eventually born. It leaves you confused and shocked, mourning a life you thought you would lead, so it feels both abstract and real at the same time.
It happens to so very many of us, yet it is rarely spoken about. I hear people saying there is a taboo around miscarriage but I’m not so sure that is always the case. For me, I couldn’t even say the actual word ‘miscarriage’ until long after my rainbow baby was born.
For many, it occurs in the early stages of pregnancy, at a time when you might have only told one or two people. When it happens it takes a long time to process and to get your head around and, personally, once I had done all that it just felt impossible to bring it up with friends, firstly without crying and secondly, when?
Do I slot it into conversation with friends between talking about how hideous the new season chunky boot is and what plans we have for the weekend?
Miscarriage happens in so many different ways, to so many different women and at so many different stages. The small hope for many is that it has no physical impact on the viability of future pregnancies. However, mentally, if you experience miscarriage it can cast a large shadow of doubt and stress over you going forward in future pregnancies. It can cause huge worry during those first few months of pregnancy after you’ve experienced miscarriage and perhaps throughout the whole pregnancy until you hold that tiny baby in your hands, sure certain and positive that they are in the world for you to protect in ways within your control.
I’m not sure that anything I can say here will ease that worry, but here are some very small and simple things you can do to maybe put yourself in a position where you are surrounded with support should anything go wrong.
Tell close friends you’re pregnant, even really early on, so that should something happen you have already opened the lines of communication. I think this is probably the most important bit of advice I could give.
If you haven’t told anyone, trying to get your mouth around the words to tell them what has been and gone is so tough, especially in those early weeks when you need the support the most but you just can’t bring yourself to look for it. If someone you trust knows then you don’t have to say anything, they will know.
Save your sanity and book an early scan (you will probably have to go private) — never before eight weeks though, you could have your dates wrong and nothing might show up on a scan if you are only six or seven weeks along, so you could create unnecessary worry by going in too early.
Don’t join any Facebook groups or boards, lots of women join Rollercoaster, which has groups for pregnant women for each month that they are due. Ordinarily I think these groups are brilliant but on my last two pregnancies I didn’t join until after my 12 week scan at a point I was pretty confident things would be OK. Believe me, it is a horrible feeling to watch others from the sidelines while their excitement grows and yours diminishes.
Listen to your body and know the signs, they can be both reassuring or a warning signal. I knew the first time round that something was wrong when I wasn’t tired by nine weeks, and I was right, all was not as it should have been. Don’t assume that it’s your body ‘getting used to pregnancy’, listen to your gut.
Avoid buying any maternity clothes too soon, it’s really awful having to deal with them if you don’t need them. I certainly couldn’t look at the ones I’d bought for the pregnancies that didn’t work out the next time I was pregnant because it just brought back too many memories.
Miscarriage is awful. We all deal with it in different ways so there is no advice I can give on that. Just be kind to yourself and take the time to take it all in. And know that, should you choose to, that it is (usually) possible to have a very healthy baby after having experienced miscarriage, your rainbow baby.