OCTOBER is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and it is an important one because it is something that affects so many people, either directly, indirectly or both.
It is said that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or loss so it goes without saying it touches a lot of people.
I find that statistic is often touted and while it highlights the frequency with which loss occurs during pregnancy, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is comfort in numbers.
It used to feel like miscarriage was a taboo subject, I don’t know if it was or if it was simply that it was hard for the person who experienced it to actually talk about it, but awareness months are brilliant for opening up the conversation so that women who want to talk about it might find their voice a little more easily.
I have had two miscarriages, both early on in pregnancy. We were trying for our third baby and I was perhaps foolishly confident that my body knew what to do when it came to pregnancy after being through it twice. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t work like that.
The first time round I had a suspicion from early on – things didn’t seem the same as previous pregnancies, so I went for an early scan privately. I knew the second I looked at the screen that my worst fears were confirmed.
The second time round, Mother Nature took care of things herself.
My second miscarriage was in December, I finished work at the end of that month and became a stay-at-home mum and by the end of January my third daughter was a small but healthy seed and the rest, as they say, is history!
Miscarriage can often be a very isolated experience, traditionally we don’t tell anybody about a pregnancy before 12 weeks, although having gone through two miscarriages before reaching that point, I really do question why we wait? By waiting, we are only isolating ourselves so that if an issue does arise it makes it so much harder to bring up.
Husbands are great but their experience is different to that of a woman’s.
On our third attempt at our third baby, I told my close friends practically the second I found out, I wanted them to know so that if anything went wrong, I wouldn’t have to say anything, they would know and I would have the support that I needed, when I needed it, without having to look for it.
I find baby and infant loss is a very strange sense of grief. In one sense you are mourning a baby, a life lost before it even really began, and then, in your mind, you are also mourning a life that could have been, all the milestones you imagined that little human reaching just gone in a puff of smoke. It all feels abstract but also real and it can feel like a whirlwind as you struggle to get your head around it.
Pregnancy after miscarriage or baby loss is a very stressful experience. I came to dread going to the bathroom for fear of discovering a problem, I was on edge and I had very little enjoyment during the pregnancy.
Thankfully, more often than not, the effect of miscarriage is not passed on from one pregnancy to the next, they are usually isolated incidents or learning experiences for making sure the subsequent pregnancy is a healthy one.
Another self-care tip I learned after my two losses was not to get involved in any online groups with women who are pregnant and due around the same time as you. While, under normal circumstances, these groups are hugely beneficial and helpful, if you have to leave one of them, it is an unnecessary pain you have to put yourself through.
We all deal with this experience differently, like with any form of grief, no matter how big or small, it affects us all differently. My advice is to reach out to friends and family early on, let a few people in on the big secret that you can all still enjoy, but with the confidence that should anything go wrong, you have a support system to fall back on. And remember it’s not your fault if it happens, that is one of the hardest parts to make peace with.