A miscarriage of justice: the brutal unfairness of losing a baby

(Written on Nov 6th 2015)

One year ago today, we went to see a firework display with our then 16 month old daughter, Rose. It was our first month of trying for our second baby and as we walked into the local school’s playground I got a stomach ache and instantly felt disappointed – I thought my period was arriving. I didn’t expect us to fall pregnant straight away (it took three months with Rose and I knew how lucky we were with that short timescale) but I had been hopeful nonetheless, as anyone trying to conceive is when their period’s due date rolls around.

I went to the toilet and my spirits lifted – still no period. When I was three days late, I was too excited to wait any longer so I nipped into Morrison’s on my way to work to buy a pregnancy test, and being the most impatient person in the universe (Tom tells me I ‘want everything yesterday’, just like his Dad) I decided to pop to the loo while I was there. When the second faint pink line appeared I couldn’t believe my eyes – so much so that I stepped out of the cubicle and asked a random woman if she could see the second line too. She smiled at me and said ‘Yes. It’s faint, but it’s there’.

I was thrilled, and knew Tom would be too, so I messaged him immediately and his reply was a funny but cute ‘he shoots, he scores, so chuffed matey, well done us’ which really made me laugh. As I drove into work I was on cloud nine, and I knew my closest Mummy friend would feel the same for me (she too was expecting her second baby) so I messaged her and she called me to offer her congratulations. I remember saying to her ‘No-one is this lucky, surely?’ and sadly I was proved right: three days later, we discovered ‘Morris’ wasn’t meant for this world, and I started to bleed.

The morning after I first noticed the streaks of blood, I went to the hospital, as the 111 operator had advised me to do if the bleeding got worse, and as I sat waiting I couldn’t stop crying. People were sitting in A&E no doubt wondering what was wrong with the woman who physically looked fine, but was sobbing uncontrollably.

They did some tests and confirmed my pregnancy, but also confirmed that with my level of blood loss, I was definitely having a miscarriage. I had another test before I left and they called later that evening to confirm the hormone level had dropped, so the baby was gone.

The next few days were a blur of pain and disbelief. I was advised not to use tampons in case of infection, which only made me feel worse as I saw everything coming away, and I was just so, so sad. Not just ‘oh no, my favourite mug is broken’ sad, but a sort of empty, nauseating sadness. My heart felt heavy, I had a hard time stopping myself from crying and it was almost like every now and again I would somehow forget and then remember what had happened, and the pain would feel raw all over again.

I told my boss and he said to take all the time I needed. At the time we were finishing off our bungalow build, so for the next three weeks I painted like my life depended on it, all day, every day until Tom would come home with Rose (our toddler) and they both cheered me up, chipping away at my sadness like it was a slowly-melting iceberg.

When the time came and the bleeding stopped, Tom and I started to talk about trying again. I had read that you are very fertile after a miscarriage and we both felt emotionally ready to move forward. After all, why not try and use this horrid experience to try and create another miracle? Just a couple of weeks later, our miracle came along. Tom was right – he shoots, he scores (he will love that I wrote that). I knew I was pregnant as soon as my period due date arrived, I could just tell. I tested a couple of days after that and a strong second line appeared. The fact that the line was dark and definite made me feel hopeful, but alongside that was an all-consuming fear which I had never experienced before – I really didn’t know if we would be able to come back from another loss and we so badly wanted a sibling for our beautiful Rose.

As our sixth week of pregnancy crept round we allowed ourselves to name our growing baby ‘Lenny’ as he/she was the size of a lentil at that point and we were a few days further along than we got with little Morris (so named as I tested positive in Morrison’s loo!) It felt good to nickname him/her as despite the fear, I didn’t want us to miss out on any of the anticipation either – after all, it wasn’t Lenny’s fault what had happened and s/he deserved to be celebrated too.

Waiting for our 12 week scan was agonising, the days went so slowly and every single time I went to the loo I would inspect the loo roll for any sign, any tiny hint that my partially healed heart would be shattered into thousands of pieces once more. Well, we really were blessed. We had a few complications (a potential second sac/deceased twin/amniotic band), so those on top of what had happened the previous month made for a nerve-wracking few weeks, but around 16 weeks I started to feel those truly magical flutters, and at our 20 week scan we got the all-clear. The midwife said the second sac was possibly an area of bleed which I didn’t lose, so Lenny must have absorbed it – which meant that our beautiful baby had a part of Morris with him/her too.

I talked to a few people about our loss, not many, just my sisters and a couple of close friends. At the point I started to talk about it, I didn’t think I knew a single other person who had experienced the loss of a child – but I actually knew seven. Seven people, but eighteen lost babies. How anyone copes with multiple losses is beyond me, and those who are still trying to conceive their rainbow babies have an admirable, unwavering strength within them that I am totally in awe of.

I want to say I’m sorry to anyone reading this who felt they should have known about Morris before now, but please understand that we weren’t excluding you for any reason other than that we just didn’t want to make you sad. It was bad enough that there was a huge, grey cloud over our home for those few weeks – we didn’t want to spread the darkness further than necessary, especially amongst those we love so much.

I decided to write this for a couple of reasons – firstly, the anniversary of losing Morris is upon us, and secondly when I wrote my post about deciding to formula feed it was really cathartic – I felt instantly better to write the words, and people have commented to say that the post helped them too. I hope this post helps someone out there to feel stronger than they do right now, or at least to realise that they are not alone. It’s a heartbreaking fact, but pregnancy loss is a lot more common than you might think – people often just choose not to talk about it. Well, I’m happy to listen, so if anyone feels they would like to share their own story, please feel free to comment or message me – I really do feel better for writing this and am truly grateful to anyone who has taken the time to read it.

Finally, my heart goes out to anyone who identifies with this post but doesn’t feel ready to talk about their loss. I send you love, strength and so much hope – I pray that the sun will come out from behind the clouds for you too, just like it did for us on August 29th, when Lenny became our second daughter, but our third child, our ‘rainbow baby’ Willow Olive.

❤️ 6th November 2015, remembering Morris one year on xx

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